Wheel bearings are an important part of your vehicle’s wheel system. Bearings essentially take friction off the wheel and wheel hub, so it can turn smoothly.
And, whether you have ball bearings, precision ball bearings, or cone bearings, you will notice when they start to go out.
The average cost of replacing both wheel bearings is usually between $200 and $300 per wheel. Here, you can expect to pay $20-$150 for wheel bearings. It will also take 1-2 hours of work. So, depending on the make and model of your car, you’re looking at $150-$1200 in with labor costs.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of wheel bearing replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
Wheel Bearing Replacement Costs*
In most cases, replacing the wheel bearings in your car depends on several factors. The most important is the make and model of your car.
This impacts whether or not it’s feasible to replace just the wheel bearings. If it’s not, your mechanic will have to replace the full hub assembly.
The second is the amount of work required and your mechanic’s rates. For example, removing a single wheel and replacing the bearings usually takes 1-1.5 hours. Removing two takes at least twice that time.
|Vehicle||Wheel Bearing Cost||Labor Cost|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||$36-$746||$95-$177|
|Dodge RAM 1500||$50-$118||$103-$$118|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (February 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Wheel Bearing Replacement Quote Factors
Wheel bearing replacements can vary significantly in cost. While you’re looking at a national average of around $300 to replace the ball bearings, chances are, it won’t ever be that straightforward.
For example, are you replacing wheel bearings in one wheel or four?
Make and Model of Car
Different vehicle manufacturers charge different rates for new parts. Sometimes this depends on the volume of production. Sometimes it’s because you have a luxury or a performance vehicle.
In other cases, it’s just because the brand charges more for parts. So, your car’s make, model, and even year will all impact the cost of the parts.
That’s especially true if you’re buying from a dealership or from a mechanic ordering parts for you. Here, you’ll also have to consider how common the parts are.
Type of Bearings
There are three primary types of wheel bearings. These are “ball bearings”, “precision ball bearings”, and “tapered roller bearings”.
If you assumed ball bearings are the cheapest, you’d be correct. They’re standard, round, and normally press into a housing on the wheel. They’re also the same bearings you’ll find if you take apart basic moving vehicles like bicycles or roller skates.
Precision ball bearings are very similar to standard bearings. However, they’re usually slightly smaller and normally composed of denser material. They can cost more than four times as much. You also don’t need them unless you have a performance car.
Tapered roller bearings are the most commonly used wheel bearings. These bearings are slightly tapered on the ends, which helps to reduce cornering pressure on the wheel.
In most cases, this is the type of wheel bearing you need. They’re not as expensive as precision bearings but also not as cheap as standard ball bearings.
Sealed or Not
Every wheel has a set of wheel bearings inside the drive shaft assembly. This is located between the wheel and the axle.
Therefore, you always have to take the wheel off to get to the hub. From there, your costs depend on how the wheel bearings are put together.
Ball bearings are often sealed into the hub assembly. This means it’s often more cost-effective to simply replace the entire assembly. This costs more in parts.
For example, a new hub assembly can cost $300 or more. However, it does save your mechanic the effort of removing and pressing new bearings into place.
Roller bearings are not usually sealed. This makes it easier for the mechanic to take them out.
However, you will usually pay extra money for the time spent pressing new bearings into place. In addition, most mechanics won’t do the work without a press.
Condition of New Part
It’s always possible to purchase remanufactured bearings rather than new ones. This process involves removing old bearings and then rebuilding the housing and replacing the grease.
Companies do this to meet or exceed the standards of the original supplier. Most importantly, remanufacturing a part takes about 10% of the energy of making a new one.
This can greatly reduce the cost of your new part. However, not all mechanics will work with remanufactured parts.
Labor and Labor Involved
It normally takes about an hour to an hour and a half to take off a wheel, remove the wheel hub, and replace the bearing housing.
If you have to do four wheels, you can estimate a minimum of four hours of work for the job. On the other hand, if your mechanic has to hand grease and replace bearings, it may take more time.
In addition, if your mechanic has to press the bearings, it will also take more time. Eventually, labor costs can be the largest cost of replacing wheel bearings.
That’s less of a thing in areas where a mechanic’s labor rate is low – such as $15 an hour. However, the national average hourly rate for a mechanic is $60. And, in some parts of the U.S., it’s normal to pay as much as $215 an hour.
So, your end-costs will depend on what your mechanic charges per hour. Plus, of course, if you choose to have a mechanic do the work or prefer to do it yourself.
4 Bad Wheel Bearing Signs (Look Out for These)
If your wheel bearings are going out, it can be difficult to tell from several other suspension and steering issues.
However, these four signs of bad wheel bearings are important to look out for, as they always mean something is wrong.
1. Grinding Noises
If your vehicle is grinding, especially if you turn in a specific direction or when you go over speed bumps or potholes, you might have a problem. Unfortunately, grinding issues could be a lot of things like the CV joints, the wheel assembly, or the bearings.
This grinding happens as the bearings lose lubrication. They grind into each other or against the housing. And, that’s especially true when you turn corners – which puts extra pressure on one side of the bearings.
You can also try speeding up to see if the noise gets worse as you accelerate. If it does, it might be the ball bearings.
2. Steering Wheel Vibration or Pulling
If your steering wheel is vibrating or pulling to one side, it might be a wheel bearing issue. Even if it’s not, it’s an issue with the steering, suspension, or wheel assembly.
