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Will these actually "give out" & Is this a dangerous situation?

Helllllllllllppppppppppppp !!! (Snicker.Snicker) Okay…I’ve been listening to this show for years.It’s been awhile though and I’m not really a mechanic.Momma has a 2003 Saturn Ion that is REALLY makin’ some noise while being driven.After about 30 mph it starts to sound like a jet engine.You can’t really even talk to each other while driving.Now,I’ve researched this and what I’ve come up with is wheel bearings.I told momma about this and she’s REALLY getting worried about it.She thinks that the car is going to fall aprt at 70 mph.I tried to explain to her that it’s not really a dangerous situation but,as I am not a mechanic…she refuses to listen to me.My understanding is that these bearings are “sealed units”. So,my first question is will these things actually “give out” sooner or later (This has been going on fro at least 3 years now) > And,my 2nd question is (in all reality) is this a “dangerous” situation (to be driving with these things in this condition ? Helllllllllllllllllppppppppppppppppppppppp ! (Snicker,snicker) Oh ! By the ay…THANK YOU !!!

Well, it could be a dangerous situation, if they’re that loud. They could fail and cause loss of control.

Any time a car “sounds like a jet engine” it’s time to have it fixed and not drive it any further. If a wheel bearing seizes up on an expressway the failure could easily result in a very serious or FATAL accident.

I’m assuming your mother has normal intelligence and common sense. Have her take it to a mechanic and checked out.

Thanks for contacting us.

Yes they will give out eventually, and after 3 years my bet is on sooner rather than later. And yes at 70MPH could be really dangerous to you and others. Please take momma off the road and to a shop.

Okay,my friends.Thank you very much.Personally,I really didn’t tink wheel bearings could be dangerous (I figured these “sealed” units to be even less dangerous if they were to give out.I’ve had bearings go out on myself years ago and all I had to do was to pull over to the side of the road.No big deal,ya kmow.And,that was on a 66 plymouth valient…you know,the kind where the entire bearings just start flyin’ outta their casings ?? Ha,ha.But,as I said…no big deal.I just pulled over to the side of the road and had the car towed home and I repaired it.When I found out that this particular model hactually had what they called “sealed” units…I figured…okay,no big deal…I’ll just drive it until i can afford to fix it.But,If you’re actually telling me that it’s not safe…Hmmmmmmmmmm.Okay.

I have pushed a noisy wheel bearing a week or two, but three years, I don’t think so. If this is a rear wheel bearing and you have drum brakes back there, the wheel could actually come off. I’m not sure about rear disc brakes though.

On disk brakes, front or rear, when the bearing fails completely, the wheel will wobble back and forth, the disk will hit the pads and force them back into the calipers. If you have anti-lock brakes, this alone will damage the anti-lock system. At the very least, a small amount of wobble will push the brakes back enough that the brake pedal travel will become excessive and eventually will require pumping the brakes to get them to hold, every stop.

BTW, it is best to replace the hubs with the front wheel bearings, the rear wheel bearing come with the complete hub assembly. It may look more expensive this way, but it really saves on labor, too bad they don’t sell a complete knuckle assembly with the wheel bearing installed, it would make things a lot easier.

Thank you very much.Personally,I really didn't tink wheel bearings could be dangerous (I figured these "sealed" units to be even less dangerous if they were to give out

And you’d be wrong. Sealed or not sealed…if a wheel bearing goes…it’s a very dangerous situation. The wheel could lock-up on you…At 50mph+ that could be disastrous.

As for wheel bearings needing replacing. The sealed ones should last the life of the vehicle. I’ve owned several vehicles with well over 300k miles on original bearings.

Agree. Being sealed just means you can’t service them so they must be replaced with the housing they are pressed into. Bearing noise can lead to bearing failure which can lead to the bearing seizing. Listen to Momma.

Sealed bearings are no safer than any other type of bearing so you can forget that idea.

This is a very bad situation. If the car makes a noise that is annoying in any way, FIX IT! Especially if it is wheel bearings, sealed or not. I cannot understand how ANYone can live with an obvious problem for 3 years. I understand money problems but why would you risk your mother’s life or safety on this?

As for wheel bearings lasting the life of the car…some do, many don’t. I’ve replaced 2 sealed and 2 axle bearings on my 120K mile truck so there’s that.


If you choose not to wash or wax your car or Momma’s car I don’t have a problem with that. If you don’t consider a breakdown or mechanical failure, coasting to the shoulder (hopefully), and getting towed a big deal, please consider others.

When negligent car owners/drivers put unsafe cars out on the streets they endanger my family and me and everybody else around.

Please consider the safety of other the next time you wish to take risk with vehicle safety. The very fact that you had to ask if it’s dangerous to keep driving this car indicates that some of your maintenance priorities are wanting.


There Are Bold Drivers And There Are Old Drivers…
But There Are No Old Bold Drivers.

You really need to verify it is a wheel bearing, but in my experience things on cars are not self healing, heed the warnings unless being stranded and possible loss of control of the car are not an issue.

If it IS a wheel bearing, it can generate enough heat, and the inertia of a 4,000 pound mass is great enough, that when it seizes the heat-damaged spindle could break and she could lose the whole wheel.

This needs to be addressed ASAP. Until it’s checked out and unless the check determines otherwise, consider this unsafe.

What really bothers me is the way the OP seems to be amused by what could be a very dangerous problem.

Volvo, that bothers me also. Too much “Snicker.Snicker”.

THe only way to verify that it is the wheel bearings, is to jack up one wheel at a time and spin the wheel by hand. If the bearing is bad you will hear it growl. Then grab the tire at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions and try wiggling it. Any play and the bearings need to be replaced. Though other major problems can cause the tire/wheel to wiggle. Any of these can be dangerous.

I have seen more than a few cars that when the bearing went completely the tire was lost and went rolling through traffic.
I hope you are concerned enough, thinking that that run away wheel and tire could cause a major accident to you, your wife, or some unrelated person happening down the same road.
Causing a fatal accident because of your lack of concern could cause you more legal problems than you think.


Has anyone on here ever heard of a wheel bearing howling for 3 years & keep rolling ?

Not 3 years, I had one go out 175 mikes into a 535 mile trip, drove it to destination then had it fixed, It could be ps pump or something else, thus my suggestion to verify, but get it checked out for sure!

No, I haven’t, but I’ve never heard of anybody going for three years with a growling wheel bearing without getting it fixed, so I have no idea if doing so is possible.

I have, however, heard of wheel bearings seizing … and that’s dangerous.

Barky’s right, until it gets checked out properly nobody really knows if that’s what’s wrong. But it’s a heck of a lot safer to assume it’s a dangerous problem than to assume it isn’t.