To every car owner, a damaged wheel bearing is a nightmare. It can be inconvenient, especially when you are going for long driver. So, replacing them as soon as you notice a problem can save you a lot of risks.
Wheel bearings are fitted with speed or ABS sensors, and if the bearing is damaged, the ABS sensor will not function properly; hence your safety and other passengers will be at risk.
A damaged bearing will also affect your car’s alignment and cause more problems to the suspension and tires.
You could be wondering, “how long does it take to replace wheel bearings?”
Replacing one wheel bearing will take you 90 to 120 minutes based on your vehicle type and complexity. It takes this long because of the many moving parts which require maintenance and proper sealing to complete the whole process.
What are Wheel Bearings
A wheel bearing is a collection of steel balls or tapers grasped together using a metal ring. It helps allow the wheel to have a smooth rotation in little friction, and they ensure that the wheels stay attached to your car.
Wheel bearings support the weight of your car even when driving over potholes, rough roads and bad terrains.
In this regard, a wheel bearing is a crucial component of the wheel and is critical for safety. It would be best to replace the bearings in case of damage because they help sustain axial and radial load due to braking, cornering, gravitation, and acceleration forces.
Fortunately, wheel bearings are suspension and steering parts that last very long, but their life span will also depend on driving conditions and habits.
Are Wheel Bearings Easy To Replace?
Modern wheel bearings are easy to replace at home compared to the older ones. Replacing a wheel bearing that comes with the hub and bolts to the steering knuckle or spindle is easy when you have the skills, tools and an installation manual. However, the large axle nut is always very tight and could be difficult to remove.
However, to ensure durability, safety and maximum performance, you will need to properly install the bearings, use the correct tools and follow all the guidelines given.
Therefore, it would help a professional mechanic with the right skills and quality tools to install the bearings.
How Long Can You Drive on Bad Wheel Bearings?
It is advisable not to go more than 1000 miles because driving longer might cause serious problems.
A faulty wheeling bearing is risky, and you should replace it immediately. However, sometimes you might be in the middle of nowhere, and all you need to do is keep driving, hoping that you will be safe.
When your bearings wear out or get damaged, you will hear a faint echo sound from the back, and at a glance, you will note that your wheel is out of balance.
The noise increases, and it’s clear that your bearing is faulty, meaning there is a lack of lubrication from the worn-out wheel to keep it smooth.
In such a situation, avoid a high speed since increasing the speed will create a lot of heat that might crash the wheel entirely.
Therefore, ensure you don’t exceed 1000 miles with faulty wheel bearings.
So, it is best if you drive at a slow speed to ensure your wheel works for a little more time.
At the same time, ensure you drive at a speed of 40mph, stay side by side and ensure you are going slow and steady. Also, shift the car’s weight from one side to the other.
Signs Your Wheel Bearings Need Replacement
Are you worried that your wheel bearings are wearing and require replacement?
Here are the signs to look out for
1. Humming Noise
One common and easy warning sign to identify if your wheel bearings need a replacement is the humming noise.
Sometimes it can be confusing since the source of the humming noise can result from other problems like CV joint or tires.
The original sound of damaged or worn out wheel bearings is growling or squealing. This sound increases as you increase the speed of your car.
So, check out where the noise is coming from because it will help you know the location of worn-out bearings.
3. Clinking Sound
If you hear a clicking sound that intensifies as the speed of the car increase, your bearings have a fault.
4. Braking Issues
While the common noises made by a faulty wheel bearing is a cyclic chirping, squealing or growling sounds, if you hear clicking noise as your car accelerates, this could be an indicator of a problem with the wheel hub assembly.
Excess run-out as a result of worn out bearings can make the brakes pulsate and also pull when you press the brake peddle. In addition, ABS failure could also occur which could be as a result of loose bearing clamp.
5. Vehicle Pulls To One Side
When you apply the brakes, worn out wheel bearings makes the car pull to left or right. The side the car pulls towards show the side with the worn-out bearings.
6. Loose Steering and Vibrations
If you notice your steering is less responsive or precise than typically, the wheel bearings have a problem. Additionally, you may start feeling the steering wheel pull and this is an indicator of a problem either in the steering assembly and the drive train.
Faulty wheel bearings might make your steering wheel vibrate. The vibration increases when you increase the speed or turn right or left. Sometimes the vibration can be caused by the faulty suspension.
Therefore, visit an auto repair shop if you notice any of the above signs. They will help you identify the real issue and replace the wheel bearings.
7. Uneven Tire Wear
If one of your tires wear out more than others, that can be a warning that the bearings have worn out or the tire is not inflated or aligned correctly.
Worn out bearings wobble as you cruise on the highway. This phenomenon is also known as bearing play. However, this looseness isn’t felt through your steering wheel but rather via an inspection of your tire.
If you’re tires appear to be worn out despite regular wheel alignments or rotating, then you should have your bearing assessed.
Worn out wheel bearings can be stressful sometimes; they might happen when you least expect, and that is worse. However, when you notice your wheel bearings has a problem, drive slowly.
Going with bad bearings is not advisable, but you can take chances and drive to the nearest mechanic but don’t drive for more than 1000 miles.
If you are on a journey and wonder how long it takes to replace wheel bearings, it will take about 90 to 120 minutes, depending on your car type and the complexity.
Replacing bad wheel bearings immediately you notice them will prevent you from unsafe driving.
Hi I’m Marshall based in 1478 Doctors Drive Santa Monica, CA. I’m your DIY Car Repairman with more than 5 years experience in automobile repair, a skill I learned from my old man.
I started this blog to share my experience on both simple and technical aspects of your car.