I have a 2003 Chevy Tahoe Z-71 with 138,000 miles. I took it in for a tire change and rotation at a shop that was not my usual as my normal guy was very busy. They advised the frt left wheel bearing was bad and needed replaced. He ballparked it around $80. I waited to take to my regular guy and had him do it. When I picked it up we said he replaced the entire hub assembly and the total was $404, the hub being $256 of that. He said he could'nt just replace the bearing. Is there any truth to it being the entire hub assembly needed replacing?
The unit only comes as a sealed hub bearing assembly.
May, 1, 2011 AT 1:48 AM
Yup. GM is famous for building their cars with "assemblies" that bolt on quickly on the assembly line but cost their owners more to repair later. That goes back to their HEI distributors and their generators in the '70s. The advantage was that the mechanics who didn't know how to diagnose the new systems could just replace one giant piece that had everything in it, but once the cars were out of warranty, the independent guys started figuring out how to replace just what was needed so they could save their customers money.
You are correct that the entire hub assembly must be replaced, but my question is why they recommended a new bearing if you didn't notice a problem? Typically they cause a humming sound, similar to an airplane engine. On GM front-wheel-drive cars there is a huge problem with the bearings getting a little sloppy, (nothing out of the ordinary), but that is enough to cause dropouts from the anti-lock brake wheel speed sensors. Those sensors are also built into the bearing so you get to buy that part too even if it isn't needed. I haven't heard of that signal dropout issue on the trucks. No other manufacturer I'm familiar with uses sensors inside the bearings although I'm sure there are some.
The first thing that got my attention was when you were told $80.00 for a new bearing. Not on any GM product. That was even a little high for an older Chrysler or Ford bearing but those took a long time and special tools to install so the labor was much higher. Your bearing can be replaced in less than an hour including a test drive. That is the advantage of the more expensive hub assembly.
A typical GM bearing costs in the area of $150.00 to $250.00. As a point of interest, the FWD car bearings WITH the ABS sensor costs a lot less than the exact same bearing without the sensor so we always buy the one with the sensor and just don't connect it if it isn't used on that car. The dealers' scrap metal bins are full of those wheel bearings. They are perfectly fine for cars without ABS, but the play they develop often occurs within 15,000 miles.
Did you notice any looseness in the wheel / steering, or was there any humming noise? I guess I'd like to know how they found a problem if you weren't noticing anything.