September 27, 2006
Picked up the car early this morning and took it to work. The wah-wah-wah sound is totally gone and the tires are as quiet as they should be at this point in their lives. That's the good news. The bad news is the price I paid to have this done...$510 with tax. Ouch. Book labor is 3.7 hours at $102 and the remainder is parts & tax.
While more than a few DIY'ers have voiced the opinion that they'd gladly pay someone to do this job (it can be a real PITA), I still say it's possible to do it yourself if you invest in the proper tools, which cost anywhere from $250 to $500 depending on what you buy. When the time comes to replace the right rear wheel bearing, I'm going to do that one myself...even if the tools cost me nearly as much. Worst case is I'll have to pull the trailing arm off the car and take it to a local mechanic to have the bearing pressed out. But no matter what happens I figure I'll learn a lot in the process and be able to rent the tools out to fellow DIY'ers to help recoup the cost. Fortunately wheel bearings tend to fail over a relatively long period (on the order of weeks) so when / if I notice the others starting to go I should have plenty of time to acquire the tools and allocate the time to do the job.
As you can see from the picture, this is a fairly large two-row tapered ball bearing unit with twin inner races and a single piece outer race. As is common, the inboard inner race (shown to the left of the main bearing assembly) stuck to the hub as it was pulled out of the trailing arm. Apparently it put up quite a fight, so my technician used a die grinder to weaken the race before breaking it and pulling it off the hub. Given all the noise this bearing made I expected to see more obvious internal distress but all I found was a relatively fine mix of metallic particles embedded in the grease. I guess that's all it takes to destroy the functional properties of a bearing.
The twelve-point axle nut (shown to the right of the bearing) holds the entire hub assembly to the axle shaft. As the nut is purposefully deformed when it is installed to ensure it won't spin, it's a single-use part. At $10 (retail) it's expensive too, but one might argue that this is not an area in which you should go cheap. They don't call them "jeezus" nuts for nothing.
Total Mileage: 133123, Labor: $377, $Parts $99, Total $510.