How Do You Know if You Have a Bad Wheel Bearing?

Wheel Bearings of Various Sizes.

What makes wheel bearings go bad?

When you hear a mechanic say you have bad wheel bearings, what does that mean? On vehicles of ranging from bicycles to airplanes, any set of steel balls held together by a metal ring, or race, is a wheel bearing. The wheel bearing helps wheels spin fast, while producing little friction. Wheel bearings on a car are tucked inside the wheel hub and ride on the axle shaft. If they go bad they, they usually need to be replaced. Some common reasons they go bad include:

  • Water contamination: Driving through high water risks allowing moisture to get inside the bearing. The water emulsifies the bearing’s lubricant, which causes the bearing to fail. 
  • Hard impacts: Hitting potholes, curbs or other instances of hard impacts can damage the bearing.
  • Out of round tires: Anytime tire treads fail to rotate evenly they are considered out of round. That improper rotation can cause hammering, which over time can damage the wheel bearing, as well as the suspension. 
  • Improperly mounted or balanced tires: If your tires are improperly mounted or not balanced correctly, they can affect the bearings similarly to out of round tires.

In Inglewood, CA wheel bearings can be professionally replaced at L.A. NTX Transmissions. Give us a call at __PHONE__ if you are having trouble with your wheel bearings.

Can you drive a car with a bad wheel bearing?

If you hear a loud grinding noise coming from your wheels or tire, you probably have a bad wheel bearing. If you’re hearing this noise or your steering feels loose, and your wheel bearing has gone bad, you should get it repaired as soon as possible. When you’re on the road and these bad wheel bearing symptoms begin to occur, you may wonder, How long can you drive bad wheel bearing? 

Preferably you should take your vehicle in immediately if the wheel bearings are bad. This may not always be possible. You should put no more than 1,000 miles on your vehicle if the bearings are bad. You should also drive at a slower speed if you need to stay on the road for any significant amount of time. 

Driving with damaged or missing bearings is dangerous. Driving on damaged bearings will wear your tires out faster, while driving with missing bearings could cause the wheel to fall off. The wheel bearing helps keep the wheel attached to the vehicle.

Wheel bearings cost to repair

How much does it cost to replace a wheel bearing? Because of the way the wheel bearing is mounted into the wheel hub, when it is damaged, it usually requires the bearing to be fully replaced. For a front wheel bearing replacement, expect on average to pay about $400 for parts and labor. Prices will vary depending on the type of vehicle being repaired and the labor charges.

When you want affordable, reliable car repairs, you can always depend on L.A. NTX Transmissions. Our pricing is always competitive.

Can you replace just one wheel bearing?

While you can just replace the damaged wheel bearing, it’s usually best to replace wheel bearings, as well as hub assemblies in pairs. Replacing both the bearings and the assemblies in pairs ensures balanced maintenance. It makes it less likely for the undamaged side to cause any problems over a short time, as it will wear out quicker than the one that’s been replaced. If your hub assembly is worn out, it will be hotter than the other assemblies. 

Wheel bearings and grease

While the wheel bearing is a low maintenance part, it still needs maintenance from time to time, especially making certain it is well lubricated. The wheel bearings need to be lubricated with quality grease so that friction will be minimized. The grease should be specifically intended for high temperatures. While the grease should be of high quality, you should avoid applying too much of it. Too much grease can result in overheating, and repeated overheating can cause damage to the wheel bearing. If you are concerned about wheel bearing maintenance, give L.A. NTX Transmissions a call at __PHONE__ to set up maintenance.

Along with wheel bearings, you should perform regular maintenance on your vehicle. Standard maintenance will include oil changes, tire rotation, and other services.

The Hub Assembly Where Wheel Bearings Are Located.

Cheap wheel bearings vs expensive

The old saying, “You get what you pay for,” applies well when it comes to maintaining and repairing the wheel bearing. If you replace your damaged wheel bearing with a cheap version, the cheaper version is usually made of low quality steel that has been poorly heat treated. The cheaper bearings are prone to failing prematurely. 

For that matter, you should not settle for a cheaper hub assembly because it may include bearings that are too small, which could also cause the part to malfunction too soon. Some assemblies will contain double ball bearings, which can also affect performance. If you choose high quality parts, even though they may be more expensive, they’ll last longer. With good maintenance, the wheel bearings should need to be replaced only once during the time you own the car. Before any maintenance is done, make sure to check the owner’s manual for recommendations so no warranties are voided.

If you are having wheel bearing trouble in Inglewood, CA, for affordable and reliable repairs, you can count on L.A. NTX Transmissions. To schedule service call __PHONE__.