You’ll want to get this checked ASAP because any of these issues could be dangerous – for you and for other drivers.
Plus, if your vehicle’s steering is going out, it could leave you stranded. Here, ball bearing vibration normally gets worse as you speed up. If vibration is because of a tie rod or even a steering rack issue, that might not be the case.
3. Wobbling Wheels
If wheels are wobbling or have a lot of play when you turn them, it might be because the ball bearings are out.
Here, you can jack the car up and test to see if it wobbles. If it does, you have an issue with the wheel housing. And, the wheel bearings are a likely culprit.
4. Wearing Tires
Ball bearings help to distribute weight and friction for the wheel. If you see one wheel suddenly has a lot more wear and tear than the others, it might be a ball bearing issue.
Unfortunately, it could be any other part of your suspension or steering system as well. E.g., a bad tie rod, bad steering rack, or bad CV joints.
You’ll have to check and diagnose the issue to determine which part of the assembly has gone wrong.
Process of Replacing: 14 Steps
If you’d like to replace the wheel bearings on your car, you can normally do so with a minimum of extra tools all the way up to removing the ball bearings.
However, the process might slightly vary depending on whether you intend to replace the bearings or the bearing housing. For this, you should check to see if your vehicle has a sealed bearing housing or not.
However, that will change one part of the process at the end of replacing the wheel bearings.
Things You’ll Need:
- Floor jack + Jack stands
- Rubber gloves
- Lug wrench
- Wrench set (30 or 32 mm, 18 mm, 15 or 16mm, at minimum)
- Ratchet and socket set if possible
- Adjustable wrench
- Disposable gloves
- Tie rod puller/separator
Make sure the car is parked on a flat and dry surface with the wheels facing forward.
- Loosen the lug nuts while the car is parked.
- Then, jack the car up and use jack stands to stabilize it.
- Remove the wheel.
- Use a ratchet or a wrench to remove the brake caliper. This should be a simple matter of removing the bolt and then lifting the caliper off the hub.
- Take the caliper mounting bolts off then remove the caliper.
- Take the cotter pin off the drive shaft.
- Put a socket on the drive shaft bolt. This is usually 30 or 32 mm but check your vehicle. Remove it.
- Remove the tie rod. Take the nut off first. You can do this without a tie rod puller. However, you should get one to ensure you can get it off without damaging it. If you don’t have a tie rod puller, try using a rubber mallet.
- Remove the two bolts holding the strut assembly in place.
- Use a hammer and screwdriver to tamp the drive shaft out of the axle assembly.
- Finally, remove the nut on the lower ball joint, this will free your hub assembly.
- Now, you have to get the bearing assembly out of the axle assembly. Here, you might want to take your part to a mechanic and have them press the bearings out and press new ones in place. However, you can try the work yourself. On the other hand, if you have hand removable bearings, you can simply pull them out by hand and slot them back in. This entirely depends on the make and model of your vehicle.
- Place the assembly on a flat surface and match a socket to the size of the bearing in the hole, and then hammer it out.
- Use a pair of snap ring pliers on the ring to take the ring out.
- Then, put a wrench on each side and press the old bearing out. Most people recommend using a specialty tool for this.
- Grease and bolt your bearing back together.
- Put everything back together in reverse order, starting with replacing the drive shaft assembly on the axle. Then you can bolt the Ball joint back into place, replace the tie rod, etc.
Eventually, replacing the wheel bearings may require specialty tools. You might have to pay your mechanic to do some of the work.
However, it’s usually much cheaper to have your mechanic press the bearings into the drive shaft assembly than it is to have them take the front end apart.
In addition, some vehicles don’t require a press. However, most front-wheel drive cars will.
If you still have questions, this FAQ might help.
Can you drive a car with a bad wheel bearing?
Yes, you can. However, it’s important to note that bad bearings can be dangerous. In addition, bad bearings can cause your steering and your vehicle to become unreliable.
Finally, bad bearings can cause further damage to other parts of the wheel assembly. You might also have to replace tires more frequently.
Therefore, it’s likely cheaper in the long-term to replace your bad wheel bearing as quickly as possible.
Can you replace just one wheel bearing?
Yes. Unless your wheel bearings are getting close to aging out (usually between 100,000 and 150,000 miles) you shouldn’t have to replace them.
In addition, damage usually only happens to one wheel at a time. This means you can very likely get away with replacing just one wheel bearing.
On the other hand, it’s always a good idea to get an inspection and decide if your other wheel bearings are going out as well.
How long will a wheel bearing last after it starts making noise?
If your wheel bearing is making noise, it’s already bad. You should plan to replace it as quickly as possible.
Do I need to get an alignment after replacing wheel bearings?
In most cases, you shouldn’t have to get an alignment after replacing wheel bearings. However, some vehicles need it.
In addition, you’re taking out the tie rod and the ball joint. If you change positioning for any reason, you need a front-end alignment.
Otherwise, your steering and suspension might be unpredictable.
Replacing a wheel bearing normally costs around $300. However, that can go up to over $1,200, especially if you have to replace more than one wheel bearing.
On the other hand, if you replace the bearings yourself with remanufactured parts, you could pay as little as $20. Unfortunately, actual costs will fully depend on your car, the cost of labor, and the parts.
However, replacing your wheel bearing usually means having specialty tools on hand, which means it’s a lot easier to have done at a mechanic’s shop.