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Old 02-12-2010, 10:04 AM   #1
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Replaced front wheel bearing and....

Searched and read for hours prior to posting this.
I was experiencing one of the classic signs of a worn front wheel bearing-varying noise with a slight change in steering input.I had the shop that recently did my wheel alignment check it, and the mechanic concluded my left bearing was at fault. (Noise was present prior to alignment, I assumed it was tire scrub, but seemed more noticeable after alignment). I was pissed at them for not catching it prior to doing the alignment, so decided to change it out myself and save the labour. My check seemed to confirm the diagnosis-I had play when shaking the unweighted wheel at 9-3 and 12-6 positions.
Installed new hub, bearing and seals using a hub tamer type tool, and reassembled/torqued axle nut to spec. Did a final wheel shake before dropping car....and I have EXACTLY the same play as before!!!! Checked under the car and could not determine where the play was coming from. Disassembled to inspect-hub and bearing turn by hand with no noise, but seem a touch stiff (normal?). Axles are new as of last summer. Tie rod end seems fine. One thing I noticed is the ball joint seems to be quite loose.
Could a worn ball joint allow wheel play in both vertical and horizontal axes? Before I pull the knuckle/hub and check play in a vice, any ideas of what else could exhibit the symptom? Thanks
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:32 PM   #2
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The bearing comes in 2 seperate halfs. Did you re-use the outter race in the OEM hub? I'm not quite sure what you mean you 'replaced' the hub, with NEW? ???? Sounds like the bearing was not installed correctly. Sorry, not picking at your skill, but I had a similar issue not too long ago. Turned out that I did not seat the outter race all the way (how is beyond me, but ... it's what happened). Did you use a press at all? The bearing should not be stiff to rotate so there's an issue of some sort. And to answer the ? of ball joint - no ... in a word. It would feel different and you check it different anyway. The fact that the ball joint is loose doesn't mean it's 'bad', only that it's loose. To check the joint, lift the car under the 'A' arm (controll arm) so the tire is ~ 3 - 5 inches off the ground. Take a pry bar and slide it under the tire, lift up. Not so hard you dislodge the jack, but enough to see if there's excess play up and down.

Did your bearig come in 2 halfs? What is this 'tamer tool' you used?
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:21 PM   #3
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completely new Nissam hub, bearing and seals

Hi Jt,
Thanks for your reply. Don't be worried you'll offend me, I'm a thick skinned canuck.Yes, I replaced the bearing in it's entirety with a BNA National. After removing the hub from the steering knuckle and pulling the inner bearing race off my old hub I found some light scoring on the hub itself and chose to replace it with a new one. I reused the knuckle as it's in excellent shape. The hub tamer I mentioned is a tool system that allows you to pull and re-install the bearing without a press. The version I used resembles what Harbour Freight sell, but is from another source. (Search for "fwd bearing" on their site if ur curious). I re-examined and re-assembled this afternoon, and I can now confirm, it's not the bearing, in fact it never was the bearing. It was dark when I finished re-assembly, and I was freezing my *** off (I'm working in my driveway) but I checked for play with the wheel off, and when I grab the disc and shake, the strut,disc and hub/knuckle move together..ie the play is apparently not caused by the bearing. I'll check when I can see properly tomorrow, but at a guess I think the play has something to do with the forward transverse link. When I shake it I bang metal on metal...perhaps the pin is badly worn and I'm feeling play between it and the inner bushing. Looks like I changed the bearing,hub and seals for nothing.

Last edited by StevieB; 02-12-2010 at 04:24 PM..
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Old 02-12-2010, 09:24 PM   #4
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lol .... worse has been done friend, much worse.

I might recomend replacing the control arm (comes w/ new ball joint too). I did mine recently and was shocked at the difference the new one made. Felt much better overall when it was done. Have fun with those (IIRC) 23mm bolts! PITA tight and I'm like you, got my driveway to work on, so little room. I snapped the head off of a couple of pry bars (3/8" drive) then I got out the 1/2" and my 36" breaker bar - that didn't break, but the socket did. LOL After it was all done and said, I looked down at my tools to 'put away' and had to toss 1/4 of them out. lol
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:00 PM   #5
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Jeez, sorry to hear about your tools dude...I learned my lesson long ago. I heat the heck out of anything that looks like it might be reluctant to obey, but I believe you about those bolts being a big PITA. Under the car and fully exposed..rusted...old..not a fun recipe. You're probably right-changing the control arm is perhaps the best solution,assuming I'm right and haven't misdiagnosed again. Where did you source your control arm and for how much?
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:17 AM   #6
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Shop should have never done the alignment with play in the suspension.
You may have had two issues, one being the bearing (noise) the other being the ball joint (play).
Try to get the shop to give you another alignment at n/c for doing the job wrong.
They should have rejected the alignment and gave it back to you once they found any play in the front end.
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:24 AM   #7
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I ordered it online ... wanna say from Partsbin.com .... or thepartsbin.com .... IIRC it was like $75 - 80 for the drivers side. As I said, it made a big difference for me. G'luck and keep us posted.

