CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

B.B.B.(Bad Ball Bearings)?

A family member said that the front ball bearings are bad. This is what is going on; when I am driving and release the gas pedal and/or brake pedal, it jerks. When I am turning, left or right, to park in a parking space, it sounds and feels like the tire is going to break (when turning right to park, right tire; turning in left, left tire). Any suggestions? I don’t want to get taken advantage of when I go to a mechanic.

You might want to have them check the lower ball joints. It doesn’t sound like a bearing problem.

Tester

I agree that it doesn;t sound like a bearing problem and that ball joints are a good possibility. However, I’ll suggest that you take it to a good shop and have the chassis gone over properly, on a lift. There are a number of possible problems that could cause your sympoms.

Thanks…I appreciate your suggestions. Taking it to the shop in the morning.

What type of vehicle are we talking about?

Usually with front bearings (the correct term is “wheel bearing” - a wheel bearing assembly contains ball bearings, but nobody in the automotive repair business says “ball bearing”), the noise is heard on the opposite side during a turn (e.g., a left turn will cause noise on the right side).

Are you talking about BALL JOINTS or WHEEL BEARINGS? This sounds like ball joints to me. If you feel resistance or hear pops/clunks at certain points when turning, this sounds like ball joints. Get this looked at ASAP as this is a serious safety issue.

Conor

I do. I often call them “balll wheel bearings” now. I have a grudge against the EPA, whose neverending raising of the mileage bar has resulted in manufacturers changing the wheel bearings from roller bearings to ball bearings for the lower rolling resistance. Ball bearings simply do not stand up as well as roller bearings in high load and impact applications. They have far less surface contact area to absorn the loads.

Is the terminology correct? I contend that it’s more correct than simply saying “wheel bearings”. Wheel bearings can, in fact, be purchased in both ball and roller designs. The Timkin catalog is extensive. But I understand your point. And “wheel bearing” would be much clearer to everyone but me.

Yup, I’m being ornery.

Or if it’s a fwd vehicle than it probably has a unitized wheel bearing assembly. Maybe the OP has a 79 Camaro?

He says it’s a Mercury Mountaineer.

“unitized wheel bearing assembly”? That term is unfamiliar to me. Generally they’ll either be a bearing assembly that needs to be pressed into a hub or the beariong & hub assembly.

In the old days one could remove the roller bearings with the race from the tapered spindle, and grease them manually, but those days are long gone.

Is a Mercury Mountaineer FWD? I thought they came either a RWD or 4WD. But in either case, wheel bearing usually make a roaring sound at highway speeds that gets much worse in a curve. The clunk the OP mentions could be due to universal joints in the driveshaft, CV joints if 4WD, bad trailing arm bushings, ball joints or any number of other things. This will take an “eyes on” by a competent mechanic.

I agree. We got a bit off topic there.

tsm- the unitized reference just means that the old method of bearing and hub being separately serviceable parts are now designed as a unit and not expected to be individually serviceable. They are replaced as a unit. The same as the latter reference you gave as a bearing and hub assembly. It’s a term more frequently used by the designers and hard core parts guys. Us DIY guys just ask for a hub assembly :wink:

The CV joints have ball bearings in them too and a bad CV could cause looseness or a jerk in the drive train and also make noise when turning the wheel.

@thesamemountainbike, the Ford Ranger used those roller bearings all the way until the end of production, which wasn’t long ago.