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Kazza

Rear wheel bearing needs replaced?

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Hi guys, just picked up a new r50 after my last one got written off (not my fault!).. the car is super clean, low mileage.. only issue is apparently the rear wheel bearing. The previous owner had a general inspection done by mechanic after the car was off the road for a while and they diagnosed it on the invoice as "rear wheel bearing?". The question mark assuming they didnt really look much into it. Anyway it's an evident humming noise coming from the rear left wheel, kicks in at around 20/30. It gets louder and the car vibrates at high speeds.

 

I'm familiar with the front wheel bearings being a common thing to go on r50s but I cant seem to find much material on rear wheel bearing issues or guidance on DIY replacement.

 

Can anyone steer me in the right direction? Could it be something other than the wheel bearing perhaps?

 

Cheers,

 

K

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Wouldn't hurt to try rotating your tires, maybe check the brakes before assuming it is in fact a bearing. I've got one going on my '93, or at least I'm 90% sure that's what it is. It doesn't change with load, so it's not ring and pinion or U joints, or with braking, so it's not the brakes, but it does get angrier when I'm turning right. Mine doesn't start making noise until I approach highway speed, or maybe I just don't hear it until the trans hits overdrive. I tried jacking up the rear end (with the fronts chocked) and turning the wheels by hand to see if I could hear/feel a bad bearing, but the limited slip made this difficult and I couldn't tell for sure if what I was feeling was the bearing or something else. You may have better luck with this test if your bearings are bad enough to make noise at lower speeds.

 

The service manual makes rear bearing replacement look like a whole lot of fun requiring a press and a special spline wrench. I'm considering picking up some shafts (or a whole axle) from the wreckers and just swapping the offending bearing/shaft assembly for now, then possibly rebuilding the old one later as an exercise in "how hard could it be."

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The tires are new, they were put on same time as the inspection mentioned and the previous owner said they noticed the noise before the tires were swapped out. Also breaking doesnt affect it. I do notice a different frequency to the humming when I'm turning.. especially at those higher speeds.

 

 I've looked at the manual. It doesnt look too bad a job.. just those specific tools that may be a pre-requisite.

 

In terms of parts, it seems there are 3 parts needed.. the inner seal, bearing and outer seal.

 

Has anyone had experience doing one of these?

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My 2000 R50 has a humming/droning noise that comes in around 45 mph. Have thoughts that it may be a rear wheel bearing. Will continue to watch this post. MTG

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12 hours ago, Kazza said:

Has anyone had experience doing one of these?

 

I've broken down several of them.  Not terribly fun, but a floor press is required.  There's a Nissan service tool (Kent Moore J-45073) that makes light(er) work of the disassembly process since it helps to remove the ABS tone ring, lock nut, and bearing cup from the axle shaft, but it's a relatively expensive tool.  Once you've got the bearing cup off the axle shaft, you then need the floor press to push the race out of the cup, and then to sandwich everything back together again.  Even with a floor press, unless you have a suitable adapter or process, breaking down the axle shaft is still a pain.

 

In regards to consumables on the axle shaft, there's an outer seal (grease seal) between the axle shaft and bearing cup; the bearings themselves; and a tabbed lock-washer.  There's an inner seal (oil seal) and a large o-ring on the axle tube that should also be replaced.

 

The part numbers you'd need are under "Unicorn #2" here:

 

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So I need 4 parts then as mentioned in the link..

  • Wheel bearing : 43210-0W000 (or R50/D22/WD22 aftermarket equivalent)
  • Axle lock washer : 43234-0W000 (OE Nissan)
  • Oil seal : 43252-0W000 (or R50/D22/WD22 aftermarket equivalent)
  • Grease seal : 43232-01G10 (or any H233B aftermarket equivalent)

Do you think then it would be wiser to take the axle shaft to a mechanic with the new parts and ask them to the press and reassembly?

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18 hours ago, Kazza said:

So I need 4 parts then as mentioned in the link..

  • Wheel bearing : 43210-0W000 (or R50/D22/WD22 aftermarket equivalent)
  • Axle lock washer : 43234-0W000 (OE Nissan)
  • Oil seal : 43252-0W000 (or R50/D22/WD22 aftermarket equivalent)
  • Grease seal : 43232-01G10 (or any H233B aftermarket equivalent)

Do you think then it would be wiser to take the axle shaft to a mechanic with the new parts and ask them to the press and reassembly?

 

Without the press, yeah, probably much easier for a shop with the right tools to do the work.  Pulling the brake parts and axle shafts from the truck is trivial, so doing that work yourself should save some money.  A competent shop should be able to swap the bearings in about an hour.

