Is It Safe to Drive with a Bad Wheel Bearing?

Driving on a bad wheel bearing could lead to a dangerous situation. Not only can it make driving unpleasant with loose or vibrating steering or grinding and whirring sounds, but it can put your safety at risk by simply not allowing the wheel to turn as smooth while driving, and in some cases can cause the wheel to come off entirely.

Annoying sounds, sloppy steering, and a potential loss of a wheel does not make for a good or safe combination while driving. A wheel bearing is not a part that should be ignored if it is failing.

How to Inspect a Bad Wheel Bearing

You can confirm the wheel bearing is bad by raising the vehicle at the wheel. Put the transmission in neutral and chock the wheels. Turn the wheel and if there is resistance and the wheel does not turn freely or smoothly, the wheel bearing will need to be replaced. Since many models have the wheel bearing and wheel hub as a complete assembly, both will likely have to be replaced.

Next, press the wheel side-to-side from the 3 and 9 o’clock position. If it is wobbly or there is excessive play, it will need to be replaced. If it feels secure, try this test from the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. If there is excessive play, it will need to be replaced.

Because driving on a bad bearing is a safety hazard, it’s important to replace your bearings with trusted quality. We have many direct-fit and long-lasting hubs made of quality materials with long warranties to guarantee a quality replacement.

If you’ve completed a brake job and are unsure about replacing the wheel hub and bearing assembly yourself, check out our wheel hub installation how-to videos to see if you can do it yourself and replace the defective wheel hub as soon as possible.


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