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OEM Wheel Bearings?


cham
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I've been dealing with some slop in the front wheels for quite some time now, and I'm deciding to just finally get it done myself.  I already have the lock ring tool, and snap-ring plyers for replacing the front bearings, but I'll likely need a bearing/race press tool as well.  My question though is I'm unsure whether I need to go for the full priced OEM bearings and races as they are substantially more than any aftermarket options.  My gut feeling tells me to just deal with it as it's a very high load bearing part and under no circumstances would I want to risk having it fail while traveling down the highway at 70mph.  As it stands now, for just one front wheel it would be about $100 (includes both bearing assemblies and rear seal) so $200 for both wheels.  Now after market options are less than half of this an maybe I'd get what I pay for, but if anyone has experience with this I'd love to know what you chose to do and why.  Are the aftermarket bearings just as good?

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I have no problems with most aftermarket bearings. Timken are good and an OEM supplier. 

 

For the races, all you really need is a brass or aluminum punch to drive the new ones into the hubs. You can use steel to knock the old ones out since you are not worried about damage to them. Once you clean the grease out, you will see that there are notches where you can put the punch to knock out the old races. 

 

The screws that lock the nut are soft, so easy to cam out the phillips heads. I find an impact driver works well to loosen them without damage. 

 

Biggest challenge is to find the socket that fits the nut. The socket for an early 90s Isuzu Trooper is easier to track down and works fine. 

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When I replaced mine, I knocked them out with a brass rod and knocked the new ones in with the cheapest eBay garbage bearing race installer tool I could find. Pretty much just some aluminum disks with a handle. I also used aftermarket bearings. I don't remember what brand I went for, but certainly not the cheapest available.

 

If the bearings aren't damaged, just loose, you could just clean/repack them. My old ones looked mint--I only replaced them because I was tracking down a bearing noise and really hoping it wasn't coming from the rear axle. (It was.)

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I appreciate all of the responses.  I'll definitely heed the warning about using a brass or aluminum punch rod, I'm not looking to have to sand any burrs down. 

 

The reason I already have some tools for the job is I have attempted in the past to repack and nip up the lateral play in the bearings.  Unfortunately this did not work, and I followed the torque recommendations exactly as stated (torque to I believe 70 ft-lbs, turn hub while torqueing, back off to zero, final torque of 13 in-lbs).  Now I believe because the bearings were worn, the specified torque was not enough to take up any play.  I've also had my rotors and pads replaced 4 times in a row by a shop because after a couple of months of driving, they warp again and again (they replaced them free of charge because it kept happening).  

 

My assumption finally is the bearings are loose and the rotors are warping because of this.  I've also heard pathys eat up cheap rotors and this might be a contributing factor as well.  I finally had a separate shop confirm the bearings were loose and or bad.  There is also something to be said about the caliper needing maintenance, I am not totally familiar with doing brake jobs. 

 

One thing is for sure, I need new bearings and I plan to replace the pads and rotors at the same time because my rotors are undoubtedly warped.  I'd love to hear any recommendations for installing the rotors and pads, I really don't want to finish the job only to find out my rotors are rubbing for some unforeseen reason.

Edited by cham
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Most likely your rear brakes are out of adjustment if your truck keeps warping the rotors. If the rear brakes are not adjusted properly, they will cause the front brakes to work harder and generate more heat into the small rotors. 

The automatic adjusters in the rear brakes are operated by the parking brake. If you don't apply the parking brake every time you park the truck, the rear brakes will not maintain proper adjustment. 

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I don't use any special tools to install new races, I use the old race and a piece of pipe. Something I found out the hard way, there's a 3rd axle needle bearing in the back of the knuckle. Only available from the dealership for $60 pair. I changed mine without removing the seals, those are $120 a set.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I actually apply the parking brake every time I park go figure haha. If that’s the case could this still be a possibility even with the adjuster at proper position? I don’t hear any squealing from either of my brakes so I know it’s not worn past the material. Is it common for the rear drum shoes to warp?


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Regular use of the parking brake should keep the rear brakes properly adjusted. 

I live in an area with mountains, run 33x12.50 tires on my older and heavier WD21 and haven't had any warping issues. I have an automatic transmission also, but I also tend to manually down shift for the grades and pretty light on the brakes when driving. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just finished doing a full brake job and replaced the front bearings and races, man was that fun.  Now I've run into a few issues.  As far as the wheel bearings, I still have slight play in either wheel at only 12 and 6 o'clock.  I nipped them up which got rid of the play, drove around and once I was back, found there was slightly new play at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions again for both front wheels.  I'm curious if this will happen continuously for a while as the bearings find their equilibrium, or is this something I should investigate further?  Because the play is strictly at 12 and 6, this leads me to believe a worn ball joint but with just a visual inspection, the boots look like they're in perfect shape.  Is there any way to differentiate between a worn ball joint or wheel bearing play?  

 

My next issue has to do with the rear drums.  Having completed the front brakes I soon found out the issue was not remedied and lifted the rear axle only to find the drum shoes were grabbing as well.  Decided to say what the hell and do the rear as well because of what someone mentioned earlier about the rear being able to warp the front rotors if not aligned correctly.  Long story short, replaced everything; drums, shoes, hardware, wheel cylinders.  I used whatever AutoZone had available for me which was not actually all that cheap.  Botched the bleeding job and had to do all 4 corners because I did not keep the reservoir topped off while bleeding the new wheel cylinders (pedal still feels mushy, going to have to figure that out). 

