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Somebody was working on our old 200k mile truck. They pulled both front wheels off and threw all 4 wheel bearings (and their inner races) into a pile. Now they're all mixed up (we don't know which bearing went to which outer race).

Is this a problem? Should a well-worn-in bearing stay with its outer race? Or does it not matter?

  • Why on earth did they need to pull both hubs at once? I'm trying to think of what they could be working on with that requirement. Everyone always does one side completely then the other so they don't waste time going around the car multiple times. – Rowan Hawkins Apr 28 '17 at 3:33
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Inner and outer bearing parts should stay together, as the wear patterns and small irregularities "match". If you mix them, then you risk premature failure - if you have a high use then you should replace them, also the time to replace may outweigh the initial cost of new ones now. If the use is low then you may get away with it.

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Each wheel bearing supports approximatly 1/4 of the vehicle weight. The fronts have more direct thrust on them.

Things to consider when making your decision:

How long do you plan on keeping the truck? If you plan on putting another 30k on the truck I'd just replace them.

When were the bearings last replaced? Over 20k...replace as they have already seen about 2/3 of their use.

Do you plow in the winter where you are? If so the 600 lb plow hanging off the front is not kind to your front bearings.

Do you travel places a seized bearing would be a catastrophe?

How concerned are you about ride quality, or do you travel at highway speeds much? Mismatched bearings will have a definate vibration to them on both front wheels. It may even feel like you need an alignment.

Normally you would replace bearings as they fail. In this case someone did you a favor and has offered to replace them because they didn't keep the sets together. You should take them up on it. If they don't feel they should pay for their mistake then you should consider a different mechanic.

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