Wheel bearings help a car roll smoothly. Bad or missing wheel bearing symptoms include grinding noises, a loose steering wheel, and uneven tire wear.
The wheel bearings in your vehicle work with the tire, hub, and wheel to make a smooth ride while you are driving down the road. If a wheel bearing goes bad, more friction will be placed on the wheel, and the wheel will start to wobble.
It is not safe to drive with a missing wheel bearing. Driving without a wheel bearing is dangerous, so if you experience any of the 3 signs below, contact a mechanic as soon as possible. One of your wheel bearings may be about to fall off, and the symptoms themselves pose dangerous to driving.
1. Loud Noise Coming from the Tire or Wheel The most common symptom with a bad wheel bearing is a loud noise coming from the tire or wheel of the vehicle. It will sound like metal grinding on metal and will get louder as the vehicle goes faster. If you hear noises coming from the wheel, contact a mechanic right away.
2. Steering Wheel Feels Loose If the steering of your vehicle feels loose, meaning the steering wheel wobbles excessively, it can be another sign of a wheel bearing gone bad. This is an unsafe situation to be in because the vehicle will not be as responsive as it should be.
3. Tires Wearing Out Faster A potential downfall of a bad or missing wheel bearing is your tires wearing out faster than if you had your wheel bearings replaced when they first showed signs of trouble. A bad wheel bearing can lead to uneven tire wear, which means you will have to purchase tires sooner. If you suspect your wheel bearing is going bad, it is best to have the bearing replaced before the tires go bad to save both money on tires and peace of mind.
If a wheel bearing is missing, it is not recommended you drive the vehicle at all as the wheel can fall off entirely while the vehicle is in motion. The wheel bearing is an essential part in keeping the wheel attached to your car, so without it, the wheel has nothing to hold it on. This is a dangerous situation to be in, especially if you are driving down the highway, as you can lose control of your car and the tire can cause an obstruction to other drivers. Have the wheel bearing replaced as soon as possible.