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Gearheads -- can bad bearings really be diagnosed this way?

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Gearheads -- can bad bearings really be diagnosed this way?

Old 08-24-11, 01:02 PM
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Gearheads -- can bad bearings really be diagnosed this way?

A buddy of mine is having the front bearings on his Explorer replaced because it was apparently discovered they were bad during a routine oil change.

How would such a diagnosis be made? The only easy way I know of noticing bearings are bad is that they become noisy -- something that would never happen during a oil change.

When I asked my buddy how they knew they were bad, he replied, "The guy showed me the spots on both sides of the front that are bad." What visual cues would be present?
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Old 08-24-11, 01:06 PM
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This sounds fishy indeed.

Last time I got those replaced on my car, I took out the "A" assembly thingie and got it to the shop (pressed needed). I really can't imagine how you can just look at it, and say it's bad.

Are you sure we are talking about the same thing? Lets ilustrate:


PS: BTW, This guy Erik has been my internet mechanic mentor for over a year now. My car is still running thanks to his videos.
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Old 08-24-11, 01:22 PM
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Are we sure that he's getting wheel bearings and not something else, sometimes people get their terminology confused? The "showed me the spots on both sides" part sounds odd.

The wheels could have a lot of play in the bearing and they aren't adjustable. A lot of mechanics poke around under the car looking for stuff wrong while the vehicle is on the lift. Especially if it's a common problem that is an easy fix and pays well, especially if the mechanic is flat rate. The job may pay 2 hours but the mechanic is so good he can do it in 40 minutes.

I always road tested a car before and after any service we performed. The mechanic may have noticed a bearing noise that had just become "normal" noise to the owner. Bearing noise quite often builds up slowly over time.
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Old 08-24-11, 01:59 PM
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No. He's being scammed.
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Old 08-24-11, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
Are we sure that he's getting wheel bearings and not something else, sometimes people get their terminology confused? The "showed me the spots on both sides" part sounds odd.
I also found this strange. This description would fit leaking CV boots better.

Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
The wheels could have a lot of play in the bearing and they aren't adjustable. A lot of mechanics poke around under the car looking for stuff wrong while the vehicle is on the lift. Especially if it's a common problem that is an easy fix and pays well, especially if the mechanic is flat rate. The job may pay 2 hours but the mechanic is so good he can do it in 40 minutes.

I always road tested a car before and after any service we performed. The mechanic may have noticed a bearing noise that had just become "normal" noise to the owner. Bearing noise quite often builds up slowly over time.
But a road test before an oil change would be bizarre.

I can see being able to feel play in suspension components when a vehicle is on the lift, but bearings?
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Old 08-24-11, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by colorider View Post
Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 08-24-11, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
But a road test before an oil change would be bizarre.
There is something I named the "ever-since-syndrome", an enhanced awareness of your car right when you get it back from the mechanic.

Customer returns the day after an oil change, "Ever since you changed my oil my car doesn't make much power . . . makes a rattle . . . makes a hum when I'm moving" (insert any problem here).

Solution to the above problems were a restricted catalytic converter, a flashlight rattling in the glovebox, and a bad wheel bearing. Nothing related to changing the oil.

Road testing a vehicle before and after any service allows us the opportunity to note (and possibly alert the customer) these problems before we even bring it in the garage. It also limits customer complaints.

I did not charge for road test time for small jobs like an oil change.

Last edited by Snydermann; 08-24-11 at 04:17 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 08-24-11, 05:03 PM
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Bearing hubs are usually noisey when bad and squeal like Ned Beatty in Deliverence.HTF can you see an internal bearing.This greasemonkey a mechanic?
Someone is pulling your friends crankshaft.

Pull it in to Rubes kitchen and have him road test it on the Highway to Hell,US-1.
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Old 08-24-11, 09:23 PM
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Are we talking about muffler bearings?
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Old 08-24-11, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
Are we talking about muffler bearings?
Rotary Pvitzer bearings, obviously. Pay attention.
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Old 08-24-11, 09:57 PM
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The way that I know bearings are bad are because it makes noise when the wheel turns. Or if the car is in the air, with the person standing in front of the lug nuts, so that the lugs are facing your chest, the top of the wheel and bottom are grabbed and if the are able to be moved toward you and away from you. Not in a rolling motion as from front to back of car but as if the lug nuts were loosened.
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Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.
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Old 08-25-11, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
This is the method I've always heard, which leads me to another vague recollection: Don't funky wheel bearings lead to strange wear patterns on tires? Seems that that'd be much more likely to be suspension-related, but maybe that was the "spots on both sides".
Cupping/Scalloping. But the more likely culprit in that case is suspension.
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Old 08-25-11, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
This is the method I've always heard, which leads me to another vague recollection: Don't funky wheel bearings lead to strange wear patterns on tires? Seems that that'd be much more likely to be suspension-related, but maybe that was the "spots on both sides".
If your wheel bearings are so bad for long enough to wear tires, you're really ignoring your vehicle.

