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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Walter

46 years of experience
341 reviews
Walter
46 years of experience
Chevrolet Cruze L4-1.4L Turbo - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Rear, Passenger Side Rear) - Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Very nice man and did work in a timely manner. Also spent time talking with me about other car issues I have.
Dodge Dakota - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front) - Jenks, Oklahoma
Walt did good work and was fairly quick. Clearly YourMechanic is way overbooking though, because he arrived 5 hours after the appointment time.

John

27 years of experience
1019 reviews
John
27 years of experience
Mini Cooper L4-1.6L Turbo - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front, Passenger Side Front) - Pearland, Texas
Always Great every time I use your mechanic and John comes out his knowledge and expertise is exceptional. I love his work and he will be the only mechanic that I will use going forward.
Subaru XV Crosstrek - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Rear, Passenger Side Rear) - Pearland, Texas
Great professional and friendly service. I was a little skeptic about getting service from an online page and John have change my vision of it. Definetly I will use his services again. I was trying to find a good shop or mechanic for a long time and I just found a great mechanic.

Eliud

23 years of experience
200 reviews
Eliud
23 years of experience
Jeep Grand Cherokee V8-5.2L - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Passenger Side Front) - Grayson, Georgia
Service was great. Mr Hernandez is professional, efficient, courteous, and someone who takes pride in his work. Vehicle and work area were left clean and swept up as if no one had been there. Thanks, highly recommended.
Kia Rondo - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Passenger Side Front) - Lawrenceville, Georgia
Excellent. Scheduled on a Saturday afternoon. Came on Sunday morning, on time. Quick and professional.

Ben

41 years of experience
1410 reviews
Ben
41 years of experience
Kia Spectra L4-2.0L - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front) - Houston, Texas
Wow!! Thank yu Ben, Kia drives like a new car! Let's keep fingers crossed she keeps me going. Appreciate all yu did and thanks for showing me parts n pics.
Kia Rio5 - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front) - Houston, Texas
Ben was absolutely a delight! He was so patient and friendly with me, knew exactly what to do with my car, and genuinely listened to my questions and explained everything to me.

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