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Short term wheel bearing fix?

I think I have a bad bearing on one of my back wheels. It gets really hot compared to all the other wheels after extended driving. And I can feel a drag when I jack up the car and spin the wheel by hand. The drag is accompanied by a scraping sound.



I removed the caliper (and pads) and spun the wheel and felt the same drag and sound so I’m pretty sure it’s not the disk brakes.



I’ve got an appointment with my mechanic a week from now to have it looked at, but I still need to use my car till then. I commute 80 miles round trip to work on the highway.



Is there a short term fix to keep my bearings from seizing while I drive down the highway?



I have an 1997 Eagle Talon Turbo

No. If you drive the vehicle with a bad bearing it will just seize up on you. It may also damage the axle and the axle housing depending on the configuration. It’s not worth it to take a chance on driving the vehicle. There is no shortcuts or short term fixes. It’s better to park the Talon now and avoid the costs of towing and other repairs related to the bearing failure.

Short term fix = rent a car while waiting to fix yours.

That is very good advice.

OP–Imagine the effect of one brake locking up on a rear wheel while driving at highway speeds. Since that is essentially what will happen when that bearing seizes up, I think that you would be very wise to park the Talon and rent a car for the next few days.

Renting from a firm like Rent-a-Wreck is actually not very expensive, and it is certainly cheaper than the effects from the accident that would likely result from a seized wheel bearing at highway speeds.

Agree. Worst case, you’re damaging the axle with all the heat. Hate to have that fail!

The others are right - best not to drive it.

You apparently can jack up the car, pull the brakes, diagnose a bearing. Why wait a week for a shop? Stop at an AP store, pick up a repair manual for $20, a set of bearings for another $20, and some bearing grease for another few bucks. Jack it back up and handle it. Many wheel bearings are pretty easy to deal with.

If you need any specialty tools you can borrow many of them these days from the big chain auto parts stores. (You “buy” the tool and they give you a full refund when you return it).

As cigroller says if your 1997 Eagle has old fashioned wheel bearings that are not pressed in, and you have any tools and mechanical skills, replacing the bearing yourself is a very easy job. I did it once in a motel parking lot.

It’d be easier if you can find someone to show you how, but a Haynes or Chilton manual might tell you enough to get you through.

Driving the car really is not a good idea. The wheel may not seize up. It may come apart. Not only is that going to increase the cost of the repair by quite a lot depending on how many new parts (wheel, axle, etc) are needed and how far you need to tow the vehicle, it may leave you driving on only three wheels which really doesn’t work very well and might cause a really serious accident.

I normally would not use the term scraping to describe what a failing bearing sounds like but people’s interpretations vary. Anyway, it got me thinking about the brakes since they tend to scrape when worn. Does your car have the parking brake function built into the main caliper or is it a separate system inside of the rotor “hat”? Some designs use two systems, the primary brake caliper and a set of shoes inside the rotor hub. Worth checking just to be sure…

I know what you mean about the sound. I have heard/felt bad bearings on a bicycle and would describe it as more of a grinding sound. When I took off the tire I expected to find a problem with the brakes. After I took off the caliper and felt/heard the same noise I assumed it had to be the bearing. I didn’t think about the e-brake.

I have a repair guide and am mechanically inclined but have never put a wrench to my car (save sparkplugs) until now.

When I was taking it all apart I attempted to remove the disk but could not unbolt the “caliper frame”. I removed the part with the hydraulic piston but there?s another piece that goes around the disk and bolts to the rest of the car with two bolts. Those bolts are locked solid and are probably rusted. I soaked them in WD-40 and waited an hour but no luck. I twisted a 3 inch socket wrench extension by about 40 degrees trying to get them to move.

Any suggestions on loosening very stubborn bolts in relatively confined area?

Any suggestions on loosening very stubborn bolts in relatively confined area?

  1. work gloves - I prefer the mechanic’s gloves they have at the auto parts stores, but normal cheap work gloves will also work many times.
  2. penetrating oil
  3. the right tool for the right job

#3 isn’t as easy as it sounds. One thing I like to do is use socket wrenches that have the same amount of sides as the nut or bolt. If you use the sockets with more sides, they are easier to get on the nut or bolt, but they also strip it easier.

This also means having a wide variety of socket extensions, deep sockets (like the ones you use for spark plugs), and, when necessary, specialty wrenches. There are also some specialty brake tools that make servicing the brakes easier. I have found specialty tools to be quite valuable and useful.

Oh, and if you don’t have one, add a torque wrench or two to your wish list of tools. Making sure you reinstall the stubborn bolt correctly will make it easier for next time.

I’m guessing the OP is using a 3/8" socket set? If so, and if you’re wanting to do this yourself, you’ll want to get a 1/2" drive breaker bar with the appropriate size socket. It’ll take some leverage to loosen those bolts.

Or get it over to your mechanic, this is quite a step past spark plugs.

Great point, texases. swihfr01, keep in mind the longer the breaker bar, the more leverage you will have, and if you use an adapter to use your 3/8" socket on the 1/2" drive breaker bar, you are defeating the purpose. You will surely break the adapter.

Having a breaker bar you can stand on really comes in handy sometimes. Just remember, if your car is up on jack stands (another important item to have for safety), only push town to loosen the bolt. Never push it up or sideways, or you will take the risk of knocking the car off its jack stands. The stock jack, or even a good floor jack is no substitute for sturdy jack stands, which should always be used in pairs.

Can you move the axle up and down at all in the housing? (bearing slop). How about in and out? How far will it move?

Axles are retained in their housings by different methods. You need to know how yours is retained before you start taking it apart. Is there a bolted on cover on the rear of the differential??

Skip the WD-40 and get something like PB Blaster. Maintaining some patience is also essential.

As one of the posters noted above, for hex bolts 6 sided sockets are better than 12.

The ideal is to have an impact wrench - this would probably take care of it with no problem. Short of that, there is the breaker bar, as noted.

But one thing that I often try b/c it often works is the “poor man’s” impact wrench. Take your properly sized wrench or ratchet, make sure it is firmly in place on the head - in fact, hold it firmly in place on the bolt head - and give the handle several sharp whacks with a decent size hammer. You don’t necessarily want to whack it way out toward the end of the handle - often too much spring in it. Whack it sharply closer in on the handle. If it doesn’t want to go, try whacking on it in the other direction a couple of times (toward tighter) then back toward looser.

The most important thing is to use care and patience so that you don’t wreck the head. If you start to lose the patience, take it to a shop.

I’m not familiar with the specifics for your exact car but you have the manual now so that is the best source of info. Going off typical setups-

That is the caliper mounting bracket. Often, those two bolts are installed with some type of thread locker at the time of manufacture. First off, WD-40 has no place in this application. You need a real penetrant like B’Laster PB. Get some, you’ll never be sorry you bought it. Apply it and let it creep for a few minutes. Then reapply a few times. Now use your larger tool set as recommended above. You want 1/2" minimum, 6 point socket and a breaker bar to bust them loose.

I agree. Rent a car. If you go to price line and name your own price someone will always take $10/day. Justy don’t keep it longer than you specified, it will void the contract and you will have to pay full price. Just do it again if it takes longer than thought.

When they’re scraping and dragging it’s time to park the car other than a low speed trip on the back streets to the closest shop.

Not for one minute should this car hit an open highway.

You need a good quality 1/2 drive socket , extension, and breaker bar (Craftsman or better) a 30 inch or longer pipe and the fixture bolts will come right out.

About thread locker, many thread locking adhesives loosen with a little heat.