A quiet, bad bearing?

Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
253
Location
Charlotte, NC
2004 Ford Explorer, RWD, 143k miles.
I had the front end up this weekend and always grab the wheels and tug on them and spin them when I do. You know, checking for anything out of the ordinary. My left front had a slight bit of clunking when I pushed/pulled; hands at 12:00 and 6:00. I could not detect anything with either ball joint. It's hard to tell if it happens with hands at 3:00 and 9:00, because the steering moves a little bit.
Apparently, these vehicles are "known" to have front hub/bearing issues. So, I guess I was leaning towards that being the issue. Near as I can tell, they are original.
But any time I have ever had a bad front bearing (which has really only been a couple of times), there was a growling noise and/or I could feel a vibration in my feet on the floor. I don't have any of that now.
Is it possible to have a bad, loose wheel bearing with no other symptoms?
Secondarily, I'm nervous to buy one; after reading posts on here. It seems like a complete roll of the dice if you are going to get a good one or junk.
After a little checking, I was thinking of getting a SKF from Napa.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2017
Messages
914
I've had some hubs that made the tell-tale growling noise, others that just made the occasional pop or chirp. It seems to depend on the bearing and how it failed.
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
2,961
Location
Ontario, Canada
Yes, on my parents Dodge Caravan, the LF wheel had free play and was quiet for years without incident. I still remember thinking, how is this running like this for so long? The opposite on by Subaru Legacy, as you mentioned, no free play or vibration and slightly noisy on the road, but quiet on the lift with or without my stethoscope; go figure.
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2021
Messages
280
Location
East TN
2004 Ford Explorer, RWD, 143k miles.
I had the front end up this weekend and always grab the wheels and tug on them and spin them when I do. You know, checking for anything out of the ordinary. My left front had a slight bit of clunking when I pushed/pulled; hands at 12:00 and 6:00. I could not detect anything with either ball joint. It's hard to tell if it happens with hands at 3:00 and 9:00, because the steering moves a little bit.
Apparently, these vehicles are "known" to have front hub/bearing issues. So, I guess I was leaning towards that being the issue. Near as I can tell, they are original.
But any time I have ever had a bad front bearing (which has really only been a couple of times), there was a growling noise and/or I could feel a vibration in my feet on the floor. I don't have any of that now.
Is it possible to have a bad, loose wheel bearing with no other symptoms?
Secondarily, I'm nervous to buy one; after reading posts on here. It seems like a complete roll of the dice if you are going to get a good one or junk.
After a little checking, I was thinking of getting a SKF from Napa.
Yes, I believe it is possible. In fact, on my '08 Sorento...it never made any noticeable sound. It was only when I did a similar test to what you did that I discovered that my driver side wheel bearing was going bad.

But get this...the first time I replace that bearing with some Ebay special (live and learn)...two years later, I had to change that bearing again. But this time around...the bearing make a lot of noise, but had no play in it...go figure.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2015
Messages
301
Location
KS
I had a Terraza that had lots of slop in the front bearings but they were silent. I only discovered it when I took it in for an alignment.
 
Joined
Jun 11, 2003
Messages
1,041
Location
Hedgesville, WV
The only wheel bearing I have ever had any experience with was on my boat trailer. It was not making any noise that I could detect but I could feel the heat coming off it when I went to chock it. I put my hand on the hub on both sides and it was real evident that 1 side had a problem. After I got it up in the air to spin the tire I could just barely detect the grinding sound but when I pulled it the races were grooved and the bearing was ready to fall apart.
 
Joined
Dec 23, 2020
Messages
305
Location
United Kingdom
Land Rover Discovery 3 and 4 ( LR3 and 4 in USA) would have no detectable bearing noise, some would knock if you hit a pot hole at the right angle but no whine or growl, would often find during a service or health check the front bearings had substantial play.

If you know the play/ movement is in the bearing get it replaced I would not advise waiting for this type of repair.
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2014
Messages
329
Location
Canada
I had a Ford Tempo many years ago that the lf bearing was so bad the wheel would drop significantly with the car jacked up, but it was still silent driving down the road 🤷🤔
 
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