Keep Rollin’ : New Wheel Bearings And A Few Short Notes Before Aska Goes On Another Long Trip

 

Ok so for the long time, Aska had been having a knocking sound in the back wheels. At first, it only happened at higher speeds then it got happening at lower speeds. As of about a week ago, it happens as soon as the car is rolling. All the while, I’d taken her my wife’s home in Zambales, to our damned out of town gigs in Batangas (fully loaded with our damn gear and four grown, often drunk, men, in the middle of the night on the highway) and rolling around everyday.

 

At first, I thought it was something knocking on something (obviously), but I was thinking more along the lines of suspension parts, or even the drum brake parts knocking on something. I suspected all sorts of things – the apparently busted up upper shock mounts in the back, some sort of bushing I have not yet located or maybe elves even. My old man told me it was the wheel bearings, and my good friend in the office, who’s also a big mechanical geekazoid, had told me so. I was under the impression that bad wheel bearings ought to hum badly before they are taken as damaged, especially on sturdy live axles like on Aska.

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I was wrong and they were right – it was the wheel bearings. More specifically, it was the one on the left rear. Actually, I didn’t figure so until I decided to take the plunge and just take their word for it – and they were right all along. As soon as the rear left axle was removed, I knew that the bearing was shot and I decided to get both fixed.

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This is almost exactly how the axle shaft appears with its corresponding parts.

 

In any event, I figured I didn’t hear the humming part because up until last year or so, Aska had been running a loud (on the inside at least) fart can of an exhaust tip and I often ran with a velocity stack or an open, dry type air filter, which added to the din. I must’ve missed the humming part at that point and I only really noticed it when I decided to go with my current factory style set-up.

I went down to ATCO Pasay (my favorite parts place) to get myself the needed parts. I lost the soft copy of the service manual that was passed on to me by a friend so I went with my memory of what the axle needs for servicing. For your reference, if in case you are here because Google thought this is a place for service advice on classic Lancers, you will need the main wheel bearing, its lock and axle seal.

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The NTN boxes contain the bearings, and the oil seals pictured here were actually wrong and I forgot to order the locks too. Lesson learned, always list down the parts you need even if you think you have it all figured out.

I didn’t do the work this time around because of the fact that the bearing and the lock needs to be pressed in place. You need to press the stuff in place because if you choose to hammer it in, you may damage the bearing, lock and axle shaft. Do not, for the love of God, believe in what many a mechanic may tell you about they can do the work by using a piece of pipe and a hammer. Trust me, that can work but an improperly fitted bearing can and will fail more easily than one pressed in. It goes without saying that the lock has to be securely fitted, otherwise, the axle will get dislodged when you move the car. I’d seen this happen to a friend of mine, and no amount of us trying to work roadside to hammer the lock into place worked.

I went to a nearby shop that ATCO recommended and had the work done there. The work is pretty straight forward – remove the axle, cut the old lock, press out the old bearing then press in the new ones in place. It’s actually a fairly quick and easy job, but where I live, there are no machine shops that have a hydraulic press for the bearing and lock. In any event, I went to ATCO after shift so it wasn’t like I had the strength to be working.

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This is the shop that did the work. That there is where old man is, would be the hydraulic press. In this frame, they’re working on compressing valve springs off a cylinder head so they can remove the retainers.

 

Sadly, the rear left axle is damaged to the point that the old bearing – which seized, had gouged up the axle and the knocking sound seemed to be coming from there. No way I was going to take the risk of running the car to the province along desolate stretches of highway in the middle of the night. However, I also needed the car for the week before we leave so I just had the shop remedy the situation to install the bearing while I look for spare axles. Unfortunately, ATCO does not sell the axles anymore but I was lucky that a friend of mine had a couple lying around for me to take. It seems that the axles for a Lancer with drums (SL) takes different axles compared to the ones with disc brakes (GT). I’m guessing that the spline count would be different since the SL with a 4 speed KM110 transmission goes with a 3.9 differential whereas the GT with a 5 speed KM119 takes a 4.2 differential – be on the look out for this.

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Spline count often matters between different applications

 

I went back to the mechanic’s shop a week after I got the spare axle shafts and selected what I thought would be the best one – an axle with a usable bearing. See, if the bearing had seized, there is a possibility that the inside collar would’ve eaten up the axle shaft just like what happened on mine. A freely spinning yet secure bearing would mean that the axle shaft is still ok. The stuff on the old axle was pressed out and the new stuff pressed in, and after installation, everything worked beautifully.

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Pressed neatly into place, everything should appear as so. The bearing should be securely attached to the axle and the outer ring should spin freely.

 

No more knocking sound from the back, the ride sounds a good deal quieter and the car rolls so much better. Also, don’t forget to replace the axle’s oil seal – failure to do so can result in gear oil leaking out and cause loss of rear braking power with the oil coming to contact with the drums or disks. Many mechanics may say that the seal is reusable without leaks present, but seals are too cheap yet so important to skimp out on.

Keep in mind that as with any car part replacement, it’s best to do both axles at the same time to make sure everything wears down at the same time. Don’t forget to keep your gear oil topped up always – seized bearings often begin when lubrication is short. A good rule of thumb is to check the gear oil at least once a year, and to replace it when needed. You’ll know it needs replacement if the oil smells burnt, sludgy or both.

 

I also managed so snag myself a nos (new old stock) air filter element for the stock air filter box. I haven’t dropped it in yet, but I’ll definitely do so before we leave town Thursday morning. I haven’t changed the oil in Aska too – I often change the oil before going to Zambales as it coincides with my preferred tune up schedule. These days though, I’d been pretty busy and haven’t quite had time to lay my hand on the old girl.

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There’s some light surface rust on the chrome surface and normally, I’d clean it off. These days though I feel a little lazy and no one will see it anyways since it will be stowed away into the air filter box. See the part numbers on the label for reference if you need this.

 

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The old air filter. See how greyed out the element is.

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Ah! The new filter!

I guess I’ll do that once we’re there since I no longer feel comfortable doing last minute checks and fixes to the car.  It must be me getting old, but I remember that I loved crunching all the stuff I want done before leaving on a long trip or back when I was younger, before I leave for the track. Well, that was when I was younger and the adrenaline rush powered me on the day before, during and after a track day.

 

I’m looking forward to another great drive with my now 31 year old girl.

 

 

 

~

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