How long will a wheel bearing last after it starts making noise?
Well, there are several factors that will determine how long you can drive on a bad wheel bearing.
Wheel bearing plays an important role in allowing all the wheels of your car to work together.
And when it fails, you will have to replace it.
Car maintenance will always add a financial burden to you.
Or probably you’ve faced this problem, and the nearest mechanic is hundreds of kilometers away- and you simply want to know if you can drive the car on a bad bearing,
To be precise, you can drive for 1000-1500 miles before it completely fails.
However, this depends on many factors, including mileage, your conditions, and driving conditions, among others.
How Long Will A Wheel Bearing Last After It Starts Making Noise
According to car tests done by professionals, wheel bearings have a lifespan of 85,000 to 100,000 miles (136,000 to 160,000 km).
This is only done under a controlled environment; however, the lifespan depends on the quality of your bearing and the driving conditions in real-life driving.
Reasons why Wheel Bearings Fail?
There are different reasons why wheel bearing fail. They include:
- Poor road conditions- impacts from speed bumps, potholes, and uneven road surfaces indirectly affect the lifespan of your wheel bearing.
- Faulty installation – lack of proper installation tools can affect durability. Some unqualified mech use tools such as impact wrench or hammer which can damage the bearing wheel.
- Poor quality bearing is also a contributing factor. Wheel bearings made of low-quality materials can cause premature wear and tear.
- Car modifications such as fitting wider rims or wheels with lower treads or stiff shock absorbers can speed up the wear and tear process.
- Lastly, driving conditions also affect the longevity of the bearing wheel. Water, mud, dust, and other contaminants, including road salt, can pass through the seals, resulting from tearing and wearing on the bearings.
Major Signs of a Faulty Wheel Bearing
There are major signs of a broken wheel bearing, and they include:
You may feel the steering wheel vibrate as the vehicle turns or as you change speed.
As a driver, you may experience clunking noises when driving on uneven roads
The ABS system may malfunction as a result of a failure of the ABS sensor connected to the wheel end bearing
Lastly, you may experience growling, rumbling, humming noises that increase as you accelerate or make a turn.
Constant grinding or whining noise when the car is in motion can also be a major indicator of a failing wheel bearing.
How to Identify Bad Wheel Bearing When Driving?
Drive at around 40mph and try to gently sway to the side of the road so that you’re able to shift the car’s weight from one side to the other.
This should be done by an experienced driver because the slightest mistake could send your car spinning out of control.
While shifting the weight, listen carefully and see if the noise gets louder or softer.
So, if the noise becomes softer as you turn to the left, then the right-hand side wheel bearing is damaged and vice versa.
Additionally, if the wheel bearing seal is damaged, the noise produced gets louder after driving down the road for several miles.
The noise produced in this case can be easily confused with the noise that a tire makes on rubble strips, but not as loud.
NB: Note that tires that are worn in patches can easily be mistaken for worn-out wheel bearing. Ensure you inspect the tires just to be sure.
So How Long Will A Wheel Bearing Last After It Starts Making Noise?
As earlier mentioned, you can drive with a bad wheel bearing for several miles.
Wheel bearings don’t fail immediately, and so you can still drive before replacing them.
But you should get it checked by a qualified mechanic immediately you spot any of the major signs highlighted above.
You should note that bearing replacement is an expensive venture and will likely cost you much than you anticipated.
Here is my other guide on reducing road noise in a car for a quieter ride and improved audio quality.
You can also click the following link on all things related to car soundproofing.