Sealed hub assemblies and sealed wheel bearings have become the OE standard for wheel ends in most vehicles. To meet customer expectations for extended warranties, OEMs have replaced the traditional two-piece caged bearing and seal sets with factory-sealed units to maximize bearing life. These units last longer, but inherently cost more to manufacture.
Because the unit price is higher, some technicians and consumers are tempted to use less-expensive white box or private label products. However, even with entry-level price points, the total cost of the repair to the consumer is relatively high. This cost, combined with the extended life of the original product, creates a consumer expectation for long-term, problem-free performance.
The primary difference between premium product and entry-level product is endurance. Premium product will have a life expectancy that is comparable to the OE part. Value-priced hub assemblies, despite misleading claims about “OE quality,” will have considerably shorter life expectancies. Lab testing has shown a huge difference in both endurance and contamination resistance. Feedback from professional technicians on value-branded hub assemblies includes product failure in as little as 5,000 miles, as well as rampant problems with both noise and ABS function. The cost of replacing defective entry product and dealing with unhappy customers is much more than the original “value” obtained by purchasing cheaper brands of hub assemblies.
Premium product is produced by OEMs using the industry’s best equipment, process and controls to ensure a highly consistent and reliable product. Highly skilled engineers ensure premium product will be safe and robust through a rigorous testing and validation process. Value brands deliver lower prices by offering products that are made with lower quality materials and inconsistent processes. Poor machining and heat treatment practices, mismatched components, inferior steel and fundamental design flaws all contribute to the premature failure that is often found in these value-priced hub assemblies.
Do yourself and your customers a favor: when replacing hub assemblies, always install the best product available.