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    Thread: Anyone Break a Hub/axle at a Track Event?? - I just lost one

    1. 05-11-2009 12:37 PM #1
      I just had a massive hub/axle failure at limerock this weekend.
      ~ 90 mph coming out of west bend towards the downhill the drivers side let go and the car shot left then shot right and hooked towards the inside of the downhill. Massive vibration and intermittent wheel lockup on the drivers front. I managed to straighten it out and save the car, but didn’t have enough speed to get more than 10 feet into the pits.

      Basically the brake rotor and caliper, and a little bit of the hub kept the wheel from coming off on me. Rotor ate the AP racing caliper so bad the red paint turned blue and burned off fluid was boiling out of it. Brand new rotor ring is toast, Hub/bearings, probably axle. The rotor eating the caliper probably saved my but because it scrubbed off so much speed I could get it back under control.

      Car has ~ 18 track events on these hubs.
      ~350+ hp, MKIV 1.8T - 5 Speed hubs, 2750 lbs big slicks - driven very hard - was running low 1:03's at limerock.

      I have been having problems blowing outer CV joints/boots on this axle for a while now. Some boots just melt and come apart at Watkins glen.
      I am not sure if it was axle, or hub that let go at this point. Boot seems Ok, but i have been too busy to get into the tear down yet to see the full damage.

      Damage to the brakes alone will be close to a grand to fix.


      I am wondering if these should be replaced every season?


    2. 05-11-2009 07:49 PM #2
      Wow

    3. 05-11-2009 08:27 PM #3
      I broke one last year, didn't know what it was, then was limping back to the pit lane when I drove into a Spec Miata. Poor Miata driver.

    4. Member flyinglizard's Avatar
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      05-11-2009 09:26 PM #4
      20 hrs of track time, change them out. Hubs, bearings. Anytime that the bearing has any pl;ay in it. tighten it and recheck . Change it if it has any slop.
      Guess what> I stock hubs and bearing for most all Dubs, because they do fail.
      MM
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    5. Member Mk1Racer's Avatar
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      05-12-2009 07:48 AM #5
      Sorry to hear about your car, and glad to hear that you didn't crash it. However, w/ what you've described there, a low 1:03 at LRP is not all that fast. The SCCA ITB lap record at LRP is a 1:03.3xx. That was w/ a car that probably didn't make much more than 1/3 of the hp you claim, didn't have brakes anywhere near those, and certainly didn't have tires like yours. Granted, it was a few hundred lbs lighter, but given what you say your car has, you should probably be able to run <1:00.
      Quote Originally Posted by Bladecatcher
      I view a good fart in a steamy shower like a thick, milky bong hit. You just know it's gonna cause some damage once it hits your lungs.

    6. 05-12-2009 09:02 AM #6
      Hey, It's Tom with the scirocco, from patroon? I was there with the mars red scirocco. Remember my old turbo-s beetle? Ate a bearing and drive axle everytime I went to the glen. Would machine the hub face from the body of the hub, taking the outer cv joint with it whilst pulling the shaft through the bearing. No, I never figured out what it was. Gave up running the car competitively because of it. Took that car down to bare shell because the front frame rail was so bent from my west bend tire wall excursion a few years back. Thought it was caused by that geometry being all ****ed up. Haven't reassemble the new beetle chassis i have yet.....p.m. me your info and we'll talk.
      P.S. To MKIracer, claiming he should be faster.....thats what he runs in his street car. It rained that morning and the track was green, only two cars there were in the 59's and I was averaging 1:03's in traffic......come to an event with us and lets see your times.......


      Modified by 1stgen at 6:24 AM 5-12-2009

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      05-12-2009 09:40 AM #7

      It is a VW thing, on the Mk2 we replace the hubs and bearing every year no matter what. On my MK4 I keep an eye on the hubs and check them often if I track it a lot. Once I see blueing of the metal on the hub I replace them. so far that has been every 2 years before I had the golf race car, and only one started to show issues 2 seasons ago since i only track it randomly.