 

Also, I usually get my seals and bearings from Rock Auto, as it's usually 50% cheaper than OE, but not sure how shipping fares to CAN.  The lock washer and o-ring are dealer-only parts...these are listed in the FSM as being replace-after-use items, but they are not generally damaged when removed (the lock washer has a series of tabs, of which only one gets bent when used).

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On 5/31/2020 at 7:41 PM, hawairish said:

There's a Nissan service tool (Kent Moore J-45073) that makes light(er) work of the disassembly process since it helps to remove the ABS tone ring, lock nut, and bearing cup from the axle shaft, but it's a relatively expensive tool.  

 

@Hawairish - is the nissan service tool required to remove these or is there a conventional "hack"?

 

Also.. I seen the below video online demonstrating a rather unconventional method for removing the bearing from a toyota pick-up with a similar axle bearing setup. Based on your experience, do you think this could work?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LdUhST3aIg

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45 minutes ago, Kazza said:

@Hawairish - is the nissan service tool required to remove these or is there a conventional "hack"?

 

Also.. I seen the below video online demonstrating a rather unconventional method for removing the bearing from a toyota pick-up with a similar axle bearing setup. Based on your experience, do you think this could work?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LdUhST3aIg

 

The service tool is not required, but it really only does 3 of the 5 mains steps needed to completely disassemble the axle shaft:

  1. Pull the ABS tone ring (does)
  2. Remove the axle nut (does)
  3. Pull the bearing cup assembly (does)
  4. Pull the 2nd bearing cone off the axle shaft (doesn't)
  5. Remove the bearing race from the bearing up (doesn't)

I use a floor press for all steps except 2, which can be done with a chisel or screwdriver and a hammer (I've made my own axle nut wrenches).

 

Toyota axles are very similar to ours (but let it be known they are still punier than the mighty H233B!).  The most notable difference is the use of a double-cone tapered bearing instead of single row sealed ball bearing shown in the video.  The bearing difference is what may be the most problematic, because if you were to do all the steps in the video, one of the tapered bearing cones would still be on the axle shaft (step 4 above).  You could technically use a bearing splitter to move it a little bit at a time, but you'd have to keep putting some shims behind the splitter in order to slide the bearing almost an 1.5" off the shaft (although, you could put a notch in the cone and crack it with a chisel...I've had to do that before on a diff bearing).  

 

Would the video work?  Technically, yes, but it'd absolutely suck.  I couldn't possibly recommend it.

 

In case it helps, this is the only pic I have handy of all the pieces of the axle shaft, in their order on the shaft:

 

IMG-5247.jpg

 

L to R: ABS tone ring, axle nut, lock nut, washer, inner bearing, bearing race, outer bearing, bearing cup, grease seal.  The brake backing plate and mounting studs are not shown, but those fit over the bearing cup on the wheel hub side.

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The Toyota method is what I used on my friends 95 Pathfinder while camping in Moab. It can work, but it is miserable and if any access to a press is possible, that is a much easier and less painful way to go. 

With the ABS tone ring, it gets more difficult since you don't want to hurt it. 

 

I did a few rear axle bearings on later Fronter/Xterras that have the small lug pattern. Even with the special tools at the dealership, it was a destructive process. With those, the bearing retainer has to be broken to remove. The process was to drill a hole in the retainer ring then use a hammer and chisel to crack it where the hole was. We found it easier to use a die-grinder with a small cut-off wheel to cut most of the way through the retainer then get violent with the hammer and chisel. With those, a press was the only way it was going back together with new parts. The one we had had a pressure gauge and it would usually run between 13-17k psi to seat the retainer. 

Good times, glad I haven't had to deal with them at my current job. The evil first gen IRS Explorer rear wheel bearings are bad enough. We will just say that it got a new hub to go with the new bearing and it can't be tight if it is liquid. 

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@hawairish @Mr_Reverse

 

I've got the axle off.. now trying to remove the abs tone ring and bearing lock nut. In the FSM it doesnt give any guidance on how the tone ring is removed and it looks like the lock nut is twisted off with the special tool. Is the lock washer (and abs tone ring) threaded. You mentioned a hammer and chisel can get both these off but do I need to remove the tone ring first before doing the lock nut? The tone ring looks very fragile.. wouldn't put a chisel anywhere near it. Lock nut looks more sturdy though.

 

Cheers,

 

K

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Oh.. and I broke the bolt holding the abs plug into the hub.. it's a 12mm with number 7 marked on it. Anyone know what thread size these bolts are?

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The chisel was to gently tap the axle nut only, which is threaded, if you don’t have a special spanner. The tone ring is pressed on; it needs to be pulled off. 

