The national cost for a wheel bearing replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $238 and $675 with an average of $310.

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What is a wheel bearing and how does it work?

A wheel bearing is the name given to a set of steel bearings that allow the wheels on your vehicle to spin with the least amount of friction possible. The wheel bearing assembly, made up of many small steel balls or rollers, is housed inside of the wheel hub to which the wheel attaches. Depending on the type of drive system included on your vehicle, the drive axle might also protrude through the center of the hub and bearing.

Wheel bearings reduce friction and allow your vehicle to roll by offering smooth balls or rollers to ride against the smooth metal walls of the inner and outer rings, or “races” of the bearing assembly. These metal balls or rollers bear the weight of your vehicle. The arrangement is similar to the ball bearings in a roller skate or skateboard.

Older vehicles relied on a set of “tapered” roller bearings installed in the wheel hub and seated on a spindle. This type of wheel bearing has the advantage of better lubrication and smooth operation, but requires more maintenance and can be tricky to install. While some heavy duty trucks still come with tapered wheel bearings, most modern vehicles feature sealed wheel bearings, some of which must be pressed into the wheel hub, and others that come as a permanent part of the hub assembly.


How is a a Wheel Bearing Replacement done?

Wheel bearing replacement procedures depend on the vehicle make, model, drive type (front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel, or four-wheel-drive) and other factors, including whether the vehicle comes with tapered bearings or sealed bearings. The most common type of wheel bearing found on passenger vehicles today is the sealed bearing. To replace this component, a technician will take the following general steps:

  • Raise and support your vehicle in the air for access to the suspension system
  • Remove the wheel and tire
  • Remove the wheel speed sensor
  • Disassemble brake caliper and remove caliper bracket
  • Detach the outer tie rod end from the knuckle (some applications)
  • Detach the knuckle or ball joint from the lower control arm
  • Unfasten the axle retaining nut
  • Remove the bolts securing the knuckle to the strut assembly
  • Remove the hub dust cover from the knuckle (some models)
  • Remove the bearing retaining clip
  • Remove the wheel bearing assembly from the knuckle using a hydraulic press (some applications)
  • Press the new wheel bearing into the knuckle (where necessary)
  • Install dust shield and press hub into bearing and knuckle
  • Reinstall all components in the vehicle
  • It should be noted that, when the wheel bearing is pressed into the knuckle, the inner bearing race must be forcibly removed from the wheel hub without causing damage before the hub can be pressed into the new bearing. Not all vehicles require that the wheel bearing be pressed into place; some vehicle feature bolt-on hubs with permanently-installed bearings

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National average cost of a a Wheel Bearing Replacement
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What are the signs that my vehicle needs a new wheel bearing?

Wheel bearings are filled with grease for lubrication. When this lubricant leaks from the wheel bearing, metal on metal contact can damage the wheel bearing. So can the introduction of dirt, sand, or other contaminants. If allowed to deteriorate for too long, significant changes to vehicle handling are likely. Ultimately, complete failure of the wheel hub (where the wheel falls off of the vehicle) can occur.

You might notice one or more of the following signs if a wheel bearing is going bad:

Gentle roaring or rumbling sound coming from the wheels, especially as you make turns or travel around corners

Vibration felt in the steering wheel

Vehicle pulls to one side

Uneven tire wear

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Other questions customers ask

Can you drive a car with a bad wheel bearing?
It is not recommended that you drive with a bad wheel bearing. While it may be possible to drive for a short period, it is difficult to know at what point the damage becomes serious. Not only can a bad wheel bearing affect vehicle handling, if wheel bearing becomes significantly worn or damaged, more damage can occur to other components, such as the wheel hub, spindle, CV joint, or even the transmission. And ultimately, because the wheel bearing is the tie between the wheel hub and the rest of the vehicle, if it fails completely, your wheel can fall off while you are driving.
How long can I drive on a bad wheel bearing?
It is difficult to say how long a bad wheel bearing might continue to work. If you notice signs of a bad wheel bearing - growling or grinding, vibration, loose handling, or the like - you should have your vehicle’s suspension system inspected as soon as possible. Deterioration can escalate quickly and leave you stranded, or worse, cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Is it okay to replace only one wheel bearing?
When it comes to sealed wheel bearings, these components are designed to last the lifetime of your vehicle. While they do not always make it that far, some needing replacement before 100K miles, still they only need to be replaced if and when they show signs of failure. Therefore, while some other components should always be replaced in pairs - the ball joints, struts, shocks, and others - wheel bearings can be replaced independently.

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