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Wheel Bearing Replacement Cost: All You Need to Know

  • Auto Refinance
  • Natasha Young
  • 9 minutes

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Amidst major vehicle maintenance needs, often people forget the wheel bearing issues despite them being evident. If you keep on ignoring it, you’ll probably end up putting your life in danger. Read to know more about wheel bearing replacement costs so that you can get them fixed without burning a hole in your wallet.

Wheel Bearing 

A wheel bearing is a collection of steel ball bearings held together by a metal ring. Its purpose is to minimize friction and enable the wheels of a car to spin smoothly. It is crucial for braking, steering, and suspension systems.  

The steel balls or tapered bearings are part of the one-piece hub assembly. They are seen between the drive axle and the brake disc or drums. The bearings are tightly packed, covered in grease, and sealed with a waterproof ring. The housing, known as a race, is situated within the hub, with each wheel having its race. 

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What Are the Types of Wheel Bearings? 

Roller Bearings  

Roller bearings are designed with rollers placed between the inner and outer races to minimize friction. It has a longer contact area than a ball bearing, allowing it to support heavier loads. 

Certain vehicles have needle bearings, a specific roller bearing type that utilizes smaller needle rollers. This type of bearing is not adjustable because the clearance between the diameter of the straight roller is already built into the bearing. 

Ball Bearings 

Ball bearings decrease friction by placing small, hardened steel balls between two rings, known as the inner and outer races. They are designed to work at high speeds and manage an axle shaft’s forward and backward movement. They have less friction compared to roller bearings. However, it is important to note that ball bearings are not designed to support the same weight as roller bearings. 

Tapered Roller Bearings 

The tapered roller bearing is intended to support both radial and axial loads. These bearings have tapered rollers, which allows it to support heavier loads. The load on a tapered roller bearing is spread out evenly along the entire length of each roller, unlike other types of bearings where the load is focused on a small area. 

The rollers in this bearing are held in place by a cage, which is located between the inner and outer races. The purpose of the tapered roller bearing is to allow for free movement of the cage, which helps accommodate heat expansion. 

How Does It Work? 

A wheel bearing is present in both the front and rear wheel hubs. The hub connects the wheel to the suspension’s steering knuckle at the front. The wheel is connected to the hub, which rotates smoothly within the wheel bearing.  

This design allows the weight vehicle’s weight to be supported by the hub while it rotates, with minimal contact with the surface. Grease is used to lubricate the wheel bearing, which helps to minimize friction. Many vehicles have sealed wheel bearings that contain both the ball bearings and the lubricant within a protective enclosure. 

What Happens When the Wheel Bearings Fail? 

Experiencing wheel bearings issues can vary from being inconvenient and unpleasant to potentially hazardous. If your wheel bearings are bad, you may notice several signs. These include your vehicle pulling to one side, having loose or sloppy steering, hearing grinding and rattling noises, and observing uneven tire wear. And the wheel could come off while you’re driving, which is the worst-case scenario. 

Why Do You Need to Replace Your Car’s Wheel Bearings? 

In a clean test lab, wheel bearings are immortal, but on the road, they battle every day until their energy wears out. Eventually, they slack off and can cause harm to your car.  

If you accidentally hit a curb or pothole at an unusual angle, it can stress the bearing in a way it was not designed to handle. If you hit something hard enough to damage a rim, it’s likely that you have also damaged your wheel bearing. 

In such cases, it is recommended to have the wheel bearing replaced soon. Discovering something can often be a time-consuming process. The impact causes the internal parts to become squished or dinged. As they continue to spin, these imperfections worsen and create flat spots. 

What Are the Signs of a Bad Wheel Bearing? 

Having a bad wheel bearing is something you cannot ignore as it has some visible signs, such as: 

  • Groaning, rumbling, or grinding noises come from your wheels or tires, especially when you turn. 
  • The car’s handle gets less tight over time. 
  • The steering wheel starts vibrating and wobbling. 
  • The car veers to one side while you drive unexpectedly. 
  • Visible uneven wearing on the tires. 

If you keep ignoring those symptoms, one of the wheels on your vehicle will begin to emit smoke. Or worse, it will come off. 

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Wheel Bearing? 

