How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Wheel Bearing?

Wheel bearings help your vehicle run smoothly. But what if your wheel bearings get damaged? How long can I drive with a bad wheel bearing? Let’s find out.

As a car owner, you know how important it is to have durable and sturdy tires. The design of the car wheel looks simple but, in reality, it is quite complex and has many components in its assembly.

Wheel bearings are a crucial part of any vehicle, especially its wheels, hub and overall assembly that makes it work together. It helps the tires of your car to turn smoothly without any friction. However, just like any mechanical system, wheel bearings may stop working at some point due to wear and tear. 

As a car owner, you may have this question: How long can I drive with bad wheel bearings? This, however, depends on your vehicle’s condition and mileage.

How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Wheel Bearing

Driving with a bad wheel bearing is a hard task, and you will have to sit back and listen to some disturbing noises or vibrations while driving. However, you can drive for nearly 1,000 to 1,500 miles before your wheel bearing fails completely. 

It is advisable to get the issue fixed with a professional mechanic without any delay.In this article, let us look at 

  • Why do wheel bearings go bad?
  • What are the signs that my wheel bearings need repair?
  • How long can I drive on bad wheel bearings?
  • How long will a wheel bearing last?

Why Do Wheel Bearings Go Bad?

Many reasons can lead to bad wheel bearings. Let us look at the most common signs of the problem.

Wheels Bearings Are Not Installed Properly

If the wheels are installed using inappropriate tools like a wrench or a hammer, it will damage the wheel leading to the wheel bearings getting worn out too soon. 

Also, while installing new wheels, if you use old nuts, pins, and bolts and do not replace them with new ones, it causes the wheels to turn bad and can even cause car accidents. It is better to use new nuts and bolts every time you change your wheel bearings.

Poor Roads And Impact Damage

Most of the time, the wheels become bad due to your own rough driving. Driving roughly through potholes and breakers can damage your wheel bearings and reduce their life.

You Have Modified Your Vehicle

One cause that leads to bad wheel bearing is your car modifications. Let us say that you modify your vehicle and fit large and wide rims. You also put in a stiff shock absorber and install wheels with lower thread walls.

This configuration will cause more load to the wheel bearing and will make it wear out. So you need to look for accessories that will fit your vehicle and are compatible to bear the load.

Road Conditions

If you frequently drive on muddy and deep water roads, it will damage the wheel bearing faster. The dirt and dust contaminants easily get in the tires and seals, thus causing corrosion, leading to wear and tear and damage.

Poor Wheel Bearing Quality

The wheel bearings carry a lot of lead, and if it is built with low-quality materials, it will result in damage and failure prematurely.

How Do I Know If the Wheel Bearing Is Damaged?

If your wheel bearings are damaging, you will hear disturbing noises and vibrations. The signs include:

Disturbing Noises

You will hear growling and humming noises from your vehicle when you accelerate or turn. You may hear a grinding noise when your vehicle is moving or a clunky noise when you are moving on poor and uneven roads.

How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Wheel Bearing


Is your vehicle vibrating when you change the speed or turn your vehicle? If yes, this means the seal is broken and causing vibrations. 

The seal present in the wheel bearing protects against the particles from getting inside the bearings, so it runs smoothly and properly without any issue.

Faulty ABS

Bad wheel bearing can be due to a faulty ABS. Sometimes, the wheel bearings are often damaged due to driving on poor-quality roads or moving from corrosion or stones. If you find any problem with your brakes, get it checked and fixed immediately.

How Long Can I Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing?

It is challenging to drive with a bad wheel bearing, and it is better to get it changed immediately. But if you are somewhere in a deserted area, you cannot do anything but drive. 

You may hear some humming and growling sounds the wheels are making in such situations. Later, you will find the noise increasing, and it is a bad wheel bearing. In such situations, it is better to drive at just 40mph and stay on the side of the road. 

So, how long can I drive with a bad wheel bearing? 

You will be able to go around 1,000 to 1,500 miles before the wheel bearing gets damaged completely. This also depends on your vehicle’s condition, mileage and form. 

It is better to get your vehicle checked as soon as possible.

How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Wheel Bearing

How Long Will A Wheel Bearing Last After It Starts Making Noise?

On average, a wheel bearing can last for around 85,000 to 100,000 miles

As mentioned above, the durability of wheel bearing depends on vehicle type and mileage factors. Also, the build quality and vehicle operation help determine the durability of the wheel bearing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe To Drive My Vehicle with Bad Wheel Bearing?

To some extent, yes, it is safe. Your wheel bearing will not damage completely right away, and you will start noticing a few signs before the wheel bearing fails. 

Though you will be a bit stressed out while driving, you can take a chance and try to reach the service station soon. Only in some rare cases will the wheels turn around entirely and lead to severe injuries.

How Long Does It Takes To Change A Wheel Bearing?

It takes around 90 to 120 minutes for a skilled mechanic to change a single wheel bearing.

To change a wheel bearing depends on how skilled your mechanic is and the type of vehicle you have. Many wheel parts need to be installed and sealed properly, so it takes time. 

A Few Final Words

The wheel bearings are a crucial part of your vehicle and must be maintained and installed correctly. Maintaining your wheel bearings properly will save you from premature damage to the wheel bearings.

How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Wheel Bearing

And if your wheel bearings get damaged, you can still go a thousand miles, but it is advisable to reach the nearest service station and get the wheel bearing changed. Using appropriate tools while replacing the wheel bearings is essential for better performance, safety and durability.

Thank you for reading the article, we hope we were able to shed light on the importance of wheel bearings, why they get damaged, what you should do if it happens, and most importantly: how long can you drive if you get stuck with bad wheel bearings.

You might also like to read: How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Carrier Bearing and How Long Can I Drive On Grinding Brakes?

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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