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CNY_Dave

How long will a noisy wheel bearing last?

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I know, it's like asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (answer- none, they don't dance).

 

I have a noisy front (pretty sure) wheel bearing on the right side, its slowly getting louder, I can hear it while going straight and its a little worse going left, quiets completely during a right-hand turn, and I'm starting to be able to feel a little thrumming through the steering wheel and the floor.

 

The wheel bearing does not yet have any detectable play, and the wheel turns with no noises/notchiness/grinding.

 

Anyone have a noisy bearing stay in this condition for a long time?

 

How much warning before it really goes all to hell?

 

 

Dave

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I've had three noisy wheel bearing issues in the past couple months, all with some mileage.

 

In my experience they start with a "wub, wub, wub, wub" kind of sound. Often it's hard to distinguish from road/tire noise.

 

I installed new bearings inmy 96 Legacy and it made noise right away even with the new Subaru bearings, meaning the hub was hosed. They made it 20,000 miles before giving out again this year. It kept the same general noise level for 20,000 miles. As soon as it started getting worse, it got worse quickly. Once it started getting worse, we probably put 500 miles on it before it got to the point the car was wandering and dangerous. So in my case - 500 miles once the noise started to change/get noticeably worse.

 

My friends Legacy I just replaced front bearings on last weekend he drove a few hundred miles and it gradually got worse over the past couple weeks, they were quite loose when I pulled the hub Saturday. Don't know mileage though.

 

If it starts to change and aget worse, i would lean towards the caution area. Mine got rather scary when it started to drift, pull, and wander on the road and that was just a rear bearing.

Edited by grossgary

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I've had three noisy wheel bearing issues in the past couple months, all with some mileage.

 

In my experience they start with a "wub, wub, wub, wub" kind of sound. Often it's hard to distinguish from road/tire noise.

 

I installed new bearings inmy 96 Legacy and it made noise right away even with the new Subaru bearings, meaning the hub was hosed. They made it 20,000 miles before giving out again this year. It kept the same general noise level for 20,000 miles. As soon as it started getting worse, it got worse quickly. Once it started getting worse, we probably put 500 miles on it before it got to the point the car was wandering and dangerous. So in my case - 500 miles once the noise started to change/get noticeably worse.

 

My friends Legacy I just replaced front bearings on last weekend he drove a few hundred miles and it gradually got worse over the past couple weeks, they were quite loose when I pulled the hub Saturday. Don't know mileage though.

 

If it starts to change and aget worse, i would lean towards the caution area. Mine got rather scary when it started to drift, pull, and wander on the road and that was just a rear bearing.

 

How did the hub become damaged?

 

These bearings have an inner and an outer race, so it wouldn't have been from running with bad wheel bearings, correct?

 

 

Dave

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2001 Forester, 93000 miles on it. Driver's rear wheel ball bearing cracked (yes, one of the balls actually broke in half) during a highway drive on 11/26/8. It was very loud from then until yesterday 4/26/9 which is the earliest I could get to it to fix it. But for us that was only about 1500 miles. There never was any play or wiggle to the wheel.

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I just took my 2005 OBW (57,000 miles) into the dealer today. I started hearing low humming sounds from the rear, and over the course of a month it slowly progressed to the sound a truck makes with aggressive oversized tires. I also started noticing it was a little harder to keep the car straight...almost like a strong wind blowing perpendicular to the car while on the highway at all times.

 

Today the dealer replaced both rear wheel bearings, at no charge, covered under a 100k extended warranty Subaru is offering specifically for the wheel bearing issue.

 

It was also idling rough/noisy...so they re-flashed the computer.

 

I'll pick it up tomorrow and see if what they did solves the issues.

Edited by 90legacywagon
forgot info

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I know, it's like asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (answer- none, they don't dance).

 

I have a noisy front (pretty sure) wheel bearing on the right side, its slowly getting louder, I can hear it while going straight and its a little worse going left, quiets completely during a right-hand turn, and I'm starting to be able to feel a little thrumming through the steering wheel and the floor.

 

The wheel bearing does not yet have any detectable play, and the wheel turns with no noises/notchiness/grinding.

 

Anyone have a noisy bearing stay in this condition for a long time?

 

How much warning before it really goes all to hell?

 

 

Dave

 

 

It already is giving you a warning sign, its noisey. Its sort of like asking if your chest pains are a warining sign of a heart attack. By the time your asking it may be too late.

