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Wheel Bearings. How often do they go bad?

I've got a Mazda Protege5. I had the wheel bearings replaced right of the box shortly after I bought the car new in 2004. They went bad again in July 2011 and now they seem to be going bad again. That same familiar sound. Seems strange to me. I'm not hearing anyone else talk about regularly having their wheel bearings go bad.
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Comments

  • Are you driving over extremely bad roads?
  • There are good parts and bad parts, mine came with a lifetime warantee, did yours?
  • I've had a couple of wheel bearings go bad over the years. Yet, given the number of cars I've had and all the miles driven bad wheel bearings is a rare event. Your experience is either a bad design or someone is using cheap parts.
  • The roads aren't too bad. I live in the city of Chicago. Some roads are a little rough though overall they're fine. I don't know about the warranty on the wheel bearings. I'll check with the mechanic. My guess is they don't have a long warranty given that the mechanic I used did the bearings twice.
  • Back when I was a kid in the 50's, a car lasted about 100k miles, and it was not unusual to have to replace at least the front wheel bearings once in the life of the car.

    These days, when you hear about someone replacing any wheel bearing, the car probably has 200k or better on it. I replaced all four wheel bearings on my '91 Volvo by the time it hit 250k miles.

    Your experience is unusual. Something about that car is not right. Do the bearings look like they have been unusually hot, such that the grease was destroyed?
  • edited March 2013
    Of the 8 cars I've owned over the years, I've only had to replace 3 front wheel bearings. If driven on smooth roads, bearings can last the life of the car. It's something yoiu just don't worry about anymore. Owner's manuals seldom mention bearing service anymore.
  • The mechanic has shown me the bearings. It looks like the grease is almost gone and you can see rust starting to develop. Does this mean they're running too hot? Or could there be an issue with sealing?

    I actually misspoke in my initial post. The dealer replaced the bearings right out of the box. These lasted from 2004-2009. The same mechanic replaced the bearings in 8/09, 7/11, and now they're going bad again. I hear the same familiar sound.

    Could this be an issue wtih poor parts or could the mechanic do a poor job?

    I frankly would do it myself if it didn't required a press and removing the entire knuckle. image
    p2000997bg53001.jpg
    499 x 376 - 63K
    4.jpg
    400 x 400 - 16K
  • You don;t say how many miles you have on the car, but wheel bearings going bad within two years of driving suggests either an installation problem or poor bearings. Without seeing how they were installed (did the guy on the press force them in by using the inner race?) it's impossible to guess.

    as to brand, I like Timkin bearings. They're pretty much the "gold standard" when it comes to bearings.

    And, I have to ask, are you sure it isn;t the rear bearings going this time?
  • Back in the day, with RWD cars, the front bearings were open tapered roller type, you could remove them, clean them and re-pack them. This was part of a front brake job..Kept clean and lubricated, they would last the life of the car..Todays cars use sealed straight rollers that perhaps have a little more trouble absorbing side loads than the old tapered roller design..And they can't be cleaned and re-packed..As with ANY bearing, once the seal fails, the bearing is not far behind..
  • Bearing failure IMO, is dependent more on vehicle use with th influence of poor design. I wonder how well the bearings are sealed ? Check with the dealer on recalls.
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