February 11

2008 Dodge Grand Caravan Wheel Bearings Repair

Dodge, Podcast


Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers and we're talking cars. How you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing well.

Mark: So we have a 2008 Grand Caravan that had a wheel bearing issue. What was going on with this minivan?

Bernie: Yeah. So the owner of the vehicle brought in to our shop with a complaint of a rattle noise. Technician Nigel took it out for a little drive. It wasn't more than a few feet into the parking lot where he heard a hideous grinding noise coming from the vehicle. The owner actually hadn't described but that was the first thing that he noted.

Mark: And so what did you find was wrong with the van?

Bernie: Well it was pretty apparent. Wheel bearing noises are pretty distinct and it was pretty apparent that this was more than likely a wheel bearing noise so we took it for a further road test and then hoisted the vehicle and found probably the noisiest wheel bearing we've ever encountered in our career.

Bernie: It's on the right side by the way.

Mark: Right front.

Bernie: Just one bearing.

Mark: And do you have some pictures?

Bernie: I have a video. Unfortunately for some weird reason the sound didn't transfer over so I'm going to show the video then I'm just going to play the soundtrack on my phone because that's really where the juice is of this video. So here it goes.

So, there's the video, spinning the bearing. But let me just play this sound track too because this is where you'll- this is the most interesting part. World's loudest wheel bearing. You heard that okay?

Mark: Did, yup.

Bernie: So yeah that was basically instead of seeing the bearing spin of course the noise was kind of the key part and I don't know why the technologies odd sometimes. But, anyways that was basically the noise. Just an absolute solid metal on metal rotational noise. I mean I've never heard anything quite so loud.

Mark: It's a meditation bell.

Bernie: Yeah absolutely. It kind of had that tone to it.

Mark: So, where's the actual bearing. I only see rusty metal.

Bernie: Yeah, so the bearings actually inside this area here, the part that was being spun, and I'll just actually play this one more time. So, the part that's spinning, that's the hub. And the part that's being held solid, that's the mounting plate. The bearing sits inside this area here. So this hub here, this is where the wheel bolts on, and the axle shaft goes to the drive axle shaft goes through the hub, the centre of the hub and that's driven of course by the engine and transmission. And then the bearing sits inside here.

Mark: So is this a pretty common design, a wheel bearing?

Bernie: Yeah, very common. This is what's called a unitized wheel bearing and very common. I would guess that maybe 50% or more of vehicles on the road use this type of design. It's very common.

Mark: So you can't actually take that apart and pull the wheel bearing out? You replace that whole piece, is that how that works?

Bernie: You replace the whole piece. It's a bolt in, bolt out. Generally pretty straightforward but one factor you get of course is rust. And as you can see on that part. The parts over time rust in place and it can sometimes be quite an effort and get it out. They even use these wheel bearings on Ford 350 pick-ups, Dodge trucks, Chevy's, they'll use that type of design too and getting those bearings out of course they're humongous, getting those out we actually have special tools that can help pop them out of place. They often require a fair bit of effort once they get old and rusty.

Mark: Are these bearings a common replacement part.

Bernie: They are but it's, there's nothing really where we can say this specific vehicle all the bearings go or you know it's going to go at this particular mileage. They really fail at different rates. It's entirely possible you may have a vehicle and go 400,000 kilometres without replacing a wheel bearing. Or you might have one wear out before 100. Sometimes just one side will wear, sometimes the other one will wear. There's no rhyme or reason but the good thing about it is you'll hear a noise coming, once you get it diagnosed and verified you can just replace that part. And it's not, I mean this bearing is so loud this person would had to have been driving for quite a long time with quite a loud noise getting worse and worse before they chose to fix it.

Mark: There's lots of parts that I can think of on cars that need to be replaced in pairs, like shocks, brakes, tires, are wheel bearings like this?

Bernie: They're not. These are basically a one side, there's no reason to change more than one. Things like shocks, brakes, and tires, especially on the front of the vehicle, they have different, say for shock absorbers those are different rebound rates so if we don't change both shocks at the same time you might have one corner of the vehicle will bounce differently than the other. Or brakes, if the friction materials aren't exactly matching in terms of the rotors, pads and calipers you can get brake pulls, tires same thing, you'll get handling issues. With the wheel bearing it's just a very precision machined part and if one isn't worn the other one doesn't need to be replaced. You just replace the worn out one and do the other one at a later time.

Mark: So there you go. If you're looking for replacements of your wheel bearings on any make or model of vehicle in Vancouver the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call them, book ahead because they're busy. Or, check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. There's hundreds of, literally hundreds of videos and articles on there about car repairs as well as there's are YouTube channel, with again hundreds of videos over eight, almost eight years of doing this as well, thank you for watching the podcast and thank you Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark and thank you for watching we really appreciate it.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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