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Wheel bearing needs replacing - how to avoid?

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by mikepaul, Sep 30, 2007.

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  1. mikepaul

    mikepaul Senior Member

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    For quite a while, I put the noise coming from the left front tire down as tire-related, but last week it became louder than normal so I dropped by the Goodyear dealer who sold me the tires to ask about it. With no time to hang around during the week for a diagnosis, I drove the car past the counter guy and one technician and was told no, it didn't sound like the wheel bearing was bad.

    So Saturday when I had time, I waited for a diagnosis. DARN if they didn't say it was the wheel bearing. The bearing listed in the book was NOT the right size to be pressed into the bearing assembly, so now I have to wait until Tuesday for another assembly to be delivered. "Lucky" for me, the whole assembly is only $50 more than the bearing itself.

    I asked several technicians and each time, they said this just happens when it happens, no driving technique changes would have prevented it. Is that correct, or is there a reason (hard turns, whatever) it went bad that could have been avoided? I'd prefer to not spend another $450 anytime soon...
  2. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    IF your wheel bearings are worn out you have been extremely unlucky or you have very high miles on your car. The bearings are sealed and lubricated for life and normally will out last the car. One thing, which can cause a problem, is if you have had new CV joint boots or joints fitted.

    It is possible the hub nut wasn't tightened enough which can cause a knocking noise on hard corners progressing to a knocking noise all the time. The drive shaft moving and the bearing wearing into the hub cause this. If this is the case you need a new hub and bearing.
    It can also be that if the front drive shaft has been removed to replace a CV joint or boot some dirt was allowed into the bearing causing accelerated wear.

    The best way to listen for wheel bearing noise is to lift the car off the ground and put it in gear allowing the wheels to turn. Because there is no tyre noise a wheel bearing noise will be obvious. A stethoscope can be used to listen directly to the bearing.
  3. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

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    On my 2001, it was the left rear wheel bearing that went. It was just a slowing increasing noise level, till it became too loud to ignore. It is not something you did driving, it was basically a faulty bearing that finally revealed itself.
  4. mikepaul

    mikepaul Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(FL_Prius_Driver @ Sep 30 2007, 09:46 AM) [snapback]519392[/snapback]</div>

    I really hate winning the Bad Parts Lottery, but if it wasn't my driving technique then I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and hope.

    Thanks...


    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(patsparks @ Sep 30 2007, 02:15 AM) [snapback]519339[/snapback]</div>

    This is the first time there's been any need to repair the drivetrain, so any help in killing the bearing came from the factory.

    I was told that the right-side bearing was stethescoped and nothing bad was heard. Yet.

    Thanks...
  5. Ari

    Ari New Member

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    On my BMW (which was replaced by a Prius) I got a bad wheel bearing around 150k miles. Replaced the bearing and then drove another 100k miles without any of the others going bad. It's one of those things that should last the life of the vehicle, but everything mechanical is prone to breaking.
  6. Interesting

    Interesting New Member

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    You can get the bearing assembly from hoy toyota-lexus in texas for about half that.
  7. galaxee

    galaxee mostly benevolent

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    wheel bearings don't go often, sorry you won the "bad parts lottery" because that's pretty much what happened here. most of the time they will go the life of the car, but they are moving parts and therefore subject to failure like everything else. :(
  8. RunnerCNY

    RunnerCNY Junior Member

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    With 75,000 on my 2005 Prius, both front wheel bearings went. The extended warranty is starting to pay off. So I also lost the bad parts lottery.
  9. ceric

    ceric New Member

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    This shows how nice this Toyota Platinum ext warranty is.
    With most other ext warranty, bearings are not covered since they fall into the category
    of "tear and wear".
  10. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Member

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    Not much you can do in your driving technique to avoid a wheel bearing going bad.

    The place in Texas, Hoy Toyota, can get you the part way cheaper. I had a bearing go out at 110,000 (front left) and got a replacement for about $150.00. Installed myself. Pretty easy install. The only challenge was the pressed on dust shield and making sure it was re-mounted correctly.
  11. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    Back in the olden days of Prius we speculated that tying the poor little things down on the transport ship could be hard on both suspension alignments and the occassional wheel bearing. If so, unavoidable and random.
  12. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Hi Mike,

    I hear about Prius wheel bearing failures from time to time. Considering you have logged 70K+ miles, this is a fairly minor repair compared to other problems that you could have after that amount of use.

