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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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Ford: ABS Light On With DTCs C1175, C1236, P0500 or P0503

Model: 2005-’07 Super Duty Some 2005-‘07 Ford Super Duty vehicles may exhibit an ABS light on and possible diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) C1175, C1236, P0500 and/or P0503. This condition may be due to faulty vehicle wiring, a failed wheel speed...

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Composite Rotors Are Back

Veteran technicians will remember the problems with composite rotors in the late 1990s. These rotors had hats of stamped steel cast into the iron rotor. They saved weight, but they were prone to runout and installation errors. These types of rotors...

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Power Steering Dynamics and Diagnostics

Twenty-five years ago, when the power steering failed, diagnosing the system was easy. The most difficult problem to diagnose was the “morning sickness” that plagued some ­vehicles when they were cold. Today, the introduction of speed sensitive steering,...

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Saab: Fuel Sending Unit Replacement

The 2006 Saab 9-3 Sport sedan came in on the hook and the tow truck driver said, “I think it needs a fuel pump.” The gas gauge was reading less than a quarter of a tank and the low fuel warning light wasn’t on, so a quick fuel pressure check was...

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KIA: Brake Light On, Tachometer And Speedometer Inoperative

Applicable Models: 2001 Kia Optima LX, 2.4L Complaint The customer states the red brake light is illuminated on the instrument cluster. The ­customer also states the tachometer and speedometer intermittently stop working. Cause Confirmed the customer’s...

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Mazda: Fuel System Servicing Precaution

Applicable Models: 2004-’07 Mazda3 2005-’07 Mazda6 2006-’07 MX-5 vehicles During service/removal of fuel system parts on the above vehicles, the memory of the malfunctions and the long-term fuel trim need to be cleared by either removing the...

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Top 5 Tools: Daniel Sjobeck, Roseville Auto Repair

Daniel Sjobeck, tech Roseville Auto Repair Roseville, MN A good toolbox. You can have the best of everything, but it’s no use if you cannot find it. Power Probe – One of the greatest ­inventions EVER. Snap-on Digital Torque Wrenches Snap-on...

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Mitchell 1 ProDemand Consolidates Vintage Repair and Estimating Information

Mitchell 1 has updated its ProDemand repair, diagnostic and maintenance software by consolidating vintage repair and estimating information into the application to deliver full year, make and model coverage from 1974 to the present year. This latest enhancement...

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Pulling Codes: Multiple Misfire Personalities

A Story of Codes P0302, 04, 06, 08 & 03   This month’s diagnostic journey begins with a 2008 Land Rover Discovery that is taken in to a local testing facility for an emission test and fails due to a series of misfire codes. Misfire...

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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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