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Old 12-01-2011, 12:16 PM   #1
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Wheel spacers causing bearings to fail?

Can anyone think of a reason why a wheel spacer would cause my wheel bearing to go out. The reason i ask is my truck has been at the dealer getting the brakes bled and looked at due to a "spongy" pedal i have been experiencing. So they replaced my master cylinder on the brakes and bled them, called back saying the brakes hadnt improved. Early today toyota tech called and was saying the wheel spacers or the gusseted spindles may have caused the bearing to fail. Please tell me what you think. Sounded kind of fishy to me. thanks
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:18 PM   #2
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Wheel spacers can definitely cause a wheel bearing to fail quicker. It puts more stress on the bearing since it spaces the wheels out and gives them more leverage on the bearing. I don't see how wheel bearings could give you a spongy brake pedal though...
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:18 PM   #3
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Wheels spacers and aggressively backspaced wheels put more strain on the wheel bearings from what I read somewhere iirc
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Wheel spacers can definitely cause a wheel bearing to fail quicker. It puts more stress on the bearing since it spaces the wheels out and gives them more leverage on the bearing. I don't see how wheel bearings could give you a spongy brake pedal though...
Bingo. Simple geometry and physics.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:24 PM   #5
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also forgot to mention this only happened on one side. i understand about the leverage but i would think it would have happened on both sides.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:24 PM   #6
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Factory setup has the bearing roughly centered (left to right) on the wheel and tire.

Move the wheel inboard or outboard from that, and you can see how the rim is now applying torque to the spindle through the bearing, that likely mow exceeds the design spec for loading in that direction.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChibaChief View Post
also forgot to mention this only happened on one side. i understand about the leverage but i would think it would have happened on both sides.
One sides going to tend to fail first. Replace that one and the other will go eventually.

Minor overloading equates to shorter service life, not immediate failure.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChibaChief View Post
also forgot to mention this only happened on one side. i understand about the leverage but i would think it would have happened on both sides.
If the bearing is bad on one side, the other usually isn't too far behind in most cases.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Wheel spacers can definitely cause a wheel bearing to fail quicker. It puts more stress on the bearing since it spaces the wheels out and gives them more leverage on the bearing. I don't see how wheel bearings could give you a spongy brake pedal though...
I just went through this issue with the spongy pedal a little while back. It was actually caused by a bad wheel bearing. Here's why: The bearing was bad enough that when i would go around a left hand turn it would load that bad bearing on the right side due to normal weight transfer. The load would cause the bearing to wobble, in turn causing the rotor to wobble in the caliper spreading the pads beyond their normal tolerance or gap. When the brake pedal was depressed the next time the pads on that side would move the normal amount but this would not be enough travel to engage the rotor. It would then take a second pump of the pedal to engage the rotor and braking power would be restored to normal. Replaced both wheel bearings and presto, no more spongy pedal. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Wheel spacers can definitely cause a wheel bearing to fail quicker. It puts more stress on the bearing since it spaces the wheels out and gives them more leverage on the bearing. I don't see how wheel bearings could give you a spongy brake pedal though...
Yep. Pretty well known issue in the 'car scene'.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by korslite View Post
I just went through this issue with the spongy pedal a little while back. It was actually caused by a bad wheel bearing. Here's why: The bearing was bad enough that when i would go around a left hand turn it would load that bad bearing on the right side due to normal weight transfer. The load would cause the bearing to wobble, in turn causing the rotor to wobble in the caliper spreading the pads beyond their normal tolerance or gap. When the brake pedal was depressed the next time the pads on that side would move the normal amount but this would not be enough travel to engage the rotor. It would then take a second pump of the pedal to engage the rotor and braking power would be restored to normal. Replaced both wheel bearings and presto, no more spongy pedal. Hope this helps.


I will have to remember this. That's pretty wild sounding, but makes complete sense.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bjmoose View Post
One sides going to tend to fail first. Replace that one and the other will go eventually.