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With Nissans, the bolts that have a 12mm head are usually 8mm with a 1.25 thread. If I recall correctly, that is the size used there.

The tone ring is pressed on and will have to be pressed or cut off. If cut, a new one will be needed, and yes, it is a bit delicate. I have used a bearing separator in the past, but be warned, it is a specialty tool and they get expensive when they get big enough.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks guys. Axle is going to the shop tomorrow morning to have everything pressed off / on.

 

Edit: I should probably add my findings thus far to add some value to this thread for others...

 

Upon pulling the axle from the hub, there was a thick layer of grease caked half way around the hub rim. Then, looking at the bearing on the axle it's clear that all the grease has been pushed out of the bearing onto the rim of the hub and this is what is most likely causing the rumble/droning sound.

 

 

Edited by Kazza
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So... the drivers side wheel bearing was replaced and after reassembly I still have the same drone/humming from the back of the truck. I had a friend sit in the trunk and he seems to think its more coming from the right (i previously had it in my mind coming from the left). its not hugely obvious which side its coming from but sitting in the trunk and facing forward it definitely feels the right ear is picking it up more. the droning is more pronounced when turning left.

 

Could it be that both bearings were shot?

Should I be looking for something other than wheel bearings? Potentially something to do with the gears in the bell housing? 

 

I'm tempted to do the other wheel bearing but I'm also feeling a bit stumped..

 

K

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Ah, I thought you were having both axles done.  By chance, did you try rotating the axle shaft/bearings once they were off the truck but still on the backing plates?  With the shaft out of the differential, it makes it a bit easier to sense for any hesitation or play (there should be none for both).  Did the shop give any assessment about the bearings they pulled, or did they just do the work without question?  Did the keep the bearings, by chance?

 

At this point, checking the differential is only a nuts and bolts away if you think that's it possible source, but you'll need some special tools like a dial indicator to sense for backlash and play.  But if the sound changes or is otherwise amplified during a turn, I wouldn't think it'd be from the differential, since the only thing that changes there during a turn is the rotation of the side and spider gears (in a straight line, they're not turning).

 

Rereading your first post, you mentioned there's vibration, too.  What kind of vibration?  I wouldn't think a wheel bearing can cause that, unless it's about to seize up and grenade.  Does the vibration and noise seem in sync? 

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Latest Update:

 

Took the car for a short drive today and threw it around corners at all sorts of speeds and angles my observations of the droning sound from the rear were as follows;

 

1. The drone kicks in at ~35km/h. It gets louder as the wheels turn faster but increased load (acceleration) doesn't seem to affect it much, if at all.

2. The drone gets deeper in pitch when I turn left. I do notice a change in pitch driving both directions but turning left seems deeper/more pronounced.

3. The drone is present in forward rwd, 4wd, manual 1/2 gears and in reverse.

4. Vibration kicks in at 50km/h and higher but is not that pronounced.

 

If anyone cares to listen, I've uploaded a sound clip with the microphone sitting in the middle of the trunk between the back wheels. it starts with highway driving, comes to a stop and then speeds up again - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FzkQd-FV1c2pkMZ-9UdGZfcs_2sELLPL/view?usp=sharing

 

Next.. I replaced the rear differential fluid. My truck has an LSD (sticker saying LSD oil only on diff and both wheels turn the same direction when one is turned). I used Castrol 80w-90 Limited Slip gear oil. When draining the old fluid I got 2.5l out. I replaced it with 2.8l of clean oil. It did not have any effect on the droning sound.

 

My observations from this were as follows;

 

1. The drain plug magnet had a couple of notable metal chunks on it - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G0yfqg3FWSsa-ObpAv3rtoC56bQIlhv-/view?usp=sharing

2. When i filtered the old oil back into a container I found another couple of bits of debris, one was rubbery (left) and one was metallic (right) - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G1cTVviP4CfCtVGhpp8DZGESHCaMpkfQ/view?usp=sharing

3. A comparison of the old and new oil colour - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1G12gWeYmoHti_HfZsKNEB_yLoo3B3gxD/view?usp=sharing

 

Should I be concerned with any of the above?

 

I'm thinking next to run the vehicle in RWD with the rear wheels off the ground to see if it will help pinpoint the noise. I'm hesitant to change the rear right wheel bearing until I can try and pinpoint the noise more.

 

Any thoughts / suggestions would be much appreciated.

 

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Just now, hawairish said:

Ah, I thought you were having both axles done.  By chance, did you try rotating the axle shaft/bearings once they were off the truck but still on the backing plates?  With the shaft out of the differential, it makes it a bit easier to sense for any hesitation or play (there should be none for both).  Did the shop give any assessment about the bearings they pulled, or did they just do the work without question?  Did the keep the bearings, by chance?

