In this article, we’ll talk about replacing a wheel bearing. It’s a problem that lots of drivers have, so you will learn everything about it today.
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How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Wheel Bearing?
Replacing a pair of wheel bearings can cost anywhere between $150 to $300, and the labor cost will be between $200 to $450. The price depends on several factors like whether the front or rear wheel bearings are being replaced, the make and model of the vehicle, etc.
The Cost of Replacing a Wheel Bearing in 5 Popular Car Brands
The cost for replacing a wheel bearing can vary from shop to shop and also, depending on the parts that are being used. Here are the prices for some of the most popular cars.
- F-150: $400 – $600
- Fiesta: $250 – $400
- Mustang: $300 – $500
- Civic: $200 – $350
- CR-V: $300 – $450
- Odyssey: $250-$400
- Golf: $200 – $300
- Tiguan: $250 – $400
- Passat: $250 – $400
- Yaris: $200 – $350
- RAV4: $300 – $450
- Corolla: $200 – $400
- GLC: $450 – $600
- A-Class: $450 – $600
- E-Class: $300 – $400
How Can You Save Money on Replacing a Wheel Bearing?
If you hear strange noises while driving or experience excessive shaking and vibration, the wheel bearing might not necessarily be the culprit. Damaged tires can also display the same symptoms. So before shelling out a few hundred dollars on wheel bearings, make sure that the tires are in satisfactory condition.
Here are a few ways to assess the condition of your tires.
Firstly, run your hands over the tire including both the outside and inside walls of the tire. You are looking for any form of imperfection. The tires may have bulges or misaligned tread patterns.
These are not the only forms of imperfections, but all of these can cause similar issues. If you find similar imperfections on the tires, they might have been causing the issues all along. But do not stop just yet. You should perform some more checks to be sure.
Lift the car and spin the wheel and listen for any noise. If you can not hear any noise, it could mean that your wheel bearings are fine. While the car is still lifted, spin the wheels and check for vibrations in the suspension. If the bearings are in good health, there should not be any vibrations.
Finally, wiggle the tire in all directions as hard as you can. Faulty bearings can cause the tire to move around. If your car does not exhibit any of the issues mentioned above, you have probably saved yourself a few hundred dollars. But you should proceed with replacing the tires.
If you are serious about saving any money, you can replace the bearings yourself. You will need a wrench with the appropriate socket, a hammer, a screwdriver, and a torque wrench.
You will probably have some of the tools lying around. Even if you have to buy some of the tools, it will still be cheaper than the hundreds of dollars you will have to pay as labor costs. Also, you will possess some tools which will come in handy in the future. You can follow any of the plenty of articles and videos on the internet showing you how to replace your bearings.
Can you Do Something to Extend the Lifespan of a Wheel Bearing?
If you want to extend the lifespan of a wheel bearing, you should use OEM replacements, avoid deep water, use the correct tire pressure, and avoid potholes and curbs.
Wheel bearings are expensive to replace. But if you take a few precautions, they can last for hundreds of thousands of miles. Here are some tips to help you extend the lifespan of your wheel bearings.
- Always use OEM replacements
When finding a replacement for your wheel bearings, avoid buying the cheapest ones you can find. All bearings are not made equal, and that is a fact. Its lifespan is dependent on the quality of the materials used by the manufacturer.
The cheap bearings will wear out much faster, which means you will have to pay hundreds of dollars again to get it replaced. Moreover, in many newer models, sensors for ABS and other features are embedded into the wheel bearing. The cheap ones may not have the correct sensor attached or, they may not have any sensor at all. Make sure that you always use OEM replacements.
- Avoid deep water
The wheel bearings are sealed with grease inside. The seal wears out over some time and, if you drive through deep water, water and dirt can get inside the bearing. It can lead to a lack of lubrication as well as the formation of rust. Also, avoid coming in contact with seawater at all costs as it can accelerate the wearing of seals.
- Use the correct tire pressure
When the tire pressure is too low or too high, the shape of the tire is altered, and the size of the contact patch deviates from the required size. It will introduce unnecessary stress in the wheel bearings, in turn decreasing their lifespan. Therefore, it is paramount to maintain the tires at the correct amount of pressure.
