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Rear wheel bearing replacement... just that or more?

Saturn 3 Door Coupes SC1 and SC2

Rear wheel bearing replacement... just that or more?

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  #1  
Old 03-16-2018, 05:25 PM
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Default Rear wheel bearing replacement... just that or more?

It all started many thousands of miles ago (I just found this out today) with a sound that sounded like an exhaust leak. Like just the beginning of one... it never got worse. Well this morning (I assume after many freeze/thaw cycles here in North Dakota while I was away) I drove to my apartment, slept and went back to work later to pick up a package.

Something seemed off when I left my parking spot when I left in the morning. Car seemed to slip occasionally. On the way back later, was making some knocking noises which I though was ice in the hub cap. Well when I left my parking spot at work and drove over a little mound of ice/snow the rear wheel fell off.

My question is: is it just the bearing that needs replacing or is there more? (i.e. what holds the bearing in place? Can't seem to tell from the pictures.)

(Tried to inline images... didn't work for me. [Seems attaching did ] One is the back side of the passenger wheel showing some sort of end cap. The other is the driver rear wheel on the ground and the rear drum.)
 
Attached Thumbnails Rear wheel bearing replacement... just that or more?-img_20180316_104520%5B1%5D.jpg   Rear wheel bearing replacement... just that or more?-img_20180316_104738%5B1%5D.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 03-16-2018, 08:52 PM
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To the best of my knowledge, the bearings in the rear of S cars are not replaceable a la carte. You must replace the entire hub/axle assembly.
Which in your case you would anyway, as the axle shaft actually broke! The bearing probably became worn enough to allow play in the axle position, and if there was a weak spot nearby, the forces exerted by normal driving eventually did it in.

I've never seen this in a Saturn forum, though I'm sure it happens.Damn lucky you were not on the highway

I'd like to think that your other rear hub/axle assembly is intact, but there's no way to tell for sure.
You can at least check for bearing play by trying to rock the mounted wheel while holding it at the 10 and 6 o'clock positions. If you find any play, replace that hub axle assembly as well. I wouldn't want to be on the highway if this one lets go.

Also, check to see that your trailing arm on that side is not bent. It should have moved the full range of travel when the remaining part of the hub hit the ground. The bushings are likely long gone but it doesn't help much for the ride.
Ensure the mounting bolts at the front of the trailing arm are not pulling out of the frame (they are mounted with bolts into the frame).
Also carefully inspect the area where the long tube meets the section behind it (further back on the car. I lived in the salt and rust belt for 17yrs, and one of my trailing arms snapped off cleanly at that weld. You have to put it up in the air to check it because of the tension put on it by the wheel when on the ground.

Year/mieage/model? I will randomly guess 96 SC1 w 230k
 
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Old 03-17-2018, 10:45 AM
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'98 SC1 ~172,000 miles

I've heard conflicting info about the wiggle test. I just saw a video prior posting on YouTube from "Eric the Car Guy" driving a SUV around and saying "Can you hear that noise? Like an airplane?" That has been with me for months, a whirring sort-of noise. But like I said it sounded like a small exhaust leak to me... but it was missing some characteristics that in hindsight are probably a good indicator it's not the exhaust:
  • Never any "sucking" when letting go of accelerator
  • Does not track RPMs consistently (because it's the wheel, they tend to go the same way in [a de]cceleration but not at same time)
  • Never got worse over time
Yeah I feel pretty lucky. Thanks for the spots to check out. Hoping at minimum it's just an alignment that needs to be done. Hopefully nothing. Basically only traveled about 20' so I could get into a good position for towing going 0-2mph.

I might need to get more parts... you can buy just the rear bearing.... I'll see later today.

Thanks
 
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:13 PM
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Also, be sure to check the arm that connects the hub to the frame to keep it in line when it travels in the up-down direction. For the life of me, I embarrassingly can't name the part and I don't have time to look it up.Pivots where it meets the frame in the center of the car.

If you had mentioned "airplane sound" specifically, I would have screamed wheel bearing. I did not take away from your description that the noise was that loud. Once you get up to a certain rpm, they seem to reach a constant level, and with the road noise and engine noise of an S car, you probably couldn't tell if it was changing at the much higher rpms anyway. Neither here nor there.

