Car Wheel Won’t Spin Freely – Causes and How to Fix

You’re in a dangerous situation if one of your rear tires is not spinning. Immediately, you should pull over because if you drive any farther, you might get into a car mishap. In this article, I’ll discuss car wheels that won’t spin freely – their causes, and how to fix them.

There are several reasons why one of your back tires will not spin. One of the most common causes is it has gone flat. Or it could be due to a damaged wheel or a broken component of the suspension system.

If your car is already in motion and has established traction, you can fully release the clutch to regain control of the affected wheel. You can quickly step on your clutch down to the floor. This action will cancel the spin of the wheel. When you have stepped on the clutch, apply your foot brake. This will enable you to regain control.

Read on to learn why your car wheel won’t freely spin, its causes, and how to fix this problem.

Car Wheel Won’t Spin Freely

car wheel won't spin freely

A car wheel will not spin freely because of several reasons. The most common cause is a flat tire. Other reasons include the following:

A failing part of the suspension system,

  • Damaged wheel,
  • Wrong brake fluid,
  • Overheating brake system, and
  • A failing ABS component.

Here’s an immediate fix to this problem. When your car moves and has established traction, quickly depress your clutch down to the floor.

Fully stepping on the clutch will cancel the spin of the wheel. Once you have entirely pressed the clutch, quickly apply your foot brake, and you will regain complete control.

Additionally, the wheel may not be spinning freely because the tightness of the cone used to control wheel play or drag was not adjusted correctly. If the adjustment is very tight, the wheel will not spin freely, and if it’s too loose, the axle will have so much play.

Adjusting the tightness and looseness of the wheel hub is a bit tricky. You should do it gradually because any improper adjustment will result in problems like this. So, be ready for a bit of a hit-and-miss procedure before making the proper adjustment.

If the wheel can’t spin freely, it may completely lock up, and it won’t be able to turn. When your wheel stops, so will your vehicle. If your rear wheels lock up, your vehicle will go into a dangerous tailspin as it begins to stop. You can’t predict what will happen next.

Why Won’t Your Tire Spin Freely?

The first thing that comes to mind when your wheel can’t spin freely is a flat tire. While that is the most common reason, other equally plausible causes exist. Let’s discuss them one by one:

1. Bad Brake Pad

As you drive your car, you will often step on your brakes. Your brake pads will continue to do their work and will eventually wear out after some time. Worn-out brake pads often get stuck. When a brake pad gets stuck, it will prevent the tire from spinning.

They will block the rotational movements of the wheel. If this is your car’s issue, you have to bring it to a qualified mechanic so they can repair or replace the worn-out brake pads.

2. Damaged Wheel or Suspension Part

If a component of the suspension system has failed or the wheel itself is damaged, the affected wheel will not spin freely. This could happen if you accidentally hit a curb or a big pothole. If the damage is extensive, it could even cause the suspension and wheel to collapse.

This is a difficult situation; if it happens while driving, you can only get out by calling a tow truck. They can pull your vehicle and bring it to the nearest repair shop.

3. Engaged Handbrake

This is one of the most overlooked causes of wheels or tires that don’t spin. Many drivers forget to disengage their park or hand brakes when they step on the gas. They turn on the engine, put it on first gear, and drive on.

And then they wonder why their cars won’t move. They have not disengaged the handbrake, that’s why. So, don’t be like them. Disengaging the hand brake of your vehicle should be one of the first habits you should develop in learning to drive a car properly.

4. Broken Wheel Bearing

A bad wheel bearing could also prevent your wheel from spinning freely. It is the wheel bearing that enables your wheels to spin without effort. If worn out or completely damaged, it can prevent the free spinning of the affected wheel.

Don’t try to drive your car if you are sure that the wheel causes its problem. Call a tow truck and let them take your vehicle to the nearest car service shop for fixing.

5. Seized Brake

If the brake has seized up, the wheel it is connected to will not spin freely, or it may not spin at all. This issue becomes dangerous if the seized brake is mounted at the rear wheel. Your vehicle will likely go into a tailspin, which is very dangerous.

