How long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing

How long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing?

How long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing? This is a question that many drivers ask themselves at some point. 

The answer, unfortunately, is not entirely clear-cut. In some cases, it may be possible to drive on a bad wheel bearing for quite some time before it needs to be replaced. 

However, in other cases, the bearing may need to be replaced sooner. To make sure that your vehicle is safe and sound, it is important to know the signs of a bad wheel bearing and get it fixed as soon as possible.

What is a wheel bearing?

A wheel bearing functions to allow rotation of a wheel with respect to the vehicle frame. 

Wheel bearings typically make use of an axle shaft and a pair of matching cups (inner and outer) that are pressed together around the axle, either by roller or ball bearings or by using a machined groove in the axle itself. 

The cup-and-cone design uses opposing angled surfaces (similar in design to gears) which roll against each other as the axle rotates: this is better suited for vehicles with less suspension travel, but can offer reduced friction and greater durability than sealed cartridge bearings.

What is the life of an ideal car wheel bearing?

Wheel bearings are a critical component of your vehicle. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to turn the steering wheel, nor would you have any support as the tires maintain contact with the road. 

Wheel bearings typically last 100 – 150k miles, but can vary depending on driving style and conditions where the car is being used. 

The average replacement interval for front-wheel bearing assemblies is 60-90k miles for automobiles and light trucks. 

However, high mileage users often experience bearing failure before this time period due to fatigue/stress related issues or reduced lubrication from oil leaks or inadequate maintenance.

Why do wheel bearings become bad?

Wheel bearings are subject to high stress and heat loads. Wheel bearings are constantly turning with the rotation of the wheels, which places them under constant stress. 

Over time this repeated use will cause the spaces inside the bearing to fill with corrosion, dirt or rust particles that make it difficult for it to turn smoothly. It is essential that these spaces stay clean and free of contaminants during normal operation; 

Otherwise you may experience a variety of problems including increased rolling resistance, increased tire wear, hazy or cloudy wheel bearings (signs of early failure) or even loud bearing noise (rubbing caused by bad bearings). 

This can be more easily seen on an axle shaft where you can actually see if there is any type of material buildup between the races. If there’s any, then it’s time to change them both.

Maintenance and servicing of the bearings is essential for maximized performance and stable operation. 

Replacing wheel bearings at regular intervals (if required) will ensure a smooth ride and better vehicle performance. 

If you’ve had the same type of wheels on your car or truck for many miles, it can be difficult to know if they need new bearings.

How long does the wheel bearing last after making noise?

It is very hard to say since each situation is different. If the bearing has broken down, it will need to be replaced. 

It may make noise for a few miles or at most 20000 miles depending on how much wear is left in the bearing after the first signs of noise are heard.

If there is barely any wear on the bearing then it may be possible for some people to drive between 20-30k miles before replacing; however, on vehicles where safety is more important than longevity (they drive on busy streets and often want reliability) you should replace them as soon as they make noise or within one year if no was initially heard (bearing life may be shortened if initial noise is ignored).

Since the bearing is not replaceable, how long can I expect the vehicle to drive once it becomes noisy?

This will depend on your comfort level and how much wear the bearing has. The more damaged the bearing, the less miles you should expect before a breakdown. 

If this is an emergency repair that needs to take place as soon as possible then we would advise getting in touch with one of our mobile technicians who can service your area for same-day assistance. 

If it is something that can wait until later in the day, then you may want to have it looked at or repaired early next week rather than this coming weekend.

How long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing?

With a little attention to the warning signs, you can get a long way down the road. Here’s how:

A bad wheel bearing (also called “wheel hub,” and less commonly, “bearing,” or just plain “bad”) will produce characteristic sounds that should be heeded if not immediately then at least after the first one or two, but probably before it gets really dangerous. 

These sounds typically include squealing, clicking/grinding/popping, whirring growling roars, squeaks and groans. Frequently these noises occur while coasting in gear and turning corners. 

They’ll even follow you for several seconds after gently pushing on the brake pedal while stopped in traffic during your daily commute. 

However, once the noise starts, the damage of a bad wheel bearing has already been done and is irreparable. But there’s still hope for your car and you!

Just kidding. There isn’t.

Of course it goes without saying that when your car sounds like a box full of rabid hamsters, you shouldn’t drive on it any further. 

That would be silly! Likewise when it becomes difficult to brake or steer around corners because of how badly damaged it is by the absence of a working wheel bearing, don’t just keep driving it just to see what happens. 

You’ll probably need professional help in either case – avoid “roadside assistance” in these instances because they’ll probably tow you somewhere far away where you’re forced to pay them to fix the car. 

It’s also worth noting that a bad wheel bearing may be entirely unnoticeable with all other factors being equal, so if your car is making all kinds of weird noises but still seems to drive fine – it’s probably just one or more other things breaking or wearing out somewhere else in your vehicle.

Which factors can cause breaking of wheel bearing?

The wheel bearing is used to reduce friction when a vehicle turns. 

