Driveshaft bearing broken while getting front struts replaced

Tiny
JESSE ALLEN
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 TOYOTA CAMRY
  • 2.4L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • MANUAL
  • 100,000 MILES
I brought my car in to have the front struts replaced. Upon receiving my vehicle back and driving home I began to notice a grinding sound that got increasingly worse as I drove. After bringing to car back the next day to have it inspected I was told that it was the drive-shaft bearing that was most likely damaged during the installation of the front struts with pressure on the drive-shaft with being on the lift too. Now after I have brought my car to this same shop for rear struts replacement /intermediate shaft/Rear brakes and rotors / and brand new tires and wheels plus oil change and basic maintenance less than a month ago and now for the front struts and a brand new air conditioner compressor and condenser plus a bunch of other charges like; alignment and etc. I am really frustrated that I am supposed to pay the $500 it will cost for the new drive-shaft bearing /or the complete drive-shaft section as I was told it was easier and cheaper to replace the part as a whole instead of just the bearing. Since they were in possession of the car when the bearing was damaged and when I dropped my car off there was no sounds or noises and I was told that it is somewhat common that when replacing the front struts it happens occasionally should they be liable or responsible for the costs of the repairs or am I somehow on the hook for the $500.
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Friday, April 22nd, 2016 AT 7:28 PM

12 Replies

Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
No that is not common I have replaced lots of struts wheel bearings etc and never had a axle joint suddenly fail. Something was messed up when the repair was done. Also how much are they charging you for the axle and labor?
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Friday, April 22nd, 2016 AT 8:50 PM
Tiny
JESSE ALLEN
  • MEMBER
Approximately $500 Canadian. So I believe it was the large bearing on the drive-shaft, I' am trying to make sure you know which part I am talking about, but I am sure you do. He said the bearing is pressed on the shaft and it is more work and maybe he does not have to correct equipment to replace just the bearing. Anyways he said that while the car was on the lift I guess that would mean the suspension is fully expanded and while removing or replacing the struts the drive-shaft bearing was damaged with added stress on the drive-shaft. I am just repeating the best to my knowledge what I was told but obviously it may be a complete load of BS for all I know. And also the air condition compressor and condenser were replaced at the same time, which when the brand new compressor I brought them was installed and ran apparently the compressor started leaking fluid everywhere so I got the compressor replaced at no cost but I got stuck with the labor which was $200 and I was unable to recoup that from the parts supplier. So I am already a bit upset. Considering the compressor was brand new and had not been mishandled or mistreated when I brought it to them so for all I know they damaged the compressor in the process of installing it.
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Friday, April 22nd, 2016 AT 9:13 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Unless there is something I am not aware of, the bearing assembly does not get damaged by replacing struts. If I understand correctly, you are saying you were told it can happen from the car being on the hoist too long? That is not correct. Under normal conditions each front bearing assembly holds up over 1,000 pounds of the car's weight, and bumps and pot holes can easily add another temporary 1,000 pounds of force. By hanging in the air on a hoist, the bearings are holding up the weight of the wheel and tire which is around 50 pounds.

What can and usually and will damage a bearing is placing any vehicle weight on it while the axle nut is not fully tightened to specs, typically around 180 foot-pounds. That nut is loosened when replacing the half shaft or the bearing, but not for any other reason or service, including struts. This is what I mean, "unless there is something I am not aware of". Even brand new bearings will be damaged if the car is set on the ground before that nut is fully tightened. They will instantly become noisy and sound like the buzzing of an airplane engine. That will become very irritating but it is not a safety issue until it gets much worse over many months. I have known people to live with that noise for years. Only once did I see one so bad that the wheel was not being held in alignment. It was able to flop around because the bearing had been ignored for so long.

It also sounds like the communication could have been better about how the bearing is replaced. Chrysler used to use a pressed-in bearing that was extremely inexpensive, as in $25.00, but required special tools and about an hour to replace. Ford, and many imports, still use that design. GM has always used a bolt-on assembly. Those can cost around $150.00, (give or take 50 bucks), but if things are not too rusty it can be replaced in about a half hour. That is what Chrysler has gone to. Both types can be replaced in such a manner that the alignment is not disturbed.

Many of the imports now have a hub and bearing already assembled that costs more for the part but is considerably easier to replace than with the original parts. Most mechanics prefer those assemblies because they get the job done faster. Our experience shows people complain much less about the cost of parts than they do the labor charges. There is also less chance of damaging the hub or the new bearing during installation.

As far as who is responsible for this repair, my first question would be if at any time during the recent services that axle nut was loosened or removed. If it was, and it was not re-tightened to specs, you would have noticed the buzzing noise right away. The shop should cover that. If the nut was never touched, the bearing likely failed on its own, and at the mileage you listed, that is not uncommon. If it failed on its own, the buzzing noise would have come on gradually over some weeks, but it can go unnoticed for a long time until it gets too loud to ignore. If other parts were making noises, you could have not noticed a bearing becoming noisy until everything else was fixed. I've run into that a few times where the owner noticed the air turbulence over wiper arms once the wind leak was fixed on the driver's door.

