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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 10-25-2010, 09:05 AM   #1
Top_Bunk
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Wheel Bearings - OEM vs Duralast vs Timken

A little over a month ago, I replaced my front wheel bearings/hubs. Considering the cost of OEM bearings and the fact that it was a Friday night, I started shopping around (flame suit on). I thought it would be a great time to review the wheel bearings that are available for our cars. This is not a DIY, but more of a review of the bearings themselves.

OEM - $220 (Edit: $150 - $170 from sponsors)

Of course there is no denying OEM quality. It is certain to fit, certain to work, and certain to provide the same experience that your car did when new. These bearings were quiet and provided very little rolling resistance, although their free-spinning characteristics may have been because of the miles on them, and the absence of grease. I don't have a new OEM bearing to review, but what can you really say? They are OEM and quality. Below is one of my used OEM wheel bearings. Please note the marked groove in the seal, this will be important later.





Timken - $107

I try to support local (Timken is local), but I will be as objective as possible. The Timken bearings appeared high-quality, and are packaged nicely. The bearing and ABS magnet assembly appeared identical to OE, and it came with a nice plastic alignment tool already in the bearing. Installation of the bearing was a breeze. The Timken bearings seem to have slightly more rolling resistance than my used OE bearings. Below is a picture of the Timken bearing, again please note the groove in the seal.





Duralast - $78

They say you get what you pay for, and in this case it rings true. The bearings themselves seemed to be high quality, however the ABS magnet assembly appears to be cut instead of cast, and is quite different than OE. This unit came without an alignment tool. It was difficult to slide the bearing onto the spindle, and the inner race popped out of the bearing in the process. After replacing the inner race and sliding the bearing on, it became obvious that the assembly was rubbing the dust shield. Remember the groove that was in the OE and Timken? It is not present on the Duralast. These bearings are a no-go. Below are pictures of the duralast bearing, and the dust shield that it rubs against.







Conclusion:

OEM is always the best part to put on your car. If you are in a hurry and cannot get OEM at the moment, or if you are thrifty (both were applicable in my case), the Timken bearings can be a viable alternative that will accomplish the same task. I have put about 5000 miles on these Timken bearings so far with no issues. This is in just over a month - I drive a lot. If any issues do arise, I will be sure to update this thread. Hope this helps someone.

Last edited by Top_Bunk; 10-25-2010 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:35 AM   #2
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Thanks for the review spage...
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Old 10-25-2010, 11:03 AM   #3
imdbui
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Thanks for the review, I will be doing my front bearing this week and will be using OEM. You can get front bearings from some of the sponsors on here for $150.
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Old 10-25-2010, 11:48 AM   #4
Devan Scovern
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Helped a lot ! Have had front passanger bearing out for a while lol.. thanks !
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Old 10-25-2010, 12:00 PM   #5
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Before this car, I had always found Timken bearings to be some of the best on the market. Thanks for the review.
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Old 01-10-2011, 05:10 PM   #6
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Would like to report about 10,000 miles with no problems yet.
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:58 PM   #7
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i've ran timken on my civic and they were good to go, going to do all 4 corners on both e46's this year sometime if all goes well
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:30 PM   #8
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glad to see the support for one of the biggest employers where I live! I have never really researched Timken's bearing quality, but I am happy to see that it is good and maybe better than the OEM bearings which I believe are made by FAG GmBH. Of course, nothing beats Japanese bearings like NTN or NSK.. but that's wishful thinking. As my sig suggests, a non-OEM bearing would suffice in an emergency. But, I would rather stay stranded before I would put autozone china crap on my car.

to the OP, brand new bearings should always feel a little tight and have some preload until they've had time to roll and set in. Then they will smooth out.

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Cheat Sheet:

GT1/ISIS/MoDiC = Factory authorized diagnostic system used by BMW dealerships across the world.

NCS Expert = BMW Factory R&D programming tool available on the internet (not intended for the public and not available to the dealership network)

OEM = Genuine BMW part only available from a franchised BMW dealership.

DME = Engine Management Computer

Last edited by iansanderson; 01-10-2011 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:32 PM   #9
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^ Yup, they sure did! They roll just as easily now as the old bearings did.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:37 PM   #10
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Interesting ... thanks for posting with pictures.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:11 PM   #11
cincinnati
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Has anyone ever thought about using "ceramic wheel bearings" there a little more costly im sure..... but they roll so effortlessly !
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:16 PM   #12
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Thanks for the review.

As usual, OE/OEM outperforms all others.


Quote:
Originally Posted by spage View Post
Conclusion:

OEM is always the best part to put on your car. If you are in a hurry and cannot get OEM at the moment, or if you are thrifty (both were applicable in my case), the Timken bearings can be a viable alternative that will accomplish the same task. I have put about 5000 miles on these Timken bearings so far with no issues. This is in just over a month - I drive a lot. If any issues do arise, I will be sure to update this thread. Hope this helps someone.
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:38 PM   #13
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My 120k miles minimum BMW bearing beats your 5k miles Timken, no contest.

Today I bought a BMW rear bearing for a 100 bucks. I was almost tempted to buy a cheaper alternative. Then I asked myself: do I want a bearing that's been proven to do 120k miles minimum, or do I want a bearing with no proven track record in performance or fitment ? So I called the dealer parts guy.

Last edited by GoingNuts; 04-18-2011 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
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My 120k miles BMW bearing beats your 5k mile Timken, no contest.
Shut your Isle of Dogs mouth. You've had your car for three years and put less than 10,000 miles on it. You have no idea what bearings your car has, let alone how much mileage they have.
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoingNuts View Post
My 120k miles minimum BMW bearing beats your 5k miles Timken, no contest.

Today I bought a BMW rear bearing for a 100 bucks. I was almost tempted to buy a cheaper alternative. Then I asked myself: do I want a bearing that's been proven to do 120k miles minimum, or do I want a bearing with no proven track record in performance or fitment ? So I called the dealer parts guy.

One of my OE bearings was shot at just over 40k. Hence me working on them, hence this thread.

I'm not doubting that OE is the best... matter of fact, I think I stated that. However with the short life of the "best" I decided to give another brand a shot. Just over 15k on the Timken so far, no issues yet.
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:58 PM   #16
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FWIW - I have 60K/8+ yrs on the original factory bearings.

If/when they go, I'll be buying OE once again.
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:01 PM   #17
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Since we seem to be comparing bearings here, I've got over 7 yrs and 116k mi on my stock bearings and they're holding up just fine to all the abuse my heavily modifed car throws at 'em.
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:45 PM   #18
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Thanks for the review. How did you know you need them and where did you get your Timken for $107?
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Old 05-07-2011, 09:11 AM   #19
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Thanks for the review. How did you know you need them and where did you get your Timken for $107?
Timken distributes through several of the chain auto parts dealers (Napa, O'Reilly, Autozone). Check your local chain stores to see who carries them, I found mine at Autozone.


Here is a good video of an E46 with a bad wheel bearing. Thanks to BimmersGarage for the video!

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Old 05-07-2011, 02:21 PM   #20
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when people change their bearings they always recommend removing the ABS sensor because they are afraid of damaging it. when i replaced my bearing I dont SEE how removing the bearings could ever damage the sensors. can someone explain?
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