In the case of front wheel bearing replacement cost, the total cost will vary based on hub style and wheel drive. For replacement of two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) (traditional cone or roller) it would cost around $100 – $200.  

If it’s’ a complete unit replacement, it would cost around $80 – $300. And for a pressed-on unit, it would be around $150 – $500. Rear wheel bearing replacement costs for typical units are the same as those of the front wheel.  

How Long Do Wheel Bearings Last? 

Theoretically, wheel bearings have the potential to last as long as your car. However, your car can be damaged, especially if you hit a pothole, clip a curb, or drive over a speed bump too fast.  

If water, mud, road salt, or sand comes into contact with the bearings, it contaminates the hub assembly’s grease. Over time, the bearings will become worn out and eventually stop working. If you ignore worn-out wheel bearings, it can cause damage to the inner or outer CV joints of your vehicle. These joints are responsible for connecting the driveshaft and transmission. 


wheel bearing replacement cost

Image by Bruno from Pixabay

How Often Does Your Car Need Wheel Bearing Replacement? 

On a general note, most vehicles have sealed bearings that do not need any maintenance. Sealed bearings have a long lifespan of 100,000 miles or more. However, they will eventually need to be replaced when they become faulty. 

If your vehicle has traditional, tapered wheel bearings, it is recommended to have them serviced every 25,000 to 30,000 miles. In most cases, you won’t need to place them if they are properly maintained. 

How Long Does It Take To Replace Wheel Bearings? 

You can save money if you choose to replace your wheel bearings by yourself. However, it’s not worth the risk if you don’t have experience, and it will take a toll on you. When you seek professional help, it will likely take about 2-3 hours generally to replace wheel bearings, depending on the severity and your car’s make and model. 

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Wheel Bearing?

The cost of fixing a damaged wheel bearing is the same as getting a replacement. There is no alternative method to fix it other than replacing it with a new one. Sometimes, you may have to replace the entire hub if you cannot access the damaged bearing without taking apart the entire unit. 

Is It Safe to Drive with a Bad Wheel Bearing? 

Yes, but only for a very short period. As the wear on the suspension increases, the likelihood of damage occurring to other parts of the suspension also increases. 

If you notice that your wheel bearing is wearing out, it’s important to have a professional check it out as soon as you can.  

Do not drive a vehicle with a severely worn wheel bearing. If the wheel bearing fails completely, there is a risk that the wheel could detach from the vehicle, potentially leading to an accident. 

How Can Damaged Wheel Bearings Affect the Brakes? 

If a wheel bearing is damaged or worn out, it can make the brake rotor wobble. This wobbling can then push the caliper piston into its bore. When this occurs, you will observe that the brake pedal feels lower or softer than usual. This is because the piston needs to travel a greater distance than usual to apply braking force. 

Does My Warranty Cover Wheel Bearing Repair Costs?  

If your vehicle is still covered by the bumper-to-bumper warranty, it is likely that a wheel bearing issue will be included in the coverage provided by the new car warranty. Typically, extended warranties and powertrain warranties do not cover wheel bearings. If you have a comprehensive and extensive warranty, it’s worth giving it a shot. 

Do EVs Need Wheel Bearings? 

All vehicles use a component called a wheel bearing. Having an electric vehicle (EV) does not provide any benefits in terms of wheel bearings. Electric vehicles (EVs) are typically heavier than other vehicles in their category. It is not ideal for the parts underneath the vehicle that support the weight and rotate. 

Tips on How to Make Your Wheels Last Longer

To keep your vehicle in good condition, make sure to follow the recommended maintenance schedule. Additionally, it’s important to have your wheel bearings inspected on a regular basis. 

To prevent excessive stress on the bearings, it is important to avoid overloading your vehicle. 

Make sure to maintain the correct tire pressure to avoid driving on underinflated tires, which can lead to more wear on the bearings. 

To prevent damage to the bearings, it is advisable to avoid driving through deep water or in severe weather conditions. 

If you hear any unusual noises or feel any vibrations from your wheels, it’s important to get them for inspection as soon as you can. 

If you often drive on bumpy roads or in hilly areas, it’s a good idea to think about getting better wheel bearings. This can help make them last longer. 

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