 

At this point, checking the differential is only a nuts and bolts away if you think that's it possible source, but you'll need some special tools like a dial indicator to sense for backlash and play.  But if the sound changes or is otherwise amplified during a turn, I wouldn't think it'd be from the differential, since the only thing that changes there during a turn is the rotation of the side and spider gears (in a straight line, they're not turning).

 

Rereading your first post, you mentioned there's vibration, too.  What kind of vibration?  I wouldn't think a wheel bearing can cause that, unless it's about to seize up and grenade.  Does the vibration and noise seem in sync? 

 

@hawairish thnx for the reply. I've just posted again today with more details and some pics / sound clip.

 

I did rotate the axle shaft/bearing (rear left) when it was off and it had no play or hesitation. The shop didn't give an assessment and they kept the old bearing.

 

Also, the vibration isn't that pronounced. There's a slight vibration on the steering wheel. You can feel it on your feet sitting in the back seats more.

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Thanks for the detailed info on that prior post.

 

Listening to the audio, I definitely hear the hum.  It sounded like tire hum sometimes, but only time I've heard it that pronounced was when they were nearing the wear limit.  Not very likely the source with new tires until they're some real meaty treads.

 

The pics say a lot, though.  The amount of material on that drain plug is very high, and the chunks and that long sliver are very concerning.  Though, the arc of the long sliver seems similar to that of the drain plug, so maybe it's just from the diff housing from a prior tightening.  The chunk is questionable, though.  Some material is to be expected as the LSD pieces wear down, but they result in a very fine, sandy material on the plug.  When you wiped it off, were there other small slivers in there, too, or is that just the magnetism causing all the spikes?

 

As far as the rubber metal chunks, the only thing that seems to meet those material types would be the pinion seal, which has rubber bonded to metal, but that's on the outside of the pinion bearing...it'd have to get chewed threw the bearing to make it inside, and that's seems incredibly unlikely (you'd have a nasty leak at the pinion dust shield, too).  There are oil seals at the axle tube ends with similar composition, but also far-fetched that they'd make it into the diff area.  Beyond that, there's no other rubber pieces in there.

 

I've never seen gear oil that brown or translucent.  It might be expected from mileage and/or age, but I'd have expected it to be more greenish-yellow, or even a silvery-green and fairly opaque.  My impression is that it's burnt, which isn't a good sign either.  With the axles out, does the pinion shaft turn smoothly by hand?  And is it easy to turn?  There should be a fairly low amount of resistance, but I can only give a subjective description.  I'd unbolt the driveshaft to sense it better.

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45 minutes ago, hawairish said:

Thanks for the detailed info on that prior post.

 

Listening to the audio, I definitely hear the hum.  It sounded like tire hum sometimes, but only time I've heard it that pronounced was when they were nearing the wear limit.  Not very likely the source with new tires until they're some real meaty treads.

 

When you wiped it off, were there other small slivers in there, too, or is that just the magnetism causing all the spikes?

 

I have a spare set of wheels. To save my sanity I will throw a couple on the rear quickly and drive round the block to negate the tires/wheels from the equation.

 

There were a couple of small silvers on the rim of the magnet. I think you can see them if you zoom into the plug picture. The rest was just magnetism and wiped away.

 

I'll follow up on the pinion rotation when I can get back under the car.. looks like it's raining heavy all day tomorrow so probably sunday. What do you mean by unbolting the diff? 

 

Cheers,

 

K

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To me, the pictures look normal. The gear oil looks like old gear oil. Odds are that this was the first time the fluid was changed. I see it all the time at work. 

The same thing with the drain plug magnet. Looks normal for a first time, or after an extended period on the fluid. The sliver is likely shaved from the threads in either the housing or the plug and rather normal. 

The rubber like chunks look like sealant. It is likely from the drain and fill plugs. I noticed that Asian diff plugs often had sealant applied before installing, I do it myself. 

 

The symptoms you are describing sounds like a right axle bearing. When diagnosing a noisy wheel bearing, usually it will get louder and or change its tone when turning and the noisy bearing is on the outside. The added pressure and speed increase loads it more. If the noise gets quieter turning the other way helps confirm the side because the inside wheel has less loading and turns slower. 

Bearing noises can be infernally frustrating to track down because the vibrations travel through the chassis and often other areas have a natural frequency that harmonizes with the frequency of the bearing. Because I work on cars for a living, I have special equipment to help diagnose them. That is why I spent several hundred dollars for 6 channel chassis ear kit. There are a few cars where that was the only way to confirm the source of the noise. 

