A wheel bearing is a device that allows the axle of a rotating wheel to rotate. If you hear unusual noises coming from your car, such as grinding or squeaking, then it might be time for you to replace your bearings. But, how long will a wheel bearing last after it starts making noise?
The lifespan of the average wheel bearing can range anywhere from 20,000 miles up to 100,000 miles, depending on driving habits and other factors.
Safety is an essential factor, and We never know what will happen. One small problem could ruin our car or even put our lives in danger.
In this blog post, we would discuss how long a bearing lasts before replacement is needed.
Table of Contents
Why Do Wheel Bearings Make Noise?
Almost all wheel bearings are made of brass and hundreds of steel, allowing the bearing to move freely around its outer ring.
The wheel bearings that are in use come with several ball bearings and usually have grease inside them.
Water and heat are two enemies of your wheel bearings.
If water gets in the bearing, it may destroy it. Also, if there is no lubricant on the bearing, it will get hotter and be damaged.
When these components start to wear out or get dirty, you will notice vibrations while turning your steering wheel back and forth (as if they were roasting corn).
The more worn-out the bearing is, the worse this problem will become over time until there’s almost no way of slowing down those noises.
What Kind of Noise Do Bad Wheel Bearings Make?
A faulty bearing starts with a sound that you’ll hear when you drive. Then, it will begin to high and get soft.
One of the simplest ways to tell if your wheel bearings are wrong is by listening for a clicking sound.
You will hear this click right when you accelerate, brake, or drive in high gear. If it sounds like something is loose and moving around, then the chances are that your wheel bearing has gone wrong and needs replacement.
Another way to identify a problem with your wheel bearing is by looking at how much play there’s left on any other axle shaft where the ball joint attaches from side to side.
The more space, the more likely that one of your front or rear wheels hashes lost its lube, leading us back to our previous conclusion: Your car’s wheel bearings need replacing.
What happens if you keep driving on a bad wheel bearing?
It can lead to several unwanted situations and can be very dangerous.
- Your vehicle would not be as responsive as it is.
- The vehicle’s tire would be worn out faster
- A damaged bearing can jam the wheel anytime while driving leading to a disastrous situation.
- As the wheel bearing attaches the wheels to the other critical parts of the car, when damaged, it puts stress on the hub, the CV joint, and the transmission of your car. This would damage the vehicle beyond repair.
Is it safe to drive with a noisy wheel bearing?
As explained earlier, a noisy wheel bearing is a precursor to a bigger problem.
If your wheel bearing has been making noise, you should immediately get it checked by a mechanic, and should not drive the vehicle.
A damaged wheel bearing, especially if it’s the front wheel, makes the vehicle highly unsafe to drive. Also, it compromises the smoothness of your ride and the longevity of your tires.
How to Distinguish Bad Wheel Bearing Noise?
You can distinguish a bad bearing noise easily.
If you hear the following types of noise when you speed up or take turns, there is a high chance the vehicle’s wheel bearing is damaged.
- Cyclic chirping
- Growling noise.
- Loud Humming noise or Grinding noise
- Howling or rumbling sound while turning
How to Find the Source of the Problem?
When the bearings in your car start making noise, it can be hard to figure out what is wrong because you have to drive the car around.
Here are some tips that might help you find where the noise is coming from.
The first thing you will want to do is figure out what type of noise the wheel bearing is emitting.
If it’s a high-pitched grinding sound, this may be an indication that your wheel bearings are nearing end-of-life and require immediate replacement.
On the other hand, if it sounds more like metal on metal squeaking while driving at low speeds or parking in tight spaces, often all you need to do is apply some lube oil to lubricate the wear points, which should fix the problem right away without having to replace anything!
Also, if a wheel bearing seal is broken or damaged, the noise starts very quietly. Over time, the noise gets louder and sounds like tires on rumble strips.
However, the sound is not quite as loud as when cards are flapped against bicycle spokes.
Look at the tires on your car. If they are scalloped or chopped (worn in patches), it can sound like a wheel bearing is broken. Make sure that you look and make sure that there is nothing wrong with them.
Replacing your Car Wheel Bearing
You will first need to figure out the nature and level of sound to determine the lifespan of the wheel bearing.
Here are a few signs that might help you identify if your car is experiencing any issues with its bearings:
Thin or no grease on metal parts (in contact) in wheel hub, ball joint, steering knuckle, etc.: this may indicate lack of lubrication which can lead to premature wear;
Chipping or peeling paint – it’s typically caused by excessive heat from the friction created by one part rubbing against another;
Noise coming from rear wheels while driving over bumps: this could indicate the vehicle needs new wheel bearings before they break down completely.
Also, it is not necessary to replace all the bearings. Just because one failure does not mean others are faulty.
Bearing replacement is expensive, so it would be wise to troubleshoot before buying new ones.
If the noise is coming from one wheel, you should replace just that wheel bearing first and see if this solves your problem.
If not, continue with the rest of them (two at a time) until they are all replaced, or there’s no more sound.
Final words: On How Long Will A Wheel Bearing Last After It Starts Making Noise?
The answer to this question can only be an estimate. For example, the lifespan of a wheel bearing depends on various factors, like the nature and level of sound.
We should never take chances with safety as this is one contributing factor to motor vehicle accidents, according to the NCBI website, where mechanical failures are also listed as a cause of accidents.
Suppose you experience strange noises coming from your car tires.
In that case, you should have them checked by professionals who can assess any damage or issue that needs addressing urgently before they worsen into more significant problems that may cost more money in the long run.