Wheel bearings are essential to your vehicle’s braking and steering systems. These bearings allow your wheels to make smooth turns without excessive friction, and they keep your wheels attached to the car. In most cases, these parts will outlast the rest of your vehicle, but if they become damaged, you’ll have to replace them.
Replacing a wheel bearing typically costs between $250 and $375 per wheel, with some luxury or performance vehicles costing closer to $800 or more per wheel. Labor is the biggest cost. For a vehicle with a rear hub assembly, the cost will be much higher, more like $600-$800 per wheel.
- How Much Are New Wheel Bearings?
- What Are Wheel Bearings?
- Diagnosing a Problem With Your Wheel Bearings
- Wheel Bearing Replacement Cost by Make and Model
- How Much Does it Cost to Replace Both Front Wheel Bearings?
- Can You Repair Wheel Bearings?
- Is it Worth It to Repair or Replace Wheel Bearings?
- Can You Drive With a Failing Wheel Bearing?
- Can You Replace Just One Wheel Bearing?
- DIY Cost for Wheel Bearing Replacement
- What Causes Wheel Bearings to Fail?
- The Bottom Line
How Much Are New Wheel Bearings?
The price for new wheel bearings can vary quite a bit depending on your vehicle’s make and model, the type of bearings, and how much you pay for labor charges. Still, the average cost is typically between $250 and $400 per wheel for this repair.
The cost may differ depending on whether you’re replacing the front or rear wheel bearings and if you’re doing more than one at a time. There are several types of wheel bearings, and depending on which ones your vehicle has, it may be a more or less expensive repair.
|Ball Bearings||$50 – $150|
|Precision Ball Bearings||$150 – $475|
|Roller Ball Bearings||$20 – $650|
|Tapered Bearings||$125 – $400|
Front-wheel bearings may be either traditional cone or roller style, or they could be the more common hub style bearings. If you have an older two-wheel-drive vehicle, you probably have the traditional cone or roller style bearings.
These are cheaper and easier to replace, and they’re usually replaced along with the rotor when necessary. To replace the rotor and wheel bearings typically costs around $150 per wheel.
In four-wheel-drive vehicles, the traditional-style bearings are inexpensive to buy but are more labor-intensive to replace. Because of the difference in labor, the whole job usually costs more than doing it on a two-wheel-drive vehicle. You should expect to pay $175-$250 per wheel for a 4WD.
Most modern vehicles use a hub-bearing style unit. These are either complete or pressed-on units. Complete units are far more common than the pressed-on type, and they typically cost between $75 and $300 for the parts. These types of bearings are far more advanced than the earlier traditional style, and they normally require an hour or two of labor to install.
The pressed-on units are more commonly found in German or Japanese imports. For the parts, the cost is far less expensive than the complete unit, usually running less than $50 per wheel, but they’re more labor-intensive to install. They often take double the time to replace, meaning the cost also increases by quite a bit depending on how much the labor costs per hour.
Rear-wheel bearings may be typical complete units or they may be housed inside the axle. Unless you have an older rear-wheel-drive car, you probably have the complete unit for your rear wheels.
What Are Wheel Bearings?
Wheel bearings are simple (but critical) vehicle components. These steel balls or tapered bearings belong to the vehicle’s braking, steering, and suspension system.
Your wheel bearings are what allow your wheels to turn with your vehicle’s steering system, ensuring you have a smooth ride.
Diagnosing a Problem With Your Wheel Bearings
If one or more of your wheel bearings is starting to fail, there are some signs and symptoms that you’ll likely notice. If you experience any of these while you’re driving, you should take your car to have it checked out as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Bad Wheel Bearings
- Squeaking sound
- Humming sound
- Clicking sound
- Wheels feel “wobbly”
- Problems with the ABS
- Uneven wear on tire tread
- Vehicle pulls to one side while driving
- Vibrations in the steering wheel
- Steering wheel feels loose
- Difficulty turning the wheel
Wheel Bearing Replacement Cost by Make and Model
A vehicle’s make and model will impact the cost to replace the wheel bearings because it will dictate which type of bearings you need, how much the parts cost, and how long it takes to do the job.