 

replace it now before the driving season starts, otherwise Mr Murphy will tap on your shoulder, usually after you get the car packed for a trip, the wife/kids are driving, or you really need to go someplace in it.

 

 

Its noisey, it has failed.

 

 

nipper

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It already is giving you a warning sign, its noisey. Its sort of like asking if your chest pains are a warining sign of a heart attack. By the time your asking it may be too late.

 

replace it now before the driving season starts, otherwise Mr Murphy will tap on your shoulder, usually after you get the car packed for a trip, the wife/kids are driving, or you really need to go someplace in it.

 

 

Its noisey, it has failed.

 

 

nipper

 

 

Yeah, but it's been noisy for so freakin' long, part of me wants to know how long it'll go...

 

 

Dave

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Yeah, but it's been noisy for so freakin' long, part of me wants to know how long it'll go...

 

 

Dave

 

Till it fails (which ttechnically it has already failed). Also you can be destroying the hub, as i have done that many times, and that quickly ups the repair bill. Just fix the thing before you need a bearing, hub, and a tow truck.

 

 

nipper

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Yeah, but it's been noisy for so freakin' long, part of me wants to know how long it'll go...

 

 

Dave

 

it will go until it leaves you stranded, or maybe causes an accident at 70 mph. it's not going to stop turning in your drive way or at the shop. it's going to stop on the road.

if you want to save some money, get a used knuckle/hub.

Edited by johnceggleston

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How did the hub become damaged?

 

These bearings have an inner and an outer race, so it wouldn't have been from running with bad wheel bearings, correct?

 

 

Dave

 

I'm not an expert on wheel bearings or even bearings in general, but as a machinist in a shop that does it's own maintenance, I'll venture a guess.

 

Any bearing that has failed, ie has a damaged race, damaged cage, damaged roller/ball, etc, is not going to evenly distribute the centrifugal force and, given enough time, I could see how it would knock the seat (or hub in this case) out of round even ever so slightly. Once the hub is out of round, the new bearing will suffer the same fate as the old since it does not have even support around it's circumfrance.

 

I had a really noisy bearing in the head of a mill last summer. When I got it apart, it turned out to be one of the bearings on the motor shaft. It was a ball bearing and the balls appeared to be in good shape with just the slightest hint of wiggle indicating it was bad. But the section of shaft that the bearing was pressed onto was so wrinkled and distorted that one had to wonder if it was ever hardened. It was made overseas so I suppose one still should wonder, but assuming it was, that's at least one example of a bearing seat getting hammered. If I had tried to press a new bearing on that shaft, I'd be replacing it inside a month I'm sure.

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How did the hub become damaged?

 

These bearings have an inner and an outer race, so it wouldn't have been from running with bad wheel bearings, correct?

i have no idea, i guess whoever pressed the bearings sometime in the past? the new bearings made noise within 10 miles, so i'm assuming that's because the hub was bad, that's what everyone has told me.

 

i just looked up my spreadsheet - the bearings lasted 17,000 miles after they started making noise. i would guess every case is different, that was during winter, i would guess summer heat would have made it worse.

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If you really want to know. I drove on a noisy front right bearing for 35K. Why I did I do this, I have no idea.

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When towing a boat trailer, it is a common practice to check for failed wheel bearings by touching the hub. A very hot hub can mean a failing bearing. The disc brakes on a Subaru will normally generate quite a bit of heat. Could you use use hub temperature, say one hub is WAY hotter than the one on the other side of the car, as a fast and dirty checlk on the road?

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When towing a boat trailer, it is a common practice to check for failed wheel bearings by touching the hub. A very hot hub can mean a failing bearing. The disc brakes on a Subaru will normally generate quite a bit of heat. Could you use use hub temperature, say one hub is WAY hotter than the one on the other side of the car, as a fast and dirty checlk on the road?

 

 

I've pondered this, and have checked in the past, with no noticeable temp difference.

 

I am assembling the tools to do the job (I've wanted a press for a long time, heh, harbor freight here I come), and after they arrive I'll do the job as soon as I can determine which bearing it is.

 

 

Dave

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When towing a boat trailer, it is a common practice to check for failed wheel bearings by touching the hub. A very hot hub can mean a failing bearing. The disc brakes on a Subaru will normally generate quite a bit of heat. Could you use use hub temperature, say one hub is WAY hotter than the one on the other side of the car, as a fast and dirty checlk on the road?
yeah that's a good call, once they heat up noticeably you're reaching some significant problems.

