Rear Wheel Bearings


donford

New member
New to us 84 Westphalia. Trip one, water pump; Trip two, CV joints; Trip three, Wheel bearings.

We went on a 60 mile trip and had a low growling sound. I attributed it to the new CV joint I installed and/or the old one that I put back in that will need replacing. However, on our arrival a loud squeak at low speed could be heard at the opposite side (passenger rear). Sound coinsided with wheel movement, not engine or transmission. Noise uneffected by brake usage. Seems to me clearly a bearing. Jacked the noisy side up, shook the wheel with hands at 3 & 9 o'clock and got some play. Alarm bells went off and I thought we would never get home. I figured I would check the other side and got about the same amount of play. This can't be normal, can it?

I did take it home with no problems, noise still only at low speed. How perilous is this?
I am considering it grounded, however wanted to use it for a 80mi. trip next weekend. Is my alarm warranted?

As a novice mechanic, i changed the CV joints. Is there any advice/warnings to taking on installing the inner and outer bearing armed with the Bentley manual? Is it straight forward or is this tougher than it seems?

Thanks
DAF
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
A very complete thread on CV joints is already posted in the archives. If you made a mistake or got dirt into your repacked CV joints, it only takes a few miles to wipe them out.

The best backyard test for rear wheel bearings is to put the vehicle on jackstands and run the rear wheels at speed. Place a mechanic's stethescope (just a few dollars at any auto parts store) on the bearing housing and listen for anything that is not a hum or mechanical 'whirr.' Squeal, grinding or rattle may indicate a bad bearing. Some can get away with a screwdriver against the housing & ear, but not me. Bear in mind that you will also hear noises from anything connected to the housing, which does include CV's.

Changing bearings is pretty straight-forward, but at 16 years, getting the hub off and axle pressed out may now be the challenge. A press is preferred. You also need a torque wrench capable of 253 ft-lb.
 
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CGOTTS

New member
Capt Mike gave some good information on wheel bearing & CV joint information. One question that needs to be asked is did this noise get louder with speed? Does it get quieter with speed? Does it only do it at low speed? Another good way to see if the wheel bearings in the rear are at question is to remove the CV joints, with that rear wheel jacked up and see if it is hard to turn. If it is extremely hard to turn, taking in consideration that the brake shoes are not dragging on the drum to much, then you may have a wheel bearing job. If it spins fairly easy, then you are probably OK. Another question is how many miles does your Vanagon have on it? CV joints if they are new can be a little tight, and with some wear, quiet down a bit. They should not be real noisy, unless they have the wrong grease in them, or not enough grease in them. You mentioned that you were sure that it wasn't a noise coming from the engine or transmission. Something you might want to check is the fluid level in your transmission. Does your Vanagon have a manual or automatic transmission in it? Both of them use gear oil in them, and should it be low, you maybe hearing the sound of a ring & pinion bearing starting to go. Automatic transmissions seem to have more problems with, but only because most owners think an automatic transmission used automatic transmission fluid through the whole thing. When in reality, the differential section use gear oil, and no one ever checks the level, and then the ring & pinion bearings and/or R&P fail. So make sure the noise is really not coming from the differential section of your transmission. In regards to the wheel bearings, I have personnally installed zerk fittings in my rear wheel bearing housing, so as to grease my bearings every so often. I remove the brake drum, loosen the bearing seal plate, and then pump grease into them. Wipe the grease up, tighten the plate, then grease it again, so as to force a small amount of grease out of the seal, and presto - good for another 10,000 miles. Hope this helps and good luck with your troubleshooting and repair. CGOTTS
 

donford

New member
Thanks for the help, Capt Mike and CGOTTS.

This reply is late, but that is how my summer is going.

I have driven a couple hundred miles on my CV repair on the driver side. Assuming thats OK. I was told by a mechanic that limited driving is ok with the bearing issue to further diagnose. Since then I am leaning to the passenger side CV's, which were on my pack/ replace list of to-do's. They did not have the symptoms of the other bad CV joints until today. A whiring/grinding sound when turning slightly to the drivers side (not a knock) but also had a bit of a hesitation (as if slipping) with it. Happened only on big hills, but happened in second and third gear and as said before, when turning slightly left. Will see how the wheel turns when replacing CV, and will check transmission fluid as a precaution. It is a manual by the way. Will also read past transmission posts here as an educational exercise.

Thanks
DAF
 
Howdy:
I am doing the spring safety check on my 84 Westy. Just concluded front bearing adjustment and have notice the rears have a little play. From the Bentley (42.4) it appears wheel bearing adjustment is accomplished by the torgue values at the Axle nut. 360 ft. Lbs is way more than my torque wrench will accomidate.Do you all have suggestions on who other than a VW dealer would have the proper tools?
Thanks,
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Rear wheel bearing play is not adjusted, per se; they are roller bearings, not tapered.

The 360 ft-lb. on pg 42.4 is an error -- a mis-conversion. The correct torque is 253 ft-lb. That error is posted on this site in both in "Rear axle & wheel nut torque" as well as "Brake repairs -- mechanical" forums. The Bentley correctly carries the 253 ft-lb in the Quick Data specs on Index page 42.1 of the section your are referencing and also in brakes 46.6.
 
Howdy Campers,
OK just finished a major rebuild of my drive train on my 84 West-Jetta. Alas, I'm getting a faint rubbing sound coming from the rear wheel in right hand corners. I suspect that I may have set the outboard wheel bearing too far in the bearing box assembly. Question is should the race be flush? If so this might cause the wheel stub to sit too far in and therefore cause the slight rubbing/grinding sound I'm hearing. Darn, don't really want to take this all apart again but at least it is clean. Do you think I need to replace that bearing and gasket?
Thank for your help!
Steve
 

rvnpikes

New member
Bearing Spacers

I have an 85 Westfalia with over 500,000 km on it. I've had the rear wheel bearings replaced a couple of times since I bought it 9 years ago. How important is it to replace the spacers that are used between the inner and outer bearings when this is done?
 

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