Bad wheel bearing

how long can i drive with a bad rear wheel bearing on my 1996 subaru?

you can hear it grinding, but its not loud.

can i just keep driving but stay away from highways?

You can keep driving until that wheel locks up and sends you careening into other cars and objects.

I am kidding, of course. You need to get it fixed right now. Sooner or later, it will lock-up, and you don’t want to be driving it when this happens. Get it fixed now.

Are you self-diagnosing? what I fear is that the problem is worse and failure is more innement than you have decided it is. Bad to put off repair of a part that “keeps the car rolling” like this.

If you put it off until it damages the axle and you pay much more for a repair you will regret it.

If it is the wheel bearing then a total failure means a dangerous situation for you and others around you. The wheel can come totally off the car, which means an uncontrolable car until it spins and skids to a stop. If you don’t hit anything, anyone, and noone hits you then you’ll survive. The car will be a total loss at this point as the repairs will cost more than the value of the car. Your call, keep driving it if you dare.

my mechanic told me that i might have a year left, and that when it got unbearably (no pun) loud, it was close. he didnt even put it up on the lift.

the car was was hit from behind while at a stoplight last month, which was enough to total it, so I want to keep using it til i can find another car.

If you trust your mechanic’s opinion, why post the question here? Of course the bearing will get noisier, and looser as it approaches failure. It seems that you want to ride this out, so I wish you luck.

Not only is it mortally dangerous to keep driving this car, it is time to find a better mechanic. No competent mechanic in his right mind would tell you it is okay to drive a car in this condition. Even if you really had a year left, a competent mechanic would convince you to get this fixed. It isn’t worth the risk. Your life is worth much more than the cost of a new wheel bearing.

His mechanic could be the guy next door that works at Jiffy Lube. You notice he didn’t say “a Subaru mechanic inspected and informed me”

Till the wheel falls off or it locks up.

There really is no good answer. I believe when they finally fail they constantly grind and it can get louder. If constant change it.

You can get by (maybe) for a while with a bearing that hums slightly. When they start grinding it’s time to fix it or park it because when a bearing starts to come apart it can do it pretty quickly.

I drove my Ford Tempo about 5000 miles between when I first heard the front wheel bearing noise and when I fixed it. It was pretty loud towards the end.

SOOOOOOOOOO, let me see if I have this straight…
You are asking us if we think its ok that you are driving a “TOTALED” car around with a “GRINDING” wheel bearing !?!?!?!

Does anyone here agree with me ?

I agree.

The OP is gambling that the wheel bearing won’t seize up on him while he’s driving (ruining the spindle, breaking the spindle, causing an accident,…).

I like to take chances on certain things, but not when injury or life is at stake.