I've been putting off replacing the front, driver's side bearings on my 89 4WD wagon for about a month now. The howling/grinding noise was pretty unmistakable.
I researched the forum here before diving in to see what bearings were best suited for the job. As luck would have it there are some great resources here. Most notably, some info about going 'sealed'. I'd never considered the option of using sealed bearings and thought it would be cost-prohibitive. Well, if sealed bearings truly are better, it's not cost prohibitive if you ask me. Especially when you consider the job in the full context.
Frankly, I hate grease. Gas doesn't bug me, brake fluid is fine, oil is no problem. Grease sucks. So, if I can avoid grease again, I'll be fine with a few bucks more for some bearings that are sealed.
Anyway, I'm running open bearings on the passenger side now and sealed on the driver. I'll likely replace the passenger side soon but really I'm just trying to test the sealed units.
Does anyone have long-term results on the sealed units?
As for the cost...
Part # AXS 6207 2RSC3 from McGuire Bearing Company runs 12.79 Each
"Precision" open bearings from NAPA run 8.99 Each
I'm assuming that since I'm using sealed units there's no need to run grease in the hub anymore and that may also mean the inner and out grease seals are probably less important now too. I don't think I would run without them obviously, but I suspect that it's not as critical to replace them if they're in 'okay' condition since the bearings are sealed.
Anyone want to chime in with some pros/cons on this issue? If sealed works out, I'm never going back to grease and cheap NAPA open bearings again.