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Timken wheel bearings for lower rolling resistance

ElectricLove

Member
May 28, 2013
554
314
So, who would be interested in replacement wheel bearings? And at what price?

I have a guy at Timken and have a friend who has dramatically reduced his rolling resistance in a few DIY electric vehicles using different lubricants to pack the bearings. I'm thinking its possible we could figure this out, collectively... But I don't know what that sort of upgrade would be "worth" (ie. what is the budget to make it happen)... Ideas?
 

bpangburn

Member
Mar 26, 2015
84
7
St. Francisville, LA
So, who would be interested in replacement wheel bearings? And at what price?

I have a guy at Timken and have a friend who has dramatically reduced his rolling resistance in a few DIY electric vehicles using different lubricants to pack the bearings. I'm thinking its possible we could figure this out, collectively... But I don't know what that sort of upgrade would be "worth" (ie. what is the budget to make it happen)... Ideas?

ElectricLove, do you have any stats from your friend on "dramatic"?

Anyone know what a SC would charge to replace stock wheel bearings?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

wiztecy

Active Member
Apr 29, 2012
2,905
564
Santa Cruz, California, United States
So, who would be interested in replacement wheel bearings? And at what price?

I have a guy at Timken and have a friend who has dramatically reduced his rolling resistance in a few DIY electric vehicles using different lubricants to pack the bearings. I'm thinking its possible we could figure this out, collectively... But I don't know what that sort of upgrade would be "worth" (ie. what is the budget to make it happen)... Ideas?

Not a big fan of Timken, found their bearings are made in China. I'm very particular with the quality of my bearings for that it can cause serious damage of welding to your spindle if it fails and can leave you stranded in the middle of no-where with a catastrophic failure. How do I know this? I've had Timkens do on my Mercedes, it failed at 70k leaving me stranded. No sign of failure early on to let me know it was ready to bust. Granted I found that in my own taste, there wasn't enough grease as there should have been packed with the bearing side I pulled that didn't fail. But again, I don't parts made in China due to poor quality control, design's that are under spec'd, and the silly games China plays in terms of business. I've dealt with manufacturers in China before and don't trust them! I only buy bearings that are made in Germany and Spain unless its going in my skateboard, and for that I prefer swiss. I also won't buy any dog treats or dog food from China, but that's a whole new story but same point.

I do think we should spin off another thread for bearing talk and start doing our research.

Also its not to late for another group run of the Custom Rotors. I'd still give Tesla some time if you're on the fence about it, possibly they'll come through. But its not the first time they've dropped good things like the big brake upgrade, etc.

I recommend a thread as well to be created for the next rotor group buy to gauge interests and ask questions.
 
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ElectricLove

Member
May 28, 2013
554
314
ElectricLove, do you have any stats from your friend on "dramatic"?

Anyone know what a SC would charge to replace stock wheel bearings?

He says a light breeze will move his vehicle if stopped in neutral on a flat surface... haha!

He believes it is dramatic but he hasn't quantified it in such a way for me (ie. "an X % decreased wh/mi"); only that he feels the difference and it coasts for a much longer time than before...

We can certainly figure out what bearings are best! (in response to the concern about Timken) Maybe they will help with some guidance on what it could be and then we find a part from Miele or some German company... Maybe we can even find a USA manufacturer!

If it is a wheel-hub swap the labor isn't extensive and you really wouldn't "need" it to be done at Tesla service center. If we are going to only get the bearings then you would need to remove the hubs first have them rebuilt with the new bearings and then reinstalled, I'd imagine that'll cost somewhere around $1,000 at the Tesla Service Centers (just a SWAG though). My thought would be that we get a set for testing/R&D (prove it out) then maintain a few spare sets of hubs as "cores" and ship the rebuilt hubs to customers who would then take their vehicle to a service center or auto-shop and have them swap the hubs, then the customer would need to return the hubs so we can rebuild with new bearings for the next guy...
 
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TOBASH

Supporting Member
Aug 6, 2014
678
266
Rockaway Beach, New York
Wheels bearings are a pet peave of mine.