    8. 05-12-2009 10:01 AM #8
      I have run the MKI and MKII for years at the track and never have had a bearing failure....My MKIV however is a fat pig and the brakes dump a ton of heat into the hub. Were talking 3000 lbs vs. 1900lbs. My scirocco doesn't generate enough weight and friction to make that happen. Hence the 12 year old bearings.

    9. 05-12-2009 11:04 AM #9
      Consider yourself extremely fortunate - the Mk1 cars were notorious for front hub/bearing failures even in light cars. Granted the 16v Slorocco is the heaviest Mk1 car out there but a friend who was racing the car suffered enough front hub failures that he replaced them after EVERY race weekend.

      On my portly Mk2 16v (2300 lbs), I used to "lose" a front hub every year until I switched to the later Mk2 spindles ('88 and later). I'm on 1 1/2 years and about to switch hubs/bearings b/c I can hear them grinding.

      For track use, I'd suggest replacing front hubs/wheel bearings on an annual basis. It's cheap insurance compared to using a nice Armco wall (at the Glen) to slow the car after it loses all steering and braking inputs.


    10. Member 2 doors's Avatar
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      05-12-2009 11:12 AM #10
      Quote, originally posted by Mk1Racer »
      Sorry to hear about your car, and glad to hear that you didn't crash it. However, w/ what you've described there, a low 1:03 at LRP is not all that fast. blah, blah, blah....

      Well, that was helpful.

      This discussion is making me nervous. My MkIV is pushing 10 years old and has over 30 days on track with the orignal hubs and bearings up front. Mine have never exhibited any play. I'm not making that kind of power and don't have any crazy brake setup, though. I know my friend and his buddies with Focuses would replace front bearings alot but I hadn't heard about MkIV's being prone to failure.


    11. 05-12-2009 11:18 AM #11
      I thought that VW addressed the problems with hub failures as they produced the Mk3 BUT we're talking about VW. These are the same engineering geniuses who saddled the Mk2 16v GTi with 9.4" brakes (the SAME brakes as the 300 lb lighter, 30 hp lower Mk1 GTi).

      James has the tools to replace wheel bearings on the car (actually, they're at my house). As I said, "cheap insurance" b/c there's usually no forewarning, at least not on the Mk2. The hub nose tends to crack off of the hub - while the wheel bearing is suspect (known to seize and crack the nose), the reason isn't b/c it was loose but rather b/c it was overheated.


    12. 05-12-2009 12:17 PM #12
      I got into the tear down last night. I am an engineer, so i see fatigue failures all the time. The hub was cracked 50% of the way through for some time with corrosion visible in the crack zone and slow crack propagation surface finish before the shear zone so the thing was a ticking time bomb.

      Need the following

      Caliper $555
      Rotor $135
      hat - $200
      Axle - $375 - the threads down low are trashed
      Hub, Bearing, Abs sensor

      I am replacing every Hub/Stub/Bearing/Lug bolt on the car frotn and rear - probably make this an annual change - It's not that expensive PM even with german replacement parts.

      In regards to times I was happy with 1:03's This was a guy with a stop watch clocking times, so i may have sneaked in a touch lower here and there.

      Car is 2750 dry + 2 people in the car puts it over 3K lbs. tom is right, It's a "street car" - I actually drove it there lol. If I strip out 500 lbs I better be close to a minute. Limerock is not a big power course anyways. It's a pinch a hole in the seat through the corners momentum track. ask the M3 and lotus drivers if it was fast lol.

      Thanks for the feedback guys - be safe out there

      tom - Ill see you at the glen june 15th


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      05-12-2009 01:04 PM #13

      Lug bolts should be checked, but generally they are heat treated and do well with long term use. If you go out with new lug bolts check those torque when they are still warm, they will walk out.

      All VW rears are pretty solid and I would only replace the MK4 is you have grinding or play in the bearing.

      Mike - As I said, when I used to track the jetta all the time it was ever 2 years that I would start to see issues or have an unhappy wheel bearing. I did it that often as a preventative maintinence after a friends mk3 VR threw a hub and did a LOT of damage to the car. Matt has my wheel bearing kit, and its a 30-40 minute per side job and the parts are not stupid expensive.


