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rockotman
...Blown On The Steel Breeze
Emerging Research
join:2000-08-06
DSotM

rockotman

Emerging Research

What could cause a wheel bearing to go bad so fast?

I have a 2004 Grand Am for my back and forth to work beater.

My daughter had an accident with the car this past February - slid off the road on some ice and did some minor damage to the front and rear bumpers and fairings.

By the time I got it into the shop for repair, the left front wheel bearing was howling like a banshee. It was attributed to the force of the slide into the snow bank, as evidenced by the accompanying slightly bent tie rod end. Insurance covered the replacement of the bearing and left outer tie-rod end and an alignment, as well as the body damage.

About a month ago, I noticed what sounded like tire noise coming from the front end - most noticeable in the 40-50 MPH range. It has progressively gotten worse. Tires are new - Eagle GTs - they were put on the front end just a couple of days before the accident in February. Pressure is good, tires are not exhibiting any sign of abnormal wear.

At first it was hard to tell which side the noise was coming from. But the noise has gotten progressively worse over the past month, to the point where I suspect the bearing is going bad again. It definitely seems to be coming from the driver's side. This time is sounds like a typical bearing going bad (that whirring sound, tied to road speed, as opposed to the loud growling it was doing prior to the repairs being made). This week, I also noticed that on a turn to the left at highway speeds, it quiets down a bit, and gets a bit louder on a turn to the right. Another typical sign of a left front bearing on the way out.

I am taking it back to the shop that did the insurance work next week to get it checked out - my insurance includes guaranteed lifetime repairs if you use one of their approved shops, which I did.

My question is this - what could cause a new Timken (not an off-brand like Duralast) bearing to go out so quickly?

Improperly-torqued or under-torqued hub nut?

Bad alignment? (Car still pulls a perfectly straight track heading down the road).

Perhaps just a defective bearing?

One other note - I did replace the pads and rotors about a month ago. This past weekend I put a gage on the rotors just to make sure it is not a run-out problem with the new rotor. I don't think that the brake work I did could be the cause of the noise that started about a week or so after the brake job.

Your thoughts?
Waterbug
join:2008-03-30

Waterbug

Member

Maybe a stuck brake caliper. You mentioned road ice, so you are probably in the rust belt. If you didn't clean-up and lubricate the calipers, they are operating on surfaces that have been exposed to salt and corrosion.

rockotman
...Blown On The Steel Breeze
Emerging Research
join:2000-08-06
DSotM

rockotman

Emerging Research

Of course I made sure that the calipers and sliders were in good shape when I put the pads and rotors back on.

TheHarvester
Premium Member
join:2006-08-25
Dana Point, CA

TheHarvester to rockotman

Premium Member

to rockotman
If it turns out to be the same bearing, I would have to say either a defective bearing or possibly improper tightening of the axle nut. That bearing should be a complete bearing with hub assembly.

If you want to find out which bearing it is for sure follow my directions for method 2 here.

»Re: [Help] Noise when turning?

chinajunk
@optonline.net

chinajunk to rockotman

Anon

to rockotman
said by rockotman:

My question is this - what could cause a new Timken (not an off-brand like Duralast) bearing to go out so quickly?

What's the difference... all made in china, I'd bet all in the same place lol. All the brand names are just garbage now... could very well just have been a manufacturing defect... check for recalls... you see quite a few for parts like that...

»shop.advanceautoparts.co ··· E040.pdf example...

A pot hole can kill a wheel bearing... very common things...

mattmag

join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois

mattmag to rockotman

to rockotman


It's virtually impossible to cause premature failure of a hub/bearing assembly such as the one that car is equipped with. I concur with TheHarvester See Profile on insuring that the axle nut was properly torqued, as that can have a direct impact on the bearing performance. It's just unusual that anyone would *under* torque one of those, as most tend to *over* torque them, which is much less of a concern to the hub. Loose would be bad...

That being said, new parts can and do fail. Not necessarily because they are from some foreign country that people pile on the bandwagon to badmouth (deserved or not) but simply because they do, and always have, long before other countries were even a part of the equation. It's why parts have warranties; if they never failed, there would be no need...

rockotman
...Blown On The Steel Breeze
Emerging Research
join:2000-08-06
DSotM

rockotman

Emerging Research

Thanks - I plan on giving it a good going over this weekend, and will check the torque on the nut. Spec calls for ~175 ft-pounds if a new nut is used, 284 if the old one is reused. I certainly hope they didn't reuse the old one.

