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Wheel Bearings

I drive a 2006 Volvo V50 with 65k. Recently the car started making a noise and the dealership told me that I need new front wheel hubs because my bearings are shot. The car has always been well within the weight limit, has never been through deep water (we do line in the pac NW so there is a decent amount of rain), and has had complete service at all of the maintenance times. I think that under 125k bearings should not be giving out and that volvo should replace the bearings for free - the mechanic is telling me that there is no set time for bearings to wear out - it can happen at literally any time/mileage/age and it would not be the company’s fault. Who is correct?

In theory sealed bearings should last the life of the vehicle. Volvo isn’t considered one of the most reliable vehicles made…20 years ago maybe…but NOT today.

I think it simply depends on the design.

Some designs are better. Subaru’s are pretty notorious for early failures of wheel bearings.

However in my case with my Legacy GT Subaru extended the rear only bearings to 100k miles.

The mechanic is correct. While 65k miles may be on the low side for bearing failure, it happens and there’s no special blame you can place on Volvo for it.

However, you do mention you need new front wheel hubs (hubs and not bearings?, two and not one?)

I would get a 2nd opinion from a local independent repair shop on:

1: For your year/model Volvo, can just the bearings be replaced or does the whole hub need replacing?

2: Are both side gone? Or is only one side beginning to make noise? I’d be suspect if both sides are claimed to be gone.

You are right, bearings should last longer than 65K. The problem is you are talking about a Volvo, and Volvo wheel bearings often fail early compared to just about any other car. So, your mechanic is correct too.

I agree with you Volvo should fix this, but if the warranty has passed they won’t. Your option is basically live with higher and more frequent repairs on the Volvo, or dump it now and get another brand of car. This is just the beginning of expensive repairs if you opt to keep the Volvo.

Let me guess the Volvo dealer is quoting something in the $1,000 to 2,000 range to fix this? Add on some other “maintenance” items and the bill could exceed $3,000? This is pretty typical of the kinds of bills you’ll need to get used to seeing and paying if you keep the Volvo.

Once a Volvo has gets beyond warranty coverage, it becomes a huge expense due to high repair costs. Keeping a Volvo that is out of warranty is a great way to blow a budget unless you plan on spending about $5K a year for repairs. I owned a couple of Volvo V70XC’s and two to three multi-thousand dollar repairs a year was my experience. As soon as I sold the Volvo’s my budgeting immediately improved. You want to think that the last huge repair bill means you’ll go a year of two before the next one, but don’t count on that with a Volvo.

One of the few times it may not be a Volvo’s fault. Liquid salt applications, coastal driving conditions, mud etc can all compromise the integrity of sealed bearings. Replace and be more careful. Just go somewhere other than the dealer.

Thank you all for the prompt and excellent replies - sub question the noise appeared approx. 5 days ago (it was so faint that I could not hear it but my husband could) it has since progressed to where the car is consistently making the noise and I can hear it strongly every time I drive. I have driven about 200 miles since the noise began… I am wondering if I can drive this thing up to my regular mechanic who I trust (and who quoted me $260 versus the $960 the dealership quoted me) but is approximately 275 miles away or am I most likely going to be losing a wheel along the way? Thanks in advance for replies!

If you were talking 50 miles I’d say go to your mechanic. 275 miles is not 50. What most concerns me is that the noise has increased so much over the last 200 miles. It could stay about the same, but it sounds like this bearing is falling apart rapidly. The 275 miles at interstate speeds won’t do it any good.

If the bearing totally fails at 60 mph you are in a dangerous situation. I’d see if you can locate a mechanic where you are now with a quote similar to your trusted shop. You are going to need an option to the Volvo dealer eventually anyway. The other option is for a long range tow or transport of the car. 275 miles is 7 hours one way, so transport is going to be expensive over that distance.

I won’t want to drive 275 miles with this car, it wouldn’t be a fun trip.

Try going here:

and find a closer independent shop.

The spindle and bearings common on all automobiles for a century were virtually indestructable and when on rare occasion they failed repair was cheap and simple. The change to hub assemblies was a cost cutting effort for the automobile manufacturer but the assembly is much weaker than the old hubs, fails often, and is much more expensive to repair. Progress at it finest…

Bearings are funny things. I have owned a 2000 Honda Accord and 1999 Honda Accord. The 2000 had a wheel bearing failure at 73,000 miles (all highway, light loads). The other front bearing went all the way to the death of the vehicle at 160,000 miles. My 1999 Accord has 186,000 miles currently and has not needed a wheel bearing yet. You just can’t predict when they will disintegrate.