Repeated right front wheel bearing failure

LaMont Owner/Technician Ohio Posted   Latest  
Resolved
Driveability
Drivetrain
2002 Toyota Highlander Limited 3.0L (1MZ-FE) 4-spd (U140F) — JTEHF21A320062091
Repeated Right Front Wheel Bearing Failure

This is my personal vehicle. I have replaced the right front wheel bearing 4 times on this vehicle and it is growling again. The last time I replaced it I even replaced the axle shaft and the wheel hub. I have always torqued the axle nut to spec. At this point I am wondering if pitting due to electrolysis could be the cause. Has anyone ever encountered this on a wheel bearing, and if so, what was the solution?

Thanks in advance for the help.

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Rob Owner/Technician
British Columbia
Rob Default
 

OE or jobber parts? Are you running the axle nut down with an impact then torquing it? Are you torquing the nut with the wheel on the ground?

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

BCA bearings every time. I won't say that I don't spin the nut on with an impact but I don't over torque it. I have replaced wheel bearings for 30 years and have never had this problem.

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Rob Owner/Technician
British Columbia
Rob Default
 

BCA has not performed very well for me. I always run the nut down by hand and torque the nut with the brakes applied and the wheels off of the ground.

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Marlin Technician
Oregon
Marlin Default
 

Well, it is very likely the OEM bearing. Impossible to beat, IMO.

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Glen Owner/Technician
Illinois
Glen Default
 

If I am looking at the catalog info correctly the OE was either Koyo or NSK, also keep in mind Toyota could have special specs that are not in OE replacement bought through other channels.

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Marlin Technician
Oregon
Marlin Default
 

Yes, you are correct. I wasn't thinking straight.

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Marlin Technician
Oregon
Marlin Default
 

Actually, I take that back. KOYO is almost certainly the OEM. I generally consider BCA/NTN to be of premium quality, though.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Michael Default
 

What brand bearing? Aftermarket is mostly junk. What is the average mileage on failed bearing? I haven't come across this in a front bearing application.

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

BCA bearings. The last one lasted about 5,000 miles.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Michael Default
 

I hate to say it, I don't trust bca anymore. Skf and FAG, are all I use for aftermarket, even timkin has failed me. Oe is the way to go. Just for the heck of it I'd double check the engine to body ground with a voltage drop test while cranking the starter.

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

Maybe it's time I try another brand.

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Mike Owner/Technician
Illinois
Mike Default
 

Check and make sure your grounds are in tact or had a ground from the knuckle to the body . A poor ground can cause the wheel bearings to fail prematurely .

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

I was wondering if this could be possible.

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Tanner Instructor
South Carolina
Tanner Default
 

You likely have a caliper sticking at times getting it hot and frying the grease inside it.

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Bill Technical Support Specialist
Arizona
Bill Default
 

Something to consider. Back in the 70's we had problems with the Dodge Omlets taking out the LF (IIRC) wheel bearing to to a ground strap issue and a large part of the ground was being passed through the bearings. Beevo

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Eric Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Eric Default
 

I repaired a lot of those Omni, Horizon vehicles, it could be either or both bearings. The ground took a path through the bearings and damaged them. It took a bit longer than 5,000 miles though, of course the electrical load was nothing like what is on today's vehicles. I took several of them apart to see what I could see. They were a unique failure, blued, pitted, looked like they had been…

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Benjamin Owner/Technician
Georgia
Benjamin Default
 

That’s good to know. I’ll think about that and be on the look out for blued pitted bearing races from now on when replacing wheel bearing/hubs. Thank you

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
   

I'm going to attach a ground to the strut whether all of my grounds are in place or not. On side note I have a Ford NGS that has your name on the inside of it. Beevo

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Eric Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Eric Default
 

Nope, don't do that, it will just make it worse. If it is a ground problem then it would be a bad ground between the battery and the engine block. This would make the current flow from the engine/transmission out the axle, through the bearing to the strut to the body to the body ground to the battery. If it is a ground problem the correct repair is to repair the engine/transmission to battery…

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Albin Diagnostician
Washington
Albin Default
 

How did I know that someone was going to mention this problem on a Chrysler of that era :)

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Bill Technical Support Specialist
Arizona
Bill Default
 

Because I was working on the ^@$^%!#^%$!^$53 things.... Beevo

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Rob Owner/Technician
British Columbia
Rob Default
 

Bill: I never had the opportunity to encounter that problem,did it also have any effect on the transaxle components? Love the reference to "Omelets" by the way.

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Bill Technical Support Specialist
Arizona
Bill Default
 

I do not believe so, but it was always the LH side that failed. Generally thought to be caused by that side having a shorter axle.

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Eric Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Eric Default
 

Be careful during the disassembly of the old bearing so you don't do any more damage. Take some pictures and post them here for use to see. Don't wash or clean the bearing, I'd like to see how much grease is left and what condition it is in. Once you have pictures of the grease, then clean up the bearing and take some more pictures. There are many reasons for a bearing to fail and the type of…

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

Great idea. It may be a couple of days before I can work on it. You know how it works, everybody else's car comes before my own. It is my wife's car though, so she won't let me forget about it.