Be careful when you haven’t used your car for several months. Before driving it again, check its brakes before leaving your garage. The brakes of stationary vehicles for several months tend to seize up.

If you suspect this is your vehicle’s issue, don’t drive it yet. Call your trusted mechanic and ask them to inspect your vehicle’s most critical components, especially its brakes, before taking it out on the road.

6. Obstructing Object

car wheel doesn't spin freely

There’ll come a time when you are forced to drive in rough, rugged terrain filled with all kinds of debris. If one or two of your wheels are not spinning freely, a big object or objects could have lodged and wedged between the car body and the wheel.

Perhaps the object or objects are so large that they prevent the wheels from spinning freely. You must inspect your vehicle and check if this is causing the problem. If it is, remove these objects, and you’ll enable the wheels to spin freely again.

7. Flat Tire

Although I mentioned this reason at the beginning of this section, I need to elaborate more. Searching for reasons for wheels not spinning freely should start with the tires since they are visibly affected by the still unseen cause of the problem.

So, if you see that a tire is flat, naturally, the wheel it is mounted to will be unable to spin – even if there is no other problem with the suspension components, braking system, or brake pads. Replace the tire with the spare on your trunk. If the wheels revolve freely, your problem is solved.

Again, why won’t your car wheel spin freely? Check the brake pads if your car wheel won’t spin freely. If it’s in good condition, try to adjust it.

Why Is It Important to Fix a Wheel That Won’t Spin

Finding and fixing the cause of a non-spinning wheel is significant:

  • Your vehicle won’t move an inch with just one wheel stuck in its place.
  • Even if you can still drive your vehicle, it is unsafe because this issue may occur again while you are already on the road. And that’s dangerous.
  • It is critical to solving this problem at once because it could indicate a more serious underlying problem – especially if the cause of the issue is not visible on the outside. Driving a car with its rear suddenly seizing up is dangerous. It can cause your vehicle to go into a tailspin.

If this happens, there is no way you can control your vehicle. You go wherever it wants, even in a ditch or towards a surprised pedestrian. If you don’t have this issue fixed immediately, be ready to suffer the consequences.

What to Do If a Wheel on Your Car Is Not Spinning?

car rear wheel doesn't spin freely

If you are prepared and know what to do when suddenly faced with this problem while driving, it will be like you have already won half of the battle. You have several options for getting out of this trouble:

1. Step on the Brakes

Step on your brakes quickly and repeatedly until the wheels become unlocked, or you can slowly drive your car to a spot where you can park it safely.

You can step on your brakes and try to gain control of your vehicle as much as possible. If your car is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), it will provide you with some feedback from the brake pedal.

You will hear a certain noise while your vehicle is coming to a stop. It is the ABS trying to prevent your wheels from locking up. It will also stop your car from skidding.

2. Wait for the Tires to Get Enough Traction

Another way out of this situation is to not step on your brakes when you feel a wheel is locking up. This will allow the tires to get enough traction to unlock the affected wheel temporarily. And then step on the brakes right after if you think it is necessary.

3. Rev Your Engine

If you have a vehicle with a manual transmission, revving its engine can solve your problem. This will break traction no matter what road surface your car is into. However, this option will have some toll on your clutch, transmission, tires, and other car parts.

The engine must be robust enough if your vehicle uses an automatic transmission. From a stop, step on the accelerator to the floor. If you still can’t get traction, find a slippery road to perform this option.

4. Pop the Clutch

Put your vehicle’s gear into neutral, rev the engine, and then pop the gear into drive. But remember that popping up the clutch for a manual transmission engine can damage your drivetrain.

5. Rock Your Vehicle Back and Forth

If a wheel does not spin freely, rocking it back and forth might do the trick. Spraying some lubricant, such as WD-40, on the wheel can also help.

In Closing

The rear wheel of your car may not spin because of several reasons. One of the usual reasons is one of the rear tires is flat. Other causes include damaged wheels and a part of the failed suspension system.

If your car is already moving and has traction, completely releasing your clutch will help you regain control of the affected wheel.

You need to step on your clutch down to the floor quickly. When the clutch is thoroughly pressed, apply your foot brake. You will now be able to control the wheel spin.