My car’s been making a strange humming/grinding noise for a few weeks. At first, I thought it was uneven tire wear, but the noise persisted after a tire rotation. Then, the noise got louder and I turned the music up to drown it out. Oddly, this didn’t solve the underlying issue.
I did some research and figured out that it was a wheel bearing problem. A few minutes later, I learned that when these bearings fail completely, the wheel can lock up and/or fall off completely. That’s when I decided I should bring it into the shop and get it looked at before this thing tried to kill me.
One rainy 25 mile highway drive later, I arrived with all four wheels still bolted in place. Turns out, the right front wheel bearing was very noisy and had more or less disintegrated. But you can’t just replace the bearing, oh no, you need to replace the hub too, and then you’ll need an alignment…Also the brake caliper bolt threads fell out and the tie rod was so seized they needed to use an acetylene torch and air hammer to break it loose.
After a small amount of haggling, I got the price down to $908273091732.
This was the second problem in the two years I’ve owned the GTI, and for a car with 170,000 miles on it, that’s not a bad rate. I keep telling myself that the best course of action is to keep this car going as long as possible, and hope that it lasts another two years without any expensive repairs. I can’t afford a much newer car, and buying a cheaper old one would run a higher risk of catastrophic failure.
It’s a balancing act that requires a lot of wishful thinking.