Over the past few years, our Pewter Rocket C5 has undergone numerous high-speed track tests in search of journalistic truth. These evaluations have included many laps at Road Atlanta and Moroso Motorsports Park, most of them quite spirited. Recently, we began hearing a low-pitched humming noise coming from the front suspension. The sound would cease when the steering wheel was turned hard in either direction. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that the car's front wheel bearings were the culprit.
We contacted Paul Lesinski, marketing manager for Corvette-suspension specialist Van Steel, and told him about our problem. Lesinski invited us to bring the Rocket by the shop for an inspection. After confirming that the car's front bearings did indeed need to be replaced, Lesinski recommended that we install the company's new heavy-duty front hub bearings (PN FB-9708 HD), which retail for $279.99 each. He even had an opening in the shop's work schedule if we wanted to have the job done that day. Seizing our opportunity, we grabbed our camera and got to work.
We had none other than Van Steel owner Art Dorsett perform the work. The first side took a little longer than usual, since someone kept poking his camera into the middle of the action. Fortunately Dorsett is a very patient chap, and he managed to get through the job without setting upon your author with a crescent wrench. With one side done, we had a chance to compare one of our stock bearings with the new Van Steel unit. The difference was obvious. The surface of the Van Steel bearing was much larger, and the quality was superb. With photos in hand, we left Dorsett alone to do the second side, a job he completed in a little less than an hour.
Once the car was back on the ground, it was time for a quick testdrive. The previous suspension noise had disappeared, no trouble codes were illuminated, and everything worked perfectly. If you've piled the miles on your Corvette, or if you participate in any sort of competitive driving events, it's probably a good idea to have your front wheel bearings checked. If you find that they're due for replacement, Van Steel's HD units are an effective, low-cost fix.