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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everybody,

For those that race their Solstices, what kind of life are you getting out of the wheel bearings front and rear? How well do aftermarket wheel bearings hold up versus OEMs?

How well do the cars themselves hold up? For example, many cars have an Achilles heel or two when you really start to push them. BMW's rear subframes, Miata wheel bearings, etc.

Reason I am asking is I have an RX8 project car and am not a fan of the bearings used on the car, and then stumbled across the fact that the Solstices have double wishbones front and rear....so naturally thinking of converting the RX8 to Solstice double wishbones by using Solstice knuckles, copying the geometry of the Solstice control arms, fabricating my own control arms, fabricating my own mounts, and converting it to a "pushrod" style suspension.
 

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When I was selling car parts we had a couple of catalogues with the bearings used by manufacturers. They pretty much all used the same bearing lines and a given bearing might fit a dozen vehicles.

Somehow that situation changed and car manufacturers started having custom bearings made up (usually by the same factories, SKF, Timken etc.). Only problem is that when the car cease production, they stop making those special bearings after a while. Example - the 88 Fieros used an NLA wheel bearing for the front.

Whatever parts you choose for your Mazda should have a long after market supply time frame.

And the Solstice may not be the best choice anyway - the bearing/hubs need to be changed as a unit and the bolts that hold them to the suspension are prone to loosening - do a search on this forum for details.

What is the matter wit the Mazda suspension and what do all the other owners do/use to improve it?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Good information, thank you for the reply!

I like the idea of changing unit bearings versus conventional bearings, I will gladly pay the additional cost in lieu of convenience.

Although the bolts loosening does not sound enjoyable, probably a lack of proper clamping force due to only 3 bolts...I can probably fix that issue though. I definitely appreciate the heads up, I will do some searches!


As for the Mazda parts, they aren't a problem for most people, but the rear bearings are an awkward press in style that I find annoying, and for common maintenance items I am not a fan of that.

The fronts are a unit bearing style (replace and bolt in new hub/bearing), but aftermarket ones from multiple users have failed in a single event!! The OEM ones last longer, but that is large risk for me to take that they are truly OEM as most tracks I run, if I lose a bearing, its a total loss on the car. Plus they are 200 a piece!
 

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Unless the design is bad or the parts no good or your set up is somehow stressing them, , you shouldn't be trashing bearings on a race car with any frequency. I didn't have to change the fronts (taper roller) or backs (double width ball bearings) on my race car in over two decades of racing.

The Solstice unitary bearings are OK, but you need to check the three attachment bolts for tightness. When I bought my car I used private shop for service and had them check it when it went in for the first oil change. A couple of hub bots were loose ad I had them torque and Loctite them. We check at every oil change and no problem so far since (thanks for the quality control, GM).

Whatever you end you with, estimate how long you expect to own your car (my old race car is sitting in the garage, I've owned it for 50 years). Think about what parts are unique to it and buy OEM spares now. I still have a few engine bearing sets I picked up back in the 1970s, knowing that they'd quickly be NLS.

The 88 Fiero situation is as you suggest - few original front bearings around and some after market reported as unreliable (I ran an 88 GT as my daily driver for 20 years).

PS - if I ever bought a Mazda, it would have been the last RX7 turbos!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That is impressive, and that is what stemmed me to start looking for alternatives was the number of racers having issues, easily half a dozen had the same issue. The rear bearings, I vastly dislike the design as you have to press in the bearing into the aluminum knuckle, and then c-clip it. Then press the hub into the bearing. The fronts I believe are just from Mazda's spare parts bin, and are just not up to the task of racing on Hoosiers?

I paint mark my bolts with luminescent paint, so in about 2 minutes on my Toyota race car I can check every bolt...was a necessity when racing off road.

Hard for me to estimate length of ownership, I am very spontaneous when it comes to cars haha! In fact, just bought a complete C6 suspension while I was typing this.

20 years on a Fiero! I see why you are well versed in their consumable parts haha. And 100% agree on the RX7, they really out did themselves with those cars, but so expensive and hard to find unmolested.
 

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My experience with wheel bearing failures in street cars set up to race has been similar to Bill's. Problems are nearly always caused by "improvements" that change the geometry and the loading to the point that things get over-stressed. Wider wheels & tires that push the track width out will add severe moments to the bearing loading, as will radical camber setups.

Properly set up, bearings that can withstand a quarter of a million miles (or more) of street use won't have any problem with a small fraction of that on a race car.

With aftermarket you may also be getting what you are paying for. Moog and Timken hub assemblies for our cars sell for around $170 each, or you can buy Durago for $70.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I cannot comment on their setups, but mine will likely be far more drastic than theirs and I like to avoid setting myself up for failure when I can haha.

I used to design the machines that likely had a hand in making the Timken bearings and totally agree with you get what you pay for. Often times those cheaper bearings came off the same machines as the premium ones, but were more "relaxed" on the tolerances.

Again, appreciate the input!
 

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20 years on a Fiero! I see why you are well versed in their consumable parts haha.
Actually, it was great. I'd owned an 87 GT for a couple of years before that so was pretty up on their handling and the 88 was a big step up with completely different suspension. I built a 3.2 V6 with turbo for it the took the power from 140 to 300 bhp and with the rear weight bias, 60 mph times were in the 4.5 sec range and 13 flat 1/4 which was pretty good back in the day. And it was pretty much completely reliable ( I probably put as much money into reliability on that engine build as I did for power). It was the first American made sports car that I was even mildly tempted by. The Solstice is the second. They overlapped.

 

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I have absolutely beaten the piss out of my '08 GXP with AutoX and track days with zero signs of OEM wheel bearing failure even with r-compound tires.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That is great to hear, I ended up going with C6 components, although they look quite similar to the Solstice hubs. Oddly enough for the first time in ages I saw a Solstice on the highway (y)
 
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