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carsdlt 06-19-2006 10:37 AM

Rear wheel bearing play...
Hi Y'all

Had my speeder up on the rack this week-end and noticed I had a very small amount of lateral play in the rear wheels, when I gripped them top & bottom - and at the sides. Now the fronts are rock-solid - no play at all, but I do get
some play at the rear. I have also noticed a vauge rumble, like driving on a washboard road surface, at speeds of 70+ that I atributed to drivshaft balance, but now I'm not sure. Is this normal or should I be looking at bearing replacement?



Elio Comello 06-19-2006 05:12 PM

The answer in my 87 Quad was the rear wheel bearings.
I bought premium SKF replacement bearings from the local bearing supplier at about 1/2 the cost of what the major alfa parts outfits charge. Both bearings were shot.

You will need seals and bearing retainers. Retainers are not always available, let me know if you need 2.


Andrew 06-20-2006 11:11 AM

Alfa rear wheel bearings have a fair amount of side play in them, even when brand new. If you don't hear bad noises at speed, or when cornering hard, I wouldn't worry about it, unless the play is extreme. The rumble certainly could be the bearings, though generally you'll hear the bad bearing louder when turning a corner away from it (i.e., left bearing makes more noise, under load, in right turn). There are plenty of other things to make noise/vibrate/rumble in the driveline though.

Front wheel bearings are adjustable and tapered and can be adjusted down so tight that you can't turn the wheel. You do want a tiny amount of play at the front. Rear wheel bearings are sealed units and cannot be adjusted. So I don't think it's a useful comparison from front to rear wheel bearings.

You don't have to change the oil seal in the axle tube when changing wheel bearings, but it's generally a good idea. 2000 have a drive-on retaining ring for the bearing; up through 1750 have a screw-on ring with unobtainium lockplate.

Andrew Watry

Elio Comello 06-20-2006 11:29 AM

Respectfully disagree with some of Andrew's comment.

There is no play in a new (good) sealed rear wheel bearing.

These bearings are sealed and really poorly suited to lateral forces since they are not conical. Once they develop lateral play they tend to be the source of "growling" at speed. That is my experience.

With respect to the oil seals, you should note that the bearings are not lubed by the differential oil. It would be foolish to remove the axles and replace the bearings without replacing the oil seals.

If you raise the rear axle on jack stands, run the car at speed in 5th gear, a stethoscope will let you assess the bearing condition (growl/whine). Compare driver and pass side, listening at the axle shaft tube extremity (inside behind the brake Assy'.

Best regards, Elio

carsdlt 06-20-2006 02:37 PM

Elio & Andrew, many thanks for your input. I haven't noticed a change in sound on hard lt/rt turns, but I think I'm going to do the "stethoscope thing" this week-end when I change out the front pads and bleed the system. I'll lety you know what I come up with. Thanks again, fellow BB'rs:cool:

Ciao, Doug T.

Andrew 06-20-2006 02:44 PM

Agree that it's silly not to replace the seals while you have the axle out. But yes, they have nothing to do with the outer wheel bearing.

My GTV's brand-new bearings had a small amount of movement in them from new, which Tom Sahines (Bay Area 750/101 guru) said is not at all unusual. Maybe a difference between Alfa and aftermarket bearings? Mine came from Centerline, I think.


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