Replacing the wheel bearings on your older Honda Civic may be much cheaper than doing the same work on a brand new luxury vehicle like a BMW or Lexus.
|Chevy Silverado 1500||$285 – $575|
|Nissan Altima||$225 – $475|
|Chevrolet Impala||$175 – $380|
|Honda Civic||$125 – $350|
|Ford Fusion||$215 – $340|
How Much Does it Cost to Replace Both Front Wheel Bearings?
To replace both front wheel bearings, you should plan on spending at least $200 to $350 per wheel, or $400 to $700 total for both. However, the exact cost will depend mostly on your make and model and how long it takes the technician to do the work.
Depending on your vehicle, the cost of the parts may be as low as under $20 or closer to $400. If you’re fortunate enough to have a vehicle with inexpensive replacement bearings, you’ll still need to factor in the labor cost for the work.
The labor cost can vary quite a bit depending on where you take your vehicle. For example, going to the dealership will cost more than going to a local mechanic. Your geographic location can also impact the going rate for the labor.
Still, no matter where you take the car you’ll have to pay for the time it takes the technician to remove the wheel and hub, replace the bearing housing, do any other minor repair work, and remount the wheel. On average, that will take about an hour and a half per wheel.
So, for your front wheel bearings, you should plan for about two to three hours of labor. The going rate for auto shops is between $50 and $125 per hour, so you could be looking at $100 to $375 for labor charges alone.
Can You Repair Wheel Bearings?
If you notice a problem with your wheel bearings, chances are you’ll want to have your car looked at right away. The good news is that this is a relatively simple and straightforward repair. However, wheel bearings must be replaced when they fail. They aren’t parts that you can fix and reuse once they’re worn out or damaged.
If you have some know-how, you may even be able to do the repair yourself. If you have bolt-in wheel bearings, the job may be even easier.
Is it Worth It to Repair or Replace Wheel Bearings?
Repairing faulty wheel bearings involves replacing them with new ones. However, this is a straightforward job that may only cost a few hundred dollars. As with any vehicle repair, it’s important for you to weigh the cost of the work against your car’s value. Still, with a repair as simple as this one, it’s almost always worth it to repair your bad wheel bearings.
Eventually, all-wheel bearings will wear out or fail due to normal wear and tear. However, most people won’t have to deal with that because they last for so long. You should only have to consider replacing your bearings if your car has over 100,000 miles.
Another reason that it’s usually worth it to repair a wheel bearing is that you don’t have to replace multiple if one of them fails.
Unlike some other parts of your suspension system, just because one of your wheel bearings is bad doesn’t automatically mean you have to replace the bearing opposite the faulty one. So, you can save some money by only replacing the bearing that’s failed, rather than replacing two or four of them.
Can You Drive With a Failing Wheel Bearing?
You may be able to drive for a short time with a bad wheel bearing, but it should only be as a last resort or to get the vehicle to the shop. As the bearing continues to wear out, it will increase the chances of damaging other parts of your vehicle or failing altogether.
If you can avoid it, you should not drive your vehicle with a failing wheel bearing. Doing so could be very dangerous and could even result in your wheel stopping working properly or even coming off while driving.
Even if you don’t have a catastrophic result, your vehicle could still be less responsive than it should be, which puts you at greater risk of an accident.
Driving with bad wheel bearings also puts a lot more stress on your steering and suspension systems, including your CV joint, hub, and even your transmission. Not to mention, you may experience faster and uneven wear on your tires, which could result in more expensive repairs later on.
It’s never worth risking your safety when your vehicle isn’t operating properly. If you suspect a problem with your wheel bearings, it’s best to have your car checked out by a professional right away.
Can You Replace Just One Wheel Bearing?
If one of your wheel bearings fails, you may wonder if you need to replace the other one on the same axle or even replace all four. Unlike some other parts, your wheel bearings don’t need to be replaced as sets, which can save you a lot of money on unnecessary repairs.
This is especially true if you’re replacing the bearing due to physical damage or a collision. However, if you’re replacing it due to general wear and tear or age, you may want to consider replacing the others that might also be in the same condition.
