How to test rear arm bearings?

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adamskibx
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How to test rear arm bearings?

Post by adamskibx » Sun Sep 03, 2006 6:56 pm

Is it just a case of unbolting the anti roll bar and feeling for play? I have an incling mine are on the way out now the car has got to 50,000 miles as it seems less planted in the dead ahead position. The steering also seems very light at the dead ahead area, and I think this might be a tracking issue as I left the car in low when it was dark the other day and hit a very nasty rut in the road. If you sort of let go of the wheel on a straigt road, it will, eventually, track to the right, and more you let it do it, the more extreme it gets. I think the o/s caliper might be sticking slightly, so I suppose bad tracking will allow that to pull it off more easily. Its going up on ramps next weekend to have everything looked at and adjusted while I change the clutch, so hopefully ill have a plan as to what needs sorting then. The other thing I have noticed is a hollow clunking sound when on full left lock, so I expect that will be a CV joint too.

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Post by AndersDK » Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:49 am

Before suspecting any mechanical tracking faults - inspect your tyres and their inflation carefully.
I've just had a weeks driving with strange pulling to the right and thought I might have hit a kerb offsetting the tracking. Nope - it was simply a near flat rhs front tyre.

You cant really check the rear arm bearings. What you do is to look for symptoms from bad rear arm bearings.
Unless you want to dismantle the bearings - and then you are in the process of replacing the lot anyway.

Engine idle & height to normal. Walk back some 6-10 meters straight from rear of car, kneel down and judge the rear wheel camber. No camber should be appearant - i.e. straight vertical wheels.
Note that in case of a failure - one side wheel is most likely worse than the other.

Its important to judge from the distance mentioned. Else the angle view from too close up will cheat you to think they are failing.
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Post by adamskibx » Mon Sep 04, 2006 11:05 am

Thanks Anders. Could I use a giant Set square on perfectly flat ground? I can never tell whether they lean in or not because, like you say, the perspective makes it difficult. Or I suppose a clever spirit level, making comparisons between the ground and the vertical edge of the tyre might do it. I would have tried this before but I didnt realise the BX camber was perfectly neutral. Cheers. Adam

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Post by Brian » Mon Sep 04, 2006 11:20 am

I used this method, but make sure the car is very well supprted on secure stands, so as to let the rear wheels dangle.

1. Car on stands as above high enough to allow access under.
2. Height lever to low.
3. Place youself underneath and push the wheel at the bottom with you feet hard, on and off and observe and movement at bearing end of the arm.
4. Repeat on the other side.

If they are very worn, you can feel / hear the movement just with strong hand pressure from the outside of the car...

Good luck

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Post by DLM » Mon Sep 04, 2006 12:39 pm

I'd go along with Anders' visual test - it's vital to get far enough back though. Clunk on entry to parked car = fairly bad wear too. I wouldn't expect a pull to one side or t'other , just a tendency for vagueness and drift from the rear without any noticeable pull when driving straight ahead. If the internals are corroded, then there may be very few symptoms at all, but any stiffness and reluctance in rear suspension movement that can't be put down to spheres is another clue.
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Post by ken newbold » Mon Sep 04, 2006 8:17 pm

I have just done this test on mine and it confirmed what I thought.

Put the car on axle stands, release all pressure from the suspension system and ensure the arms move freely. Then take a long bar and insert between the rear arm and the subframe, both above and below the arm.

Lever against the subframe and watch and feel for any movement in the bearings.

If in doubt take the arm out and try turning the bearing 360 deg. If it doesn't it probably need new ones anyway.

Tip. If your contemplating doing this job, get under the car the week before and oil up the exposed rusty threads of the rear arm pivot bolt and also try to soak in diesel the R clip that goes through the push rod assembly and the rear arm.
Having just done thee rear arm bearings in the last week or so, the worst bit and most time consuming is getting that R clip out if it beaks due to rust.

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Post by adamskibx » Tue Sep 05, 2006 7:51 pm

Cheers guys thats given me some pointers. Id say its a 90% chance they have gone, and even if they havent, at 50,000 miles their only going to be be 10,000 miles off going considering the age of the car too. The St Tropez I passed on to Vanny's mate had done 53,000 when I bought it, and by 75,000 when I passed it on, I was later informed the bearings ware so bad that the arm was starting to wear and had to be replaced. I put the poor handling down to rubbish tyres and incorrect ride heights at the time, but thinking about it, it was characteristic of rear arm bearing. I suspect its also a lot more noticable in a non power assisted steering car.

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Post by Jaba » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:45 pm

In theory you can look at the central bolt head on the outside of the suspension arm and just visually confirm that the bolt head is in a central position to the arm casting. This tells you only if the outside bearing is not broken up. But is a good quick reassuring visual test while the car is on the ground.

But if the bearings have been in there 5 years or more then they are going to be starting to wear. The only way to stop this premature failure is to fill the arm with grease to both permanently lube the bearings and to prevent the ingress of water.

I have been promoting my solution for many years now. Fill the black plastic sleeve completely with a grease/oil mixture and fit the new bearings . This grease will flow into and out of the bearings continually thus providing that permanent lubrication that they need.
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Post by adamskibx » Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:00 am

Thats good advice Jaba. I think when I change them I shall do this. I heard that the other thing you can do is drill a hole, make a thread, and install a grease nipple, allowing you to pack them with grease every 6 months or so.

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Post by adamskibx » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:42 pm

Right. I went to a garage today to book it in to have the tracking done, as I have checked tyres and so on, and all seems OK. He told me the ride height looks too high, so he wouldnt do it, so ill check that tonight. To be honest, all BX's look too high really. If you put them any lower you get bottoming out problems. Its worth checking though. On closer inspection of the rear arms, the n/s rear wheel does look less than vertical, so rear bearings are a job for October. One thing I have notied about the steering is that when parked, if you steer left and right from the center point quite quickly, there is a bit of a cluck coming from somewhere. Its not so much the slight pull to the right that annoys me, but its the concentration required to keep the car straight on a motorway. So tonight I will adjust the ride heights correctly, and get the toe set corrrectly tomorrow (I think thats all they can adjust?). Then, after that, apart from the possibility of wear in the bottom arm bushes (bearings on a Mk1?), I will put the instability down to the n/s rear arm bearing. It doesnt look that bad, in fact, its hardly noticable compared to most you see with bad rear arm bearings.