Do my wheel bearings need any maintenance if they are sealed?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Apr 01, 1999

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a Chevy Cavalier that has more than 120,000 miles on it and a 1991 Buick Skylark with 98,000 miles on it. Should I be concerned about whether the rear wheel bearings need attention? They're supposed to be "sealed bearings," but even so, shouldn't they be maintained somehow? -- Harry

TOM: Nope. All four wheel bearings on both of these cars are sealed because they don't need maintenance of any kind. GM did a good job with these.

RAY: They will eventually wear out, but it may take 150,000 or 200,000 miles. And you'll know they're worn out because they'll either make noise or exhibit excessive

TOM: Next time your mechanic has your car on the lift, ask him to check for "play" in each wheel bearing. To do this, he'll face the wheel, grip it at the 12 and 6
o'clock positions, and try to rock it back and forth. It shouldn't move at all. If he can get some movement in it, then the wheel bearing probably needs to be replaced.

RAY: The other sign your mechanic can check for is a low growling noise while the car is moving or turning. You may not notice this, because the noise increases
gradually over many months, but a mechanic with a trained ear should be able to hear it on a short test drive if it's there.

TOM: But if neither of those symptoms is present, you can forget all about the wheel bearings ... and concentrate on the all the other wonderful noises these cars are
probably making. Good luck, Harry.

Spending a little money now on "preventive maintenance" can save you big bucks down the road. Find out how by ordering Tom and Ray's pamphlet "Ten Ways You
May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" Send $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-

?(C) 1999 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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