Author Topic: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?  (Read 6580 times)

BlueMR2

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Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« on: January 30, 2014, 10:07:56 AM »
I had a wheel bearing seize up in one of my cars ('95 Mitsubishi Eclipse).  Didn't have time to fix it right away, so I took it to the shop (the shop is very busy so slow to get work out the door, but great for quality, however this is where I strayed from the way of the mustache and went wrong by trying to use them to hurry the repairs instead of doing it myself).  This being an older machine, it suffers from some rust.  The axle was rusted so badly into the spindle that they were never able to separate them to install the $55 new bearing.  Several hours of labor went into that separation attempt.  It's an older car, so some of those parts are no longer available new (notably axle cups, which are more valuable than gold these days it appears).  Went through several replacements from the usual sketchy junkyards that also turned out to be bad.  Eventually had to have a complete rear subframe shipped from a known high quality used parts place several states away (at the cost of $1000 in parts and $250 in shipping).  Then more hours of labor disassembling that and reattaching to the car.  End result was that the car was down for around 4 months and a $3100 total bill (all the parts plus a grand total of 25 hours of labor burned trying to fix this thing).

I still would have spent $1500 in parts doing it at home myself, but that still would have been a massive savings!  Even if I took twice as much of my labor to do it vs a pro, I probably could have had it done in much less time too!

Sometimes we get hasty and end up re-learning the same lessons over and over again.  Do *everything* you can yourself.  Don't be afraid to use pros as necessary, but make sure it truly is necessary first!

the fixer

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2014, 10:47:35 AM »
Do you have the garage, tools, etc. necessary for a job of that scale? If so, will you be my friend? :)

I also had to pay about $3100 to fix my van, in may case for a remanufactured rear end. All the differential fluid leaked out of the old one due to loose bolts on the inspection cover. Such a job is way beyond my level.

I had a less extreme variant of this problem when I tried to replace the starter motor myself. I couldn't get the nut that holds the electrical wire to the solenoid off. The threaded copper piece strips way too easily, and I'm lying on my back under the van in a parking lot in Missouri. I had to give up and take it to a repair shop. When I got the core return back, I saw that they somehow stripped all the threads off that piece to get the nut off. I looked at it and thought, "there's no way I could have done that!" I realized later that if I had disconnected the starter cable from the battery I might have been able to remove the starter with the cable still attached, and work on it that way. Live and learn...

greaper007

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2014, 11:20:48 AM »
The Fixer, I'm not familiar with an eclipse bearing replacement.   But I did the front bearings on my VW Golf with this tool http://www.harborfreight.com/fwd-front-wheel-bearing-adapters-66829.html.   It took longer to get the inner race off the hub than it did to pull the bearing and button everything up.

Keep it in mind if you ever have to do this job.  Good luck

Forcus

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2014, 11:20:57 AM »
Not exactly the same but many years back I wanted to save a few bucks and change the timing belt on my 90 Talon TSi AWD on my own. Instead of getting the proper tool, I wanted to save a couple more bucks and use a trick I heard about, using a rope stuffed through a spark plug hole to keep the engine from turning over. Well, lacking a rope I noticed an old air pump hose laying around. What I didn't pay much attention to was the fitting. Stuck it in the hole, it worked, but the fitting didn't make the trip back. Ended up sitting on it for a couple years, pulling the cylinder head, reassembling, then selling the thing for a loss. So, I lost several hundred in extra parts, many more hours of my labor, and two years of use.

Jamesqf

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2014, 12:17:38 PM »
Damn, and I thought I was bad having to pay $60+ for a bearing & hub assembly.

Megatron

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2014, 03:11:21 PM »
Don't feel too bad, I have still yet to learn how to change the oil in my car.

