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Old 09-07-2008, 09:09 AM
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Default Wheel Bearing Wear

So, say a fella let his wheel bearings get loose after the last repack. Visibly loose when he pushes on the wheels at the top and bottom. Then say they were this way for maybe as much as 2,000 miles. Say this fella opens the hubs, doesn't see any visible damage, bearings are still intact, absolutely no evidence of overheating, grease is good, no odd smells. The outer (all this fella has looked at so far) bearing and race seem OK other than being a bit looser in the cages than he remembers.

Then say the guy can tighten the hubs and gets a nice snug fit, wheel turns smoothly and there's no play. He gets about 8 lbs of pull on the hub with the bearings tightened. Think these bearings are potentially still OK? At least enough that he could make it another month or two, seeing as he's giving the truck a once over in prep for a 1,000 mile drive Tuesday morning back to St. Louis to be with his parents for a few weeks on mostly unpaid medical leave? Also realizing that the reason for the trip is intensely emotional and personal within the family, not to mention probably financially tough, and dealing with a truck is the last damn thing on his mind right now.

I guess what I'm asking is how do I know looking at wheel bearings that they are toast if they are not pitted or actually broken? I mean, how much can they wear and develop play before they are finished? And as they wear, if you can tighten the lock nuts down enough to take out any play and still get some preload on the hubs, are they still OK?
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Old 09-07-2008, 07:17 PM
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Default Your bearings will be fine

If they are not rough,pitted, scorched, etc., they'll be fine.
I'm still on all of my original wheel bearings at 266,000 miles.

I found 1 so loose once, that it was killing my brake pedal height for about 6 months. I think it is possible for them to loosen up after a good wheelin' trip. I don't know how, but they do.
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:22 PM
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If the wheel is not making a squealing noise when you drive, you will be fine. I'd replace it sometime, but I'd wait until its convenient.
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Old 09-07-2008, 09:36 PM
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You only put 2000 miles on them? It's unlikely that any damage has occurred. You can probably drive another 100k on them with no adverse effects.
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Old 09-08-2008, 07:24 AM
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My DD is currently running on front bearings that were also loose (for an unknown period of time, since I did not own it!). I bought new bearings because I doubted they were good. Know what? Upon disassembly I found fairly fresh grease and bearings that looked very good. The new bearings went into the spares drawer.

I seem to change the Chili's bearings every other repack; the outers get a bit discolored and the race track is quite visible. No pits, but I change 'em. I figger highway speeds pulling a camper, I don't need issues.

You're fine.
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Old 09-08-2008, 07:40 AM
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Yeah, everything seemed alright on the drive in this morning. I'm pretty sure I put several years worth of wear on them having them so loose.

When I reassembled the hubs I think I was bottoming out the inner lock nut on the spindle. I got about 8 lbs of pull with the scale, but it sure felt like I was making that nut too tight. My guess is that the nut is bumped up against the shoulder on the spindle that transitions from the smooth to the threads. I could not make them any tighter, even if I wanted.

When I get back home tonight I will jack up the front end and if there's no looseness I'll feel better. The hubs here in the parking lot were stone cold, so there's not too much preload for sure. My rotors warped at some point between the Rubithon and today when I was listening closely (faint ticky squeak that goes away with a light pedal touch and I noticed yesterday that they looked discolored in a few spots) and need to get them replaced. They were at the limit when I did the brakes this spring, so I'm not surprised. I might work on this in St. Louis, but more likely when I get back I will be rebuilding the hubs anyway, new rotors, wheel bearings, etc.

Thanks, guys. Just discouraging doing a pre-road trip quick check and finding something like this. It's been one of those summers.
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Old 09-08-2008, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveInDenver View Post
..
When I reassembled the hubs I think I was bottoming out the inner lock nut on the spindle. I got about 8 lbs of pull with the scale, but it sure felt like I was making that nut too tight. My guess is that the nut is bumped up against the shoulder on the spindle that transitions from the smooth to the threads. I could not make them any tighter, even if I wanted.

.
Are you missing the thrust washer? Almost sounds like it.. or maybe you need a thicker one?
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Old 09-08-2008, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by nakman View Post
Are you missing the thrust washer? Almost sounds like it.. or maybe you need a thicker one?
That seems like a reasonable guess, but all the pieces are in place and I verified that with my own eyes. When I repacked them last time I could tighten the hub completely until they pretty much wouldn't turn. I do my repacking more or less like the book, tighten to some torque to set the bearings, turn the hubs a few times, back off until the pull scale reads what I want. Not sure why they were so loose this time, but I'm guessing that beating my truck silly on the Rubicon probably has something to do with it. As far as being too thin, I didn't know that there were difference thickness thrust washers for the hubs. I do have some spare ones in the piles of parts, but I'm not sure I want to install two of them. Even as it is that outer lock nut comes about flush with the end of the spindle threads and those thrust washers are pretty thick.
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Old 09-08-2008, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveInDenver View Post
That seems like a reasonable guess, but all the pieces are in place and I verified that with my own eyes. When I repacked them last time I could tighten the hub completely until they pretty much wouldn't turn. I do my repacking more or less like the book, tighten to some torque to set the bearings, turn the hubs a few times, back off until the pull scale reads what I want. Not sure why they were so loose this time, but I'm guessing that beating my truck silly on the Rubicon probably has something to do with it. As far as being too thin, I didn't know that there were difference thickness thrust washers for the hubs. I do have some spare ones in the piles of parts, but I'm not sure I want to install two of them. Even as it is that outer lock nut comes about flush with the end of the spindle threads and those thrust washers are pretty thick.

Dave,
I'm sorry if I am repeating something that had already been said as I only skimmed through this tread. Are you saying that the wheel bearings have only loosened up after Rubicon? That is pretty typical if thats the case! I had repacked and adjusted mine prior to the 2300 mile road trip and rock beating and mine were notably loose when I got home too. Not that uncommon. If this is the only time this has done it then don't worry, but if it happens regularly then you might be tightening your preload too tight!
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Old 09-08-2008, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Uncle Ben View Post
Dave,
I'm sorry if I am repeating something that had already been said as I only skimmed through this tread. Are you saying that the wheel bearings have only loosened up after Rubicon? That is pretty typical if thats the case! I had repacked and adjusted mine prior to the 2300 mile road trip and rock beating and mine were notably loose when I got home too. Not that uncommon. If this is the only time this has done it then don't worry, but if it happens regularly then you might be tightening your preload too tight!
Yes, UB, I was doing some preventative maintenance this weekend and noticed that my wheel bearings were very loose. It's the first time I've been so lazy with staying on top of things, so it's kinda embarrassing. I usually am better about this stuff. I think the bottom line in my questions isn't so much that they were loose, but that Rubiton is probably when they developed the play and whether or not driving with loose wheel bearings since late June is likely to have worn them dangerously. I haven't had time to do much wheeling or long drives since then and since they looked OK, I just cleaned, packed in new grease and reassembled, fingers crossed.
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