I know your goal is to repair as much as you can on your own. I am the same way. I suppose you could correct for that arm I mentioned above with a rear toe and/or camber adjustment, to keep the wheel in alignment, (if it is bent), but the structural integrity of that arm would likely be questionable, and an experienced alignment specialist would see the crazy out of alignment issue on his "before" readings and immediately search for something bent. If needed, I see nothing wrong with a junkyard replacement as long as it is not rusted out.

I don't see how repairing just the bearing will be of assistance, as I do not believe you can buy the hub assembly without a bearing already pressed into it. Even if the hub itself is not damaged from the axle failure, you'd have a hell of a time getting the axle nut off, and quite honestly, the extra money is probably well worth the time, hassle, and cursing of trying to save the hub, remove the bearing, and press in a new one.

IF you go the bearing route, PLEASE do a write up with pictures. I've never seen one for the rear and you will be doing a tremendous service to Saturn S car owners everywhere.

Thanks
 

Last edited by derf; 03-17-2018 at 01:20 PM.
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:29 PM
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The hub and bearing assy is about $50 plus freight from Rock Auto. Amazon or E-bay may be cheaper. The trick will be getting the four mounting bolts out of the knuckle since you live where they salt the roads.
 
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Old 03-18-2018, 12:40 PM
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I am incorrect about the bearing. I was thrown off by quickly reading the product title. It's the full hub assembly. Now that I saw a video... I see what's up. The plate containing the lugs and the "axle/spindle" contained within the assembly is on my wheel. The mounting plate for the assembly is still behind my drum brakes. The rest is gone.

My mystery of how this thing is attached is solved.

Just have to wait until Tues when my second assembly arrives along with shoes and brake hardware. Figure get everything done while it's apart... and avoid any issues on the other side.

Originally Posted by derf View Post
...and with the road noise and engine noise of an S car...
This is so true. I put sound deadening pads in the front doors, the entire floor pan and the trunk. Plenty still comes through the engine compartment.

Originally Posted by 02 LW300 View Post
... The trick will be getting the four mounting bolts out of the knuckle since you live where they salt the roads.
Had to replace the control arm on the passenger side last year. Had to go to Harbor Freight and get an air hammer to get that bolt out. I'm just glad I barely drive here. 20-on; 10-off. Don't go too far unless visiting family in MA.

I was searching for the pic but can't find it. Made me chuckle because I needed another hand. One for the camera, the air hammer and the ratchet.
 
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Old 03-19-2018, 02:34 PM
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If you ever have severe issues with getting a replacement control arm back in, your sway bar bushings (front) need to be replaced. You can't really tell by the edges that are visible that the bushings are bad. Over time, they get compressed. As they do they pull the entire sway bar forward in the car. In doing so, the ends of the sway bar are pulled forward and because of the geometry and the angle that they are on, if the bushings are compressed too much then it becomes nearly impossible to get the control arm on the end of the sway bar and in the slot where it attaches to the frame both at the same time. If that weren't bad enough, it messes up the caster in your alignment. It won't wear your tires funny, but at highway speeds the car will wander a bit or more than a bit depending how bad the difference in Castor is between the front wheels. The Caster specs are not equal on both front wheels. I'm not sure why but I have not stopped to really think it through. Most alignment shops will tell you the camper is not adjustable. That's because they are lazy and don't want to mess with it or they are just uninformed.
 
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Old 03-24-2018, 10:18 PM
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Thanks guys! These posts have been extremely helpful.

I did finally get the one bearing replaced... today. Was planning on both but most of my tools are 2,000 miles away. Took a few (~7) trips (walks) to NAPA over the week. The second hub assembly I got didn't "feel right" although it was brand new and so that went back and had to wait. Replacing the drum shoes and brake hardware was its own adventure. Especially skipping reading the reassembly part.... which led to about 30 minutes of time to remove the non-rotating drum.

Get the mounting plate off was kinda easy... small sledge + 10" 3/8" punch. That was one of the NAPA trips, LoL. Replacing a newly lost 1/2" - 3/8" reducer for my torque wrench was another.

Finally done. Happy. But there is more noise so going to listen to the front two tires in the air later tomorrow. Might have new bearings on all wheels. They've gone far enough might as well have new ones. Cheap.

Thanks.
 
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Old 03-24-2018, 10:33 PM
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I did write a post that seems to have gotten lost maybe. Hasn't shown up for a few days.

I will correct myself. I was wrong about the bearing-only. it is included in the hub assembly as you guys pointed out. I had just read the product description too quickly.
 
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