How to drive with bad wheel bearings

Written by chris miksen
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How to drive with bad wheel bearings
Wheel bearings keep your car intact. (Car's wheel image by Fenia from

Wheel bearings in most vehicles will eventually go bad. Wheel bearings support a vehicle's weight, and under the constant stress of driving every day for thousands of miles, the bearings will inevitably give out. Wheel bearings allow the wheels to rotate with as little friction as possible, and are one of the main reasons your wheel doesn't simply fall off when you drive. Driving with a bad wheel bearing is dangerous, but if you have no alternative, you must drive with extra care.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Maintain a slow, steady speed, and do not accelerate quickly. Bad wheel bearings cause the wheel to loosen, and driving fast with a loose wheel heightens your chance for an accident. Stay off the highway and stick to city speed limits.

  2. 2

    Turn slowly. A bad wheel bearing can make the brake rotor wobble and destroy your brakes even when you're driving straight. Turning puts even more pressure on the wheel than normal, so take turns slow and avoid sharp turns.

  3. 3

    Drive only in fair weather. A loose wheel causes enough problems on dry roads; it can easily make you lose control of your car if driven on slippery or rocky roads.

Tips and warnings

  • Make an appointment to take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. Bad wheel bearings can cause wear on the shocks, uneven tire wear, and ultimately will cause the wheel to fall off.

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