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Should I Replace Both Car Wheel Bearings if One Has Failed?

by Eddie Carrara

So you have a noise in your car while driving, you think it might be your car wheel bearings, but you're not sure, so you bring it to your mechanic to have it checked out.  After it's diagnosed and you know for sure it's a wheel bearing, your mechanic tells you "if one wheel bearing failed, you should replace both," that's just not true, and if your mechanic tells you that you need to replace both wheel bearings because one has failed, find a new mechanic!  

There are three reasons for wheel bearing failure;

• Poor installation

• Damaged wheel bearing seal

• Damage from an accident

If you just replaced a wheel bearing recently or within the last year, it should not fail again for the life of the car, unless it's damaged from an accident or the seal has failed due to poor installation or a manufacturers defect.  I have many people ask me if their car wheel bearings have failed because of low driving mileage, bad shocks, or unbalanced tires; it fails because of one of the three problems listed above, but a shifty mechanic might tell you otherwise.

Car wheel bearings are not wearable items like brakes and tires, most wheel bearings last the lifetime of a car without ever being replaced, so don't let your mechanic tell you otherwise.  If you have one wheel bearing that fails and your mechanic tells you that you should change them in pairs, don't believe it, if that were the truth, why wouldn't you change all four bearings when you replace one?  You want to see your mechanic panic?  Ask that question, then and listen to their reasoning, I'm sure it will be uncomfortable trying to answer that question without hesitation. 

Here is a Vehicle With a Wheel Bearing Noise and a Tire Noise/Vibration, Both are Very Loud!

Save Time When Replacing a Wheel Bearing

If you plan on replacing your car wheel bearings yourself, it's not impossible nor is it difficult, but it is time consuming, if you don't have the right tools it's impossible, and costly.  There a two tools that are a must if you're going to change the wheel bearing yourself, you need to have a 

12 Ton Hydraulic Shop Press or a OTC 6537 Hub Tamer Elite Master Set

, and you need some good instruction, like a Chilton's Manual or a Service Manual, if you don't have either of these tools, I wouldn't even start taking the job apart, you will end up damaging the hub, or worst, damaging the new bearing during installation. 

If you're trying to save money by replacing the bearing yourself, don't be foolhardy thinking you can do it without having the right tools.  I have worked on cars for many years and I wouldn't attempt it without the right tools!  I have used both hub removal tools, and I would have to say that the

OTC 6537 Hub Tamer Elite Master Set

 is more user friendly because you have all the needed accessories in one box, which means you don't have to disassemble the knuckle assembly, and remove it from the vehicle, that itself is priceless! 

If you're using a press, you need to disassemble the complete knuckle assembly and remove it from the vehicle, being very careful not to damage the ABS sensor if the vehicle has ABS, then remove the bearing and race at the press.  With the Hub Tamer, there is no need to remove the complete knuckle assembly, it remains in the vehicle, so there is far less work involved, and the chance of running into more problems is diminished.  

One more tool you'll probably need that the average DIY guy/gal does not have in their tool box is a

OTC 4512 Stinger Internal And External 8 Piece Snap-Ring Pliers Set

, there is a snap ring holding in the bearing, but you can't see it until you remove the center hub where the lug nut are mounted, once you remove the center hub you will see the snap ring. 

Here is a Wheel Bearing Noise, with the Camera Against the Handle of a Screwdriver, Notice the Change in Sound When it's Amplified Through the Screwdriver Handle

Wheel Bearing Noise

Diagnosing a wheel bearing noise is not easy; it is often mistaken for tire noise, and trying to decide which one of your car wheel bearings is making the noise is perplexing.  I believe this is why a lot of mechanics recommend the customer replaces both wheel bearings, because they are not sure which one has failed.  

If you have a noisy wheel bearing, and you're trying to figure out which wheel bearing is making the noise, check out this video below, I describe what it sounds like, how to diagnose it, and actually show you the noise on a vehicle that has a noisy wheel bearing.

Here are a Few Videos on How to Replace and Repack Tapered Wheel Bearings

This Video Explains How to Diagnose a Wheel Bearing Noise on Your Vehicle

If you have any questions about a noisy wheel bearing, leave your question in the comment box below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Click here to download your copy of my eBook, "Simple Car Care Tips and Advice" It's filled with usefull, easy to understand, automotive information you can really use!

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Eddie Carrara 

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