BlueMR2

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2014, 04:18:17 PM »
Do you have the garage, tools, etc. necessary for a job of that scale? If so, will you be my friend? :)

It's actually not that *complicated* of a job, nor demanding of tools.  My garage is very tight (2 cars in what's really about a 1.5 car garage), but little is down around the car, it's mostly done UNDER the car!  Since you're going to stick body parts under the car, safety is extremely important, but the basic procedure is:  Jack the car up at the rear diff, place jackstands under rear siderail points, then the jack is free to support/raise/lower other parts as needed (no body parts under a part solely supported by jack though, they can and do sink/drop when you don't expect it).  Most of the stuff is big bolts, so you need big tools and breaker bars in just a few sizes.

The problem comes in when things are badly rusted.  When all the bolts start snapping off, you have to decide whether you want to drill & tap all of them or just swap the larger assembly.  In my particular case, the bolts were all good, it was the axle itself that became one with the spindle.  Supposed to slide apart.  Hammering did no good.  Days of soaking in various penetrating oils, no good.  Torch (more than one bottle of gas), no go.  Large hydraulic press fail (had to give up when the supporting I-beam was starting to deform).  It was tempting to start in cutting stuff away, but that's where the irreplaceable axle cups come into play, there was no way to cut in without damaging them.  In order to get axle cups I had to buy that whole subframe.  And at that point, well, it came with a spindle and axle in better shape than what's on the car already, so time to swap some larger components and save some others for spares...  I've got the bad parts too in case something magic ever happens and we can get them apart again...  :-)

So, in short, it wouldn't have been any worse to do it at home than to have the shop do this one since it was in such bad shape!  If I'd done it myself and gotten to the stuck spindle/axle, I could just taken that one piece to the shop (axle + spindle came off the car fine as a single piece) and pay for some labor to attempt to separate them.  If I was lucky enough to get them apart myself, I would have been in great shape.  I would have saved time and money doing it at home either way...

jba302

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2014, 06:59:46 AM »
The problem comes in when things are badly rusted. 

Welcome to Minnesota. Step 1 of every piece of maintenance - get a big hammer and a torch...

BlueMR2

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2014, 02:23:06 PM »
All I can do is laugh now.  The very same corner of the car that just got the new wheel bearing (and spindle, and axle for all that money), just had the brake caliper start sticking...  :-)

Last time I attempted to rebuild calipers on this car it was a disaster, but I've recently rebuilt a motorcycle caliper myself with no problems.  So, I'll try for the rebuild first and only replace it if absolutely necessary!

Spork

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2014, 04:19:17 PM »
I am not sure if this is being "a one upper" or a brother in arms...  My wheel bearing story (circa 1989).

Triumph Tr6.  Like yours, my hub seized hard to the shaft.  It's a complicated shaft with 2 u-joints per side -- independent rear suspension.

I first tried pulling it off with a 20 ton gear puller.  Ping!  It broke.  (Craftsman - replaced free).
Then I took the hub/shaft combo to a shop and they put it on a 30 ton hydraulic press.   Nothing.
The next idea was to heat it red-freaking-hot and then hit it with the 30 tons.  They did this and it shot off.  Yay!

...except now the last part of the shaft where the hub bolted on was not so much a threaded rod, but a mushroom.  They said they could fix it.  They special ordered a die set from England and re-cut the threads.  I don't know how much I was out at this point, but lets say $75.

I went on and did the repair.  I drove it for quite some time... probably 8 months to a year....  Until one day I was headed down a major interstate in 5 o'clock Dallas traffic and an odd object passed me on the left.  ... it was my right rear tire.  About the time my brain said "hey... that's not right..." I ate concrete wall.

Now, part of being young and stupid and emotionally attached to a thing is the desire to fix it.  The car was totaled.  I don't know how much it was worth, but it cost me about 8 grand to fix it.

About a year later the main supplier for Triumph parts started selling the rear hub as a unit instead of selling individual parts.

BlueMR2

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2014, 11:44:03 AM »
Ouch.  So, you pretty much ended up buying a whole car at that point.  :-)

Spork

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Re: Most expensive wheel bearing replacement ever?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2014, 02:39:27 PM »
Ouch.  So, you pretty much ended up buying a whole car at that point.  :-)

Buying a whole car would have been smarter.