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How do you know if the rear wheel bearings are bad on a 98 Grand Caravan 3.8L and is this something a normal person can repair?


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2015-07-15 19:04:40
2015-07-15 19:04:40

To check the wheel bearing on your Caravan, jack the vehicle up and grab the wheel at the top and bottom and "rock" it back and forth. It you detect movement in the wheel, this indicates that the bearing is loose and needs to be replaced. These bearing assemblies are not adjustable, but generally last a long time. The bearing assembly is retained by four bolts and is relatively easy to change. The biggest problem is rust- remove the bolts and soak everything up with penetrating oil. Hitting on the old bearing flange with your hammer and punch and soaking some more is the secret. Take your time, as it takes some time for the penetrating oil to work, but after soaking it up several times and tapping on it enough, it will come loose.

To add to this answer.....

The bearings are a sealed unit, so that somewhat makes it simple...in theory. I replaced both mine (a year or two apart). The first clue was a somewhat noisy ride. Not any grinding, but more like a whirring. When I pulled the wheel off and spun it by hand, I could hear a slight noise, indicating they were bad.

You WILL have to remove the rear drums and brake assembly, which I would assume you know how to do. Hopefully your drums will come off easily. I have had to work at them sometimes to get them off as well. Once off, you might use a digital camera to snap photos of the brake assembly before taking it apart. I found them handy the first time I did the rear brakes...just to look at and make sure all the springs and other hardware were reassembled right.

Removing the bearing assembly theoretically should only be the four bolts then....but in practice, as the other poster mentioned, it is A BEAR!!! I had to beat the snot out of both my sides for 30 minutes or more to free them up, using a sledge and a pipe from behind. I had to crawl under the vehicle with it jacked up, so I used multiple jack stands and the jack for safety. Again...it may take quite a bit of coercion to free the bearing assembly from the vehicle. Be ready to sweat, swear, and almost give up. But it's a great feeling when you finally knock the bugger free. As I mentioned, I did one...then a year or two later still did the other, even knowing what I was getting into.

I am not a mechanic, just a normal guy who doesn't like to spend a fortune at the garage and who can't afford new cars that don't ever need any repairs. So to answer your question, yes a normal person can do it. If you have done brakes before ( or are willing to try for the first time), that is the most difficult part (if you want to call it that). But be prepared to put a bit of effort into it. Nothing complicated and no special tools are required.

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