If you’re in need of wheel bearings for your truck, van or 4×4, you are likely to get sticker shock when you see the price. The good news is almost all OEM auto manufacturer branded wheel bearings are simply re-boxed, off the shelf bearings that you can source for much less money and we’re not talking about auto parts stores.
Bearings (AKA cones) and the metal rings they ride in (called races or cups) are common parts in all sorts of machinery and believe it or not, there are probably bearing supply house businesses located nearby, wherever you are in the country. Many of these bearing warehouses also have online ordering and many parts can even be purchased on Amazon. But there is a catch. The bearings sold at your local auto dealer or auto parts stores will be referenced by part numbers associated with the brand of vehicle you have, say Toyota, GMC, Ram etc. However, once you buy these parts and open the box, you will see that the bearings are actually manufactured by a bearing company such as Koyo, Timken, Schaeffler, KML or others and have different numbers stamped into the bearings and races from the auto manufacturer’s part number. These numbers that are stamped into the bearing and races are what the bearing warehouses go by. Most of these suppliers will not be able to lookup the parts you need for your vehicle.
So the trick is to determine the exact bearing part numbers you need, not the auto manufacturer’s part numbers. The bearing part numbers will actually be the same or nearly identical from one bearing manufacturer to the next. Since bearings are used in industrial applications, the bearing warehouse industry has very good logistics and as long as you provide correct part numbers should be able to get you the exact bearings and races you need, as fast if not faster than your local auto parts store but at significant savings.
For example, see the below comparison for front wheel bearings for a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser.
Toyota OEM Part numbers: 903684908477 (9008036064; 9036849084)
Toyota OEM MSRP: $74.39 (bearing only, plus shipping)
Toyota OEM Bearing Manufacturer: Timken or Koyo, above part is Timken.
So now you know that the OEM manufacturer Toyota used for this bearing in this particular application is either Timken or Koyo, both known for manufacturing high quality bearings.
NAPA sells the same part made by other manufacturers (BRG, ATM, PGB) for approximately $29.99 for the cone and an additonal $12.99 for the cup, for a total of $42.98 (approximately 42% savings off dealer pricing). Not bad, but who knows anything about these manufacturers? They may be fine but they may be garbage, why not try to get the OEM spec’ed brand?
If you then go to Amazon and type in wheel bearing, then select make sure this part fits my vehicle and enter your vehicle information, you will filter the wheel bearing results for those that fit your particular vehicle.
We know that the OEM manufacturer for my 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser was either Timken or Koyo, so we then filter the Amazon results for Timken wheel bearings, and we can see the same exact part that Toyota sells for $74.39 plus shipping, is available on Amazon for $27.79, with a race and free shipping!! That’s at least a 63% savings since the new race is included!!
If you were to purchase all new wheel bearings and races for this vehicle at the Toyota Dealer, the eight bearings alone, without races would run you over $600.00. Alternatively you can purchase the same exact parts from a bearing warehouse selling via Amazon that will run you only $222.00 shipped, saving you $378.00!!