A wheel bearing usually consists of a collapsible outer ring and a stationary inner ring, both of which are fitted with rollers that rotate along the bearing’s surface. 

The rotation or motion of these rollers reduces friction, allowing the wheels to turn freely.

Faulty wheel bearings can sometimes cause a “rumbling” noise when turning corners. It is possible for the metal sleeve in a faulty wheel bearing to snap, resulting in complete loss of vehicle control. 

In some cases, if not detected early enough, it can result in damage to other components such as the transmission system and differential carrier necessitating major repairs.

Possible causes for broken wheel bearings include:

1) A damaged wheel bearing housing can cause a wheel’s motion to be perturbed, resulting in the weakening of the bearings. This is usually caused by a collision or a pothole striking a wheel.

2) Failing to replace the bearing when it reaches its service life can also result in it breaking as time passes. The initial sign of this is usually a “rumbling” noise from the wheels as you turn them.

3) Another possible cause for broken wheel bearings is lack of lubrication. If not properly lubricated every so often, some metal components break due to friction and heat build-up – especially if they are subjected to regular wear and tear on roads that have lots of bumps and dips.

4) Excessive rusting can cause the wheel to become brittle and snap.

5) The wheel bearing itself has a finite service life, usually between 50,000km to 80,000km depending on your driving conditions. This also results in it snapping when it wears out completely.

6) If not handled properly, quick release skewers or bolts fitted on racing rims can result in them breaking when you are changing tyres or servicing wheels.

7) Improper installation of new bearings is another reason why they break down prematurely. Bearings need to be installed correctly so that they produce low friction at all times. Otherwise, metal pieces will rub against one another in the area where the wheel spins rapidly over bumps in the road, resulting in the bearings snapping.

Bearings snapping, or wearing out too early can be caused by many things. It is important to detect the warning signs of a failing bearing before it snaps completely, otherwise, these are some of the costs you can expect to incur if your wheel bearing fails:

a) Costly repairs for damage to other parts of your vehicle that might arise due to loss of control after a wheel’s motion is perturbed due to faulty bearings. For example, transmission systems and differentials sometimes need replacement when they’re affected by faulty bearings.

b) Wheel bearing failure usually results in vibrations in the steering system which drivers find very inconvenient when trying to maintain control over their vehicles when turning corners at high speeds. Some drivers have even reported that their wheel’s motion was so unstable, they couldn’t even stay on the road.

c) If you are driving at high speed and your wheel bearing fails, it is likely that you will skid or lose control of your vehicle completely. You might even get into an accident if this happens while you are driving down a busy road.

d) Replacing wheel bearings can be quite costly especially when other parts of your vehicle need to be replaced as well due to damage resulting from lack of control over the car. 

The average cost for replacing wheel bearings in Singapore is $200 per unit, but depending on where you go for repairs, it could be more than twice this amount. Many drivers report shelling out S$800 to S$1,000 to get their bearings replaced at authorized workshops.

e) If you are driving in an area that has bumpy roads, your vehicle might experience vibrations in the steering system resulting from faulty wheel bearings. 

This can be very inconvenient when you are trying to maintain control of your car when turning corners at high speeds. Sometimes, these vibrations can be so severe they make it difficult for drivers to stay on the road.

f) Broken wheel bearings usually result in a “rumbling” noise coming from under your vehicle’s hood before they snap completely. 

Most drivers are able to detect this warning sign early enough because it is quite loud and noticeable but if you’re not familiar with what it sounds like then you might find yourself having to pay for costly repairs when it is too late to do anything about it.

Inspect your car’s wheel bearings regularly for any signs of damage or excessive wear and tear that might indicate a problem in the near future. 

Bearings usually last between 50,000km to 80,000km before they snap, so you’ll have plenty of warning if you take care of them by servicing them at regular intervals before they fail completely.

If you want to save yourself from having to pay a small fortune on expensive repairs or costly accidents resulting from a faulty wheel bearing failing while you’re driving down the road, then all you need to do is get into the habit of inspecting your car’s bearings every month or two. 

A quick visual inspection should be sufficient because most drivers will be able to detect any problems with their bearings early enough to make repairs long before they ever snap.

However, if you are someone who has a lot of other things on your plate or you simply don’t have much experience performing car maintenance tasks like inspections and oil changes, then it is best to leave the job of inspecting the wheel bearing to the professionals at authorized workshops. 

The last thing you want is for your car’s faulty wheel bearing to cause damage to other parts of your vehicle that might be more costly than just replacing the bearings.


The life of an ideal car wheel bearing is usually about 100,000 miles. Wheel bearings become bad when they experience too much vibration and heat from driving on rough roads or accelerating quickly. 

The most common factors that cause the breaking of a wheel bearing are not getting enough lubrication, lack of cooling air flow to the hub assembly, poor alignment between the axle shafts and ball joints (or tie rod ends), and loose lug nuts. 

Even if your vehicle has been making noise for long distances without any other problems arising with it yet, you should have a professional inspect your front suspension system as soon as possible before it becomes more serious!

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