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Discussion Starter #21
It's in the shop manual. On these cars it's a three-step procedure -- tighten to 100ft/lb, loosen the nut 180 degrees then re-tighten to 175ft/lb. I believe that nut is also "must-replace" (it is on most vehicles and any time you have a procedure like this it's usually a must-replace fastener -- ditto any time you have a "tighten to X ft/lbs + Y degrees" that's a yield fastener and has to be replaced when loosened.)
Is this something a competent mechanic would know to do? Do they have some kind of reference to look up?
 

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They may not have the exact figures but I bet they can look it up. A competent mechanic will see the wheel bearing design and understand how it works -- and that it requires the proper torque procedure on the axle nut or it will fail.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
I have an update. I happened to be speaking with my father last night and he reminded me about this mechanic he used to go to who runs his own shop before he started leasing. I also went him to a couple times maybe 15 years ago when I was driving older cars.

Turns out he is still there and he told me to bring it in today and we went for a test drive. He heard the noise and said it's definitely the bearing. He played with the wheel a bit too as he drove at lower speed and he noted that it was more pronounced with the wheel turned into the bearing more. He doesn't think anything else is wrong with the car.

He called a couple places for the part but even with his shop discount they wanted like $200 - 400. He told me to buy it online and he'll install it and charge me 1.5 hour labor. He recommended Timken and I found the part here https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=5472774&cc=3442246&jsn=1712&jsn=1712

I really like this guy. Seems extremely honest. We even chatted for like half an hour about car stuff and he was telling me some funny stories.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
They may not have the exact figures but I bet they can look it up. A competent mechanic will see the wheel bearing design and understand how it works -- and that it requires the proper torque procedure on the axle nut or it will fail.
Is this it?
https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=495223&cc=3442246&jsn=1722&jsn=1722

It is $2.50 and while my mechanic said you don't have to replace it if you take it off correctly, maybe I should add it to my order just in case?
 

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I don't know if that's the precise one for this vehicle but yeah, axle end-nuts are one of those things on sealed-bearing cars (where you have a two-stage torque spec) that I replace whenever they're disturbed.
 

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Discussion Starter #26 (Edited)
New wheel hub assembly is in and car feels great again. The old hub had a lot of play in it, so it was definitely that.

He also found the tire on that wheel was wearing unevenly and feathering so he rotated the tires. While doing so, he found my rear tire had a nail in it very close to the sidewall 😭. He plugged it and its holding but he said to consider getting a new tire. He also said I might need an alignment based on the wear he was seeing on the front tire. He doesn't do tires or alignments but he recommended some places.
 

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I'm not familiar with the hub assemblies on these cars. Is it bolted or pressed into the spindle? If the spindle wasn't removed you shouldn't need an alignment if only changing a bearing. However given the circumstances that caused the damage I would recommend spending a couple bucks to get one. It may correct a small side issue caused by impact or possibly find other secondary damage.

It would also help mitigate any further tire damage caused by an existing condition and prolong existing tire life, if the tires are good enough.

If getting new rubber, which it sounds like may be in the cards, it's absolutely worth getting the alignment.

Typically a reputable tire shop will refuse to repair a puncture within about an inch or so of the sidewall / shoulder of the tire. Stresses under normal use are higher in that area and performance of a pug or patch cannot be guaranteed. It could cause a safety issue if that repair fails, especially at speed. That's not to say a repair won't work - but there's a higher chance of failure post-repair and the liability associate with completing that repair is too high. I'd take it to a reputable tire shop and get their opinion. It sounds like your mechanic was a nice guy and bought you some time with it but I'd get it looked at.
 

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If he plugged no shop will touch it. Once you use a plug in a tire it's condemned if a tire shop gets their hands on it and they won't re-mount it and give it back to you either.

You're right @dadscar as to why they won't repair anything too close to the sidewall -- so if you do it then you take the risk. They won't. If it leaks you'll get a TPMS warning, probably, before it blows up on you. The risk that you might ignore it or might not get the warning, and the failure may be sudden is why they won't go anywhere near it; if that happens and you get seriously injured or die they'll get tagged.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Typically a reputable tire shop will refuse to repair a puncture within about an inch or so of the sidewall / shoulder of the tire. Stresses under normal use are higher in that area and performance of a pug or patch cannot be guaranteed. It could cause a safety issue if that repair fails, especially at speed. That's not to say a repair won't work - but there's a higher chance of failure post-repair and the liability associate with completing that repair is too high. I'd take it to a reputable tire shop and get their opinion. It sounds like your mechanic was a nice guy and bought you some time with it but I'd get it looked at.
If he plugged no shop will touch it. Once you use a plug in a tire it's condemned if a tire shop gets their hands on it and they won't re-mount it and give it back to you either.

You're right @dadscar as to why they won't repair anything too close to the sidewall -- so if you do it then you take the risk. They won't. If it leaks you'll get a TPMS warning, probably, before it blows up on you. The risk that you might ignore it or might not get the warning, and the failure may be sudden is why they won't go anywhere near it; if that happens and you get seriously injured or die they'll get tagged.
My mechanic runs his own shop by himself (3 car garage). He's been in business 30+ years and he does some impressive work. He didn't want to leave the nail in the tire because he said it will tear it up, so he tried buy me some time with a plug. He did strongly recommend to replace the tire and he got a few quotes for me. He doesn't do tires, but he got some quotes from shops that he has a relationship with that will give his customers a discount. Same goes for alignment.

That being said, I had an rx8 at one point and blew a tire on a pothole. I limped a few feet to a shop and there was a small hole on the sidewall. The guy plugged it with the plug sticking out and told me to get it replaced ASAP. It did hold for a few days until I could get a new tire.

I think maybe bigger shops won't do it, but smaller shops will try to help you out. I now wish maybe I would have opted for that tire and wheel insurance the finance guy tried to upsell 😭
 

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Low profile tires are high-risk things, especially if you live where the roads are crap. I owned exactly one vehicle with them years ago while living in Chicago and two wheels and tires later said "never again!" Up until that point I'd never lost a wheel or tire to a pothole, and haven't since either..... so... yeah.
 
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