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 vital to movement and safety. If they’re not functioning properly, you must replace them immediately. 

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. Scroll down to understand wheel bearing replacement costs and other common FAQs.  

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 several factors including:  

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

You can estimate your wheel bearing cost depending on the type you buy. Here’s a quick overview of the different price brackets: 

Type of Wheel Bearings Approximate Cost Per Wheel Bearing
Standard Wheel Bearings £100 to £300
High-Performance Wheel Bearings £200 to £500
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Wheel Bearings £300 to £700

How much are wheel-bearing parts? 

Wheel bearing replacement is a common issue, so the parts are relatively cheap, and any competent garage well understands the process. 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.  

So, if you’re wondering if wheel bearings are expensive, the price ultimately comes down to which specific parts your car needs. 

Cost of wheel bearing replacements by car type 

Wondering how much it is to replace wheel bearings in the UK? Let’s look at the standard costs per vehicle type. 

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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What is a wheel bearing?  

Wheel bearings enable the rotation of car wheels. This allows you to drive with minimal friction.  

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 moving parts will always have a bearing of some kind. Car wheels 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 easy maintenance. Older cars, and some new ones, require powerful hydraulic presses to force out the old bearings and ‘press in’ the new ones. 

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The average life of wheel bearings 

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

However, life expectancy 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 check it during your next service.  

Wheel bearings are considered a standard wear and tear item on a car. Depending on the number of miles you drive 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. Here are four signs drivers need to know:  

1. Noise  

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 support the road wheels, wheel bearing noise depends 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. 

2. Heat  

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, this could indicate a bearing problem.  

3. Tyre wear and steering  

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

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

4. Movement in the wheel  

When doing an MOT, the tester will lift 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 it will require care and the use of a trolley jack and axle stands.   

A garage can check this in minutes, and some, such as Halfords, offer free alignment and bearing checks. 

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.  

However, determining which one is at fault takes a little more investigation. See below for instructions on how to examine wheel bearing problems. 

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, a passenger can 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 pretty easy to determine which side is at fault:  

When driving your car on an empty road at a solid speed (40 mph+), slowly drift to the left and 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 situation. It can cause a complete loss of control and a high chance of injury.   

Wheel bearing replacement costs - The takeaway 

Whilst wheel bearings can take a while to get to the replacement point, it’s still important to have the bearing checked as soon as you notice a new noise or feel any symptoms. Hopefully, this guide has introduced you to wheel bearing replacement costs and answered some questions you may have had. When in doubt, consult a professional mechanic or work with a garage to achieve a safe solution.  

How Bumper can help 

Think your wheel bearings may need replacing but are worried about a hefty bill? Let Bumper take care of it.  

Split the cost of car repairs into easy monthly repayments with completely interest-free car repair finance. Find a Bumper partner near you. 

Learn more about what we do online now. 

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