2006 trailblazer ls front wheel bearing concern

gonecat

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
20
Hello. This issue may have been previously addressed by others.
I just started snooping through the forums for more info.
I am not a mechanical genius, but can do some vehicle repairs myself, so please bear with me as I try to explain what's going on with my baby.

I was driving my 2006 trailblazer ls (6cyl 4.3) during heavy rain and drove through some water that was easily up to the tops of the tires.
About a week after, I noticed what feels like grinding or scraping vibration through the steering wheel.
I figure water got in something it shouldn't have. (genius, eh?)
Which seal, I'm uncertain.
If anything below sounds familiar or like a 'common' problem with the trailblazer LS drivetrain, please enlighten me :smile:

I can't hear anything louder from either side of the front with windows open.
I inspected the rotors and brakes all around and all seem fine.
In neutral coasting the vibration doesn't change, so RPM isn't affecting this issue. So I'm ruling out an engine issue. (genius again?)

The scraping or grinding vibration seems to be more noticeable at below 35 or so.
When I steer left to right and right to left quickly, it seems that the noise/vibration is more noticeable for a couple of seconds as the weight of the vehicle shifts.
It's not a wobble or side to side bounce on the steering wheel (like a bent rim).
It's a constant scraping/grinding feeling as if you were scraping a file on a rotor the entire time is the best description of what I feel through the steering wheel. Or what I would guess rusty no lubricated parts would feel/sound like. To determine which ones is the dilemma with my limited knowledge of these vehicles.
Now, there are only so many things that could go wrong with the front end. Only so many parts/seals that could get water in them. I'm HOPING it's a wheel bearing on the driver's side that went bad. But, I also am wondering how a sealed bearing would go bad.
The vehicle has almost 61K miles.

Am I looking at a bearing issue or something much more spendy in the driveline?
Or I suppose the better question is what might be wrong?
Any suggestions on how to moderately easily eliminate certain front end parts as the problem would be appreciated as well.

Thanks so much for any insights.
Steve
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Have you checked the front differential for proper gear oil level, no water inside, etc? Pull the fill plug and take a peek inside. Also worth checking the splined disconnect on the passenger side for any slop where the CV goes in.

If those both check out OK, try this:

Jack up the front end (both sides). Make sure the rear wheels are chocked, parking brake set, etc.

Crawl underneath, grab a hold of the spring on one side, while giving the tire a good spin (may be easier with someone else spinning the wheel). Then do the other side. See if you can feel a transmitted vibration/roughness in the spring on either side.

Would help at least narrow down which side it may be coming from.
 

gonecat

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
20
Sparky said:
Have you checked the front differential for proper gear oil level, no water inside, etc? Pull the fill plug and take a peek inside. Also worth checking the splined disconnect on the passenger side for any slop where the CV goes in.

If those both check out OK, try this:

Jack up the front end (both sides). Make sure the rear wheels are chocked, parking brake set, etc.

Crawl underneath, grab a hold of the spring on one side, while giving the tire a good spin (may be easier with someone else spinning the wheel). Then do the other side. See if you can feel a transmitted vibration/roughness in the spring on either side.

Would help at least narrow down which side it may be coming from.

Hey Sparky, thanks for the ideas.
I will check things here asap.
I'm pretty sure the gear oil is good. It's been only about 15K since I had the differential and transfer case fluids changed.
I know it was supposed to be done at 50K but I had it done when I acquired the trailblazer at about 45K.
But, I will check the front differential fluid to be sure.

thanks again!

Steve
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Reason I mentioned the gear oil is because of the deep water you were in. I just want to be sure you didn't get water in your differential somehow. Similar goes with the disconnect.
 

gonecat

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
20
Hey Sparky.
Thanks for the advice.
I am fairly certain the problem is the driver's side.
Spun both wheels and felt the springs and there's some resistance, which I expected. (Note the calipers and brake pads were off when I checked these)
However, the differential fluid has metallic particles in it.
I will snoop around for more info on that too, but that's really bad news isn't it?

I'm guessing a major repair is in store if I hang on to this vehicle?

thanks,
Steve
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Metallic particles? How big? A little bit of metallic glint from a bit of "dust" isn't too abnormal if the miles are higher and the gear oil is older, but it shouldn't feel gritty at all.
 

gonecat

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
20
Sparky said:
Metallic particles? How big? A little bit of metallic glint from a bit of "dust" isn't too abnormal if the miles are higher and the gear oil is older, but it shouldn't feel gritty at all.

