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Video: Front End Complaints – Look For The Real Problem

What’s obvious may not be causing the complaint. This video is sponsored by GSP North America.

As a technician, it’s our job to find and diagnose problems with vehicles. In most cases, a customer will come in with a front end complaint, we look for the obvious issue, fix that, and send them on down the road. Have you ever stopped to ask what we are missing?

There are many ways that this can happen. Let’s say that a customer comes in with a complaint of a front end noise. In a short test drive, you notice that there’s a noise coming from the wheel hub and bearing assembly. You bring the car in the shop, replace the assembly and send the customer on down the road. A few days later, they come back upset because you didn’t fix their problem. Yes, the wheel bearing was bad, but it kept you from noticing that the CV axle was making a clicking noise during really tight turns. On top of that, the bearing plate on the opposite side is just starting to make noise.

All too often when we find the obvious problems, we stop looking for other, not so obvious problems that may exist in a vehicle that are opportunities to get an additional sale, and to make sure that a customer leaves happy. In this, make sure that you do a complete inspection of each vehicle. Look at each component separately to correctly find and diagnose any issues that could be covered up by other items.

This video is sponsored by GSP North America.

Wheel hub and bearing assemblies are some of the hardest working parts on a vehicle. Not only do they support the weight of the vehicle as it runs over potholes and bumps, but it also has the task of holding the wheel on. Making sure that we correctly identify and diagnose a failure in a wheel bearing is a key to keeping vehicle safe. In most cases, the first sign of a wheel bearing failure will come in the form of a griding noise. A simple test drive can help to determine for sure if it is the bearing and which one. While driving, listen to figure out if the noise changes with road speed and not engine speed. A bad wheel hub and bearing assembly will change the noise it makes in relation to road speed. As you drive the vehicle, try different road surfaces. If the noise changes with the road surface, then it’s probably a tire noise instead of a wheel hub and bearing noise. What is sometimes tougher is to figure out which specific bearing is making the noise. To test this, long, easy turns will help you to load one side of the vehicle. If you go around a turn to the right and the noise gets louder, then it is the left side wheel hub and bearing that is worn. The opposite is true for a left handed turn. If the noise gets louder, it is the right hand or passenger side wheel hub and bearing assembly that’s faulty.

Once you’re done with the test drive, it’s time to put the vehicle on a lift to get a better look at things. You can spin the wheel and tire assembly to listen for noises and see if there’s any griding. Also, grab the wheel and tire assembly and shake it both from top to bottom and side to side. If you can see play coming from the wheel hub and bearing assembly, it’s time to replace it.

Replacing a worn wheel and hub assembly will help keep everyone safe, and also make it so the radio doesn’t have to be as loud.

This article was published on Brake & Front End.

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