How long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing?

Car safety ranks the top priority when driving on the highway. Whether you are driving alone or you have your family, it is important to consider the integrity of your vehicle. However, it’s common to have wheel bearing problems.

Occasionally, you will notice some strange noise from the wheels, which is the first sign of trouble with the wheel bearings. When you hear the noise, take the vehicle to an experienced mechanic for diagnosis or you can carry out the procedure.

It is difficult to estimate how long you can drive with a bad bearing since you have to consider other factors such as weather and the durability of other parts. Besides, the weight of the vehicle will also determine the distance can cover if it develops the problem.

A wheel bearing has an estimated life span of 85,000 to 100,000 miles; thus, if it develops a problem when its mileage is far much gone, it will need immediate replacement.

How Long Can You Drive a Car With a Bad Wheel Bearing?

Try not to exceed 500 miles or 800 kilometers when you get the first sign of a bad wheel bearing, even if has that estimated lifespan, especially if you do not know what you bearing you have there. A failing wheel bearing will cause the vehicle to lose control, making it difficult to drive.

However, if you have a high-quality wheel bearing, you can drive with it for another 1000 miles or 1600 kilometers on an estimate, although it’s not safe to rely on these stats since there are so many factors that can influence this distance.

Do not wait for your car to stall before going for a replacement, a completely failed wheel bearing can cause the wheel to detach from the car and this can mean serious consequences.

How to drive a car with a bad wheel bearing?

If you have bearing problems it is advisable to drive the car with a speed of 50-60 km/h or 40 miles per hour at most, speeding up will definitely increase the risk of a sudden failure. Also, do not take sharp turns, this will also have a great impact on a failing wheel bearing.

Main sings of a bad wheel bearing

The most important sign of a failing wheel bearing is the hum you will hear when you are driving, the hum will increase in intensity as the vehicle’s speed increases. Other symptoms can be

If you notice any of the above signs, then it is advisable to replace the failing bearing as soon s possible. Again, this part does not fail immediately, however, it experiences a rather active load, connecting the wheels to the car. Therefore, delaying replacing the part will either lead to more expensive repairs or reduce the safety of the control.

Major Causes of Wheel Bearing Failure

Since a wheel bearing will not fail by itself, here are some issues which ultimately cause the problem on your vehicle.

Water Damage

Avoid driving your vehicle through water, as regular driving under such conditions will ultimately cause you problems with the wheel bearing. Besides, you need to have them lubricated regularly with petroleum-based grease to prevent water from accessing the bearings.

It is important to note the wheel bearings do not have a seal to keep off water. As a result, you ensure the water damage does not affect your vehicle by keeping the wheel bearings lubricated and avoiding flooded streets.

Poor Driving Conditions

Driving a vehicle through potholes causes excessive pressure on the bearings, leading to early failure. Thus, avoid driving your vehicle on an uneven surface to prolong the life of your wheel bearing.

Regular driving through potholes will cause cracks and dents, paving way for failure. Remember, having damaged wheel bearing the wheel gets ultimately damaged as they cannot lower friction between various moving parts on the wheel.

Unbalanced Tires

Carrying regular maintenance procedures on your vehicle is crucial for its integrity. Remember to have tires balanced every time you take the vehicle for servicing. When tires are not balanced, they will cause uneven pressure on the bearings.

As a result, they will wear out faster and cause damage to the tires. Thus, always have your wheels balanced to avoid having problems with the wheel bearings in the future.

Accident

You cannot prevent accidents from happening. When accidents happen, take your vehicle for evaluation to determine the extent of the damage. Wheels are often neglected, especially after a minor accident.

However, insist on having them check since any slight dent or crack on the bearings will eventually cause problems. Do not wait to take action when you hear noises from the wheels.

Improper Installation

When installing wheel bearings, it is important to have them fixed properly as they can start making noises when new. If you get a wheel bearing noises after a recent replacement, it could be they were not properly mounted.

Ensure the right bearings are fitted and take your vehicle to an accredited garage to avoid future problems before the 160,000km mark. However, you notice any noise with the bearing; have it fixed immediately to avoid bearing extra expenses?

Testing the wheel bearing while driving

For more accurate results, the wheel bearing can be tested in motion. The method is as follows:

  • Get the car on a road that is better to be asphalted and without potholes or imperfections
  • Accelerate to 60 km/h or 40 miles per hour, and then try to take a turn
  • Observe the car’s behavior. When entering different turns, the car body begins to roll to one side. So, when turning to the left, the car leans to the right side, and the main weight falls on the right wheel. The weight is removed from the left wheel.
  • Listen for extraneous sounds. For example, when turning to the right, the left wheel bearing will have an additional load, and you will hear a hum. Also, when driving in a straight line, the sound disappears. Using the same principle, check the bearing on the right reducing the speed to 15 km / h and making a sharp turn to the left.

Pay attention to the sounds. If there were noises but disappeared when exiting the turn, then the problem is in the wheel bearing.

Final toughts

Although the wheel bearing is considered a minor component, it is crucial in the wheel assembly. Although normal driving will cause tear and wear on the bearings, you need to take good care of the bearings to avoid early failure. Remember to have them changed or checked at the first sign of trouble.

Although you can drive for 1000 miles with the wheel bearings damaged, it can be dangerous for other road users when your vehicle loses control. Besides, damaged bearings cause brake failure, steering wheel vibrations at high speeds, and wobbly wheels.

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