Ok. Dust more desribes it. I see glitterlike fine stuff for lack of better term.
It was glittery in the sun. It was in there a while. Maybe the shop didnt change it.
How many miles does that gear oil last before it starts to discolor to a darker color.
I'd say not from water. Seen lower units of outboards enough to id that.
Well that being said. With the rotors cleaned of rust and the differential fluid changed i can't feel anything odd now.
I may be paranoid but it sounds like the bearing might still be grinding a bit.
The cv joints seem strong. No abnormal play. No odd cv joint clicking while driving.
So guess i will see how it drives and replace the bearings to be sure. Won't hury even if they aren't the problem.
With 61k miles up here, everything under any vehicle gets rusty...

Thanks again.
I can try to photograph what the fluid looks like too.
Thanks
Steve
 

gonecat

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
20
without looking my buddy who works at a driveline shop said if there isn't any movement in the wheel bearing side to side play, etc it's probably a drive shaft bearing that's bad.
He says 10 hours labor just to get at it...
yikes! I can't afford that kind of repair on this truck...

hmmm....

hopefully wheel bearings fixes it... I can do those myself without too much trouble.
 

navigator

Member
Dec 3, 2011
504
I'm not saying your wheel bearing is your problem but your buddy evidently has never had a wheel bearing go bad on a TB. When mine started going out, I pulled them and they looked fine, you could not do any test other than the veer test to tell there was an issue. The only symptom I had was it sounded like I had on mud tires.
When I removed them and rotated them in my hand it kind of felt like the grease was thick in them.
I wasn't sure they were bad until I put in the new ones and went for a drive.
 

gonecat

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
20
navigator said:
I'm not saying your wheel bearing is your problem but your buddy evidently has never had a wheel bearing go bad on a TB. When mine started going out, I pulled them and they looked fine, you could not do any test other than the veer test to tell there was an issue. The only symptom I had was it sounded like I had on mud tires.
When I removed them and rotated them in my hand it kind of felt like the grease was thick in them.
I wasn't sure they were bad until I put in the new ones and went for a drive.

Thanks.
Yeah, for me there's not a way to know with 100% certainty, which bearing is bad. But based on what I've been reading, what I hear and feel tells me a wheel bearing or bearing of some kind. Had the vehicle on stands and spun the wheels. Felt the springs, didn't seem to be an issue on the passenger side. CV joints seem to not have slop. Pretty sure it's not cv related, I've heard that cv joint click on some beaters before. I can't tell just from spinning which end of the driveshaft the noise is coming from, but I can feel it through the spring.
I guess worst case scenario, I replace the wheel bearings on my TB and still hear the noise. Replacing the wheel bearings won't hurt anything. 150 bucks in parts for a job I can do myself with not too much effort or over a grand to have a shop pull the driveshaft, etc.
I guess I will chance my instincts and wishful thinking to save some money and HOPE I don't have to do the driveshaft bearing anyway.
thanks again!
Steve
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
gonecat said:
Yeah, for me there's not a way to know with 100% certainty, which bearing is bad.
That's a classic problem. When the wheel is in the air and you spin it, it's hanging on the bearing and a different part of the race is in use than when it's lowered. If the bearing balls have issues, you can feel it when the wheel is hanging, but if it's just the race, then the weight of the vehicle has to be on it to show the problem.
 

gonecat

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
20
Makes sense, roadie....

Hmmm... now the questions, maybe they should be in a new thread, are about the bearing options.

I would be inclined to think that price is indicative of quality for the wheel bearing hub assemblies I have seen offered.
Are the cheaper bearings, such as those available on auction sites, crap that will just fail quickly?
How much better or longer lasting is an oem or higher priced wheel bearing going to be?
Is it advisable to avoid the 'bargain' priced bearing assemblies?
Just looking for some advice from those who may have tried both the higher and lower end priced bearing assemblies.
I guess a price versus having to replace again type of concern.

thanks much, I'm learning a lot along the way here...

Steve
 

Sparky

Member
Dec 4, 2011
12,927
Usually my best experiences have been with Timken bearings. I did have one fail early on me on my Trailblazer however, but it was covered under warranty so no biggie (and everyone has a fluke now and again anyway). I've had other Timken bearings last forever. They're made in the USA and I would trust them over the noname made in china from recycled junk steel cheapos from ebay or the like :tongue:
 

gonecat

Original poster
Member
Jul 25, 2012
20
Thanks to all who replied!!!
:biggrin:
The tips and advice are helping me enjoy this Trailblazer even more.
Just like any relationship, can't love it unless you give it a couple raps with a hammer every now and then :crazy: to keep it workin' right.:yes:

The driver's side bearing hub was, indeed, what was bad. Nice silent driving once again.

A small block of wood and a couple of taps on the block with a small hammer and the CV shaft slipped right out.
There was a lot of scale/grime buildup in and around the bearing hub seat, which did not surprise me.
Cleaned the heck out of the hub seat and got her reassembled.
I'm pleased at how lucky I've been with the relative ease or lack of supertorque muscles needed to loosen things up on here.
 

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