Tire wear is usually alignment and/or suspension related. Cupping/scalloping problems, in my experience, are often caused by rear toe issues. Often, this isn't corrected properly as not all vehicles have rear toe adjustments and require special shims.
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Old 08-25-11, 08:02 AM
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I drive a hovercraft. Do I need my wheel bearings replaced with every oil change too? If not, I think my mechanic may be ripping me off.
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Originally Posted by colorider View Post
Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 08-25-11, 08:30 AM
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About the idea of finding stuff during an oil change, most full service places do a thorough inspection every time they change the oil, or for that matter do anything else. The reasons are because they don't want the liability of having something blow out and the customer getting hurt or killed then getting sued, and because there is almost no money in oil changes and it's to everyones benefit if problems such as wheel bearings get fixed.

Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
There is something I named the "ever-since-syndrome", an enhanced awareness of your car right when you get it back from the mechanic..
A while back I did the front brakes on an A6. 3 weeks later the lady comes back complaining of a noise. I test drove the car for a few blocks before I realized that it was the CD she put in the center console.
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Old 08-25-11, 08:50 AM
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MICHIGANDER!!!!!!!!! What is up? Welcome back Bro!
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Originally Posted by colorider View Post
Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.
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Old 08-25-11, 09:23 AM
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I used to pick up a neighbor's kid to take to school - this guy could SMELL what was wrong with my car. He's bring his little one out to the car & say something like "better have your guy check the" ... usually an o-ring, gasket, or some such - one time he mentioned the transmission (I checked the fluid level & left it at that, BUT 2nd gear disappeared a few months later!) He was always right on the mark. He moved out west somewhere...

So, if you see a short rotund dark haired chiropractor with a number of vintage VW's, take your cars to him!
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Old 08-25-11, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
MICHIGANDER!!!!!!!!! What is up? Welcome back Bro!

Not a whole lot, but your avatar is amazing.
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Old 08-25-11, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by x136 View Post
This is the method I've always heard, which leads me to another vague recollection: Don't funky wheel bearings lead to strange wear patterns on tires? Seems that that'd be much more likely to be suspension-related, but maybe that was the "spots on both sides".
Followup questions made it clear that the problem wasn't actually in the bearings but was in fact suspension related.
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Old 08-25-11, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
If your wheel bearings are so bad for long enough to wear tires, you're really ignoring your vehicle.

Tire wear is usually alignment and/or suspension related. Cupping/scalloping problems, in my experience, are often caused by rear toe issues. Often, this isn't corrected properly as not all vehicles have rear toe adjustments and require special shims.
Cupping is pretty common on the rear wheels of front wheel drive cars that haven't had the tires rotated, as well as with balance problems and with aggressive tread patterns that have a lot of gaps in the outer rib.
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Old 08-25-11, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Snydermann View Post
There is something I named the "ever-since-syndrome", an enhanced awareness of your car right when you get it back from the mechanic.

Customer returns the day after an oil change, "Ever since you changed my oil my car doesn't make much power . . . makes a rattle . . . makes a hum when I'm moving" (insert any problem here).

Solution to the above problems were a restricted catalytic converter, a flashlight rattling in the glovebox, and a bad wheel bearing. Nothing related to changing the oil.

Road testing a vehicle before and after any service allows us the opportunity to note (and possibly alert the customer) these problems before we even bring it in the garage. It also limits customer complaints.

I did not charge for road test time for small jobs like an oil change.
Road tests with customers could be interesting, especially when they drive. I rode with one of the Dallas Cowboys on the LBJ freeway once in a effort to figure out why he kept having tire/suspension issues. He drove like he was running through the opposing defensive line (quit driving over so much stuff, or at least slow down before you hit it was my recommendation), another time involved a 115 mph test cruise in a grey market 500 SEL (no worried there, he knew what he was doing) and another customer who slammed on the brakes to check the alignment, with approaching traffic in the other lane on 1 side and parked cars on the other.
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Old 08-25-11, 11:29 AM
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It would be very easy to diagnose. He drove the vehicle in for maintenance. The hubs HEATED up. They will give off a smell. You touch the housing. Say "ouch." Know that it is time to service the bearings. If the bearings are in good condition they will not heat up the hub. Could be an observant mechanic, as opposed to some untrained person doing a routine oil change.
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