 

I hate hunting noises, they rank up there with phantom current draws like the 04 Durango I have been dealing with since Monday. 

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Posted (edited)
59 minutes ago, Mr_Reverse said:

To me, the pictures look normal. The gear oil looks like old gear oil. Odds are that this was the first time the fluid was changed. I see it all the time at work. 

The same thing with the drain plug magnet. Looks normal for a first time, or after an extended period on the fluid. The sliver is likely shaved from the threads in either the housing or the plug and rather normal. 

The rubber like chunks look like sealant. It is likely from the drain and fill plugs. I noticed that Asian diff plugs often had sealant applied before installing, I do it myself. 

 

The symptoms you are describing sounds like a right axle bearing. When diagnosing a noisy wheel bearing, usually it will get louder and or change its tone when turning and the noisy bearing is on the outside. The added pressure and speed increase loads it more. If the noise gets quieter turning the other way helps confirm the side because the inside wheel has less loading and turns slower. 

Bearing noises can be infernally frustrating to track down because the vibrations travel through the chassis and often other areas have a natural frequency that harmonizes with the frequency of the bearing. Because I work on cars for a living, I have special equipment to help diagnose them. That is why I spent several hundred dollars for 6 channel chassis ear kit. There are a few cars where that was the only way to confirm the source of the noise. 

 

I hate hunting noises, they rank up there with phantom current draws like the 04 Durango I have been dealing with since Monday. 

 

Thanks for your opinion here.. in hindsight I should have changed both wheel bearings at the same time (lesson learned).

 

I wouldn't say it gets quieter when turning right but it definitely gets angrier when turning left.

 

I think I'll need to pull the right axle and inspect the play / rotation in the bearing. But I guess with it off I might aswell replace it too.

 

Edit: Quick question.. do you need to remove the abs sensor to pull a rear axle on these trucks? The FSM says to remove it because you might damage the cable... but is the sensor itself at risk? It looks like it sits away from the abs tone ring in the hub so it doesnt seem like it would be in the way

 I ask because it was the only thing that gave me trouble last time (snapped the retaining bolt and struggled to free the sensor from the hub).

 

Thnx.

 

K

Edited by Kazza
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I'll definitely defer to Mr_Reverse's experience on the normalcy of the items since this is his profession.  I started to wonder if perhaps I was too zoomed in on the images to gauge the size of the objects, but in hindsight, the particles are probably relatively small and insignificant.  Like before, I think the sliver is probably just from the drain or fill plug thread (I've seen it before).  I agree small specks shavings are generally not abnormal, but the shape of the chunk on the magnet still seems questionable.  Can't say I've seen oil like that, though, but I don't disagree that old oil can break down in that manner, possibly due to prolonged use, moisture, rust, etc.  The trucks I've worked on all from dry environments where those aren't normal factors.

 

Also, note that I said unbolting the driveshaft, not the diff.  This is so you can remove any additional resistance on the pinion when rotating it.  At that point, you'll have isolated it to the pair of pinion bearings and the pair of carrier bearings and sensing for any issues.  Since you've drained and refilled the diff, you can probably avoid repeating work unless the axle bearings don't end up being the problem.

 

As for the ABS sensors, the tips of the sensor protrude about 1/8" into the tube.  I've normally advocated avoiding removing the sensors for the exact reason you mentioned: the bolts are prone to seizing and snapping, and even with the bolt removed, there's a possibility that rust may prevent removing the sensor.  This obviously varies from vehicle to vehicle depending on corrosion; with a CAN truck, I'd probably just work around them.  Same is true with the front sensors.  With the sensors still install, you're more likely to damage the sensor tip than the wired, but there's plenty of space to work with, including if you need to replace the oil seal.  Just be mindful of them.

 

And Mr_Reverse is absolutely right about the noises finding a harmonic balance, which can make them even tougher to identify.  I think you're on the right track as far as having to rely on other clues (turning, acceleration, noises) to pinpoint it.  It may help to look at other sources of vibration to see if those are not interfering (or amplifying) the problem.  I usually suggest looking at the all the rubber components...a failed bushing may be allowing metal-metal contact and just amplifying road noise; a split transmission mount allowing excess vibration; etc.

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I found a little piece of brass in the front diff of our snowplow when I had it apart (after blowing up the spider gears, oops), and I'm still not sure where it came from.

 

Hopefully bearing replacement #2 kills your noise. I've ordered parts for both sides of mine, figuring that if one side has worn out, the other can't be far behind. I hadn't heard of the chassis ear system, that looks like a nice piece of kit for this kind of thing.

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