Wheel Bearing redux

Bill Putney's and Neil Nelson's recent posts regarding diagnosis of noisy wheel bearings came just days too late.
I had already had the left front wheel bearing replaced on my Gen. 1 minivan
on the basis of my own diagnosis and confirmation by my mechanic. This was before the recent group discussion on the subject.
After all, the howl got worse in a right turn, so the bad bearing had to be on the left....everybody knows that, right? :-)
After a post repair test drive, the noise was still there and, in fact, the removed bearing had looked quite good. The mechanic and I agreed that the next time by, we would get the van up on the hoist, drive the front wheels, and get on the knuckles with a stethoscope.
We did this yesterday. Pretty obvious. The new bearing on the left was quiet. The old bearing on the right was very growly..
He replaced the right side bearing......noise gone. The old bearing looked pretty ratty in the races.
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Jack Idler wrote:

Thanks for posting that feedback - I feel vindicated (yours plus my 7, that makes 8 out of 8). 8^)
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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noisy
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Bill: You had indicated that you'd never used a stethoscope for wheel bearings. If you get a chance, try it. The difference in my two bearings was quite spectacular...and I'd been putting up with my "bad" one for weeks so it wasn't really ready to tear the hub up yet....
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Sorry guys. Using a friend's 'puter and forgot to set up an account for me.....Jack Idler

This
to
weeks
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Margeault Bechard wrote:

Thanks - if I had a stethoscope, I most likely would. I'm sure it is a very good method. For some reason, Neil seems to equate my saying that I've never used it to my saying that I don't consider it a valid method, although all I've said about it is that I never used it. Go figure!
Correct me if I'm wrong - but you did say that your bearing made noise when turning *right*, and that the bad bearing turned out to be the one on the *right* side?
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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bearings
weeks
Correct...my first attempt was based on hearing the growl in a right turn and replacing the left bearing. Second (successful) attempt was to replace the right bearing....verified first with the stethoscope.
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Jack Idler wrote:

I appreciate your honesty.
Amazing how I got 8 out of 8 "coin flips" (diagnoses) right when the chance of getting any one of them right was only 50/50. I wonder what the statistical chances of "guessing" 8 out of 8 coin flips right in advance would be. The real amazing thing is that if a ninth correct diagnosis occurred, it would still be claimed (by certain people) that I had a 50/50 chance of being right on that one too, and so therefore that the method is only 50/50. So what's the statistical likelihood of 9 out of 9 coin flips?
Heh heh! It looks like some people not only don't understand free-body diagrams and vector analysis, but neither do they understand statistics, eh?
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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By my figuring just under 2 in a thousand. Now, that said, I'd like to see this thread die out since the topic of the discussion has turned to proving you are right and others are all wrong.
Bob
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Bob Shuman wrote:

Thanks. Quite a bit better than 50/50, I'd say.

Quite the opposite, Bob. If that's what you got out of it then you haven't been paying attention. Other than the 50/50 crap being obviously wrong, I have pretty much agreed with ***everything***. If that's trying to prove "the others all wrong", then I guess I'm guilty.
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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Bill, you really need to get one. A $6 cheapie at AutoZone will suffice. You can sort out bad belt-driven accessories, separate the different types of engine noises, and find bad wheel bearings very easily. It does not take a large investment to get what you need. I'm sure there are more expensive ones out there, but I'm impressed with how well my el-cheapo unit works.
--Geoff
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Geoff wrote:

I appreciate that. Thanks, Geoff.
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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Heh-heh... You're pretty funny Bill.
I believe the whole point that Jack was making is that there is no predicting which bearing might be bad based upon some misconceived notion that a bearing will or will not make noise depending on whether it's loaded or not. Will a double row of ball bearings behave the same as a single row of roller bearings? Will a single row of roller bearings behave the same as a single row of ball bearings? Could a lateral impact have the same effect as a vertical impact? Do wheel bearings read the same issues of Popular Mechanics that you do? His original e-mail to me (and you I believe) pretty much related that he'd wished he'd known to utilize the trick of the trade of using a stethoscope to pinpoint which bearing was in fact making noise. [Their] first attempt using your method did not meet with success. You're 7 for 7 because you have the advantage of knowing which curb you bounced the wheel off of, that's all.
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Neil Nelson wrote:

I assume you realize that this is not the OP (Isskr of the "96 Stratus: Rumbling noise" thread) whose bearing was making noise when turning *left*. According to Jack, Jack's original symptom was noise when turning *right*. My claim is (and always was) that the bad bearing is on the side that you turn to to turn the noise on, and on the side opposite the side you turn to to turn the noise off. My method would have said that Jack's right-side bearing was bad from the get-go. Without benefit of either your stethoscope method or my method, he replaced the left bearing first only to discover that the noise was still there. Only after replacing the right side bearing did the noise go away (exactly as my method would have predicted, and as your stethoscope method would have also determined).
Re-read my posts in the other thread and you will see that I made *no* claim about loaded or not loaded - you brought that up. I did say that my method only works for the loaded bearing (because you have to be driving the car down the road to use it), and that I had not been successful at checking the bearing unloaded. I also said that I had never used a stethoscope (on an unloaded bearing) as you had, and I never criticized that as an invalid method, but simply stated that I had not used that method, at which point you for some reason, in a very defensive manner, chose to consider that a personal attack on you.