    Regarding driving technique, the only controllable issue that I can think of that would contribute to a bearing failure is if you drive into water deep enough so that your bearings are submerged. If that is not a problem, then no worries.
  13. jmbeam

    jmbeam New Member

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    Someone commented that a wheel bearing repair is relatively cheap and they should feel lucky. Well I dont I have a Prius with 70,000 miles and the Rear wheel bearings went on me to a tune of $500. A few days later my front left went and the estimate is another $450. Come on? What is going on that these fail so early. I swear I have owned over 50 cars and trucks and have never had to replace a wheel bearing. Of course this were not covered by warranty either. I also cannot believe that it take a Prius professional over 5 hours to replace these? I am fighting with my dealer regarding the wheel bearings (rear) that they replaced a couple of weeks ago. They said it would take 2 hours of time and billed me this amount. It actually took the mechanic 17 minutes. I didnt look at the bill then because I was in a huge rush. It took him 10 minutes to diagnose the problems. % minutes of it was chatting with the parts guys. I just dont like being taken by these dealers at $85/hour. Am I wrong for being pissed? It like a lawnmower mechanic I met. He said when a customer comes in and even if it is a simple repair that could be done in 1 minute, he will not do it in front of the customer. He does not want them to know how long he spent on the repair. This is what dealers do. If you have a chance watch them next time.
  14. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Member

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    jmbeam
    What are you doing. I had one go out at 100,000 but I think that happened because I had bumped a curb. The other three wheels have 150,000+ miles on them and no prob. Go to Hoy Toyota in Texas and order the part. I got the bearing assembly for about $150. May not be that now but a lot less than most dealer's $450/ Plus because it is an assembly it is a piece of cake to install.
  15. RunnerCNY

    RunnerCNY Junior Member

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    Both the front wheel bearings went on our 2005 Prius with about 80,000 miles
  16. nwprius

    nwprius Member

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    As Mister Wong says the one thing that is a major cause of wheel bearing failures is driving through water. The hub is warmer than the water and has a tendency to suck water into the bearing. The damage then may take months to show up.
  17. Devil's Advocate

    Devil's Advocate Member

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    Does everyone notice that the mileage numbers that these bearings are going out were once considered the total life expectancy of a car?

    Any who, bearings going out within 10% of 100,00 shouldn't be out of the ordinary, but less than that may be due to road conditions. Lots of bums = shorter liefspan.
  18. dwreed3rd

    dwreed3rd New Member

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    Is there a remote possibility that there could be a corelation between earlier than normal wheel bearing failure and running at higher tire pressures? It has to be at least a little rougher on the suspension and bearings. Just I thought.:noidea:
  19. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web 03 and 10 Prius

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    It is a good question but in science and engineering, we start with a list of all possible hypothesis:

    • bad batch - is it clustered in one production group?
    • bad climate - is there a common climate characteristics?
    • excessive dust-dirt - were these from rural road areas?
    • bad roads - unusually pot-holed roads?
    • highway high frequencies - Northern highway 'whine'?
    • tire pressure - what had been the tire pressure?
    • bad tires - what brand and size of tires?
    • heavily loaded - what sort of payloads?
    I've read of more steering, transaxle and battery failures than wheel bearing failures. I've also seen an equal number of accelerator refurbishments.

    Remember that a hypothesis is just a guess. It takes evidence from either disassembly, a proper failure analysis, and or a statistical collection of data points. My favorite follow-up question when someone reports a problem is "do you have the failed part?" I'm ordinarily interested in getting the failed part and seeing if I can find a failure mechanism and I'm not the only one who does this:

    1. Good Prius friend, Hobbit has analyzed the MFD and found one series of MFDs with poor solder joints.
    2. I've found one example of a bent cam follower in NHW11 accelerators.
    3. About half a dozen have found transaxle oil is good only for about 30k miles in the NHW11 and 60k miles in the NHW20, half the distance claimed by the Toyota maintenance schedule.
    4. Hobbit reported a 'jelly like' substance in the cooling channels suggesting the coolant needs to be replaced at least every 50k miles and why the inverter pump might fail. Another report includes seeing a clumpy substance during a change and recovery of the inverter pump.
    5. Gallexy reported on the detailed analysis of a fuel tank failure with the disassembly.
    Postulating a hypothesis is easy but the hard part is to follow-up with facts and data. What we need need is a volunteer who will take the failed bearings, disassemble them and look for wear patterns that might reveal their individual failure mechanism(s) and with a collection, common patterns. The position is open, any interest?

    Bob Wilson
  20. jdcomeau

    jdcomeau New Member

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    I have a 2005 Prius and had 2 front wheel bearings go at 62,000 miles. The dealership covered half of the cost because it was so close to 60,000. Now I have 175,000 miles on my car and I think I am hearing the same noise. At this point I do not think it is a bad part lottery, I think Toyota is falling asleep at the wheel (so to speak). I am VERY disappointed. Also, I am now only getting around 38-40 MPG with mixed driving. Very disappointed.
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