It had been about 2 years since I replaced both rear wheel bearings. The left side is still fine, but the right side has worn again, so I replaced it a couple of weeks ago. But this new one I installed was bad right from the start. I thought I got a defective one, so I am returning it. Now, it has been a few days since I did the last defective one and had some time to reflect on it, I am thinking I may have done something wrong and messed up a perfectly good bearing.
Here is a summary of my questions for those who care not to read the entire post.
- I am torquing it to correct spec and correct procedure, but the wheel bearing went bad.
- What is the Ford’s reason for recommending not to reuse the spindle nut / axle nut? I resued (reinstalled) it 4 times already on the right side.
- Could reusing the spindle nut / axle nut be a reason that the bearing went bad?
Here is the long version of what happened.
2 years ago, at about 130,000 miles, I replaced both bearings. I replaced the right one first, but doing it for the first time, I forgot to transfer the ABS tone ring, so I loosened and reinstalled it. The left one was installed correctly the first time. A few days after the installation, I felt some dragging in the right drum, so I had to take off the drum and reinstall one of the springs that hold the brake shoes in place. That was the end of first installation.
I heard the right side wheel bearing go bad, so I ordered a new one and opened it up to find wheel bearing grease seeping out and a bad bearing. I replace it. Having done it a few times, I had no problem doing it, but toward the end of torquing it, I felt some grinding. I went for a test drive and immediately noticed the wheel bearing making the noise. I ordered a new one and asked for a return on the one I just installed.
Now, I have a new one in hand, but I just want to make sure I am doing this correctly.
Here is how I did it.
The torque is 174 ft-lb.
When I tighten it, I do it figner tight, then rotate it counter-clockwise 10 turns. Then, I began tightening it. When the tension gets quite a bit maybe 60 ft-lbs or so, I turn it counter-clockwise one turn every time I tighten about 1/4 turn. I am doing this, because one instruction (Ford) I read tells me to turn it counter-clockwise 10 turns after finger tight, then torque to 174 ft-lb. Another one (I don’t know which manual) instructed me to continue turning the drum counter-clockwise as I torque the drum. I figure I would do both.
Also, the Ford manual said not to reuse the spindle nut / hub nut, but the other one said I can reuse it up to 4 times. But I have reused it 4 times already. Installing the latest drum/wheel bearing combination was resuing the spindle nut for the 3rd time. What concerns me is that after about 100 ft-lbs of tightening torque, it felt funny, felt a little like it was grinding. So, I am thinking the drum/bearing set I received was good, but I messed it up while installing.
Could I have caused the wheel bearing to go bad by reusing the spindle nut? From what I can find on the internet, the spindle nut has features that prevents it from unlocking, but reusing it compromises that feature, so Ford recommends using a new one every time. According to Ford the nut is LAMINATED, whatever that means.
Can anyone see anything wrong I did? It is a little odd that the left side wheel bearing is still good.
Now, the update!
To make a long story short, I did another wheel bearing job, and this time, nothing happened – that is, nothing unexpected happened. This new bearing is fine.
Now, the long version: I went to see the mechanic I usually depend on to fix things I can’t do. He was incredulous that 2 bearings in a row are bad, but he confirmed that it definitely was bad. The first thing he asked me was how I pressed in the bearing. He said that’s where most mistakes happen. Well, I bought the bearing/drum combo, so I didn’t have to press in the bearing. So, that can’t be my fault. I explained to him how I installed the bearing, and he said it seems like everything was done right. I asked him about the torque, he said that the torque I applied had to be far off the spec to cause problems, especially immediate problems. I agree. Most specs for passenger cars are very forgiving. He said it’s basically taking one nut off, replace the drum and put the nut back on. What can be so complicated?
He suggested that I may have just gotten 2 bad wheel bearings in a row, which is rare, but not totally unexpected. He commented that he only uses quality parts, because if it goes bad, he will have to do it over at his expense. I told him that I will try it one more time myself, and if that doesn’t work, I will have him do it.
We had a winter storm in the Boston area and more snow expected this weekend, the ground may be frozen for a while. I wanted to get this thing over with soon, so I did another bearing replacement on Monday, which was the day before the big storm.
I didn’t have time to order another one online, so I went to Autozone and got theirs. It comes with a 2-year warantee, so if anything happens, I can get another one. Well, it worked out beautifully. I did the entire job is 35 minutes. That includes taking all the tools out to the drive way and putting them back in the house.
Now that the third wheel bearing turns out to be O.K., I am getting slightly ticked off at the parts manufacturers. I didn’t get the expensive stuff, but I did go with name brands. The first one was AC Delco, the second one was Bendix. I don’t know about the parts business, but I figured if it’s a company well known to most people, it should be O.K. I guess I was wrong. Come to think of it, the third one from Autozone is the no name brand. I hope Amazon would refund my money on the 2 bad drum/bearings.