If the bearings are German, OK, but if they are Chinese they are prone to early failure. Japanese is usually superior but occasionally poor quality.

I for one will not be swapping to new bearings. I'm under warranty.

Let's see what Tesla rolls out for the model 3.0 stuff.

Best,

T
 

Electricfan

Active Member
Aug 24, 2013
1,250
283
Houston
Ok, everybody will probably laugh at this, but... if it were possible to dramatically affect the rolling resistance of the car by using better bearings, wouldn't Tesla have done it? I mean they are desperate to produce a car that will go as far as possible right? Why would they ignore something so easy and obvious?
 

Electricfan

Active Member
Aug 24, 2013
1,250
283
Houston
With all due respect Electricfan... Please read about the promised 3.0 changes Tesla is in the midst of rolling out, including brakes, battery, and such.

Thanks! I would love to - I'll google it. I take it they are upgrading the bearings?

After googling, found nothing about Tesla changing the bearings, but I hope they do, and I hope you can get a "dramatic" improvement. I'm just very skeptical.
 
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ElectricLove

Member
May 28, 2013
554
314
Thanks! I would love to - I'll google it. I take it they are upgrading the bearings?

After googling, found nothing about Tesla changing the bearings, but I hope they do, and I hope you can get a "dramatic" improvement. I'm just very skeptical.

I know the physics of it are that we could get improvement... "dramatic" is a relative term, I used it because I was referencing to something that was said to me... Now, I do think an expectation of 5-10 additional miles per charge would be something that falls into the realm of "reasonable expectation".

We are gearing up here to have the resources to test this sort of thing and develop these sorts of things for Roadster owners. We will have a 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 Roadster as test beds within the next few weeks, we are very fortunate that way!!! (the owner of the company I work for has a 2.5, I have a 1.5 and we are buying a 2.0 for R&D purposes...) This means that we have the time and resources (and motivation!) to do things that are now "outside of the scope" of Tesla. Wheel bearings are certainly something we can and will be exploring!

- - - Updated - - -

Wheels bearings are a pet peave of mine.

If the bearings are German, OK, but if they are Chinese they are prone to early failure. Japanese is usually superior but occasionally poor quality.

I for one will not be swapping to new bearings. I'm under warranty.

Let's see what Tesla rolls out for the model 3.0 stuff.

Best,

T

I know there is potential for failure in many things, this is like not using the lithium batteries because they could ignite or a gas engine because it could explode... I am curious what the failure rate would be on Chinese manufactured vs German/Japanese manufactured products; if the German is say 10x better but the failure rate was only 0.01% to begin with (ie. German is 0.001%) I don't think its a risk we need to be overly concerned with. Now, if we are talking 0.1% or greater failure rate, I'd be concerned since this would represent about 1 in 250 vehicles experiencing a failure (4 per vehicle). Certainly some R&D will be necessary, I don't want to develop a "solution" that is prone to failure anymore than you!

Since this is going to be "low volume" I think it lends itself well to using "top-drawer" stuff, its not about the pennies on something like this, I am sure we can find some high quality precision bearings that'll do what we need them to!
 

bpangburn

Member
Mar 26, 2015
84
7
St. Francisville, LA
He says a light breeze will move his vehicle if stopped in neutral on a flat surface... haha!

If it is a wheel-hub swap the labor isn't extensive and you really wouldn't "need" it to be done at Tesla service center. If we are going to only get the bearings then you would need to remove the hubs first have them rebuilt with the new bearings and then reinstalled, I'd imagine that'll cost somewhere around $1,000 at the Tesla Service Centers (just a SWAG though). My thought would be that we get a set for testing/R&D (prove it out) then maintain a few spare sets of hubs as "cores" and ship the rebuilt hubs to customers who would then take their vehicle to a service center or auto-shop and have them swap the hubs, then the customer would need to return the hubs so we can rebuild with new bearings for the next guy...

Sorry...I wasn't very clear with my SC cost question. I was more trying to determine a rough estimate of parts and labor for replacing a set of stock Roadster bearings with a new set of stock Roadster bearings because I think that info would be useful in determining a baseline for pricing an upgrade. 1.5x? 2x?

