HELP axle bearing issue has me puzzled

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Ted Mittelstaedt, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. Hi All,

    I have a problem that started up on my 94 T&C about a month ago that I
    am hoping for some advice.

    When driving down the road I get a constant scrape scrape scrape scrape
    that is directly related to vehicle speed - the faster I go the faster the
    sound. It's been getting louder and louder. If I roll down the road and
    put the
    transmission in neutral it makes no difference. If I gun the engine the
    noise does
    not change - it only changes in relation to wheel speed. If I turn the
    noise gets louder
    and I get more noises that sound like the brake pads are chattering against
    the rotors.
    I had my wife drive it around while I listened to it outside and it sounds
    like it was
    coming from the front.

    So I figured OK it's a textbook shot wheel bearing. Simple enough. So this
    weekend I pull the front wheels off and go to remove both front hub &
    assemblies. The left assembly comes out easily. The right assembly is
    on the knuckle. I finally get a slide hammer out and succeed in pulling the
    of the hub right out of the bearing center, then I hammer the hub sideways
    manage to turn it enough in the knuckle to get a crowbar on it to pull it
    out of
    the knuckle.

    So I figure, Easy stuff, the bearing must be shot, it overheated, expanded
    hub which jammed it in the knuckle. Plus there's a lot more corrosion in
    knuckle center then on the other side of the car, plus the grease kind of
    has that
    faint smell of burning.

    So then, pleased with myself I hammer the hub back together and twist
    the hub, expecting to feel typical bearing roughness of a shot bearing.
    problem is - I DON'T!!!

    The reassembled right hand hub turns as smooth as the left hand one. In
    looking at the races and ball bearings there's no evidence of gouging. It
    is true
    that everything is filthy, but this is a 150K mile car, what do you expect?
    There's no evidence of any hogged out bearing, it is completely solid and
    no movement except the hub's normal turning.

    So now I'm kind of at a loss on what to do. I called the local NAPA that
    has a machine shop and they will press out the old bearing and press in a
    one for $35, plus the cost of the bearing & hub kit which is $100. However
    if I
    pay them $135 for this and reassemble the car and I still get the scraping
    I will be hopping mad. And if I further take the left hand hub in and have
    new bearing put in it and after reassembly I still get the scraping I will
    swearing a blue streak. The last thing I want is to dump $260 into this
    and end up fixing nothing.

    I suppose I could pry the hubs apart with a crow bar and slide hammer and
    everything down with mineral spirits really good then repack the bearings
    with fresh grease and see what happens - but I would hate to spend an
    afternoon with a toothbrush and a bucket of solvent and end up fixing
    nothing. This is one of those times I really wish I had an Arbor press!

    The parts guy at NAPA said when these fail that the bearing seizes and
    the center spindle starts turning in the race which destroys the spindle,
    $100 kit supposedly has all the parts to fix this. That clearly hasn't
    to mine.

    I was thinking it might actually be a bad CV axle, but the only problem is
    when I replaced the transmission 8 months ago with a rebuilt one, I
    replaced both front axles, and there's no evidence of any problems like
    a split boot or any of that.

    Anyway, what do you guy think, does this sound like a bad bearing?

    Ted Mittelstaedt, Mar 12, 2006
  2. Ted Mittelstaedt

    Mike Guest

    Sounds like one of the inner splash shields for the front brakes may be
    rubbing against the rotor. It will will make he exact noise you describe.
    Mike, Mar 12, 2006
  3. Ted Mittelstaedt

    Bill Putney Guest

    What Mike said, *PLUS*, a bad bearing will not necessarily feel rough
    unloaded. Keep in mind that any brinneling that occurs in the outer
    (stationary) race will be in a tilted plane determined by the maximum
    pressure vector (including a tilting moment). You are not simulating
    that pressure vetor (tilting moment) in the unloaded bearing. This is
    also why you can often diagnose a bearing by driving down the road and
    seeing that it gets noisy when turning in one direction, but it quiets
    totally down when turning in the other direction (tilting moment and
    pressure points from the balls around the outer race somewhat reverse

    Many years ago, I got several tens of thousands of additional miles out
    of an otherwise noisy bearing by rotating the outer race 120° in the
    spindle (three bolts at 120° intervals).

    Bill Putney
    (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with the letter 'x')
    Bill Putney, Mar 12, 2006
  4. I will check this.
    Thanks, Bill, I had thought that might be a reason that the bearing didn't
    feel rough, unfortunately that doesen't help me to figure out which bearing
    it is, or if it's even a bearing at all.

    I guess I'll just have to take a guess that it's the front RH bearing based
    on the housing being stuck in the steering knuckle and as they say, pay
    my moneys and takes my chance. Perhaps I can get NAPA to only
    charge the one $35 labor if I have them do both bearings at the same
    time, and just figure that after all, 150K miles on an axle bearing is a
    pretty good service life and I should quit complaining.
    Clever! Hmm, I wonder if the Chrysler bearing housings let you do this.

    Ted Mittelstaedt, Mar 12, 2006
  5. There were no splash shields on this vehicle.
    Well I got it fixed, what I did was I bolted each spindle to the wheel, laid
    the wheel down, and used a slide hammer to pull the bearing race and
    bearings off the spindle. I then took the bearing races and put it in an
    oil pan that had
    a good bit of mineral spirits in it, then used a brush and throughly cleaned
    the bearings and races. I then dried them out with my blowgun and repacked
    them with Pennzoil red grease 707L and put them back on 180 degrees rotated.

    I also topped off the oil level in the Power Transfer Unit.

    Now it runs quiet again, except for a trace of gear noise from the PTU.
    (this is
    an all-wheerl drive)

    Ted Mittelstaedt, Mar 13, 2006
  6. Ted Mittelstaedt

    Joe Guest

    Yes, it does. CV joints don't really scrape. The real test is the noise
    being different when you're steering left or right. That's gotta be a wheel
    bearing. Maybe you're not on the right one yet.
    Joe, Mar 14, 2006
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