    14. 05-12-2009 02:11 PM #14
      Yeah lug bolts have been on the car for years, but I used to run a lot of autocross with the car and I have probably had the wheels on and off a few hundred times. That and every time the effin thing is broken they come off/on again. I have a fresh set of high grade bolts to throw on there. I just got a real eye opener this weekend that had me changing my underwear and now my approach to safety


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      05-12-2009 02:41 PM #15

      Having a good approach to car prep and safety is good. Going overboard is not. You already are putting a new hub in, so new bolts will streach even more. So make sure you check them often.

      As for the rears, since the generate less heat overall they don't burn out as easilly, but I did have a RR wheel bearing start to fail after 7 years of highway and track use (including rear brake pads that liked to catch on fire at VIR.) So check them and replace if you find any play or hear any grinding without the brakes draging the rotors.

      Replace the other front now, and keep a vigil on them in the future.


    16. 05-12-2009 05:26 PM #16
      Quote, originally posted by 1stgen »
      I have run the MKI and MKII for years at the track and never have had a bearing failure..
      On A1 cars the bearings were never a problem, but the hubs were. When GTI Cup was still going, with 4 or 5 car fields, someone would have a front hub failure pretty much every race weekend. Never had one fail as catastrophically as the OP, but they were still failures.

      Our solution was to mill out the knuckles and use Audi 4000 bearings and hubs. No failures since, including one car that ran a full season plus the 25 hour race.


    17. 05-12-2009 07:12 PM #17
      I had a similar thing happen to my MK4 VR6. ALWAYS Check the front axle nuts after every session. You may consider replacing the spindles if you never have. I have replaced several hub/bearing/axles on my VR6 with much less HP. I had one fail at the track but I was warned with much play in the front end and got off track before it let go. If the bearings slide in the spindles really easy it may be time to replace them.

    18. 05-12-2009 07:58 PM #18
      In all the years of track days/racing ive never had a hub failure. I was pretty good about changing them out every season for fear of failures. I did have a rear wheel bearing/spindle failure that was my fault. I thought I heard a front bearing starting to go bad. Little did I know it was the rear, failed, broke the spindle in a bad spot on the track and I destroyed the car and ended up in the hospital.

      Now im pretty much in tune with replacing front hubs/bearings and rear spindles and bearings. No more freak accidents for me thanks.

      Shawn Meze
      02' Beetle Turbo "S" 84' Scirocco 8V 80' Scirocco "S" 99' F250
      NASA SoCal Spec E30 Series Director.

    19. 05-13-2009 08:32 AM #19
      Whats funny is I was thinking the same thing only the opposite effect. After the 3rd failure I noticed the bearing was harder to put in the hub ....I was starting to think the upright deforms from heavy use/tourque/h.p./braking/heat, etc, etc and the knuckle itself starts to bend. Changing the pinion angle on the c/v nose just enough to cause a machining process at the fillet base of the joint. Which in turn causes the hub to pull away from the car, ripping the threads off the driveshaft and eventually catastrophic failure. Which is what happened to all of mine.....I have a nice collection of hubs and cv ends as paperweights.....

    20. 05-13-2009 01:30 PM #20
      I am running the H2 sport spindles - they have the original hubs/bearings in them. Probably 20K miles, and ~18 track events on them.

      Based on the casting these hubs are significantly stronger than the oem units. They went a little overboard on the wall thickness everywhere. Ball joint is ~ 2" lower than stock to give a better camber curve. Also my lower control arms are 3/8" longer than stock to give more static camber and a wider track.


      Another variable is I changed axles from OEM 6 speed axles to Raxles aftermarket axles. I melted the nylock insert out of the lock nut, so I wonder if I lost some torque on this bolt as well. It was the second time out with this axle. the first even was NHIS, which doesn't load up the drivers side much. Godo news is the axle boot held up to the heat. The axle sis good as new except the threads are trashed where the hub ground them off. Hub sheard right at the ends of the spline on the axle. Another 3/8" longer on the splines would have helped.