My method should work on either, as would your method no doubt.

Although I didn't explicitly say it, my method and experience has been in the context of front wheel drive vehicles with ball bearings. All of the vehicles with the 7 bearings I had replaced had FWD ball bearings, as did Issr's Stratus, as does Jacks minivan (I think). I haven't seen tapered roller bearings in a passenger vehicle in many years (not that maybe they don't exist - just that 90+% of the passenger vehicles have ball bearings, and 100% of my vehicles in the last 20 years have had them).

I don't appreciate inuendo like that, but that appears part of your intellectually dishonest nature (remember a few months ago when I said you were a lot like Lloyd? - well you just demonstrated that again). I quit reading Popular Science when I was in my late teens when I noticed that they started recycling the same old "golly gee whizz!!" "scientific breakthroughs" stories every ten years, and I have never read Popular Mechanics.

Maybe you mean his original post here - I received no personal e-mail if that's what you're saying. His original post here states that they used the stethoscope method after the left bearing was replaced - yes. You seem to think that I have claimed that there is no validity to the stethoscope method, and that is flat out not true. In fact, I'm sure it is a valid method. I simply said that I had never used it.
Fact is that what he has shown is that my method (the fact that the noise was turned on when turning right indicated a bad right bearing) and your stethoscope method - **BOTH** would have worked in telling him which was the bad bearing. I have no problem with that. You seem to think that only one of the two methods is valid and that they can't both be valid - which is b.s. They are both valid methods. I am not threatened by that.
Instead of recognizing that Jack realizes that both methods would have pointed him to the bad right bearing, you're claiming that Jack is saying your method works and mine doesn't - which he never said. Noise on turning right indicates bad right bearing - that's what my method would have predicted - that's what he found. End of story.

Flat out wrong. He said the noise occurred when turning to the right, which according to my method means the right-side bearing is bad. (Don't beleive me? Re-read his post.)
Again - you apparently are confusing Jack with the OP of the other thread. Once again, the OP of the other thread had noise when turning *left*. I told him that therefore his left bearing is most likely bad. Jack (in his so-far only post about wheel bearings) said very clearly that he had noise when turning **RIGHT**. My method would have predicted a bad right bearing - which is what it turned out to be. So once again, so you don't miss it this time - both your stethoscope method and my "which way do you turn to make noise" method would have worked.

Again - your dishonest nature is coming thru loud and clear. My bearings failed from 150k+ miles of normal wear and tear (on all but one of the vehicles at time of onset of noise) - brinnelling - not from hitting curbs. And of those vehciles, I didn't obtain any of them until they were over 100k.
Get your posters straight before mixing and matching the facts of two different and opposite cases to discredit me. Fact is my method would have nailed Jack's bad right-side bearing the first time out (as would your stethoscope method).
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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Yes, I do realize that. I know who Jack Idler is. I have a number of e-mails from in in archive.

And my claim is that this method does not always work. Sometimes the noise gets louder when the bearing is unloaded (as you claim) and sometimes the bearing gets louder when loaded (as Jack and his mechanic originally believed). In hundreds of instances, my experience has been that it can happen either way.

Amounts to a 50/50 crap shoot.

Except that your method has a 50% chance at being accurate.

Loaded as in the vehicle weight is on the bearing versus loaded as in the vehicle weight being transfered to a particular corner because the vehicle is going thru a turn. (weight transfer)

Why would I consider your comments to be a personal attack? You are an amateur who has based his findings on a limited number of samples/failures.

No, your method wouldn't have worked on the 97 Grand Am I worked on last week that had a noisy left front wheel bearing where the bearing got audibly louder when the vehicle was turning right. (more load on the bearing)

As I said earlier, your experiences are very limited. That's hardly a good reason to speak something as fact.

What is intellectually dishonest is to insist that all defective wheel bearings will get noisier in situations where vehicle dynamics serve to lessen the load on the bearing.

I should care because?

Misunderstanding on my part. I received an e-mail from Jack Wednesday evening stating that the e-mail he had sent you had bounced.

It's obvious that you had never done it that way, and I doubt that you ever will until the wrong wheel bearing gets replaced in the course of one of your repair jobs.

But one is -not- a valid method. That will become apparent to you when the specific situation presents itself.

