1. Offline

    karmavore New Member

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Posts:
    65
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Hello all,

    Thanks for all the wheel bearing advice I've been taking off your site lately. I've been reading this forum since my long waiting list experience in 2004, and you've never steered me wrong.

    For the first time since I bought by 2004 Prius, I took it back to the dealership where I bought it. It was time for the 60,000 mile service, and I also wanted them to perform a couple recalls (accelerator and water pump) and look at a couple other nits I had. (For the curious: sticky/obstructed shift knob, and found the answer here; plus intermittent caution light when starting the car after having the car in IG-ON, which we couldn't replicate.)

    My car, I'm told, passed the computerized tests. Every possible check box in the green/good column was checked, including the one about the wheel bearing.

    As soon as I drove away from the dealership, I noticed a faint, new mechanical stutter or beeping sound. It sounded like something that spins was squeaking. I'd never heard it before. It was coming from behind the dash on the driver's side.

    I reported the problem and took my car back to the dealership the very next day (today). A friendly technician went out with me and he quickly and confidently identified the sound as a wheel bearing going bad. Seemed like a good guy. He showed me the cupping on the left front tire, which isn't there on the right front. I got a quote of $540 for the part plus the 3 hours of labor to fix it. Everyone was very courteous and professional.

    But here's what I find very odd:
    * That left front tire with the cupping was supposed to have been rotated with the 60,000 mile service. At least, that rotation appears on my bill. Why was the cupped tire in left front? I had the wherewithal to ask about this while I was there, and their reply was that any wheel could start cupping when one wheel bearing starts to go.
    * That noise I'm hearing was definitely not occurring when I dropped the car off. Today I was sneaky and had my wife drive my car to the store. She wanted to know what the new sound was less than 1/2 mile from home. I conclude that the sound is indeed new. What could have occurred at the dealership to create the sound, if not the problem itself?
    * How did my car pass these tests with something pretty calamitous on the horizon? I also would have expected them to want to sell me a new rear wiper (which is detaching) and a new cabin air filter (which was last replaced at 30K).

    So, PriusChat Community, what say you? I'm a budding DIY'er, (and a huge tightwad) but this repair seems beyond me. Should I ever let this dealership work on my car again? Is this all just coincidence?

    Thanks much.
  2. Offline

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

    Member Since:
    Mar 7, 2010
    Posts:
    3,325
    Likes Received:
    1,434
    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2005 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    So, one thing that can happen living in the rust belt is that the wheel can get stuck really bad to the hub. The only way to get it off, such as to check for brake wear or rotate tires, is to kick hard with both feet, or beat the holy living f*** out of it with the biggest hammer in the shop. These lateral blows can speed the demise of a bearing already on its way out. Another guy recently reported losing a bearing after getting a wheel alignment. Very similar circumstances: an older, low mileage car in the Midwest.
    1 people like this.
  3. Offline

    northwichita .

    Member Since:
    Sep 24, 2006
    Posts:
    446
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    Wichita KS
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    It sounded like something that spins was squeaking.

    I'd relate this more commonly to the inside dust shield being bent against something, you can easily check this by jacking up the wheel yourself, and turning it slightly (a bad bearing wouldn't make a noise unless it is truly trashed in this test). Then also grab the wheel and pull to check for the the wheel bearing looseness. If the wheel feels solid, I would personally procrastinate on this, or better, have a second opinion by a professional look at it.

    Agreed the wrong tire shows the wear. Check other threads on same topic for more info on bearing noises. I've always known them to vary in sound when turning back and forth at highway speed.
    1 people like this.
  4. Offline

    karmavore New Member

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Posts:
    65
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Thanks for the replies. Here's an update:

    I scheduled a replacement at a shop that came well-recommended to me at a total cost of about $430, plus tax. (Both this quote and the dealership one came with the alignment, too, I should mention.)

    I emailed my contact at the dealership to give him a last chance to provide an explanation and possibly a reduced rate and the replacement, before I responded to the "please give feedback" email. He called me promptly and explained that the complementary inspection (the one that said the bearing was fine and did not make noise) was just "visual", a.k.a. not thorough. The good inspections you have to pay for. And they would have marked some items as "not looked at" but there was no box for that, so they just left them in the green. I am not making this up.

    I let him know I was going to another shop, and he said something useful. It might not be the wheel bearing after all. It could just be tire noise from the cupped tire that got moved to the front. They'd be happy to test this for me. But I grow weary of them and tire rotation I can do myself. Besides, they're on the other side of town.

    So, before leaving work today, I put the spare on.

    Utter, complete silence.

    So I find my opinion of these guys falling from "nice guys trying hard but not quite getting it right" to people whose ethics are earning some tough questioning. They were more than ready to schedule the replacement just yesterday, and now they have a new idea.

    I think I'm going to keep my appointment with the other mechanic, but first let him know I want him to investigate the cupping in the right rear. Could it just be that the cupping occurred because I was delinquent with rotations?

    If I'm stuck buying a wheel bearing I don't need from that other mechanic, I'd be happy to sell it at a discount here. I'll let you all know.
  5. Offline

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 2010
    Posts:
    3,757
    Likes Received:
    633
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    N/A
    I switched our (17") OEM alloy wheels for snow tires recently. This was the first time I'd taken them off after protracted use: we'd bought last November, and swapped over to snows on steel rims within a week. So,

    Both the front and back wheels were glued on, and the culprit looks to be the interface between the centre hub on the car and the hole in the rim. Corrosion builds up at the corner, maybe aggravated due to disimilar metals? There was no problem last spring when I took the steel rim mounted snows off.

    I wire brushed everything, then put a thin smear of anti-sieze compound all around at the junction, though with it being the steel rims, maybe it's not needed.

    Anyway, regarding how to bust them loose, what works for me: put the nuts back on, finger-tight, then loosen them off maybe 1/2 turn. Then drop the car, fairly quickly. With a little luck that will pop them loose.
    1 people like this.
  6. Offline

    karmavore New Member

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Posts:
    65
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Thanks for that tip. I've spent many an unpleasant moment on my back and kicking tires. I actually stumbled upon your idea after giving up, then getting back to it.

    Update number two: Just put the real tire back on and went for a test drive. While this one is a bit louder, the odd noise that instigated this whole issue is just totally gone. I love my car.
  7. Offline

    andyprius Senior Member

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Posts:
    2,210
    Likes Received:
    162
    Location:
    Sacramento, California.
    Your Vehicle Year:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    That was a fun read!

Share This Page