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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Sealed Bearings VS Open Bearings - The test begins today

bearings axles drivetrain

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6 replies to this topic

#1 Ofeargall


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Posted 06 May 2013 - 11:21 AM

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.

#2 tdodge41


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Posted 06 May 2013 - 12:08 PM

I would be interested in this too. I am currently getting ready to replace the passenger side bearing on my 85 Brat. And you're right, grease IS the worst.

#3 tractor pole

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 01:09 PM

I wouldn't run the sealed bearings without at least pulling the seals off and adding grease, typically the grease that is in the bearing is inadequate for long term bearing survival.


If it were me I would run new unsealed bearings, plenty of grease (but not too much) and new seals.

the grease flows through the bearings at temperature keeping them from overheating/scorching.


I would prepare for doing your wheel bearings sooner than you would have just using grease and open bearings.


Get some good rubber gloves NAPA has a brand they call Thickster and they are thicker and less prone to ripping and the long cuff makes for less clean-up.


My .02

Good Luck

#4 ferox


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Posted 06 May 2013 - 01:16 PM

I am running the sealed units you listed from Macquire.  I did not add grease, but I only have about 1,000 miles on them.  If you're concerned about the long-term, I would recommend paying a little more for some higher-quality sealed bearings and run them as they are.

#5 rdweninger


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Posted 06 May 2013 - 01:29 PM

The original bearings in my '85 Wagon went for 210,000 miles.  Heard the left side starting to rumble.

So I replaced the both fronts with the same open bearings and new seals.   Am looking forward to another 210,000.


Although... I did consider buying the sealed bearings.   But in the end 4 bearings x add'l  $5 = $20  .... and $20 buys me a case of good beer... so it turned out to be a no-brainer.  Ha!

#6 Tsuru


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Posted 06 May 2013 - 02:19 PM

another thing to consider, Today's Synthetic lubricants are far superior to the good old fashioned "all purpose wheel bearing and chassis" greases of yesterday.


but here is the thing,


If you run a decent quality grease (either OEM spec old fashioned type, or the middle of the road synthetic) you can expect about he same life out of the wheel bearings. Meaning: they will likely outlive you no matter what.



If you plan on doing a lot of fjording or rivers, crossing the sahara, rock crawling, or live in extreme climates (Phoenix, AZ or Juneau, AK) and so forth. Look into the higher quality products. Otherwise it really doesn't make that much of a difference. (practical results bear this out).


But for goodness sake, if its growling, its unhappy!

Best of luck on the repairs, and I also support the use of napa gloves, it does make clean up easier.

(I usually just get greasy since I also like gojo!)




#7 WoodsWagon


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Posted 06 May 2013 - 03:10 PM

You can pull out the two inner seals on a sealed bearing set so they still get lube inside from the hub but have additional protection from water getting in from the outside.


I didn't find the sealed bearings lasted much longer than the non sealed, but I was in deep water a few times a week. It was pretty much a 6 month life expectancy on the front bearings, and yearly on the rears. I didn't run carpets in the car and had the drain holes open just as an example of how often it was sloshing. I drove it 50 miles a day 6 days a week plus the offroading.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: bearings, axles, drivetrain

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