How Long Can You Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing?

How long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing? As a vehicle owner, you are definitely going to have this question in mind.  

Driving on a bad wheel bearing is indeed a herculean task. From disturbing noises to irregular vibrations, having a bad wheel bearing is not something to wish for. 

This article offers you everything you need to know about wheel bearings. This information will not only educate you on how long you can drive on a bad wheel bearing, but it is also a safety guide that may come in handy someday. 

Without further talk, let’s get started!

how long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing

I. What Is A Wheel Bearing?

As the word “wheel” in “wheel bearing ” suggests, it works hand-in-hand with your vehicle tires. This means that the wheel bearing essential plays a critical role in the operation of your vehicle. To hit the nail on the head, your vehicle’s wheel bearing helps the tire, hubs, and wheel assemblies function together properly. But that’s not all. A wheel bearing allows proper rotation of the hub assembly while allowing friction-free movement. 

II. What Causes Wheel Bearings To Go Bad?

As we mentioned earlier, a number of things can cause your wheel bearing to go bad. Here are a few common things that can be the culprits of this problem:

  • Faulty Installation

A faulty installation of a wheel bearing can cause it to go bad prematurely. During installation, using inappropriate tools like an impact wrench or a hammer can damage the interior or exterior of the wheel bearing. 

  • Re-using Old Accessories 

Your wheel bearing can be damaged if you keep re-using old accessories like nuts, bolts, split pins, circlips, etc. This means that these accessories should be checked and replaced often. Failure to do so may cause the wheel bearing to function abnormally, increasing the risk of an accident.

  • Bad Roads And Impact Damage 

Your wheel bearing can go bad due to bad roads and impact damage. Driving through potholes or speed bumps carelessly can damage your vehicle’s wheel bearing. 

  • Modifications To Your Vehicle 

Another factor that can cause your vehicle’s wheel bearing to go bad is the modifications done to your car. What do we mean by modifications, you ask? This includes fitting bigger or wider rims, stiffer shock absorbers, tires with lower thread walls, etc. This implies that you should stick to accessories that are compatible with your vehicle. 

  • Driving Conditions 

The conditions you drive in could damage your wheel bearing. How? If you go through mud,  deep water, or dusty areas, these contaminants can get past your tire seals and into the wheel bearing. This will eventually pollute the grease and wear away the wheel bearing. 

III. What Happens If A Wheel Bearing Fails?

To answer the above question properly, you need to know the symptoms of a bad wheel bearing. The first symptom is an increase in noise. You will notice a humming or rumbling noise that comes with an increase in acceleration. You will also experience looseness in the steering wheel accompanied by vibrations. This changes when you make a turn or increase your speed. The malfunctioning of your ABS is another symptom of a bad wheel bearing. 

Now to the question. What happens if a wheel bearing fails? It’s often strange and rare for your wheel bearing to fail immediately after noticing the above symptoms. That being said, your vehicle’s wheel bearing is responsible for connecting your wheels to your car. This implies that any damage that weakens this connection could put you in jeopardy. This is because it will affect your drive-axle and steering assembly. This will make your vehicle not be as responsive as it should and may cause your tire to wear out faster. 

To bring this question to a conclusion, the worst that could happen if your wheel bearing fails is that your wheel can come off completely while driving. This is based on the fact that the bearing is responsible for keeping your wheel and car attached.

IV. How Long Can You Drive On A Bad Wheel Bearing?

Having a bad wheel bearing is bad but isn’t the end of your ride. So the question is, just how long can you drive on a bad wheel bearing. In order to cover a reasonable distance when going on a bad wheel bearing, your speed is key. We advise that you drive at a slower speed because driving at higher speeds will cause your wheel bearing to overheat. Overheating of your wheel bearing will cause it to deteriorate quickly. Driving at a slower speed will help your wheel bearing operate a little longer.

As to the distance covered on a bad wheel bearing, you shouldn’t exceed 1000 miles regardless of your speed. Driving distances over 1000 miles could lead to more severe complications and also puts your safety in jeopardy. Moving at a slow and steady speed of 40mph would be a good idea. 

V. Is It Safe To Drive With The Bad Wheel Bearing?

Your safety while driving on a bad wheel bearing depends on how much distance you need to cover. Driving on a bad wheel bearing is very tasking; however, if the nearest repairing store isn’t too far away, it is safe to drive slowly to it. On the other hand, it could be very dangerous if you persist for too long on a worn-out wheel bearing. Why? A faulty wheel bearing can cause your wheel to stop while you are driving. Furthermore, a damaged wheel bearing will overwork the hub and CV joint.

VI. Conclusion

Your vehicle’s wheel bearing is an integral part of your vehicle and plays an important role. This means that you should treat it as such. How? Proper maintenance of your wheel bearing will save you a lot of trouble that could result in a bad wheel bearing. However, these things are not planned to happen. That’s why this article covers what you can do and how to detect a bad wheel bearing through its symptoms. That way, you are prepared for it if caught off guard. 

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