2003 Alero wheel bearing grinding?

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May 21, 2008
south dakota
My niece's 2003 Alero (3.4L) is making this grinding/humming noise at all times which increases with speed, and also gets much worse when turning wheel to the left. It started last week. Also this morning the CEL, Antilock, and Traction lights came on. I was told by a mechanic friend that most likely is the front wheel bearings which come as a whole unit with the wheel hub. This car has only 80,000 miles, and previous owner's records indicate that wheel bearings were changed twice previously using GM parts shocked. Replacement doesn't look too bad, so I might tackle the job myself. Is there an aftermarket part that is better quality then the GM one so I don't have to redo it in 6 months again? How do I tell which side (right or left) is the faulty one? By the way the grinding gets much worse when turning left. Thank you in advance
Sounds like the left wheel bearing. It's possible the previous owner used ACDelco hubs and not OE GM hubs. The GM hubs are expensive and really nothing is better than them generally. It's also possible the hub nut was over torqued and the old style hub nut was used. It's possible GM hubs weren't not really installed. Who knows? SKF is probably your best bet in aftermarket. Use the new style hub nut I think part number P/N 10289657 and torque them to 173 lb ft (old nut was 284 lb ft). you shouldn't have hub problem again.
The wheel bearings on the N-body cars are prone to failure, they will go out every 50k like clock work. There is no avoiding it really, just replace it with aftermarket bearings. After owning 2 of them, replacing 5 bearings between the 2 cars, I have noticed very little difference in quality and longevity between the OEM ones I took out and the Timekin/Dorman ones I put back. The grand am I crashed was sold and fixed by a friend and 40k miles later he is still good on the replacements I put in, but had to replace the other 2 oem ones, lol.
Easy to replace. If it was mine I would probably do both with a good aftermarket brand. Most certainly don't use the cheap orielly ones mine lasted 2 months on my cavalier.
Yep...+1 on what Brenden said. I have a '00 Alero that used to be my sales car and is now the daughters college car. It is at 206 K miles. As he stated they fail like clockwork every 45 to 60 K. I have tried GM, Timken, SKF, Napa, Adavance Auto, etc. None lasted any longer than the rest. Buy the cheapest you can get. BTW they will make noise and the car can still be driveable for a VERY long time. Not recommending this but just FYI.
N-car hubs tend to have a hub failure or two before 100k miles, but proper installation with the new hub nut and torque spec and a quality hub like SKF or OE usually last a long time. There's a lot of N-cars with over 100k miles and no hub problems. I have to disagree that all hubs fail at the same rate and to get the cheapest one. The only ones I've seen fail over and over are the cheap ones and improperly torqued.
Originally Posted By: beechcraftted
P.S. A left turn "unloads" the left bearing and adds load to the right. I'd say it's the right one.
That's true my mistake duh. Likely it's the right wheel bearing but the OP should verify it is.
When turning, they are both loaded in a not normal way. So it still could be either side. By the time a car wheel bearing is actually grinding, it is way past broken. Driving the car is not safe if it is a wheel bearing making the noise. Could be brakes.
Thank you for your posts gentlemen. I bought a Moog wheel hub from AAP and used one of their discount codes, if it turns out it is something else I can always return it. I always thought Moog makes quality parts, hopefully won't be proven wrong. I plan on looking at it this weekend. I plan on driving it for a while, and check which wheel feels hotter to pinpoint which side is bad. When driving the car it seems like the noise is coming from left side. Any other ways to find out which side is bad?
Finding it could be as simple as jacking the front up and spinning each wheel by hand. If one makes noise or feels rough when you spin it, that's likely the culprit. Also, do the normal shaking test on the wheels. This doesn't take every car design into account, but a rough rule is: -Tire loose when hands at 3 and 9 o'clock - check tie rods -Tire loose when hands at 6 and 12 o'clock - check ball joints -Tire loose during both above tests - check wheel bearing
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I think the Moog is a good hub, SKF, Moog and Timken are your best aftermarket choices here. I really think it is important to get the new style axle nut and use 174 lb ft spec. Other than checking for play (a noisy bearing doesn't always have play and play doesnt always mean a noisy bearing)there is a way you might be able top pinpoint the noisy hub but I hesistate to suggest it for safety. Carefully and securely lower both front control arms on jackstands to get the driveline approximating ride height but off the ground. Have a helper run in drive with parking brake set. Stay clear of spinning assemblies and the car. This might not pinpoint the noisy hub though because the hub won't be loaded.
Originally Posted By: Trav
I bought a Moog wheel hub from AAP and used one of their discount codes
Where was it made?
Copy and paste from Rock Auto.
MOOG Part # 512001 Hub Assembly; Rear ABS Bolt Quantity=5 Flange Dia=5.43" Bolt Circle Dia=3.94" Bolt Size=M12X1.5" Wheel Pilot Dia=2.24" Brake Pilot Dia=2.26" Flange Offset=2.56" Hub Pilot Dia=2.4" (Previously branded as National; package may be labeled as either brand)
Could from S. Korea, Mexico or U.S.
Picked up the wheel hub from AAP, unfortunately it is made in S.Korea and not in the States. I also scanned for error codes and I got 4 ABS related codes: B1223, B1224, B1225, B1232. B1225 and B1232 said something about the front left front wheels speed sensor, so I'm guessing the faulty one is the left.
Yep it wiped out the built in ABS sensor. It would be a heck of a coincidence to lose a sensor on a good hub and have a bad hub with a good sensor on the other side. Not impossible but highly unlikely.
Finally got around and replaced the left wheel hub tonight. It wasn't too bad, the entire job took me a little over 1 hour with air tools. The hardest part was getting the old hub out. I had previously rented a hub puller tool from the auto parts store, but that didn't move it at all. I had to use the hammer, and the old hub came out. After putting everything back together I torqued the axle nut to 175 ft lbs. Took the car on the highway for a good 10 minute drive, everything seems fine. Hopefully the other side hub won't go bad now. Thanks everyone for their replies.
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