The noise got noticeably worse today, so the car will sit until Saturday when I can dig in to it.
frankpjr
join:2004-03-19
60164-1229

frankpjr

Member

If I am not mistaken the different torque values are actually for if the new design or old design nut is used. The old design is a caged style nut and is tightened to 284 ft lbs and is black in color. The new design is gray and appears like an ordinary nut with built in washer and that is 173 ft lbs. I do know from experience it is crucial to torque to proper value as even over torqued can over time damage the bearing on those cars (been there done that). Most of the new bearings come with a new center axle nut of the new design so should be tightened to 173. It has nothing to do with old or new nut as far as use which can be reused but the old design is not seen very often as most got replaced axle nuts and even the bearing mounting bolts when a new GM bearing was installed. Also do not use an impact wrench to tighten then as it can ding the bearing race if over torqued or "shocked" tight.

Good luck!

rockotman
...Blown On The Steel Breeze
Emerging Research
join:2000-08-06
DSotM

rockotman

Emerging Research

You are correct with respect to the old and new style nuts. I should have clarified that when I posted earlier.

I am going to try to verify if the left bearing is indeed the one making the noise. I'll also check the torque. If it is bad, or even just undertorqued, back to the shop it goes for in-warranty repair. If it turns out that the right bearing is the culprit, I'll just bite the bullet and change it out myself.

cowboyro
Premium Member
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT

cowboyro to rockotman

Premium Member

to rockotman
Crappy bearings.
I've replaced mine on front last year, one is already gone, one is fine. They were different brands though.
My car is a Grand Prix - which takes similar bearings as your car.

BonezX
Basement Dweller
Premium Member
join:2004-04-13
Canada

BonezX

Premium Member

said by cowboyro:

Crappy bearings.
I've replaced mine on front last year, one is already gone, one is fine. They were different brands though.
My car is a Grand Prix - which takes similar bearings as your car.

everyone i know that has had a grand am/prix they eat wheel bearings for some strange reason.
MGK645
join:2003-10-15
Warren, MI
505.3 40.8

MGK645

Member

Same with Cavalier/Sunfire bearings, those cars eat them alive. Last summer I replaced a set on a Cavalier the next day the drivers side hub literally fell apart when I went to check it for noise again. They're ready to be replaced again this summer, of course its timken brand as well.

BonezX
Basement Dweller
Premium Member
join:2004-04-13
Canada

BonezX

Premium Member

oddly, never had to take the ones off my sunfire.

Doctor Olds
I Need A Remedy For What's Ailing Me.
Premium Member
join:2001-04-19
1970 442 W30

Doctor Olds to MGK645

Premium Member

to MGK645
said by MGK645:

Same with Cavalier/Sunfire bearings, those cars eat them alive.

I've never heard that or ever experienced that. For example, my son's '87 Cavalier Z24 with original bearings at 175K on them.
rody_44
Premium Member
join:2004-02-20
Quakertown, PA

rody_44

Premium Member

wifes cav went at about 150,000

BonezX
Basement Dweller
Premium Member
join:2004-04-13
Canada

BonezX

Premium Member

sunfire with 160,000+ miles on it, never had to change em.

now the rest of the car needs some tlc though.

John Galt6
Forward, March
Premium Member
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp

John Galt6 to rockotman

Premium Member

to rockotman
Bent rim...

RonS
Madm0nke
Premium Member
join:2000-06-19
Dayton, OH

RonS to rockotman

Premium Member

to rockotman
I bought an HHR with 24K miles on it and the right front bearing was shot. I replaced both bearings on my daughters Cavalier it was at 125K. I mentioned something about changing wheel bearings on FB and a friend of mine asked if they were GM's.

Thinking about it, I have never had to do bearings on any Ford or Chrysler I have owned. (not slamming Chevy's)

rockotman
...Blown On The Steel Breeze
Emerging Research
join:2000-08-06
DSotM

rockotman to John Galt6

Emerging Research

to John Galt6
said by John Galt6:

Bent rim...

I doubt it. Wheels are in good shape (I checked the vehicle out pretty thoroughly last Friday), and to the best of my judgement and years of mechanicing (I worked on trucks for 10 years), it seems as if the front left bearing IS the culprit. I was going to check the torque on the bearing, but I didn't have a 36mm deep well or a 1-3/8 inch deep well 3/4" drive socket. The only torque wrench that I have that goes higher than 100 ft-# is a 3/4" drive. I checked the three local parts stores, and none of them had one either.

So last night I dropped it off at the shop that did the original repair after the accident to have them assess it.

If it turns out it is the other bearing, I'll search a little harder to find the socket, or even order one on line, and do the bearing myself.

In the meantime, I'm really liking (not!) taking the big old Silverado the 84 miles round trip to work everyday. But hey, the price of gas came down around here a whole 10 cents in the past week.
rockotman

1 edit

rockotman

Emerging Research

Well, it was the left front bearing.

Replaced.

No charge.

Car no longer sounds like a puddle-jumper taxiing for take off.

Cho Baka
MVM
join:2000-11-23
there

Cho Baka to rockotman

MVM

to rockotman
Good to hear.

FWIW, pushing any car around on the ground without the front CV shaft nut properly installed and torqued can kill a wheel bearing.
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