My car has been getting noisy at highway speeds. Definitely coming from the front of the car and getting worse. It had gotten to the point where I could feel it in the steering wheel. The noise sounded like a worn, or separating tire, but the feeling in the wheel was distinctly sharper than that would cause. Due to having staggered tires, I can't rotate and the fronts tend to wear unevenly due to the camber settings for the sport suspension. I checked the tires and they were well worn on the inside edges, so I went ahead and had them replaced. And.... no change in noise. So that leaves the front wheel bearings. Ordered a set on Friday and they arrived Monday.
Luckily, I've been working on organizing the garage, so I can fit my car in sideways with ease. I actually had my wife's Durango in sideways this weekend, but that's another story.
Part of the garage organization was a set of rolling tool cabinets. This project was an excuse (ahem, reason) to pick up a new socket and wrench set. I was going to need to get a 1/2" ratchet and three sockets, which was going to be close to $50. Costco had a full set, with 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" drive ratchets, SAE and metric wrenches and misc other stuff for $100.
In the process of getting things set up, I found out my impact wrench had a manufacturing defect and the lug was too big fit in a 1/2" socket, even with persuasion. Looking at it closely, one of the sides had a significant bulge that looks like it was a machining error. Note, the impact wrench came with my compressor and had just been sitting in its box for years. This was the first real opportunity I had to use it. 10 minutes with the dremel and a 1/2" impact socket fits just fine now.
Got it up on jack stands and both wheels off.
Getting it up on stands was an interesting exercise in itself. I have a low profile floor jack, that will just fit fully under the car, but then there is no way to operate the jack. The car has six jack points. There are four under door sills, along the frame. These are for the scissor jack that the car comes with. The garage jack points are centerline between the front and rear tires. I couldn't use the side jack points for the floor jack and I needed to put the stands there. I ended up using the scissor jack to get the front end up enough that I could use my floor jack on the front center point to get the car the rest of the way up. Not the most elegant process, but I don't have the vertical clearance for a lift in my garage.
Some engineer somewhere or, more likely, some mechanic, had a brilliant idea. See that odd bolt in the picture above? It's just screwed into the rotor, with a spacer to set its max depth. Take it off, remove the spacer, and screw it back in and you can use it to jack the rotor off the wheel hub. Definitely important as they tend to get rust welded together and you really don't want to take a sledge to rotors you aren't replacing.
All stripped down.
The brake caliper is hanging from the upper control arm to keep as much stress off the brake line as possible.
Can you tell which is the bad one?
I was actually a bit worried when I first put the car up on the stands and there was no play in either wheel bearing. Then I rotated the passenger side wheel by hand and felt much better. You could hear it grinding. When I got the wheel and brake rotor off, turning the bearing by hand felt like there was sand in it. I'm actually surprised it hadn't ground itself to bits. The driver's side felt pretty decent, even compared to the brand new bearings, but I replaced both to keep the wear even and to keep from having to do this again any time soon.
Started last night and got the first one done before going to bed. It took way longer than it should have, partly because I put the splash guard on backwards and had to take the new bearing back out to turn it around. Partly because I spent a while figuring out the whole jack situation. And partly because it took me a little while to figure out what the handy dandy parting bolt was for and get the rotor off. Did the second one this morning and it took about an hour. All in all, it was actually a pretty easy DIY. Any one with a proper set of sockets, a floor jack, and a torque wrench capable of 100 ft-lbs would be able to tackle it. Of course, I'm assuming that if you have the aforementioned tools, you have a modicum of ability to use such tools.
It's a whole new car!
I knew it had gotten loud, but I hadn't realized how loud until I drove it today with the new bearings in. Quiet, and smooth -- so very smooth.