Not the end of the story because there are and have been plenty of instances where the opposite has occurred. Your predictions are merely based upon a limited number of experiences.

It's not a question of whether or not I believe you. It's a matter of fact that your method is unreliable and has only been successful for you because it has been successful for you.

Uh, no Bill. I'm not confusing Jack with the OP. As a matter of fact, Jack and I have exchanged e-mails for quite some time now, probably for over a year. Jack has been a lurker in these groups for quite some time.

50/50 chance of being correct.

Another 50/50 chance.

I'm not missing anything. You on the other hand seem to have trouble reconciling your seven instances of experience with my hundreds of instances of experience. My entire point is that "which way do you turn to make noise" is a very unreliable method of determining the location of a bad wheel bearing. Why do you think Jack's mechanic got tripped up when they went to repair -his- mini-van? Do you honestly believe that this was that mechanics first exposure to a noisy bearing? Or, is it more plausible that he too was operating under some preconceived notion of narrowly defined rules that apply in ALL instances just as your claiming here. The fact of the matter is; bearings sometimes get louder when weight is transfered -to- them, bearings sometimes get louder when weight is transfered -away- from them. There is NO way to predict which is which so swerving the vehicle then becomes a very unreliable method of making a determination. Sorry if this contradicts -your- (limited) experiences, but that's just the way it is, and nothing you claim is going to change that.

What dishonesty you paranoid fruitcake?

<yawn>

I didn't have my posters confused. I was however under the erroneous impression that Jack had e-mailed you a copy of the same e-mail that I had received from him a few days ago.

Only because of luck.

Strictly because I decided years ago that a more reliable method was needed.
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wrote:

There is a very simple explanation why it can go both ways, and why on double ball equipped vehicles it is even trcikier.
Double ball bearings can get rough on the inboard race, or the outboard race. Turning one way loads one, turning the other way loads the other.
With the old Timken style tapered rollers, the big race generally went south first, so when you turned right, the left bearing got noisy, and vice versa. However, if the outer bearing went bad first, it could fool you too.
Balls and rollers behave differently in other ways as well. Rollers are line contact - where balls are spot contact. Shifting the ball a small amount can make it either hit or miss the roughness in the race - while a roller will always be running on the rough area of the race.

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Neil,
You said at least 4 times that my method had a 50/50 chance of being correct on any one diagnosis. Sorry, Neil, but you just can't sqaure that with 8 out of 8 - statistically next to impossible to "guess" 8 successive coin tosses correctly, yet that is the equivalent of what you are claiming that I did.
The fallible point that you keep trying to force into my argument (not put there by me, I assure you) is the false claim that my method would be accurate in 1 million out of 1 million times (in your words, 100% of the time). I know that not to be the case, and I never said it was 100% infallible. I do believe it to be accurate enough for the DIY'er without a stethoscope who does enough hiway driving that he can repeatedly run the test over a few days to gain confidence in the conclusion before replacing the bearing that is making the noise.
There are indeed special cases that can and undoubtedly do occur that will make this test fail. But with the loading (momemts as well as linear vector forces) on the races (and the huge pressure to cause brinnelling in known patterns), the vast majority of times, it will give the right answer.
If I were to have a bearing go out next week and replace the wrong bearing due to one of these special cases having occurred, it would be no big deal - my psyche could handle it. I think you and others are correct that the stethoscope method is a better test. I *never* disparaged that method - I only said that I had never tried it. But that doesn't make the success rate of *this* method anywhere near as bad as 50/50, which you insist that it has to be. I especially think that in a business situation, one would be wise to use a stethoscope to pinpoint the bad bearing with greater certainty.
Have a nice day.
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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On Wed, 14 Apr 2004 12:20:08 -0400, "Jack Idler"

Had the same experience with my '88 New Yorker last week - I'd have SWORN it was the left bearing, but because the right one sounded a bit rough with the stethoscope, and the right inner axle boot needed replacing, AND I needed to replace the brake rotors anyway, I just bit the bullet and replaced 'em both. The right one WAS a lot worse than the left. $345 worth of parts later, it's quiet, and it STOPS.

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As the source of the original thread, I figure I should post the results of my car's diagnosis by my trusty mechanic.
Not sure who, but someone predicted that the right side front bearing was bad. And it was. But the left one was also starting to grind.
So I had both bearings and hubs replaced, for a grand total of $460.
Makes for a much quieter ride now.

minivan
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lsskr wrote:

Yep - I like my cars quiet too. Glad you got it resolved - at least we were able to help in pointing you to the bearings.
Sorry your question got caught up in the frakas.
Thanks for posting what was found to be the problem.
Bill Putney (to reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with "x")
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Guess there aren't enough old timers left anymore, we use a LONG screwdriver or sometimes even listen through a piece of old garden hose to isolate noises,,
Ghhaaakkk who wants to listen to an old fart anyway !!
Ted
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