How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Carrier Bearing?

Is your car showing the symptoms of a bad carrier bearing? Have you wondered how long can you drive with a bad carrier bearing? We answer this question below.

When it comes to an automobile, every component has a specific function that works together to run smoothly. Carrier bearings are one such component located at the rear end of your car, popular in rear-wheel drive vehicles. It is an important part of the driveshaft as all other parts connect to it.

But sometimes, these may run into trouble for some reason, and you will need to fix it.

Today, let us tell you about the carrier bearings of your car and what are some things you need to consider in case of a bad bearing. 

How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Carrier Bearing

What’s a Carrier Bearing?

A carrier bearing, also called the center support bearing, is a drivetrain bearing found on the rear-wheel drive of a car. It works as a bridge between the drive shaft of the vehicle and the metal shaft that is located under the car. The bearing is responsible for the transmission of power to the rear differential, which is further transferred to the wheels. 

Heavy-duty vehicles like trucks are big-size cars that have a center support bearing. These vehicles have a larger drive shaft which needs to be supported by the rear differential. The shaft is divided into two sections and is located between the transmission and rear differential. The bearing allows for flexibility during driving. 

The problem with the carrier bearings can arise when they start getting worn out and there is friction created between the parts. Since it is a component between two parts of the vehicle, any kind of damage to it has clear symptoms throughout the vehicle. 

How Does It Work?

The center bearing is a connection between the transmission and rear differential. The driveshaft is the part that is located inside the center support bearing. The entire set-up is created to allow flexibility to reduce stress on driveline parts. 

The center support bearing keeps the alignment of a rotating shaft. Since it is located on either end of the drive shaft, it transfers power from the engine to the wheels. If your car is in motion, the carrier bearing keeps the driveshaft aligned, so it rotates without any kind of friction. 

When combined with the housing, bearing, dust shield, and rubber cushions – the entire set-up of carrier bearing helps to absorb shocks and vibrations when you are driving through any kind of terrain. 

Reasons Why Carrier Bearings Fail

There are a number of reasons that can be traced to the failure of carrier bearings. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Wear and tear of the carrier bearings, causing friction in the parts and resulting in damage. This will happen over time, mainly because of the bearings are nearing their expiry.
  • Accidents and sudden damage to the vehicle can also be major reasons for the failure of bearings. If there is sudden pressure on the drive shaft or it bends in some way, it could cause the carrier bearing to fail. 
  • Improper installation of a carrier bearing can be another reason that it fails over time. If it has been misaligned at the time of installation, there will be problems from the first time you start using it. 

How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Carrier Bearing

Symptoms of a Bad Carrier Bearing

There are a number of reasons why the carrier bearing of a vehicle can fail, and if not taken care of at the earliest, you could risk some major damage in the long run. So, it is important to look out for the symptoms of a bad carrier bearing. 

Vehicle noises

When you are hearing sudden loud whirring or grinding noises in your car, you should know that the problem might be in the carrier bearings. When the bearing starts wearing out, they start making strange sounds that become louder when the vehicle is in motion. 


One of the first things you will notice as a symptom of bad carrier bearings is the considerable increase in vibrations while you are driving your vehicle. As the driveshaft gets misaligned, the parts start moving in their location, creating vibrations.

Bad fuel economy

A reduction in the fuel economy of your car is a sign of worn bearings. This could be because of the increased pressure on the engine and more fuel being consumed with every drive. 

Engine light

If the ‘Check Engine’ light starts blinking randomly, it could be an indication of the carrier bearings monitoring sensors. This is a sign that the bearings may be wearing out and has to be checked. 

Fluid leakage

If you see the transmission fluid in your car leaking, make sure to check the damage in the carrier bearings. The fluid leakage could be the reason that the bearings have been causing problems when you start the car. 

Problem shifting gears

If you have to put in more effort when you are shifting the gears of your car, it could be due to the driveshaft or carrier bearings being misaligned. It can cause the transmission to fail because the driveshaft is not working properly. 

Clunking noises

There are a number of reasons why a car can start making clunking noises. If there are noises coming from the rear end of your car, this could be because the driveshaft is misaligned due to the worn-out carrier bearings. 

Tire wear

When you check your tires, make sure to check whether the wear in your tires is even or uneven. Uneven tires could mean that the driveshaft misalignment is directly affecting the way your car is moving on the road. 

Steering difficulty 

When you have difficulty steering the car, it might be because the alignment of the driveshaft is wrong. The bearings of the vehicle wearing out is a direct result of more pressure on the steering, and you will find it difficult to steer around. 

Burning smells

The increased friction between the worn-out carrier bearings can cause overheating in the parts. This might result in burning smells from the rear end of the vehicle. If you smell a strong burning smell from any part of your car, it is an indication of one of the parts overheating. 

Can You Drive With a Bad Carrier Bearing?

