What Happens When Wheel Bearings Fail While Driving?

Written by jay motes
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What Happens When Wheel Bearings Fail While Driving?
Wheel bearing failure can be catastrophic. (auto, detailed, wheel image by Rina from Fotolia.com)

Wheel bearings are a simple and durable automobile component that rarely fail. However, ignoring a worn wheel bearing could lead to significant damage to an automobile as well as potentially causing a wreck due to the loss of steering and braking.

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Failed Wheel Bearings

Wheel bearings can have long lifespans, but those on a high-mileage car might eventually need to be replaced in time. A wheel bearing might need replacement if it's repaired or installed improperly or in the event of a collision. A wheel bearing that fails can cause the wheel to separate from the vehicle.

Automobile Risk

A failed wheel bearing would likely cause the corresponding wheel to fall from the car. The car would then slide along the roadway and damage much of the underside of the car as well as possibly damage the bumper, fenders, and so on.

Human Risk

A failed wheel bearing that results in a wheel coming off the car in motion could be catastrophic for the driver, passengers, other drivers and others in proximity to the car. A car that loses a wheel due to a failed wheel bearing would be difficult to control; it's possible the car might turn into oncoming traffic, off the road or into bystanders with no way to steer.

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