      When I get all the parts off the car I am going to get them magnafluxed at work to see if any other parts have cracks forming. We check other parts and I can sneak these in the process. The failed hub looks like it had been cracked for a while before letting go. The cracked areas are corroded so the thing has been partially cracked for a while now.


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      05-14-2009 10:20 AM #21

      I run raxles myself, but like anything new around the wheel I double check the nut after installing new stuff. The heat you generate on the front hub area at the track far exceeds what you would ever see on the street. So that could have helped with the hub failure.

      The H2 or OEM spindles are plenty beefy. I have never had an issue with my OEM and the H2 are even beefier. Just replace both front hubs and bearings, drive the car. And after your first session check EVERY bolt and nut including the axle.


    22. 05-15-2009 07:59 AM #22
      pictures are up - cost total is approaching $1100 but I should have all the parts next week. Stripping the 4 corners down tomorrow.

      The money shot was the damn brake rotor/caliper/pads.

      555caliper, 135 rotor, $200 hawk blues





      Modified by enginerd at 8:02 AM 5-15-2009


    23. Member Mk1Racer's Avatar
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      05-16-2009 08:22 AM #23
      Quote »
      The failed hub looks like it had been cracked for a while before letting go. The cracked areas are corroded so the thing has been partially cracked for a while now.

      That's why guys that race these things change their hubs on a pretty regular basis. I used to change the one on my A1 race car every 4-6 events (depending on event length and which track). I used to carry completely built suspension corners w/ me to the track. They are what got put on when I changed the hubs. That way I inspected all the other components every time I changed a hub.

      The only time I ever broke a hub, I was very lucky. Didn't happen on the track, happened when I was disassembling one of the ones that was getting changed out. I was pushing the hub out of the bearing, and when it came out, the hub fell to the garage floor and broke into two pieces. When I looked at it, I discovered that it was already cracked ~90% of the way.

      I've seen guys lose wheels at the track, it's not pretty. To me, it's worth it to change them out as a regular maint. item.

      Quote Originally Posted by Bladecatcher
      I view a good fart in a steamy shower like a thick, milky bong hit. You just know it's gonna cause some damage once it hits your lungs.

    24. 05-17-2009 02:28 AM #24
      This has happened three times to me. The last time this happened, I put one in the night before I went to watkins glen. I drove one of the two days, and the next day in the morning run group. At about ten minutes in, the hub failed. Sending me off in the carousel. Low quality hubs?
      I have a feeling your gonna continue to have this problem for awhile to come J....

    25. Member flyinglizard's Avatar
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      05-17-2009 10:23 PM #25
      The hub pictured broke quite some time before the drive axle came apart. The axle stripped from the hub being in two pieces. The torque on the hub/axle nut needs to be about 300#. There is short time frame between the hub failre and the axle stripping. Maybe 20 secs and or two brake applications.
      If the brakes pull, for the first time, pull over right now. MM
      The http://www.fwdracingguide.com/ Money back guarantee!, You can go 100$ faster with this 20$ guide
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    26. Member Mk1Racer's Avatar
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      05-17-2009 10:47 PM #26
      Quote, originally posted by 1stgen »
      This has happened three times to me. The last time this happened, I put one in the night before I went to watkins glen. I drove one of the two days, and the next day in the morning run group. At about ten minutes in, the hub failed. Sending me off in the carousel. Low quality hubs?
      I have a feeling your gonna continue to have this problem for awhile to come J....

      Could have been a bad hub, or could have been that the axle nut was not torqued enough. The problem w/ VW hubs was documented in Greg Raven's book back in the late 80's. It was mostly A1 cars then, and probably one of the reasons VW modified the design for the A2 chassis. Regardless, the problem still persists. Mostly because people don't torque the axle nuts enough. Bottom line, you CAN NOT over-torque the axle nut. 300 ft-lbs is not enough for a race car. As I've already said, I used a 3/4" impact gun (IR) w/ 180 psi behind it, to torque the axle nuts on my A1 race cars. If I didn't have that setup, I used a large 3/4" breaker bar w/ a 6' pipe on it, and literally stood on the end of the pipe.

