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PastTense 11-17-2012 11:57 AM

Rear Wheel Bearing: Replace Bad One or Both?
I have a bad rear bearing on my 2000 Ford Focus SE. Should I just replace the bad bearing or should I replace both?

Thank you.

sailor 11-17-2012 12:05 PM

Optimum repair would be to do both, purchasing new drums with the bearings already pressed in & doing a COMPLETE brake job in the rear at the same time - then you won't likely need to touch the rear again...

Minimum would be to cross fingers that you'll be VERY lucky & get the offending side apart without needing to do any brake work, and have a new bearing pressed into that drum.

Since the rear is prob. orig. to the car, it's time to do it all.... You really can't PLAN on getting away with less. Those that manage to just have more work to do later, and usually B4 the next inspection because the parking brake isn't working....

Elizabeth 11-17-2012 01:23 PM

The cost of doing both vs one at a time is not going to save you any money. the other wheel bearing may last another five years!!
I would do only the one going bad now.
IF you need brakes and all that, then doing them together might save money.
If you do not need a full brake replacement, then I would only do the one.

Why fix what is not broken?
And if noise does not bother you, you can go YEARS without fixing a bearing on a wheel.
(I drove my Contour SVt for over a year with bad fronts. and i sold it and the local person who bought it a year ago still drives it with both front bearings rumbling.I didn't care. they don't care.
Not a problem.)
A wheel bearing is way different that an engine bearing.
It can make a LOT of noise, and long as it turns and does not get super hot while driving.. it is good enough!!! [wrenchin] save your $$$
Added: and it is not going to cut into your mpgs any either...

sailor 11-17-2012 03:16 PM

Of course when it breaks.......

Depends on your experience I guess, seen some last a long time & less noisy ones give out suddenly.

Local use, AAA on call...

After needing a tow once years ago, when I needed to pay a Garage for the repair as well, I gave up estimating the life of a known damaged part....

Elizabeth 11-17-2012 03:58 PM

You take your chances.
On my Contour SVT.. The front started going bad at 48,000 mi I drove it a year plus before replacing them. That was over 6,000 miles. Then again at 102,000 mi they started to get noisy.
So I drove it for 6,000mi more, then sold it and the new owners have never replaced them either.. So now it is 10,000 miles on noisy front wheel bearings.. On a 200hp FWD car.
This is two years of loud grinding from both fronts. (it was really getting annoying to me with all the noise when i sold it..)
Your mileage may vary.
And ALL mechanics use the 'it will break and leave you stranded" quip.
Naturally they want to make money.
Of anything on a car.. wheel bearings are not gonna strand you.If they start really screeching loudly. THEN worry. just rumbling.. not a problem.

Like the Check engine light. On my Contour SVT I swear the light was on a total of eight full years I owned the car! Out of 13 years bought new until sold it.
One year I got it to go off long enough to just drive to the alternate year inspection, pass, and drive a block and it was back on. I whooped and hollered at that one it was so funny!
Naturally you have to decide what is best for you.
If you like to worry a lot, then get them all fixed. If you are laid back and can accept chance, the just let them ride.
Not gonna make a difference except to your bank account.
If you plan on keeping the car ten more years too. If not.??

sailor 11-17-2012 05:09 PM

And all car owners want to know "how long can I drive it 'till it breaks completely"

Honest answer - "No Idea"

I've had ONE car that "ate" wheel bearings (and I think what were "stretched & poked" wheels & tires for the time had something to do with that).

Got so used to it when the first ones lasted hundreds of miles after getting noisy I wasn't concerned when one got noisy again....

Of COURSE that was the one time the bearing grenaded (close to home at least) and it had to be towed.

I honestly see an example by the roadside every week or two where the wheel "fell off", usually not completely, but enough to come to a screeching halt. More ball joints than wheel bearings from the evidence, but I always wonder why the people kept driving until it gave up completely.

Nothing to gain financially from recommendations here (obviously), just have a personal preference for fixing anything you KNOW is broken when possible. There's ALWAYS plenty that COULD go wrong you can't forsee, but with regular maint. & repair of KNOWN issues you seldom have major problems on the road....

(Some folks have better luck with Murphy's law than others...)


amc49 11-17-2012 05:09 PM

Really. Not my experience at all. What I've seen, one goes bad, the other could last for years after. Of course that's normal sedate use, if you slip clutch and burnout everywhere, I'd lean heavily to changing both. I've never seen one simply give up instantly to strand you either, even the worst one I've seen (bad from the getgo after replacement) gave 2 months of growling before I fixed it. It started growling the next day after I installed it, no grease in bearing when taken apart. My view is, with present capabilities of manufacturers and mechanics taken into account, that you could be asking for a short lived one every time you change it. The quality of some bearings really sucks now and skills to put them in without wrecking part don't seem to be much better in many cases either. Look onsite here for all the DIYers who mess them up. Usually from simply not tightening them enough at the big nut.

I've got 3 cars right now that one corner has been done but not the other, they do just fine, last bearing change was a year ago on the most recent one. Next one like 3 years ago.

sailor 11-18-2012 10:25 AM

amc - agreed!

Guess I need to clarify my reasoning here.

Note the last comment in my FIRST response, assuming that the 2000 Focus was on it's original rear brakes, and had a dozen years & quite a few miles on it - When one rear bearing needs replacement you probably will end up doing a rear brake job.

Now with that bearing pressed into the drum instead of having a separate hub, the easiest full brake job includes new drums with bearings. If someone was planning to keep the car, they probably wouldn't have to worry about any brake or bearing issues in the rear again.

Low Budget Quick Fix - try to get the drum off on the bad bearing side without much damage to the brakes, have a new bearing pressed in & reassemble. Probably could get away with that for now, depending on Luck, Skill, and how much actual wear on the car.

If it wasn't for the pressed in bearing design, replacing more than the bad one wouldn't be recommended - Unless a shop wanted to make money, or the car owner wanted a "belt & suspenders" job, just CHECKING the other would be adequate...

As amc commented, each new part CAN be a crap shoot these days....

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