Is it true that a wheel bearing will rarely go completely, causing the wheel to come off?
I guess you could say that…Usually, the failed bearing makes a lot of noise and commotion and the driver has it repaired before the wheel comes off…Sometimes, if the bearing fails at high speed during an interstate trip, the bearing can get so hot the spindle can fail, allowing both wheel and brake to be torn from the car at high speed…This is VERY rare. Before this happens, the wheel bearing grease catches fire and people tend to notice that for sure…
it will give you lots of noise and other symptoms before catastrophic failure, but a complete failure can cause severe consequences,including loss of wheel and other axel parts.
I’m guessing your trying to nurse a car with bearing noise because you cannot afford to fix it right away? If so, stop driving the car. I’m working on a car right now that the owner tried the same thing. This has gone from a 2-3 hour job of replacing a bearing pack (~$200) to a 10 hour job with a near collision due to near loss of wheel and tire, a tow, replacing the steering knuckle, broken CV joint, ripped off brake line, bent strut, bent lower A-Arm, damaged rotor and brake caliper, and damaged tie rod (~$1200). Oh, and a wheel bearing pack.