How much does it cost to replace wheel bearings?

How much does it cost to replace wheel bearings?

Wheel bearings are a small, yet mighty part of your car that are vital to movement and safety. Not sure what to look at, or hear for when they might need replacing? Worried about the cost of wheel bearings? Or simply want to understand a bit more about how wheel bearings work? Let us break it down for you. 

What is a wheel bearing? 

The traditional construction of a bearing is two rings, called races, and small balls. When assembled the balls transmit the load between the inner and outer races whilst allowing rotation and retaining their position laterally (side to side). 

Bearings are absolutely everywhere in machinery and vehicles, anything with any moving parts will always have a bearing of some kind. Wheels on a car require strong and precise bearings to cope with the large forces of bumps and turns. 

Modern wheel bearings are often made into modular units that bolt on and off the car, for ease of maintenance. Older cars, and some new ones, require powerful hydraulic presses to force out the old bearings, and ‘press in’ the new ones.  


How much does it cost to replace wheel bearings?

On average it costs between £170 and £400 to replace wheel bearings in the UK. The cost can vary greatly depending on a number of factors including: 

The make and model of your vehicle – luxury car parts may cost more. 

  • The garage you choose to make your repairs – labour costs will vary. 
  • The type and model of wheel bearings you choose for your vehicle – prices vary by brand - some cars may have modular bearings that cost more to buy, but take less time to fit.

Because of how common the fault is, the parts are relatively cheap and the process is well understood by any competent garage. Typical parts prices range from £30 to £250, but then you have to include the labour costs as well. 

Typically it is cheaper to replace a bearing on a non-driven axle, as there are fewer components to remove, with most cars being front-wheel drive (except for many BMW and Mercedes cars) this means the rear bearings are cheaper. 

Front-wheel drive car

  • Front-wheel bearing cost: £200 - £400
  • Rear wheel bearing cost: £150 - £300

Rear-wheel drive car

  • Rear wheel bearing cost: £200 - £400
  • Front-wheel bearing cost: £150 - £300

Four-wheel drive

  • Wheel bearing cost: £200 - £400


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The average life of wheel bearings 

Wheel bearings last between 75,000 to 100,000 miles.  

This depends on how often you drive and the condition of the roads you drive on, this may mean wheel bearings need replacing sooner or later but they won’t need replacing regularly. If you’re worried about your wheel bearing, ask your mechanic to take a look during your next service. 

Wheel bearings are considered a standard wear and tear item on a car, depending on the number of miles you do and how long you keep a car, you should expect to have to replace them at some point.


Symptoms of a bad wheel bearing 

While a mechanic will be best placed to properly diagnose your wheel bearing issues, there are some symptoms to look out for: 


As bearings wear, they create more noise. The noise from a wheel bearing will be a constant droning or scraping noise and is the best way to tell if there is a problem. 

Because they are supporting the road wheels, a wheel bearing noise is dependent on speed. If you notice a noise that stays the same volume and pitch when doing 30mph or 70mph, it’s probably not a wheel bearing.

Guide To Car Noises


Because a bearing's job is to reduce friction, when they’re not working as they should, more friction and therefore heat is generated. This can often be felt on the wheel after a long drive. 

Be careful when touching any part of the wheels as they can become very hot depending on the severity of the bearing issue and if you have been braking hard. But if one wheel is slightly warmer than the other, this could indicate a bearing problem. 

Tyre wear and steering 

Because the wheel bearing ensures the wheels are rotating in a single plane, and not moving side to side when the bearing wears out this can start to happen. 

Not only can this cause a wayward steering feel, it can also wear out your front tyres faster. If your car feels like this when steering, and is showing other signs of a worn bearing, get it checked as soon as possible. 

Movement in the wheel 

When doing an MOT, the tester will lift up your car and firmly pull on the wheels in various directions. Excess movement in the wheel when pulled from the top or bottom is usually a symptom of a failing wheel bearing. 

It is possible to do this yourself but will require care to do safely, as well as the use of a trolley jack and axle stands.  

A garage would be able to check this in a matter of minutes, and some offer free alignment and bearing checks, such as Halfords. 

How to tell which wheel bearing is bad? 

If you can hear a new noise, particularly a droning that increases in volume and frequency with speed, there's a good chance you have a failing wheel bearing. Determining which one is at fault, however, takes a little more investigation. 

Front or Back 

This is generally best determined by noise alone. If it's too difficult to tell, especially with how well sound-insulated modern cars are, it can be helpful to have a passenger try listening to the noise from the front and then rear seats. 

Another determining factor is when the noise is present, if when braking the noise gets louder, this usually means that one of the front bearings is worn out. This is because the action of the weight of the car shifts more to the front wheels when decelerating. 

Right or left 

Now you’ve figured out roughly where the offending bearing is, it should be fairly easy to determine which side is at fault: 

When driving your car on an empty road at a solid speed (40mph+), slowly drift to the left and to the right of the lane. 

If you hear an unfamiliar noise when drifting to the left, there may be a problem with your right wheel bearing. If the noise occurs when you drift right, the left wheel bearing may be faulty. 

What happens if a wheel bearing fails? 

Like many components on a car, wheel bearings almost always give plenty of warning, audible and otherwise, that they’re starting to fail. Also like other parts, the consequences of allowing one to fail can be severe. 

The wheel hub - the part that the wheel bolts to - is held in place by the hub-nut, which prevents the wheel and hub from coming off the axle.  

When a bearing completely fails, the hub nut can no longer stop the outer bearing race, hub and wheel from sliding off the axle, in short, the wheel can literally fall off the car.  

Obviously, this is an extremely dangerous thing to happen and will cause a complete loss of control and a high chance of injury.  

Whilst wheel bearings can take a while to get to this point, It is important to have the bearing checked as soon as you notice a new noise, or feel any of the symptoms listed in the sections above.  

Think your wheel bearings may need replacing but worried about a hefty bill? Let Bumper take care of it. Split the cost of car repairs into easy monthly repayments, completely interest-free. 

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