Wheel bearings

ford
explorer

#1

My mechanic told me i needed a bearing replaced. I can only hear a slight sound from this wheel. Unfortunately my budget can’t afford it until 6-8 weeks. Is this dangerous and can I afford to wait. Will there be signs if it gets worse that will prompt me to take more action?


#2

Don’t let anyone scare you or victimize you. If you have a front wheel drive car, which most of us have, chances are very good that you have a slight brake problem. There is a simple way to find out. Eliminating all noise that you can, get the car up to a speed that will make the noise happen. If the sound of the noise changes IN PITCH only when you apply the brakes just hard enough to slow down slightly but not stop, or only makes the noise at a certain speed then the brakes are glazed and the car can be driven indefinetly until you’re more certain that the brakes need to be replaced. If the noise increases as your speed increases then you are lucky enough to be one of the rare people who has a bearing go bad. Keep in mind that most front wheel drive cars don’t have wheel bearings near the tire that can make an audible noise. It is more likely in rear wheel drive cars, and even then you can use the same system to differentiate between bearing or break noise. Whatever you do never, never, never go to a dealership unless the car is covered under unconditonal, manufature’s warranty. Never, never, never go to a convenience shop like Midas, Goodyear, Firestone, etc to have ANYTHING done. The mechanics are second rate and can’t find work at a reputable shop - probably stoned anyway, and the management is only there to make money because they are on commission or conditional employment. I always tell people to find a hole-in-the-wall place like a Mom and Pops place and definetly judge the book by its cover. If the outside of the building is somewhat tackey but the shop is clean and the mechanics have dirty shirts then chances are that the shop is as honest as it’s hungriest mechanic and doesn’t pass overhead on to the consumer. Then, if the shop office is owned/managed by one person (The owner himself) and/or a significant other then chances are you can trust them. I’ve been pretty good luck with Grays Tire and Auto here in Colorado. But if you’re not in Colorado then just visit their website to get an idea of what I am advising.


#3

Hmmmm…6-8 weeks. Well, if you don’t drive the car at all (0 miles) then I’d be confident to say you’re good to go. So how many miles you think you’ll do? It would make more sense to say that rather than 6-8 weeks.

In general, bad wheel bearings are bad. If they do fail in a particular way you sort of suddenly lose the wheel. So they’re not really something to be ignored.

However, if yours isn’t that loud right now and you have no other symptoms (do you?) such as vibration or squirrely steering behavior or the like then you’re not likely in imminent danger. I’m going on you saying a “slight sound” - so that is open to interpretation. But if it gets louder and especially if you start getting other symptoms then I’d start to get nervous. Don’t turn the radio up. Make sure you stay in touch with the sound.

If you have a jack & jack stands and do any kind of mechanical work at all, many wheel bearings are not hard to do yourself. I don’t know about the explorer’s but it would be easy enough to find out.


#4

If the definition of slight is very little then I might say you could ride it out for a bit longer.

You did not define this sound but a subtle hum is not quite as bad. If it is, or becomes, a growl, grind, roar, or howl then I’d say park it for the time being.


#5

If it IS a wheel bearing, you can get away with it around town at low speeds and short trips. But a half hour at 70 MPH will likely cause the bearing to badly overheat and perhaps catastrophically fail…Not good…