Is It Safe to Drive With a Damaged Wheel Bearing?

In order for your wheels to turn, they need bearings. Wheel bearings fit into the hub (inside a race) and allow the wheel to turn freely. However, bearings wear over time and they’ll eventually fail. Is it safe to drive with a damaged wheel bearing? The answer is no.

Some things to watch out for include:

  • Roaring: The most common symptom of a failing wheel bearing is a roaring sound from the affected wheel while you’re driving. It may become more pronounced during turns as the car’s weight shifts and a different load is placed on the wheel. In some instances, you’ll only hear a noise under specific driving conditions (it depends on where the wear in the race is occurring). If you notice a roaring sound from one of the wheels, it’s vital to have it inspected as soon as possible.

  • Wheel play: If you grab the tire by the top and bottom edges and wiggle it up and down, movement should be very minimal or nonexistent. However, if you notice a lot of movement, it means that your bearing is nearing the end of its life.

  • Progressive damage: Once a wheel bearing begins to fail, it will affect other components. The bearings won’t allow the wheel to turn freely, which exacerbates the problem. It also puts stress and strain on the hub, the CV joint, the axle, and the transmission.

  • Ultimate damage: If you don’t replace a damaged wheel bearing before it fails completely, the wheel will completely seize up. If this happens while you’re driving, the results can be catastrophic. This is not a component to take chances with.

If you suspect that one of your wheel bearings is damaged or beginning to fail, have it inspected immediately. It is not safe to drive on for any length of time. YourMechanic can diagnose the problem and replace a damaged wheel bearing.


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John

27 years of experience
837 reviews
John
27 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.5L - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front) - Texas City, Texas
He’s nice and showed up early, fixed my ear ache of a wheel bearing problem and made suggestions on what else needs to be fixed- which can be done at a later time. I will definitely utilize him again later!
Dodge Dakota - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front, Passenger Side Front) - Alvin, Texas
John is a fantastic mechanic. Recertified Master mechanic ASE. He is very knowledgeable, proficient and professional. I'm grateful for Your Mechanic for sending you ask my mechanic the 1st time. I couldn't ask for better.

Mike

26 years of experience
83 reviews
Mike
26 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V8-5.3L - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Passenger Side Front) - Ypsilanti, Michigan
Awesome Job. Fast and Reliable. Very knowledgeable and represented The App Service Phenomenally. #MrHilarity

Jason

32 years of experience
386 reviews
Jason
32 years of experience
Saturn Vue V6-3.5L - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Passenger Side Front) - Sun City, Arizona
Jason got the job done . Very happy with his work. I think I've found my mechanic, very happy with him and he's very personable.

Attila

19 years of experience
767 reviews
Attila
19 years of experience
Honda Accord L4-2.4L - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Passenger Side Front, Passenger Side Rear) - Fairfield, New Jersey
Great guy, explain and show what the problems are so you get a better understanding of them and gives great recommendations.

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