Rear Axle Bearing

Catastrophic Failure

Imperial Homepage -> Repair -> Rear Axle -> Catastrophic Bearing Failure

The following pictures were taken in June 2002.  The car shown is Elijah Scott's 1971 Imperial LeBaron.  Following a trip from Chattanooga, TN, to Carlisle, PA, for the All Chrysler Nationals, the rear axle bearings on the car failed--fortunately, the car made it all the way home before catastrophic failure occurred.


I hadn't noticed any noise or other indications of a problem until just as I turned into my neighborhood.  As I rounded the first corner, I heard an incredible grinding noise from the rear.  Fortunately, I was only a couple of blocks from home.


Investigation revealed the rear axle bearings had failed.  The bearings were so far gone that the axles were almost impossible to remove.  A slide hammer and brake drum puller were adapted to do the job, courtesy of Robert Soule.

Click on any picture below to view a larger version.



When the axle was finally loose, it was clear that the bearing had totally failed.



The piles of metal shavings are the remains of the collar and outer race.



The roller bearings were equally mangled.



And here's all that's left of the collar . . .



Upon inspection, the bearings were found to be totally dry.  I suspect this was the result of a repair made about 8 years earlier.  At that time, the axle seals had begun to seep axle lube, ruining the brake shoes.  When the seals were replaced, the mechanic evidently didn't realize that the bearings required grease, and instead must have cleaned them under the assumption that they were lubricated by the axle lube.  It's miraculous that the bearings lasted as long as they did, and even more miraculous that I made it home after a 24 hour trip.

 This page was last updated January 26, 2007.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club