If you don't have a scanner, how do you know which wheel speed is dropping out?
I'm not exaggerating when I said these bearing assemblies cause this problem in as little as 15,000 miles. Drive by any GM dealership and peek into their scrap metal bins behind their service areas, and you'll see many dozens of old bearings in there.
The absence of a warning light doesn't mean there's no fault codes in the computer. You are more likely to be correct in this case, but with Engine Computers, there's over 2,000 potential fault codes, but only half of them refer to things that could adversely affect emissions. Those are the only codes that turn on the Check Engine light. You can have any of the other half of the codes, but no Check Engine light.
Very often with safety systems such as air bags and anti-lock brakes, when a problem is detected, the computer sets a fault code, turns the system off, and turns on the warning light. If that is an intermittent problem that currently is not acting up, or is one that you corrected, the warning light may go off the next time the engine is started, but if that code wasn't erased, it will remain in memory for a predetermined amount of time. That gives you time to review stored codes and make a note of them in case the problem occurs again.
The point is don't assume there are no fault codes just because the warning light isn't currently on.
One way do-it-yourselfers and inexperienced mechanics often hasten the failure of a new wheel bearing is improper installation procedures. Specifically, the axle nut must be torqued to specs with a click-type torque wrench, and that must be done before any vehicle weight is placed on the bearing. Many people will install the wheel / tire, then set the tire on the ground to hold the half shaft from turning so they can tighten the nut. It's too late at that point. The damage has been done and the new bearing will be noisy. An easy way to hold the shaft is to drop a screwdriver or punch into a cooling slot in the rotor, then torque the nut.
Also, the torque value is real high on some GM models. 180 foot pounds is a common value for many cars, but it can be as high as 240 foot pounds on some GM models. If a person was to simply guess at how tight to make that nut, it is likely they won't get it tight enough. The play that develops in these bearings that allows the wheel speed signals to drop out is so small, that insufficient tightness of the axle nut can lead to that problem occurring sooner.
The sensor itself is nothing more than a coil of wire. There's no electronic circuitry in it. It isn't likely to short because the internal connections aren't close enough to each other. Since it is extremely fine wire, it would be more likely to go open circuit if one end of the coil would contract in cold weather and tear off its connection. The engineers accounted for that in the design, so that is not likely to occur. If it did, you'd have a fault code and a warning light, and the system would stop operating. That would be very rare, and your system is still working. It's just activating when it isn't supposed to.
When you do get a fault code related to an open circuit, it is going to say open circuit detected "in the circuit", not "in the sensor". By far the better suspect will be corrosion between two mating terminals in the sensor's connector, or its wire has been cut, or less commonly, a wire has cracked apart due to repeated flexing.
Thursday, February 18th, 2021 AT 6:06 PM