If the stock parts are relatively inexpensive then a larger multiple would probably work if the results are "dramatic" :)
 

ElectricLove

Member
May 28, 2013
554
314
Sorry...I wasn't very clear with my SC cost question. I was more trying to determine a rough estimate of parts and labor for replacing a set of stock Roadster bearings with a new set of stock Roadster bearings because I think that info would be useful in determining a baseline for pricing an upgrade. 1.5x? 2x?

If the stock parts are relatively inexpensive then a larger multiple would probably work if the results are "dramatic" :)

Oh, I see, yeah, I have no idea, never had it done...

But the actual replacement process shouldn't be more than 3 hrs of labor (~$450) plus the parts, I'd imagine the Tesla parts (new OEM hubs from Lotus) are quite expensive (my SWAG is $200 per hub)... I don't know though...

- - - Updated - - -

Ok, everybody will probably laugh at this, but... if it were possible to dramatically affect the rolling resistance of the car by using better bearings, wouldn't Tesla have done it? I mean they are desperate to produce a car that will go as far as possible right? Why would they ignore something so easy and obvious?

Remember that the Roadster is a Lotus Elise glider, the hubs (I'm almost certain) came from Lotus the way they are and Tesla made no modifications to them, I very much doubt they spent the time to spec any changes to the bearings either, I'm sure they just took whatever was offered from Lotus... Lotus makes a quality product so this isn't a bad thing, but Lotus also makes a 2,000 lbs car that only achieves 28 mpg, hyper-miling is not their forte...
 

wiztecy

Active Member
Apr 29, 2012
2,905
564
Santa Cruz, California, United States
From 2009... Unfortunately the article doug linked to back then is not there, haven't tried searching for it. Did find this link on SKF's website, so it appears its confirmed the SKF bearing most likely was modified from the Elise, most likely for efficiency:

SKF receives Excellent Quality Award from Tesla Motors for Outstanding Performance


Here's doug's post but with the lost link:
"AB SKF is selected to supply energy-efficient wheel-hub bearings to Tesla Motors Inc. for its new 2-seater Roadster sports car. ..."

wheel hub bearings


 
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wiztecy

Active Member
Apr 29, 2012
2,905
564
Santa Cruz, California, United States
Seeing SKF has worked on this (bearing efficiency) from the start, I think this project will be harder than we expect to match SKF's engineering, invested test technology, materials, and miles. If Tesla does not want to go forward with the bearing update we could petition/contact SKF as a group to see if its possible to purchase them directly. I know there's some interest for these bearings on the Elise groups as well, so a higher demand which makes larger companies willingness to work with you higher.
 

ElectricLove

Member
May 28, 2013
554
314
From 2009... Unfortunately the article doug linked to back then is not there, haven't tried searching for it. Did find this link on SKF's website, so it appears its confirmed the SKF bearing most likely was modified from the Elise, most likely for efficiency:

SKF receives Excellent Quality Award from Tesla Motors for Outstanding Performance


Here's doug's post but with the lost link:
"AB SKF is selected to supply energy-efficient wheel-hub bearings to Tesla Motors Inc. for its new 2-seater Roadster sports car. ..."

wheel hub bearings



To me this reads that they provided the bearings for the "Tesla parts" (like the motor) but not likely for the hubs... Maybe, but I wouldn't count on it. Wish I could get my hands on a Roadster hub (that isn't on a vehicle in use) to look at, we can probably do this next week when our 2.0 R&D tester arrives in our warehouse, to get us a starting point. I used to have a bunch of Lotus Elise hubs that were 5-lug but gave those away with the Elise when I sold it, now wish I saved one of those too!
 

ML Auto

Member
Mar 8, 2014
732
746
SW Florida
I believe the hubs are directly from the Opel vx220, which are probably the same as the Saab 9-3 Viggen, as the center specs on the brake rotors are the same as the Tesla.
 

Fritts

Member
Feb 1, 2015
61
26
Herkimer, New York
I'm at 106k miles on my 2013 model s85. I'm having a bearing replaced on Thursday. I'm told that the battery pack must be removed to do the work. Just an FYI for anyone hoping to DIY
 

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