$500.00 seems too much for this repair. The only bearing I found listed for your car is the pressed-in style like Chrysler used in the 1980's. The part should cost around $50.00 to $75.00. I did a lot of these during the ten years I worked for a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership in the 1990's, and each one took about an hour. You do the math to calculate how much they're expecting to charge for labor. What I would suggest is visiting another shop and asking them to provide a written estimate for this repair. Most shops use a "flat rate" guide that spells out the number of hours each procedure for each car model and year should take. That allows every shop to charge the same amount of time, regardless how long the mechanic actually takes. The only variables then are the cost of the bearing and their hourly shop rate. Flat rate does not take into account severe rust / rounded off bolt heads, broken fasteners, reattaching brake pad anti-rattle devices that might have become mispositioned, and weird things like that. Much of that is supposed to be included in the service, but they cannot foresee problems caused by rust, so they may charge for a little extra time for those things. At worst, again, unless there's something I am not aware of, I would expect to charge around $200.00 for a new wheel bearing. Your second estimate will tell you if the first shop has gotten a little exuberant with your wallet.
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Friday, April 22nd, 2016 AT 9:27 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Sorry if I butted in. I did not see any reply when I started typing my novel.

Some people think they can save a few dollars by providing their own parts. That is like bringing your own food to a restaurant and asking them to cook it for you. When the shop provides the parts, they mark them up a little, just like any other store does. Part of that profit forms the fund that pays for the labor when a new part is defective. Part of working on flat rate includes the mechanic does his work over again for free if he makes a mistake. The shop owner should not be penalized, and we know you should not be charged twice. When it is anyone's fault that a new part is defective, which does happen rather often, it is not the mechanic's fault, so he deserves to be paid again since he can't move on to his next job. You should not be charged a second time, so the dollars come from that parts profit. Within the last few years a number of national chain auto parts stores have even started reimbursing shops for the labor of replacing a part under warranty. I do not know how common that is, but unless there's more to the story, you should not be charged to have a defective new part replaced. You asked to have one compressor installed and that is what you should pay for.

To finish my sad story about flat rate, that system rewards the mechanic who invests in very expensive specialty tools and advanced training, has a lot of experience, and works efficiently, (not to be confused with "fast"). If he gets a one-hour job done in a half hour, you still pay for one hour labor, and that is what he gets paid for. He can complete more jobs in a day so he might earn ten hours pay in an eight-hour day. Barbers can earn more the same way. The checks and balances is if he hurries too much and makes a mistake, he does it over for free. The shop looses because the next customer has to wait or goes somewhere else, so fewer jobs get billed out and they make less profit. The mechanic looses twice because he is working for free on one car, and his next appointment got handed off to a different mechanic. You loose because you have to run back to the shop a second time or wait twice as long. It is in everyone's interest for him to do the job right the first time.
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Friday, April 22nd, 2016 AT 9:45 PM
Tiny
JESSE ALLEN
  • MEMBER
So I am trying to figure out if we are talking about the same bearing. It is not the wheel bearing that is in the hub behind the rotor it is the bearing on the front drive shaft /front axle that is apparently not easy to replace by itself or needs to be pressed on and maybe needs some special tools and a guess on why he says replacing the entire section is cheaper would maybe be regarding the extra labor costs involved for just the bearing. I believe there is different parts for a car with ABS and also different parts for auto /manual transmission vehicles. My car being manual with ABS. Another piece of information that may help is that the sound was happening the most or possibly only when I had the clutch pressed down and would coast. It was either non existent or very minimal when in gear.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 AT 2:38 AM
Tiny
JESSE ALLEN
  • MEMBER
Another thing to mention is that I am somewhat friends with the shop manager who I have been dealing with from day one who does know his stuff and is someone I can honestly say I trust but was never the one to do the majority of work on it, but oversees his mechanics working on it and I have the trust because his wages are unaffected by what he charges me and has no reason to overcharge me. He also works at a large chain big name shop and he does not particularly like his boss/the owner. Basically the way he talked to me about it was that sometimes when the front struts are replaced it may push forward /hurry along an old somewhat worn bearing that was close to failure in the process of the strut/shocks being removed and replaced. I have not said anything about possibly being his responsibility for the repair not mine. Like why would it be my responsibility when the noise was ot there when I left it there and only started after I got it back.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 AT 2:56 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
I do not see how the bearing would have been hurried along from the repair it does not make sense to me.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 AT 7:32 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
It is the bearing that the axle shaft rides on?
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 AT 7:38 AM
Tiny
JESSE ALLEN
  • MEMBER
Yes
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 AT 12:21 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Then I don't see how that naturally just went bad from the repair.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 AT 3:34 PM
Tiny
JESSE ALLEN
  • MEMBER
So are you saying that the repair of the front struts has nothing to do with causing the bearing to fail. And would you say that just by coincidence the exact minute I take back possession of my car it fails and that I am on the hook for it or that they should take responsibility for it. I am now really freaking out as I expected my car to be finished and completed after one day like it should have been, but now after having to bring the car back to have the new compressor reinstalled after the first one somehow failed which is odd since the part is known to be a reliable one and they ran all the tests making sure my system was uncontaminated and was clean and working fine. It was even blowing extremely cold air but had possible a compressor clutch issue or just in need of a compressor (knew that was true as I have had five or six separate opinions regarding the air conditioner). So anyways I was also told what was the cause of the new noise I had now so on top of the $200 in labor for the second compressor removal /install. I was then informed of the drive-shaft/Axle bearing repair which was gonna be another $480 approximately. So now after being extremely frustrated with the extra charges and two extra days without a car I just got a call from the shop telling me that there is a clog in the high line from the evaporator to the condenser and the only part they were able to find was one at Toyota for $800. He said I should try my parts guy to see what he can do and after speaking to my guy there is none here but maybe on the other side of the country in Toronto for around $200, but he will not know for sure until they open on Monday. What do I do?
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 AT 4:26 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Like I said before I have never had that problem when replacing wheel bearing or struts the story does not really even make sense to me. As far as charging for the second air conditioner compressor replacement, I do not agree with that and now you have a restriction in the air conditioner?Sounds like this place does not know what there doing. Also Canada law is different then the USA so I do not know Canada law on auto repairs.
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Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 AT 4:48 PM

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