Do I need a new wheel bearing? - Kia Forum

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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-18-2019, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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Do I need a new wheel bearing?

Last year I replaced the bearings on both front wheels on a 2010 Rio LX. It was harder than I expected, not only because it was the first time I'd attempted something like this, but also because parts had seized due to rust and it was hard getting things off. But eventually I managed to get it all off and swapped the old bearings and hubs for new Timkens.

The car rode great afterwards, without the telltale whining sound at speed that worn bearings make. But just the other day I had the driver's side up to check on something else, and I noticed some play in the wheels, rocking back and forth when I held each side. This is a classic sign of a worn bearing. I checked the passenger's side wheel when it was up on jacks, but it had no such rocking.

I think I know what happened. When I replaced the bearings, I started with the passenger's side, and it went relatively smoothly, even with the rusted parts that were hard to get off. But the driver's side was much harder, especially the CV axle, which just wouldn't come off. I eventually had to take the whole thing off and get a shop to press it off, and due to the pounding I gave the axle end, I had to replace that too.

Because it took so long and was so hard to do the driver's side, by the time I had to press in the new bearing, I was pretty beat. Plus, it was cold out, and it was about to snow, so I was rushing to get it done. And in my haste, I think I used the wrong round bushing plate from the bearing installation tool I bought to do this job, and instead of pressing on the inner race of the bearing to press it onto the hub, I pressed on the outer race.

I realized this after I'd started to crank down on the tool with an impact wrench, backed off, put on the right plate, and pressed the bearing back on. But I had a bad feeling about it, and suspected that it would bite me down the line. I think that that's what happened, this mistake partially separated the inner from the outer race enough that it compromised its integrity, so that the bearing still worked, but wouldn't stand up to the dynamic loads of turns, acceleration, deceleration, and the ups and downs of bumps and potholes, and eventually separate.

Does this sound about right, and that the only solution is a new bearing--this time pressed in properly?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 08:32 AM
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I read your post carefully and I believe you came to the correct conclusion...it’s probably just a matter of time before the drivers side bearing fails : (

At least it’s warm weather now : )

P.S. it might take a very long time to go bad, especially if your driving doesn’t involve lots of hard cornering.
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Last edited by Old ní slow; 03-19-2019 at 08:46 AM. Reason: a P.S.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 08:58 AM Thread Starter
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I read your post carefully and I believe you came to the correct conclusion...it’s probably just a matter of time before the drivers side bearing fails : (

At least it’s warm weather now : )

P.S. it might take a very long time to go bad, especially if your driving doesn’t involve lots of hard cornering.
You know when you think but are not 100% sure you made a mistake, but your gut tells you you made a mistake, and it keeps tugging at you? This was one of those situations, and it appears to have come true. I ordered a new Timken bearing, which at under $24 is a bargain compared to the alternative, and will install it as soon as it arrives.

I'm wondering though, the car was in a moderate accident some years ago back when my father had it, that mostly affected the front driver's side. After he got it fixed up it drove fine, tracked straight and steered just fine, and didn't do anything strange. But I'm wondering if the accident did something subtle to the suspension or frame that could have caused the bearing to fail, and it wasn't a bad installation. Is that possible?

I've also hit a bunch of bad potholes recently, so that might have done it too. I'm just trying to see if there's some structural or other issue with the car that's causing bearing failure that I also need to address or the new bearing will fail too. Could slightly bad toe-in do it? Borderline springs, struts, bushings or ball joints?

Btw, when a front drive wheel bearing fails, how bad can it get, say at highway speeds and not in a lane adjacent to a breakdown lane? Are we talking major accident with possible fatalities, or with just enough wheel turn ability and load support to quickly move on over to a breakdown lane and stop?

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 09:38 AM
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So many variables......but I think your initial diagnosis was correct.

I’ve had a few bad front wheel bearings through the years but no catastrophe failures.....just mile after mile of growling noise until I got around to replacing them.

Maybe others will relate different experiences.

P.S. I grew up in Queens and left 50 years ago so I’m very familiar with those monster pot holes : (
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 09:44 AM
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..........Just curious you never mentioned how many miles were on the vehicle.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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So many variables......but I think your initial diagnosis was correct.

I’ve had a few bad front wheel bearings through the years but no catastrophe failures.....just mile after mile of growling noise until I got around to replacing them.

Maybe others will relate different experiences.

P.S. I grew up in Queens and left 50 years ago so I’m very familiar with those monster pot holes : (
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..........Just curious you never mentioned how many miles were on the vehicle.
155k miles. I have no way to tell as it used to be my dad's car and he didn't keep service records or know what kind of service it had, but I'm guessing that when I replaced the bearings last year it was the first time.

The car runs remarkably well for one with so many miles. I guess he took good care of it but was bad about record-keeping. I've done some other work on it, nothing major, brakes, tie rods, belts, but otherwise it's doing great.

And yeah, some truly horrible roads around here. Funny, my family and I moved here exactly as you were leaving. Outside of Manhattan and some other ritzy areas it's basically the same as it was then, especially in the outer boroughs. They go crazy with the road salt and are terrible at patching up the resulting holes. It's tough to keep a car in great condition here.

Anyway, the new bearing arrives in a couple of days and I've got everything I need to install it. I'll inspect everything first to see if there's some other problem that could be causing the bearing to fail. Any obvious things to look for?
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 06:42 PM
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155k........not nessesarily so, but not unusual either, to need bearings at that mileage.

You sound like a pretty good mechanic, I think you’ll notice if there are any obvious defects aside from the wobbly bearing.
Just watch how that tire wears, if it is really out of wack from road damage, it doesn’t take many miles to show an unusual wear pattern. Good luck.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-19-2019, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Hah, thanks for the compliment but aside from a few oil changes and other minor jobs, I didn't start working on cars till last year. But I really immersed myself in the design, maintenance and repair of cars, reading books, online articles and discussions, and engaging in some, watching tons of YouTube videos, referencing service manuals, talking to experts, etc., buying a decent tool set, and most of all just getting my hands dirty and learning by doing (while not doing anything stupid/dangerous). I'm a pretty fast learner, I guess, pay attention to the details, and "measure thrice before cutting" (which I obviously didn't do when I installed this bearing).
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