Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: SouthEastern PA
I guess it depends on how far gone the bearing is. My car needs a new rear wheel bearing right now. It usually makes no noise until it heats up (the grease may be muffling it until that point). The symptoms I have are: brakes drag, run hot, and eventually squeal continuously driving down the road. If the wheel and brake get hot enough, the bearing will start to go click-click-click as I drive. The wheel is very hot after driving long distances, especially at slower (city) speeds. It gets hot because the entire wheel, hub, and brake rotor are shifting slightly, causing one of the brake pads to drag on the rotor.
I know the bearing is bad because of those symptoms and the fact that I can slightly shift the right rear wheel when that corner is jacked up.
Now on my wife's car ... Olds Intrigue ... her front bearing was SHOT. Symptoms included vibration at highway speeds, horrible POW noises over major bumps (but not every time), and ugly scraping and popping noises when backing out of a parking space.
To check the bearing, it doesn't matter how the car is jacked up, as long as the wheel is off the ground, the car won't fall, and you don't damage the car. So frame or arm is fine, whichever seems more stable to you.
I don't think it matters how you jack it up to check the lower balljoint either, because of the fact that the shock and spring mount to the LCA itself, not the spindle. So the force of the spring is not really applied through the balljoint in any case. (But that's just an educated guess.)
Owner, 1990 Thunderbird SC, white w/ gray cloth