      Sure, you'll get a bad hub now and again (MUCH less often if you use good German parts over BS Chinese junk), but you'll be surprised at how long they will last if you just torque the fark out of the axle nuts.

      Quote Originally Posted by Bladecatcher
      I view a good fart in a steamy shower like a thick, milky bong hit. You just know it's gonna cause some damage once it hits your lungs.

    27. 05-18-2009 09:18 AM #27
      Quote, originally posted by Mk1Racer »
      Bottom line, you CAN NOT over-torque the axle nut. 300 ft-lbs is not enough for a race car.

      Agreed - a friend of mine, a devotee of Carroll Smith and his books berated me for weeks on end that I was damaging the threads and the wheel bearing by needlessly and foolishly tightening the axle nut beyond the factory spec b/c we all KNOW that factory specs are perfect and will allow the vehicle to perform for eternity under "normal use".

      In any case, using the 3FF torque method (3 fat friends bouncing gently on a 3' section of pipe and a breaker bar), I was able to make the early A2 hubs/bearings last one season (10 races) between changes. The later A2 hubs are beefier and can go 1 1/2 seasons although it's "getting to be that time" for my car.


    28. 05-18-2009 12:05 PM #28
      I am getting all German replacement stuff.

      1/2" Breaker bar and my 5 foot jack handle will be used again as it was last time. Ill torque the ****e out of it. I probably had 300+ on the thing last time, though I have had that damn axle on and off about 5 times for CV boot changes/axle changes. Also going to use a metal lock nut instead of the nylock stuff. I melted the nylon out of this one.

      I am also suspecting that MY H2 sport spindles may have been rubbing the boot on the CV at higher speeds. I found a witness mark this time on the spindle on the pass side, though there is ~ .150" clearance on the thing.


    29. Member Mk1Racer's Avatar
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      05-18-2009 12:55 PM #29
      One other thing, use new axle nuts every time you have the axle out. The threads on the nut will fatigue sooner than the threads on the axle. Cheap insurance.

      Also, be careful w/ the breaker bar you use. Use something good like a Snap-On. I have seen cheap ones fail at the pivot pin. I even saw one actually twist the drive end off. Granted it was some cheap Chinese POS that came in one of those "1000 pc. tool kit for $20" deals.

      One of the reasons that Snap-On tools are so expensive, is that they will pretty much last forever (and if they break, they are warrantied). That means that guys aren't spending money to replace them. I know there are other tool brands out there that have lifetime warranties, but IMHO, there's no comparrison to a Craftsman combination wrench to a Snap-On combination wrench.

      Quote Originally Posted by Bladecatcher
      I view a good fart in a steamy shower like a thick, milky bong hit. You just know it's gonna cause some damage once it hits your lungs.

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      05-18-2009 04:06 PM #30

      Of course I broke someones brandy new MATCO breaker bar trying to do just that earlier this year. I also broke a snapon 30mm socket. they where a little on the tight side and a little stuck since I no longer really have to pull all that off the Jetta too often.

    31. 05-29-2009 07:53 AM #31
      Spent last night working on an ITB BMW 318 lol.......


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      05-29-2009 08:17 AM #32
      OH it is so bad do you have any kind of problem to find the new hub.

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      05-29-2009 09:47 AM #33

      Id like to see a true 10/10ths effort on one of those and see if it can keep up with the volvo, vw and 2002.

    34. Member reflexgti's Avatar
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      05-30-2009 12:32 PM #34
      I sheared the hub on my car as well and the aftermath looked very similar to yours. I was coming out of a 2nd gear corner putting down lots of torque when it sheared.

      Steve


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      05-30-2009 12:56 PM #35
      What happened to the threads on the axle? Would the axle nut keep the hub attached to the spindle even after it shears? Unless the axle stub sheared off too..

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