How Long You Can Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing

One of the most overlooked parts of a car is the wheel bearing, but when it goes bad, there is only so long to drive on it before something goes wrong. 

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How far can you drive on a bad wheel bearing?

It’s possible to drive on a bad wheel bearing for 500 to 1,000 miles, depending on what’s wrong with it and the severity of the issue. We recommend repairing it before 500 miles because it can lead to a wobbling brake rotor, added suspension stress, and uneven tire wear. 

The length that a bad wheel bearing will last always varies based on the exact issue. Through the years, we have seen most last between 500 to 1,000 miles before something more serious happens, and we explain this in detail below. 

How Long Can You Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing?

The lifespan of a bad wheel bearing depends on what’s wrong with it, but it’s not recommended to exceed 1,000 miles on it. However, we recommend 500 miles as the maximum to avoid the risk of significant problems. 

A wheel bearing is a part of the wheel system and assembly that connects the wheel and the axle. This allows the wheel to spin without friction for a smooth driving experience.

It can be seen as a rotating shaft in the center of the wheel hub, which provides support for both the axle and the wheel. But when the bearing goes bad, it’s only a matter of time before it fails, and major vehicle damage can occur. 

The average lifespan of a wheel bearing is about 100,000 miles, but this varies from car to car and from driver to driver. Once they go bad, changing them before the 500 to 1,000-mile mark is recommended. 

How Long You Can Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing 1 1 How Long You Can Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing

What Happens If You Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing Too Long?

A bad wheel bearing is not a problem in the short term. It will not cause any major damage to the vehicle. But, over time, it could lead to bigger problems with a car.

Some of these serious problems include a wobbling brake rotor, extreme stress on the suspension, uneven tire wear, and the tire can even fall off the vehicle. 

Wobbling Brake Rotor

The brake rotor is kept in alignment because of the wheel bearing. If the issue with the bear is a  loose fit, this causes the brake rotor to wobble which can be dangerous for most cars. 

Extreme Suspension Stress

A bad wheel bearing will also apply extreme stress to the car’s suspension. This may cause the steering to become difficult or even impossible.

Long-term driving with this problem can lead to internal failures with the suspension and transmission too. 

Uneven Tire Wear

A bad wheel bearing will cause uneven tire wear too. This will cause the tires to wear at different rates and can affect how well the car handles.

If the car is pulling to one side or vibrating, it could be a sign of a bad wheel bearing. When this happens, the tires are unevenly distributing the weight of the vehicle causing the treads to wear unevenly too. 

Tire Can Fall Off The Car

Lastly, the tire can fall off of the car when the wheel bearing goes bad. This is a rare occurrence but driving too long on a bad bearing can cause it to happen unexpectedly. 

What Are Signs Of A Bad Wheel Bearing?

A bad wheel bearing can be tricky to spot for people with no previous experience dealing with this issue. Knowing what to look for is important. 

However, the signs are obvious and they include distinct noises, a vibrating steering wheel, ABS failure warnings, and a pulling to one side while driving. 

Distinct Noises

The most obvious way to tell if the wheel bearing is bad is by listening closely. It will make distinct growling, chirping, or squealing noises while driving. 

The noise will also increase when accelerating. This is the easiest way to tell if something is wrong with the bearing. 

Steering Wheel Vibration

A bad wheel bearing can cause a car to shake when it is running and make loud noises. One of the most obvious signs is a shaking or vibrating steering wheel. 

This is because the bad bearing is not able to support the weight of the car and it’s causing strain on other parts of the vehicle. The steering wheel begins to shake because of the imbalance. 

ABS Failure Warnings

If the wheel bearing is bad, it’s likely a warning light will turn on to let the driver know about the issue. This light indicates the ABS or traction control on the car is deactivating. 

This can be problematic for some cars and may require immediate repairs to fix the ABS problems. This is especially important in bad weather conditions. 

Vehicle Pulling While Driving

Another common issue when driving with a bad wheel bearing is the vehicle pulls to one side. The side the car pulls to likely means that side is the one struggling with a bad wheel bearing. 

It also increases the chances of getting into an accident if there is a bad wheel bearing because the driver is more likely to lose control and cause some damage to other vehicles or people on the road.

Is It Dangerous To Drive With A Bad Wheel Bearing?

A bad wheel bearing can be a dangerous thing to drive with, but only if it’s overused and driven past the recommended mileage.

However, a bad wheel bearing can make it difficult to drive smoothly and safely on the road. If this isn’t taken care of quickly, it can lead to a more serious problem and cause more expensive repairs in the future.

Key Takeaways

  • A bad wheel bearing can be driven on for 500 to 1,000 miles and driving for any longer than this can result in severe vehicle damage. 
  • A bad wheel bearing can cause a lot of problems for a vehicle. It can lead to uneven tire wear, steering problems, and even a blown tire.
  • Some signs that the wheel bearing is bad include distinct noises, a vibrating steering wheel, ABS failure warnings, and a pulling to one side while driving. 

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