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Old 10-06-2011, 08:13 PM   #1
Dayna2.3
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How Do You Know If Rear Wheel Bearings Are Bad?

2003 Focus ZTS, 31k miles, only mod is 2000 Ford Contour SVT 16' wheels. Brand new tires.

How do you tell if rear wheel bearings need to be replaced?


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Old 10-06-2011, 09:45 PM   #2
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If they are bad you might hear an awful grinding noise or if you lift the car up you might feel some play in the wheel when you shake/shimmy it.
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:26 PM   #3
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Even an annoying hum, louder than a tire, that resonates in the cabin would be a bearing. Take it to a local shop or stethoscope it yourself if you have one to be sure. You can't always tell with the natural ear but it sure does hum at speed when they start to go.
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Old 10-07-2011, 08:04 PM   #4
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NutZ-X3, thank you for your reply. I have a noise, a whine, that starts about 20 mph. With new tires I know it is not the tires. How do you get a stethescope on the wheel bearing buried inside the wheel at road speed? How would a shop test for this?
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Old 10-08-2011, 10:32 AM   #5
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I have had this problem twice already, in my case I didn't hear any rumbling noises. The first time I started to feel a vibration which increased day by day and a week after I barely made it home as I almost lose one of the rear tires on the road. The second time was when replacing the shoes on the brakes and when trying to pull out the drum the bearing broke!. Ever since back in 2009 i decided to upgrade the whole rear spindles, and rear brakes to SVT. Curiously enough I think I now have a front bearing problem and this time is making an awful noise after 20 mph/40 kph, the strange thing is that when turning left the noise goes away but when going back straight or turning right. Anyways, I will get in to this today and see what the problem is.

Just stating my experiences with wheel bearings but in this case it seems like they are the problem

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Old 10-08-2011, 10:57 AM   #6
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With the vehicle in the air, they apply the scope from the inside while spinning the wheel. You don't get the pressure that the road would apply, but it's then free to wobble on the bearing, which can be heard. A less accurate way of doing this at home would be to take a big screwdriver that has the tang all the way through the handle and put it behind the spindle and listen for the vibration with your ear to the handle end. I only have one screwdriver like that and no idea where you'd get one these days.

I took my last one to the shop because as annoying as it was from about 45mph up, I couldn't determine which side it was for myself. I told them I wanted any necessary repairs diagnosed before bringing it for alignment. They put it on the lift and checked it for free.
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Old 10-08-2011, 04:29 PM   #7
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Almost definitely IS a wheel bearing issue. My '05 has 65k on the odo and I just had a front noisy one replaced. I found out that it wasn't the only one that had gone bad. The other front has play and there is also some humming coming from the back. So the wheel bearings in these cars must be on the weak side. WAY on the weak side. Other than that, my car has been super-solid thru 65k FWIW
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Old 10-08-2011, 07:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectricAL View Post
So the wheel bearings in these cars must be on the weak side. WAY on the weak side.
That's not ALL!

Tie rods were the first to go for me. Then came the rear whl brg's., ball joints, strut brgs, well everything. I'd replaced every wearable factory suspension part (EXCEPT the front whl brgs!) for the first time between 28K and 110K.

I'm currently @ 168K and going the second round now! I've finally got the left front whl brg getting loose now too. It just makes a scuffing sound from the tire being outa line and has a very slight up-n-down play with the caliper off.

I've also replaced every factory component that's driven off the serpentine belt. For how I've beaten this car mercilessly from 3-minutes after leaving the lot with 32mi. on the odometer @ delivery, I'm spectacularly pleased with how it's responded though!!!

My freinds can't believe the lil red devil is still going, and strongly!
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Old 10-09-2011, 12:54 PM   #9
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I have an '02 Wagon that I'm doing the rear wheel bearings right now. I had a humming that would go louder the faster I went. VERY annoying.
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Old 10-21-2011, 11:20 PM   #10
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Thank you to all who replied to my post and also to the members who posted "how to" articles on replacing rear wheel bearings! I shopped the required parts on RockAuto, two new brake drums w/bearings, and a new set of rear brake shoes, and found a quality NAPA local repair shop, where my Focus was fixed today. What a difference. I beat the RepairPal estimates and the dealer repair price by 45%. A good deal.

The only thing is they say the front bearings may go next and that repair is twice the cost of the rears. For now, my Focus is excellent.
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