The carrier bearing keeps the driveshaft aligned and helps to transfer power between the engine and wheels. If there is some kind of damage, it might cause a lot of sounds and a very uncomfortable driving experience. The vibrations are also not absorbed properly and can damage other components of your car. 

If you have found any signs of a bad carrier bearing, the smarter idea is to get it checked before driving your vehicle again. 

How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Carrier Bearing

Can It Damage Your Car?

Bad bearings can result in the misalignment of the driveshaft. This increases the noises in the engine and could cause major vibrations while you are driving. In some vehicles, there have been reports of reduced fuel economy. Worn bearings start creating friction between the parts of the car, which means the more you keep driving, the more damage you risk to the vehicle. 

How Often Should You Replace It?

Carrier bearings do not have a particular interval in which they have been replaced. Most car manufacturers have bearings that can work as long as the vehicle is maintained well and there is no major damage done. So you have to replace the bearing only when you see the symptoms of the component failing. 

When you are going for annual or timely maintenance, most mechanics will make sure to check for the condition of the bearings and whether they need to be replaced. 

Carrier Bearing Replacement

For people who have a basic knowledge of the mechanics of a heavy-duty vehicle, it should not be a very complicated process to replace the carrier bearing. With the right tools available, you just have to follow a specific set of actions to replace the damaged bearing of your vehicle. 

Here is what you need to do to replace the carrier bearing:

  • Park your vehicle on a level surface before disconnecting the battery terminals. Use an impact gun to remove the negative battery terminal safely to avoid an accidental start during the replacement process.
  • Place the jack under the differential and raise the tire just above the ground. The tire does not have to be removed entirely.
  • Use a socket set to loosen the bolts holding the rear axle in place. 
  • Next, bring the jack down, until you see that the differential is placed on the suspension or skid plate. For added strength, use a pry bar to lower the differential. 
  • You will have access to the carrier-bearing bolt pattern when the differential is lowered to the right level. 
  • Use a socket set and ratchet to remove the surrounding bolts of the bearing. This will give you complete access to the old or damaged bearings. 
  • Tap the bearings one by one to carefully remove the old bearings. Make sure to clean out any debris or grease that has gathered around the housing. 
  • Install the new center support bearings by positioning them properly and placing the bolts by hand. Use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts just the right amount. 
  • Start raising the differential back in place by supporting it with the jack. You have to tighten all the axle bolts that have been loosened. 
  • Lower the jack, place the vehicle on the ground, and reconnect the battery terminal.  


Once you have completed all the steps involved in the replacement process, make sure to start your vehicle and take it for a test drive to see if everything is working properly. If there are no sounds or vibrations coming once you start the car, you will know that the replacement and installation have been carried out correctly. 

If you are not sure about what you are doing, it is suggested that you take your vehicle to a professional mechanic. If you have vehicle maintenance coming up and you notice the symptoms of carrier-bearing failure, it might be the right time to mention the problem to your mechanic. 

Cost of Replacement

The cost of replacement of a carrier bearing will depend on your vehicle model, the service you are availing of, and most importantly, how much damage has been done. 

If you are taking your vehicle to a mechanic for a complete checkup, the diagnosis, replacement, and driveshaft change can take your bill to $100 or $200. You can also replace the carrier bearing by yourself as long as you have the right tools and adequate experience. 

If you need your replaced bearing to service the vehicle well and not get damaged frequently, it is a smart decision to invest in a good replacement of the bearing and the driveshaft. 

How Long Can I Drive With A Bad Carrier Bearing

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I repair a carrier bearing?

The repair of a carrier bearing mainly consists of replacing it when it has been worn out. If there is minor damage, like a bent flange, it can be repaired with a hammer. But in case of something major, like damaged housing, the whole structure needs to be replaced. 

How can I prevent a carrier bearing from failing?

There are a few things that can be done to avoid a failure of the carrier bearing. Proper installation and alignment of the bearings with the driveshaft and timely servicing of the car are some of the common things to do. You can also avoid driving on extremely rough terrain to avoid any accidental damage to the vehicle’s bearings. 

Is it bad to drive with a bad carrier bearing?

If there are damaged bearings or a worn-out driveshaft, you will notice that the car will start making loud whirring noises. The car can also start vibrating when you are driving it, which can damage other internal components. This is why it is not a smart idea to drive a car when there are signs of a bad carrier bearing. 

What does a bad carrier bearing sound like?

A vehicle starts making howling, grinding, and whining noises when there is wear out in the carrier bearing. These sounds can also differ depending on the speed and terrain over which you are driving the vehicle. 

Wrap Up

If you are new to the world of heavy-duty vehicles, the symptoms of a failed carrier bearing can make you really worried. The good news is that it is a fairly easy task to identify and solve the problem as long as you know what signs to look out for. 

We hope this article gives you the basic idea that you need to figure out how to take care of your vehicle’s carrier bearings.
Thank you for reading!

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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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