wheel bearing needs to get fixed on van

I have a 2002 Ford E350 15 passenger van and the ABS light came on.  I brought it in and they said it was a left rear wheel bearing.  This is a rear wheel drive vehicle.  A couple days later the light is not on anymore.  How much of a danger is an issue like this?
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David Johnson, CD, MVPRetiredCommented:
Wheel bearings are rather important.  They are a cheap and easy enough for a driveway mechanic to do. The last thing you want is for it to seize

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Dr. KlahnPrincipal Software EngineerCommented:
If the ABS fail light came on, the problem is likely to be more than just a wheel bearing.

I dislike to disagree with David, but I've been there, bought those specialized tools, worked on a car with only jack stands instead of proper blocking and support, done that messy job, and that was back in the days when it was still possible to work on your own car.  Today there are too many third factors involved such as ABS and inflation monitoring to name just two.  I can't recommend tackling this without proper facilities.
mkramer777Author Commented:
Does the fact that the light just came on in the last week or so mean that the problem is just starting?  That it might not be at a level that is dangerous or at an advanced level of correction?  Reason I'm asking is we are wanting to take a trip of about 300 miles this weekend and I don't want something to happen.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You should stay close to home until the bearing is replaced. I had a front one replaced recently and the mechanic showed me the old bearing. Very difficult to turn and not far from seizing. Seize and break means you could lose a wheel
Dissagree with all above posts, and your garage comment:
 "it was a left rear wheel bearing.  This is a rear wheel drive vehicle."

"ABS light came on"

nothing to do with left rear wheel bearing...
no sensors in wheel bearings.

You need trustworthy diagnostic testing as to why ABS light came on.

Bearing may also need changin , but only if the mechanic actually looked ...
Again I repeat that  ABS light has nothing to do with left rear wheel bearing.

Find better service or give up & trade in your car for a better brand.


JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Post says the mechanic DID look. So I used that information rather than guessing on the warning light information.
looking good is an impossible way to inspect a worn bearing.
bearing rotation resistance , free play, noise, oil leakage inspection is what I should have posted.

( I was editing my post but was "cut off" from my edit by a new post.)
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I meant by "look" that the mechanic inspected. Sorry for the lack of clarity on my part.
your OK by me,
David Johnson, CD, MVPRetiredCommented:
Points split
It's not a given that wheel bearing issues are inseparable from ABS problems. Many wheel bearings have the "teeth" that the ABS sensor detects embedded in the oil seal of the bearing, and not on a separate toothed ring that is easily seen.
If the wheel bearing is sufficiently worn to affect the sensor then the noise it generates would be an unmissable indicator of a major problem.

In the absence of such noise then the ABS light coming on is more likely to be purely an ABS fault; sensors do go bad all by themselves, and with the separate toothed ring arrangement it's not unknown for debris or gravel to get caught in the ring and break either a tooth or the sensor itself. The sensor cables can also get damaged even though they are supposed to be routed out of harm's way.
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