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When towing a boat trailer, it is a common practice to check for failed wheel bearings by touching the hub. A very hot hub can mean a failing bearing. The disc brakes on a Subaru will normally generate quite a bit of heat. Could you use use hub temperature, say one hub is WAY hotter than the one on the other side of the car, as a fast and dirty checlk on the road?

 

but bearings will also run hot if theres too much grease...

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but bearings will also run hot if theres too much grease...

 

Just from the grease pushing against all the other grease, i.e. friction?

 

Anyway, just ordered a bunch of harbor-freight goodies for the task, such as:

 

20 ton press (yeah, the 12 ton would be enough, but it wasn't *that* much more, and the A-frame one looks cool- and it's best to derate HF tools anyway)

 

3/4-inch breaker bar with a 3/4 to 1/2 reducer

 

bearing separator/press support

 

and some bearing/seal tools that I've done without for awhile.

 

Still need to get the 32mm/1.25-inch socket for the axle nut.

 

Saw a past thread about how much grease is (or isn't) in the replacement bearings, wonder how that will end up.

 

Dave

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awesome dave, good luck with it! i've thought about doing the same thing, getting that press. i was just afraid i'd have no clue how to use it properly and mess up the hub/bearings.

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Dave, I also have the 20 ton H.F. press. I hope yours comes with the new plates. Mine came with the flat ones, but the other day when I was in the store I see they now have plates that are not flat on one side which would make doing the bearing jobs a lot more easy.

 

To find the one that is bad raise the two front tires off of the ground at the same time and spin the wheels one at a time while holding the coil spring. The one that is bad will cause vibration in the spring that you will feel with your hand. If they feel the same then do the back ones the same way. I wish I could credit the one that gave this tip here a few years back but I dont remember who it was.

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Dave, I also have the 20 ton H.F. press. I hope yours comes with the new plates. Mine came with the flat ones, but the other day when I was in the store I see they now have plates that are not flat on one side which would make doing the bearing jobs a lot more easy.

 

To find the one that is bad raise the two front tires off of the ground at the same time and spin the wheels one at a time while holding the coil spring. The one that is bad will cause vibration in the spring that you will feel with your hand. If they feel the same then do the back ones the same way. I wish I could credit the one that gave this tip here a few years back but I dont remember who it was.

 

 

Yeah, the srping should make a great resonator, that was an awesome idea.

 

I was thinking I'd have to go the homemede mechanics stethescope route, but grabbing the spring would be a lot easier.

 

Thanks.

 

 

Dave

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Dave, might be a good time to invest in one of those infrared heat devices, they are sweet. I diagnosed a front wheel bearing last week on a friends car. Drove to my house, hit it with the gun and had it narrowed down in seconds.

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Dave, might be a good time to invest in one of those infrared heat devices, they are sweet. I diagnosed a front wheel bearing last week on a friends car. Drove to my house, hit it with the gun and had it narrowed down in seconds.

 

 

Budget's been maxed out (as it should be!), I tested the temps (with the back of my hand) on the wheels around the lug nuts after a lengthy drive last night and all were cool, with both fronts slightly warmer than both rears.

 

One of those IR non-contact jobbies has been on 'the list' for awhile.

 

 

Dave

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There was almost no temp difference with a borrowed IR thermometer. One or 2 degrees at most either way, depending on which way the wind blew on the drive.

 

All the bearings are still tight.

 

Did the spin-and-feel-the-spring, and the LEFT one makes significantly more vibration than the RIGHT one.

 

But the noise disappears completely when turning RIGHT, which is counter-intuitive if the LEFT bearing is failing.

 

In a RIGHT turn the LEFT bearing is more heavily loaded, so I would expect the noise to be worse when the bad bearing is more heavily loaded.

 

The noise disappears whenever I turn RIGHT, and gets worse or stays the same when turning LEFT.

 

Weird.

 

Unless both are bad, one manifests as a vibration that is not noticeable when driving, and the other manifests as a classic wheel bearing noise?

 

Dave

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i bet you got quite a bit of time yet then if it's not showing a temp difference. the temperatures will start destroying the bearing quickly and you haven't gotten there yet.

 

you just have one bad bearing, they obviously don't have "one failure symptom" and tend to differ a bit.

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you just have one bad bearing, they obviously don't have "one failure symptom" and tend to differ a bit.

 

Sure they do. When you stop and the wheel does this :

 

:burnout:

 

 

:)

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