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Michael Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Michael Default
 

I agree a proper tear down and inspection is necessary. If the failure is due to arc pitting, it'll be fairly obvious. I have seen a bunch late ninety ford trucks with axle bearings cooked due to arc pitting. If you find this is the cause, a voltage drop test will help you locate the issue and fix it right.

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Douglas Technician
Maine
Douglas Default
 

I had an all stock 2003 Gmc Envoy that would not keep front wheel bearings in it. It was my personal vehicle also. I used BCA, stock GM (timken) , and SKF all failed within 2 oil changes so around 5,000 miles like yours. I torqued to spec, changed cv and nut, cleaned all rust off knuckle mating surface to no avail, it always failed some within 1,000 miles. I Was able to get the stock ones…

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Stephen Educator
Ohio
Stephen Default
 

Yes a bad ground or electrolysis could be the cause of this problem. For some reason a vehicle will hunt for a ground through a wheel bearing. Why? I don't know. But I have seen this very issue before. the fix is to insure you have a good ground from the body of the vehicle to the battery negative. Make a redounded ground that can handle a fair amount of amperage. b

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Raymond Mechanic
Michigan
Raymond Default
 

Are you using a "Hub Tamer" type tool for this? My wife's 2011 Camry had the same issue until I replaced the knuckle and used a press to do the job. I think the original replacement bearing may have started slightly off center and damaged the knuckle. I examined the knuckle closely after each failure and didn't see any damage but out of desperation changed it anyway.

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

I have a Hub Tamer but I never use it. I always use a press.

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Raymond Mechanic
Michigan
Raymond Default
 

Another theory I have developed because of the position of the failure is salt and road debris. Those dust shields can only stop so much from intruding into the bearing. My wife's car rarely sees road salt now that she doesn't have to drive to and from work. The last bearing I installed with the knuckle has outlasted all of the others combined. Including the original which barley made it past…

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Michael Owner/Technician
New Mexico
Michael Default
 

I would replace the knuckle. You need to try something different than just bearing replacement. Has the vehicle been in a collision in the past, possibly bending the knuckle? You might try measuring the bearing bore of the knuckle for out of round. If it's the ground, why would it only affect this one bearing? Just wondering.

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Eric Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Eric Default
 

Yes I've seen it effect only one wheel bearing. Both in the past on the Dodge Omni/Horizon platform and on other newer vehicles.

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Miguel Technician
Tennessee
Miguel Default
 

Don't waste your time it's the aftermarket bearing just get a OEM bearing or a better aftermarket bearing.

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Marlin Technician
Oregon
Marlin Default
 

Have you replaced the other side?

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

I’ve never had to replace the other side.

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Marlin Technician
Oregon
Marlin Default
 

I would definitely try a Koyo bearing. Not much cost difference, and something needs to change. Did you ever inspect one of the faulty bearings?

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

I haven’t replaced the bearing yet. I’ll post pics when I do.

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Geoff Diagnostician
Hawaii
Geoff Default
 

I was thinking like Michael Potter said. I had a knuckle once, that was so out of round that the bearing outer sleeve actually cracked when I pressed it in. Now imagine it wasn't quite that bad. If you have (or can borrow) the old tools for measuring cylinder roundness, do that to the knuckle bearing cavity.

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

I do have some inside mics. I’ll measure it.

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Raymond Owner/Technician
New York
Raymond Default
 

Napa sells a preloaded Within its self bearing, According to the Napa rep. No air should be used during assembly on any wheel bearing.🤷‍♂️

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Bennett Technician
Georgia
Bennett Default
 

One thing I’ve found with hub bearings mostly on Toyotas is to keep the bearings moving while pressing the hub into the bearing itself by typically rotating the knuckle back and forth. It was an old trick my mentor taught me. And the one time I didn’t, I flat spotted a Scion wheel bearing.

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Harish Owner/Technician
Ontario
Harish Default
 

i think you have grounding issues check your grounds Harish

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Resolution
 

I finally got a chance to work on my own vehicle. I had a little trouble pressing out the bearing and I cracked the outer race as you can see. There was only one spot where the outer race was deteriorated although you could see little marks the whole way around the race. I think this was from the metal flaking off of the original spot. The inner races both looked good. The mating surface of the…

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Marlin Technician
Oregon
Marlin Default
 

Glad that you figured it out, and thank you for posting the additional information. I suggest that you go further with this lesson. You need to identify the errors of your pressing procedures and correct them, to keep from repeating this type of damage. When repeated failure occurs with any type part, use failure analysis early on to help to determine the cause and correction.

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

I get your point. Over the years I’ve replaced a lot of bearings and never had this happen. As far as errors relating to pressing procedures go, I don’t know of anything I did wrong. Like I stated previously I believe I erred in not inspecting the knuckle closely enough.

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Marlin Technician
Oregon
Marlin Default
 

My assumption that you caused it may be erroneous. How many miles after your purchase of the vehicle did it fail the first time? Did you find evidence of it having been done previously? You gave no reference to mileage. The knuckle could have been damage previously.

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LaMont Owner/Technician
Ohio
LaMont Default
 

I’ve had the vehicle for 5 years. Since it was my own vehicle l’m not sure I have all of the history I have for customer’s cars. I’ll have to check my records.

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