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Diagnostic Dilemma: The Case of the Missing Code

When doing mobile diagnostic work, no-code stalling complaints are a major part of your agenda. In most cases, the client shop is simply too busy to duplicate the failure or, in some cases, a long test drive will yield nothing in the way of useful...

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Secondary Ignition: The Art of Spark

What is a coil? From the beginning of the internal combustion engine, several different ignition systems have been used to create a high-energy spark. The most popular system, and the one that’s in use today, is a step-up coil. A coil is nothing...

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Diagnosing Catalytic Converter Failure Symptoms

Although construction can vary according to engine application, the common three-way catalytic converter contains a reduction and oxidation stage. To create maximum surface area, each stage is generally a ­ceramic or stainless steel honeycomb substrate...

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Electronic Proportioning Valve: Doing More With Less Hardware

Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) and the HCU are replacing proportioning, combination and other valves to change the braking forces in the front and rear. This is called Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and it can dynamically change the proportioning...

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NHTSA’s GM Brake Line Corrosion Investigation: Reading Between the Brake Lines

There will be no recalls on some GM vehicles for brake line corrosion. Instead, we received an advisory from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about brake line inspection and car washes. What was not discussed was the corrosion...

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2007-2011 Ford Expedition and Navigator Air Suspension

The Ford Expedition air suspension does more than just lift and raise the vehicle. The system levels the vehicle under loads and when a trailer is attached. The system uses only two air bags on the rear axle unlike previous models with air bags on all...

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MAZDA: Timing Belt & Chain Replacement

This month, we’re going to be looking at the ­timing components on the Mazda line of vehicles. We’ll be focusing on timing belts since they are considered a service item and will present the greater amount of opportunity for replacement. Then, we’ll...

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Honda Element Brake Job

It may look like a car that was never removed from the box it came in, but the Honda Element isn’t boxy when it comes to the brakes. Based on the CR-V platform, there is also nothing tricky when it comes to service. But, its brake system is hardware...

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The Changing Maintenance Market: New Technologies Mean More Opportunities

Most of us wake up each morning, not ­realizing that our professional world has changed even as we slept. Our first job of the day is to service a ­vehicle equipped with an oil life monitor. Not only do we discover that modern oil life monitors can...

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Converter Codes: How Long Will the Light Stay Out?

OBDII systems with faulty catalytic converters will normally store a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) when the converter begins to fail. The OBDII converters use an upstream and downstream oxygen sensor to measure the differences in oxygen content between...

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Maintaining Your Spray Guns

If there’s one piece of equipment that epitomizes the painter and the paint shop, it’s the spray gun. Over the years we’ve seen many spray guns. Although there are operating principles and functions that remain the same, some have been improved...

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Wheel Bearing Adjustment Tools & Equipment

A recent survey showed that more than half of the bearings on the road today are adjusted incorrectly. A wheel bearing that’s out of adjustment can reduce bearing life and can affect more than just the bearing. An out-of-adjustment bearing affects...

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By Larry Carley
Technical Editor

The classic symptom of a wheel bearing that is failing is cyclic noise. Most often a bad bearing will produce a chirping sound or a growl that changes in proportion to vehicle speed.

If a bad bearing is suspected, the wheel bearings should be inspected to see if there is any play. On late-model vehicles with sealed wheel bearings or bearing cartridges, there should usually be little or no play.

To check a wheel bearing, grasp the tire at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions and attempt to rock the tire. If any play can be felt, the bearings are loose and need to be replaced.

Also, rotate the tire by hand. Any roughness or noise from the bearings would also tell you the bearings are worn or damaged and need to be replaced.

Bearing play can be measured by placing a dial indicator against the hub and turning the wheel. Refer to the vehicle manufacturers specifications, but as a rule no more than .005 inches of play is allowed for most sealed wheel bearing and hub assemblies.

If one wheel bearing is loose or noisy, pay close attention to all of the other hubs on the vehicle, too, especially if the vehicle has a lot of miles on it or has been driven through axle deep water or been flooded. Chances are some of the other wheel bearings may also need to be replaced.

Customers should be warned not to put off replacing a noisy or loose wheel bearing. A bearing failure can often cause the wheel (or rear axle in the case of a rear axle bearing) to separate from the vehicle. This would cause a loss of steering control that might have potentially deadly consequences!

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