Minor overloading equates to shorter service life, not immediate failure.
when you say shorter service life, do you mean like 2000 miles?, I installed the spacers roughly 2000 miles ago, and the total mileage on the truck is about 15k.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by korslite View Post
I just went through this issue with the spongy pedal a little while back. It was actually caused by a bad wheel bearing. Here's why: The bearing was bad enough that when i would go around a left hand turn it would load that bad bearing on the right side due to normal weight transfer. The load would cause the bearing to wobble, in turn causing the rotor to wobble in the caliper spreading the pads beyond their normal tolerance or gap. When the brake pedal was depressed the next time the pads on that side would move the normal amount but this would not be enough travel to engage the rotor. It would then take a second pump of the pedal to engage the rotor and braking power would be restored to normal. Replaced both wheel bearings and presto, no more spongy pedal. Hope this helps.
very helpful! thanks a bunch Do you recall approximately how many miles you had when they were replaced?
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:35 PM   #14
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also im assuming taking the wheel spacers off would be a good decision then haha
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by korslite View Post
I just went through this issue with the spongy pedal a little while back. It was actually caused by a bad wheel bearing. Here's why: The bearing was bad enough that when i would go around a left hand turn it would load that bad bearing on the right side due to normal weight transfer. The load would cause the bearing to wobble, in turn causing the rotor to wobble in the caliper spreading the pads beyond their normal tolerance or gap. When the brake pedal was depressed the next time the pads on that side would move the normal amount but this would not be enough travel to engage the rotor. It would then take a second pump of the pedal to engage the rotor and braking power would be restored to normal. Replaced both wheel bearings and presto, no more spongy pedal. Hope this helps.
Whoa, crazy but I guess that does make sense. Good info there, I hadn't thought about that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChibaChief View Post
when you say shorter service life, do you mean like 2000 miles?, I installed the spacers roughly 2000 miles ago, and the total mileage on the truck is about 15k.
Shorter service life is arbitrary, it depends on the truck's use and maintenance schedule. It's like any wear part, for example some people are replacing their pads and rotors at 15k miles and some are at 90k miles still stock. Wheel spacers do add more stress to the wheel bearings but how that translates to service life is not an exact science.
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Whoa, crazy but I guess that does make sense. Good info there, I hadn't thought about that!



Shorter service life is arbitrary, it depends on the truck's use and maintenance schedule. It's like any wear part, for example some people are replacing their pads and rotors at 15k miles and some are at 90k miles still stock. Wheel spacers do add more stress to the wheel bearings but how that translates to service life is not an exact science.
Gotcha, thanks for helpin out a rookie
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Old 12-01-2011, 01:51 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ChibaChief View Post
very helpful! thanks a bunch Do you recall approximately how many miles you had when they were replaced?
Hey no problem. I was hoping someone could learn from what I went through figuring this out. I started with the master cylinder too. Ended up replacing that, rotors, calipers, pads, then the wheel bearings when I discovered what was really going on. It was a fun process. But no stealership got my money at least. Did all the work myself.

I had about 86k wheb i did the bearings with about 10 or 12k with aftermarket wheels and tires. 285's on 17x9 wheels. Think that's what finished mine off.
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:42 PM   #18
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As others have stated, wheel spacers do add stress to your wheel bearings. You have to see how far out the wheel backspacing combined with the wheel spacer pushes your tires out.

Also if you have a 2nd gen (2005+) tacoma, the wheel bearings tend to fail a lot more often than 1st gens.

Yours seemed to have failed quite rapidly but maybe its because of a bad batch possibly. I heard they usually go bad around 50-70k unless you are romping crazy offroad. Try out Timken bearings or stick with OEM. DO NOT buy NAPA or other crap.

I have a 99 tacoma and my front wheel bearings went out at 140k including severe offroading. My rears are still holding up it appears. I run 1.25 spacers in the back. Hope this helps.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Wheel spacers can definitely cause a wheel bearing to fail quicker. It puts more stress on the bearing since it spaces the wheels out and gives them more leverage on the bearing. I don't see how wheel bearings could give you a spongy brake pedal though...
worn bearing can cause spongy brakes... what happens is the rotor doesnt spin true anylonger when the bearing has play in it.... the rotor"wobbles" and spreads the pads apart. then when u go to push the pedal... the pads have to make up the space and contact the rotor...
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:51 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trifenix View Post
As others have stated, wheel spacers do add stress to your wheel bearings. You have to see how far out the wheel backspacing combined with the wheel spacer pushes your tires out.

Also if you have a 2nd gen (2005+) tacoma, the wheel bearings tend to fail a lot more often than 1st gens.

Yours seemed to have failed quite rapidly but maybe its because of a bad batch possibly. I heard they usually go bad around 50-70k unless you are romping crazy offroad. Try out Timken bearings or stick with OEM. DO NOT buy NAPA or other crap.

I have a 99 tacoma and my front wheel bearings went out at 140k including severe offroading. My rears are still holding up it appears. I run 1.25 spacers in the back. Hope this helps.
My OEM bearings appeared to be Timkens when removed and compared to the new Timken bearings I bought. Best part is they were half the price of the "Toyota" parts.
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