How do you know if you need bearings replaced ? I have a Mazda3 hatchback that does need shocks. I was shown the front left strut is leaking too (es that make sense?). The car has 150,000 miles on it.
No easy answer on what to fix first, a bent rim would need to be replaced if it is causing the wheel to shake, which in turn causes stress on the wheel bearings. A bad wheel bearing will make noise, and develop play that you can feel by having the car jacked up and moving the wheel back & forth to check for play. Also a wheel bearing can still be tight but it would start making a growling noise. The struts are on their own, smooths out the bumps you go over, sounds like they are just worn out.
On the bearings, I am assuming that you mean wheel bearings, you will hear a whirring noise that increases as you go faster and may change pitch when you make a turn, it is rare that all the bearings will go bad at the same time, usually the fronts go out first, as these could seize and lockup a wheel these should be done first, but you have a double whammy as a bent rim can damage a new bearing if the wobble is great enough, the shocks are a different matter, if you just drive your car in town at slow speeds nothing above 45 MPH and your shocks are still damping even slightly you can get by for a while but when you bounce the the front or the rear of the car and it continues to rebound more that 5 times then it is time to replace them. I bought a Mazda 3 at an auction once that the rears were so far gone when you drove down the road the rear just bounced up and down it was hard to control, it was a workout just getting it to my shop, it had other problems but I chose to replace the struts first due to control issues, after that it handled rather nicely. HTH
shocks ARE struts- just older-style- don't worry about the bearings- they will start screaming and let you know-
The bent rim will cause the car to vibrate and the bad shocks will cause the car to bounce and ride badly. You really need to fix both as they can be a safety issue. If you can't afford to fix all the struts then fix the worst pair - front or back.
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