- Avoid drastic modifications
Many drivers tend to replace the stock wheels with larger ones, which are often heavier. It is usually followed by tires with thinner sidewalls and a stiffer suspension system. The stock wheel bearings were probably not designed to handle the extra stress and will not last long under such conditions. Always try to keep the modifications within the limit prescribed by the manufacturer.
- Avoid potholes and curbs
Hitting potholes and curbs can ruin the alignment of the wheels, and in some cases, it can slightly bend some parts. It results in increased stress in the bearings. Sometimes potholes are inevitable, and if that is the case, tackle them at reduced speeds.
- Install it correctly
If you are trying to replace the wheel bearings, make sure that you have all the tools that you might need. A torque wrench is the most essential bit. It is crucial to torque the bolts to the required specification. All the parts should be cleaned before installation and make sure to properly lubricate everything.
How to Tell if You Need to Replace a Wheel Bearing?
The most popular symptoms telling you that you need to replace a wheel bearing are the shaky steering wheel, strange noises, vibrations, uneven tire wear or grinding while driving.
Driving with worn-out bearings is a recipe for disaster. It will put additional stress on the tire and suspension and can cause accidents. Here are some common symptoms of worn-out bearings.
- Shaky or “loose” steering wheel
Does the steering wheel feel loose or disconnected from the tires? If the car does not steer towards the direction in which you point it, the bearing might have worn out, causing the spindle to move around inside the hub.
- Strange noises
Strange sounds are the most commonly attributed symptom of a worn-out wheel bearing. You should keep an ear out for any noise emanating from the car that is out of the ordinary. Squeaking, humming, or squealing are telltale signs.
Vibrations or wobble at the wheel are often symptoms of bad wheel bearings. They can be caused by worn tires, suspension, or a misaligned chassis too. Sometimes, the whole car can vibrate or feel shaky especially when taking turns.
- Uneven tire wear
If you observe that the wear is isolated to certain parts of the tire and not wearing uniformly like it is supposed to, it can be caused by worn-out wheel bearings. Misaligned tires and suspension can also cause that.
- Grinding while driving
If you hear loud grinding from the car, especially when taking turns at normal speeds or when the load shifts under braking, it can indicate bad bearings.
- Pulling while braking
The car pulls to one of either side under normal driving, especially under braking.
- ABS failure
ABS or Anti-Lock Braking System is an important safety feature. It stops the wheel from locking up under heavy braking. The car understands that the wheels are locking up through sensors. And in most modern cars, these sensors are integrated into the wheel bearing hub. So if you find that the ABS light is blinking or it has stopped working, make sure to check the bearings.
Do You Have to Replace All Wheel Bearings?
If the wheel bearing in one of the wheels has failed, it is recommended that you replace the other side too. For example, if the rear left has worn out, it is recommended to replace the rear right as well. It is not necessary if the other side has not worn out yet.
But since both bearings have the same amount of miles on them, it will probably give up shortly after. Replacing both of them together will save you another trip to the mechanic.
Wheel bearings are designed to last at least 100,000 to 150,000 miles before needing any replacement. Every time the car hits a pothole or curb, the wheel bearings take a beating. If the car is subjected to such conditions constantly, you should expect the bearings to need replacements earlier.
Older bearings could have easily been cleaned, and greased, which meant they could be repaired and reused. But the modern ‘hub-assembly’ type bearings are not designed to be reused. Even if you managed to inject fresh grease, there is dirt inside, and the new grease might not mix well with the old one. So it is never recommended to reuse the bearings, always replace them.
How Long Can You Drive with Bad Wheel Bearing?
Driving with bad wheel bearings is dangerous for you and others on the road. But if you don’t have any other choice, you should be able to drive a few hundred miles before the bearings potentially seize up or disintegrate. Assuming that you avoid as many potholes as you can and keep the speed in the 50 mph range.
Driving with bad bearings can degrade the tires faster and puts additional stress on the CV joint and transmission. It is in addition to the number of symptoms that were mentioned above. Driving with bad bearings can have a snowballing effect and can end up costing you more than just new bearings.