How Long Can You Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing? Let’s Find Out

How Long Can You Drive On a Bad Wheel Bearing – Driving is a necessity for most of us, whether it’s to get to work, run errands, or take a road trip. But what happens when you start to notice strange noises or vibrations coming from your car? It could be a sign of a bad wheel bearing.

This crucial component is responsible for the smooth rotation of your wheels, and if it fails, it can put you and your vehicle at risk. So, the question arises, can you drive on a bad wheel bearing? And if so, how far can you drive before it becomes dangerous?

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the details and give you all the information you need to know about driving with a bad wheel bearing.

How Long Can You Drive On a Bad Wheel Bearing

Imagine this: you’re driving down the highway, the rain pouring outside, when suddenly you feel your car acting strangely. It starts twitching and jerking to one side. Then, out of nowhere, you hear a loud ping that sounds like a rock hitting the wheel well.

Concerned, you make it home and check your rear wheel, only to discover that the bearing cap is gone and grease is spilling out. Uh-oh.

The next morning, you attempt to drive to the dealer, but the noise coming from the bearing is unbearable, and the wheel is dragging. It’s clear that something is seriously wrong. The rollers in the bearing have lost their case hardening and are wearing down, catching under the bearing cage.

You realize that if you continue driving, the bearing could seize completely, or worse, catch fire and break apart. Yikes!

So, can you drive on a bad wheel bearing? Well, technically, you can drive it until the bearing fails completely, but let me tell you, that’s not a good idea.

Sure, you might have some time before the worst happens, but consider the consequences: the cost of towing, a new bearing, being late for work, and potential damage to other parts of your car. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

How Far and How Long Can You Drive on a Bad Wheel Bearing?

How Long Can You Drive On a Bad Wheel Bearing

Once you notice any sign indicating a bad wheel bearing, it’s important to take action and not exceed 500 miles with that issue. While a high-quality wheel bearing can allow you to drive for an additional 1000 miles, it’s crucial to note that this estimate can vary depending on your driving style.

When you identify a defect in your wheel bearing, it’s best to get it replaced quickly to avoid any further damage.

A bad wheel bearing can be a driver’s worst nightmare, especially when going on a long road trip. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t immediately replace the bearing, pay attention to any faint echoing or humming sound coming from the right back of your car.

Initially, it might seem like a tire imbalance, but the increasing noise will eventually indicate a bad wheel bearing.

Without proper lubrication, the worn wheel can generate excessive heat, leading to a complete wheel failure.

To prevent this, it’s recommended to drive at a slower speed to give your wheel a few more hours of action.

Considering how long you can drive on a bad bearing, it’s best to avoid going beyond 1000 miles as it may result in more significant issues. Driving at a speed of around 40mph while staying steady and shifting the vehicle’s weight from one side to another can help in the meantime.

However, it’s important to note that driving harshly or too fast can increase the risk of your car spinning out.

Pay attention to whether the noise from the bearing is getting softer or louder, and if it has reduced, continue driving cautiously until you can reach a garage or mechanic shop.

Read Also: How Long Can You Drive With Check Engine Light On?

How Can You Identify a Faulty Wheel Bearing?

If you suspect that you have a faulty wheel bearing, there are a few signs to look out for.

how far can you drive on a bad wheel bearing

One of the most common symptoms is a grinding or grating noise coming from your wheel or tire. Pay attention to whether the noise gets louder when you accelerate.

Another indicator is low responsiveness when you steer your car. If your vehicle is not responding as it should or if you notice extremely uneven wear on your tires, these could also be signs of a faulty wheel bearing.

A failing ABS sensor can be another clue that something is wrong with your bearing. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to have your wheel bearing checked by a professional.

How Can You Drive a Car With a Defective Wheel Bearing?

If you find yourself in a remote location and discover a problem with your wheel bearing, here’s what you can do to drive your car safely.

  • Drive at a slower speed, around 50-60 kph, or a maximum of 40 miles per hour.
  • Avoid taking sharp turns, as this can worsen the issue.
  • Make sure not to shift the weight of the vehicle to one side and avoid driving recklessly.

Following these guidelines will help minimize the risk and allow you to reach a mechanic safely.

Is it Safe To Drive With a Bad Wheel Bearing?

Is it Safe To Drive With a Bad Wheel Bearing

Well, if you have no other choice, you can drive for a certain distance with a bad wheel bearing, although it will be stressful. In the worst-case scenario, the wheel may complete a turnaround motion, causing damage to not only your vehicle but also the vehicles around you.

Bad wheel bearings can lead to several dangerous situations. Your vehicle may not respond as quickly as it should, your tires will wear faster, and you may experience uneven tire wear.

Worst of all, your wheel may even fall off completely while driving, as wheel bearings are crucial for keeping the wheels attached to your vehicle.

So, can you drive with a bad wheel bearing? Our answer is yes, you can drive with a worn wheel, but we strongly advise against it.

Driving with a worn wheel bearing is extremely dangerous. It can cause the wheels to stop while driving, leading to a loss of control. Additionally, a damaged wheel bearing puts a significant amount of stress on the shaft, the coupling, and the transmission.

Read Also: How Long Can You Drive With Bad Fuel Injectors?

What happens if I keep driving with a bad wheel bearing?

Ignoring bad wheel bearings can result in your wheel potentially stopping while driving or difficulties in steering your car. It can also strain other vehicle parts, such as the hub, CV joint, and transmission.

How long can you wait to replace a wheel bearing?

Wheel bearings typically need replacement every 85,000-100,000 miles, but this can vary based on bearing quality. It’s not necessary to replace all bearings unless multiple ones are overworked. Only the ones needing replacement should be swapped out.

Can you temporarily fix a bad wheel bearing?

There are no effective shortcuts or temporary fixes for a bad wheel bearing. Driving with a bad bearing can lead to seizing up, and potential axle and housing damage, and it’s not worth the risk.

Can a wheel bearing lock up?

Yes, if a bearing becomes excessively hot, it may result in deformation of cages and seals, leading to bearing lock-up. This might feel like the parking brake is engaged and causes resistance when accelerating, necessitating immediate inspection.

How much does it cost to replace a wheel bearing?

On average, fixing wheel bearings at one wheel costs around $350 nationally, though costs can vary, especially for luxury brands. It’s not necessary to replace bearings on the other wheel of the same axle unless required.

Can I change only one wheel bearing?

Yes, if only one wheel bearing has failed, it’s not necessary to replace both. Wheel bearings are separate components, and the failure of one does not affect the others. Replace only the failed bearing.


The decision to drive on a bad wheel bearing comes with substantial risks and potential dangers. While it’s possible to cover a limited distance with a compromised bearing, the recommended threshold should not exceed 500 to 1000 miles, albeit cautiously.

However, this estimate varies, and pushing the limit could lead to severe consequences.

The signs of a failing wheel bearing, such as unusual noises and vibrations, serve as critical warnings that demand immediate attention. Ignoring these signs can result in escalated repair costs, compromised safety, and even catastrophic failures while driving.

Promptly addressing a faulty wheel bearing by replacing it is the wisest course of action. Prioritizing safety and ensuring the integrity of your vehicle should be the foremost concern when confronted with a bad wheel bearing.

While the question “How Long Can You Drive On a Bad Wheel Bearing? | How far can you drive on a bad wheel bearing?” may imply a possibility, it’s crucial to understand that driving on a compromised wheel bearing, although feasible for a short distance, is not advisable due to the inherent risks it poses to both you and your vehicle.

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