 

Finally took the vehicle out for a test drive, came back lifted the rear axle and the fricking shoes are grabbing!  Only at certain spots during rotation not throughout the whole revolution of the rear wheels.  Would anyone know the variables that can cause this?  I feel I did everything right besides messing up the bleed.  Could it be defective parts (out of round drum from the factory), could air in the master cylinder cause grabbing for some weird reason?  I know the self-adjuster adjustment is pretty critical but wouldn't that cause dragging/grabbing throughout the whole revolution not just at certain spots if it was not adjusted correctly?  Is there a seating/bedding in procedure for drum shoes?  I apologize for a million questions, just at wits end with this whole cluster.  Feel free to answer any one of these questions, look forward to figuring this one out.

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It does sound like the drums are out of round. Not uncommon and easily fixed by having them trued on a brake lathe. 

 

A slight movement only at 12 and 6 is an indication of wear in the ball joints or sometimes in the suspension bushings. Once I saw the issue was caused by wear in the strut of a car.  If it is less than 1/8"  at the outer edge of the wheel, generally not a big issue. If it was bearing play, it would be all around. The best way to track it down is to have a helper wiggle the wheel while you are looking to see where the movement is. We do it all the time in the shops I have worked in. 

 

With the soft brake pedal, find a soft or slick surface you can get some speed on and do a few hard stops where the ABS activates. That will help push air out of the ABS valves and cycling them also ensures they are fully homed. Then do a gravity bleed and that should take care of the problem. 

 

With gravity bleeding, just put a piece of clear hose on the bleeder, open the bleeder a half turn and take the cap off the reservoir. Keep it full and when the air bubbles are gone out of the hose, indicates you are good. You can actually do all 4 at the same time, just close valves when the fluid is clear of air.

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That was my assumption as well.  I've heard if there are large quantities of corrosion buildup on the shoe contact points, that can offset the angle of the shoes just enough to induce a grab.  I've been meticulously sanding and using Rust-Oleum dissolver to smooth those contact points.  I've also returned all of the AutoZone parts including the drums except for the new premium NAPA wheel cylinders (hopefully these are decent quality).  I've ordered the Powerstop rear drum kit; I've used Powerstop before and they seem to be a reputable company (it looks to be the only manufacturer that sells a drum kit for our Pathys).  If I get grabbing again once the kit is installed I'm just going to get those drums turned and call it a day.  

 

As for the wheel bearings I'm kind of confused.  So I've definitely overtightened the preload nut to try and get rid of the play, but it seems the play is coming from something other than a loose wheel bearing.  I can tell it's overtightened because I can feel and hear the extra drag and extra whooshing noise when driving the vehicle.  The play is certainly less than what I initially began with before changing the bearings and races but I am still getting an oscillation noise from the front end.  Almost like a wub-wub noise that I've read comes from loose wheel bearings, but that can't be the case right?  It happens very noticeably between about 20 and 35 mph on clean paved roads but goes away with speed increase.  My assumption of course was that a loose wheel bearing is causing it but I guess its not so simple.  I just had my tires rotated and balanced yesterday to eliminate the possibility of a bent wheel or unbalanced tire.  Everything was apparently fine and the sound still persists.  My next question is to what degree of play can you have in the front wheels before the rotors will begin to warp under braking, you mention an 1/8" of play isn't a big issue.

 

I did also read that procedure online about doing some hard brakes to push air out of the ABS unit but I'm a little concerned about glazing over the new shoes.  I haven't been able to find a bedding in procedure for drum brakes, all I could find was that after installation you should brake lightly to moderately for the first like 100 miles, otherwise you apparently glaze over your new shoes.  In the FSM it mentions bleeding the master cylinder before bleeding the load sensing valve (which my Pathy does not have) and then the 4 corners.  It does not give too many specifics on how to bleed the master cylinder though.  Is there a possibility the air in the system is causing the grabbing issue?  It'd be hard to imagine that but maybe there is a chance.  Regardless thanks for the responses, let me know if I can be understood at all haha.

 

 

 

 

 

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I just discovered a couple things that might help anyone undertaking this job in the future.  Last night I was messing around with the preload nut and decided to just torque it down very tight, almost to the initial 60 ft-lb preload value.  I put everything back together and found the play at 12 and 6 on the wheel had disappeared completely.  Therefor, play has to be coming from the bearings, not a ball joint etc.  I remembered when I was first assembling the new bearings in the hub, it was impossible to get the outer bearing past the start of the spindle.  There was a video on YouTube I watched a while ago where it was recommended to tap the outer bearing with something soft/plastic into the race past the spindle because of this fact.  Well during my initial assembly I had done just that.  My next thought having found the play is coming from the bearing is that, I could have tapped the bearing slightly offset from the race to the point that even the 60 ft-lb preload still coudn't seat the bearing correctly.  Well I've rebuilt the hub again today, but instead getting the outer bearing onto the spindle as far as I can by hand and using the preload nut to screw the bearing into the race.  Did the final torque spec of 13 in-lbs, assembled everything, zero play.  Cross my fingers it stays this way even after driving but it is a good sign.  

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