Also agree with the above post, the shop owes you (since I'm sure they charged you) and you might argue the point that they (the shop) needs to catch these things before hand. What good is it to do the alignment if it's not gonna hold. The tech should have known better. Hell, you gotta lift all 4 tires to set it up. A simple rotation would have allerated them to the bearing issue - if they were paying attention.
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Old 02-21-2010, 02:05 PM   #8
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Here we go again...sigh

Turns out the play was simply a loose top nut on the strut rod . So I'm back to square 1-I have a rubbing/friction sort of noise from the front at highway speeds that increases as I turn right and load the left front wheel. The noise appears to be from the left front, so I guess there's a problem with the bearing I changed, very possibly due to a poor installation by yours truly. I mentioned earlier that after I installed the hub it seemed a bit "stiff" when turning it- 1) should a hub spin freely after you spin and release it?
2)What are the chances the noise I describe could be the axle?
The axle is a new EMPI as of last Summer. I've once again read many posts, and the most common symptoms of a faulty axle are clicking or clunking when turning at full lock/slow speed(outer CV joint wear) and a clicking from the axle on forward acceleration from a stop(inner CV joint), neither of which I have. Some posters suggest a faulty axle might make a noise similar to what I describe, but I can't find any confirmations of this from anyone who changed their axle and thereby eliminated the noise. Thoughts?
My likely next step will be a "proper" new bearing install with a press.
Thanks !

Last edited by StevieB; 03-02-2010 at 07:16 PM.. Reason: noise INcreases as I steer right..
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:26 PM   #9
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I'm sure you would have known if your sliders are seized I just thought I'd tell my story of same wheel noise in case it helps

I'm having the same wheel noise that appears to be from the left front, it got louder when new brakes/rotors were installed and my mechanic said it sounds like wheel bearing is shot so my dumb *** paid him for new bearing and the noise still there!

My axles are 6months old, rotors/brakes/bearing 1 month, the only thing left I can think of would be the sliders in brake caliber are seized, which my mechanic should have noticed when changing brakes/rotors but because of my ignorance he got a $300 bearing job instead of simple caliber switch. I'm having caliber checked tomorrow by someone else

Last edited by Saunter; 03-02-2010 at 02:52 PM..
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Old 03-02-2010, 04:35 PM   #10
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I've also been a victim of shops not checking prior to aligning. The times I've gotten my alignment they always tell me AFTER its done and then say "Don't worry you have 6month/6,000 mile warranty, just bring it back when you fix it. Assholes do that to make sure they get your business that same day.
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Old 03-02-2010, 07:54 PM   #11
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..garages...grrrrr

I've had too many bad calls/shoddy/unnecessary work done by garages, hence my willingness to do my own wheel bearing in my driveway in winter. Once I figure out what this damned noise is and fix it, I'll get on the garage's case to redo the alignment-though I'm not sure I even trust them enough anymore to do that properly.
Saunter-sorry your mechanic seems to have done non-required work. Look on the bright side and see it as preventive maintenance. Thanks for the suggestion re the caliper-already checked my brake components in my troubleshooting and they're fine. Hope your check solves your noise problem.
I'm sourcing a sound used left knuckle/bearing/hub assembly to swap in and verify if that rectifies the problem. Having a spare knuckle can't hurt, and potentially I don't waste a new bearing if it turns out to not be the problem.
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Old 03-03-2010, 02:21 PM   #12
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StevieB Have you checked your left tire tread? or struts?

Its funny, I went to local garage thinking it'll be better service only to get ripped off with unnecessary work and my problem was fixed today for free at monroe muffler

Well it turns out that wheel noise was my tire with uneven tread from a bad strut/shock on drivers side, tires are only year old so I rotated front to back and now the noise is gone! I know that's a temp fix but it'll do until I replace strut.
Monroe muffler really impressed me today, they spent 2 hours looking for cause of wheel noise test driving/taking caliber off checking sliders and even rotated my tires all for free, its kind of sad I can trust a commercial muffler place more than local mechanic

Last edited by Saunter; 03-04-2010 at 10:15 AM..
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Old 03-03-2010, 03:44 PM   #13
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You're right, I shouldn't assume it's not tires.

Saunter-Glad you solved your noise problem!! Ok, I admit I haven't tried rotating the tires, because I'm convinced the nature of the noise can't be caused by tires...and I may just be wrong. My struts/shocks/springs are the Tokico HP setup I installed new 2 years ago-they have no leaks and seem fine. I've examined the tire tread and it seems fine also,but I will rotate the tires and see if that alters the noise. Thanks for the suggestion!
later that night
Nope, tires rotated, no change. I'm heading to a well-regarded mechanic tomorrow to confirm what seems most probable-the wheel bearing is faulty, for whatever reason

Last edited by StevieB; 03-03-2010 at 07:30 PM.. Reason: updated post tire rotation
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:23 PM   #14
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Well Halleluiah!! Problem found and rectified!!

Thanks for your replies gents!! I took it to the garage today because I was just fed up and biased in my refusal to believe I might have botched the left front bearing installation. Well,I was right! The bearing installation I did was fine, it turned out to be the RIGHT side wheel bearing also needed to be changed-no surprise since they tend to come in pairs, but surprising since it had no play and the noise seemed to be from the left. The classic test of 'turning one way and loading the opposite wheel' method and verifying noise level gets an "F" in this case since the noise would increase as I turned right. They ended up running the car in gear while raised on the lift and listening on each side. Others have mentioned this method-the mechanic said it's the only way to tell for sure.So take note fellow orgers-increasing wheel noise with a change in direction may well indicate a worn wheel bearing, but may NOT reliably indicate which side is worn.
1,5 hours labour, parts supplied by me, end of story. Glad I didn't change the left side for nothing!! Now to get the other turkeys to redo my alignment for free.
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:23 PM
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