Replacing more than one wheel bearing at the same time can help reduce the labor cost of having to do the work again later for another wheel. If you’re lucky enough to have a car with inexpensive wheel bearings, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to at least replace both on the same axle.
However, if you’re one of the unluckier owners with wheel bearings that cost $500 or more to replace just one, you can rest assured that it’s not necessary to replace the others at the same time.
DIY Cost for Wheel Bearing Replacement
If you have some experience working on cars, you may be able to save some money by doing your own wheel bearing replacement. In that case, you’ll only need to pay for the parts, which could cost anywhere from $15 to $350 (or more) depending on your vehicle and the type of bearings you need.
Still, doing the work yourself will save you at least a couple hundred dollars, which is what you should expect to pay (at minimum) at a garage for the work.
You may need some specialized tools and equipment to do the work, so you’ll need to factor in the cost of purchasing any tools you don’t already own. Another option is to rent the tools from a retailer like AutoZone which offers that service.
How to Replace Bolt-In Wheel Bearings
- Ensure your vehicle is parked on a flat, even surface and secure the vehicle from rolling with wheel chocks.
- Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel you’re going to work on.
- Use a wheel jack to lift the wheel.
- Remove the lug nuts and take the wheel off.
- Use a socket wrench to remove the brake caliper.
- Remove the rotor by removing the outer bearing first, followed by the rotor itself. You may need to use a rubber mallet to get it loose if it’s stuck in place.
- Remove hub bolts and hub to access the wheel bearing.
- Disassemble the hub assembly.
- Remove the races and clean the knuckle using shop rags.
- Install new wheel bearings and races using a hammer to set the races in place.
- Grease the new inner assembly and install it accordingly. Ensure bearings are aligned and pushed back completely. Use plenty of greases to lubricate parts.
- Reassemble and reinstall the hub assembly.
- Replace hub bolts.
- Reinstall the rotor.
- Reinstall the brake caliper.
- Reinstall the wheel and ensure lug nuts are firmly tightened.
- When everything is back in place, carefully lower the vehicle from the wheel jack.
What Causes Wheel Bearings to Fail?
Wheel bearings last for a very long time, which is why most people never have to deal with replacing them. However, there are some situations that cause these components to wear out and fail prematurely.
In most cases, wheel bearings fail due to impact. If the vehicle hits a curb, object, or something in the road like a pothole, it can cause damage to the wheel bearings. If the wheel bearing seals get broken or wear out, it can allow moisture or dust and debris to get into the hub which will cause the bearings to break down.
Driving on wheels or tires that are out of balance can also cause the bearings to wear out faster, or driving with worn or damaged suspension systems. Another factor is the type of tire. If you have low-profile, high-performance tires it can cause more wear and tear on the bearings.
If the bearing hub gets worn out, it will lead to wheel bearing failure as well. Another less common issue is the friction caused by faulty electrical wiring that causes transient current flow.
This causes static electricity to build up and cause excess strain on the moving parts on the vehicle’s chassis. Eventually, this will cause the wheel bearings to wear out prematurely.
The Bottom Line
Replacing a wheel bearing isn’t one of those vehicle repairs that will break the bank, but that doesn’t mean it’s as cheap as an oil change. Most people will spend around $300 to $350 per wheel for new bearings (on average).
Still, the final cost will mainly depend on your vehicle’s make and model. If you have an older car it will probably be a lot cheaper than if you have a much newer vehicle. Similarly, luxury or performance vehicles are typically more expensive to repair than standard cars.
For parts, the cost is usually between $50 and $400 depending on your car and the type of bearings. Then, you’ll need to factor in the cost of labor, which may vary depending on where you take the car and your geographic location.
If you have some technical knowledge in dealing with cars, you may be able to save some money by doing the work yourself. But, you should only go that route if you’re comfortable working on suspension systems and have the tools and equipment you need.
It’s best to shop around for the best price by getting multiple quotes. Of course, you shouldn’t continue to drive for too long with a bad wheel bearing, but you can continue to drive cautiously for a short time until you can get your car into the shop.
It never hurts to ask about discounts like those for students, military service members, AAA members, senior citizens, and so on. If you can combine services you may also be able to save on labor, so if you need new tires or other repairs done, get those quoted at the same time for the best rates.