Wheel Bearing Replacement
- Published: 09/30/11
Replacing wheel bearings is not something done very often because many automobiles can go in excess of 150,000 miles before needing new wheel bearings. When the time comes to replace your wheel bearings why not do it yourself.
Before you replace wheel bearings it is important to remember a few things. It is probably time for you to replace the wheel bearings when noises like clicks, groans, and rumbles occur when driving. These noises may vary depending on the speed of the car. [A test you can do to tell if the wheel bearings are in need of replacement is if the wheel wiggles when you grab the wheel at 12 and 6 o’clock.]
The hardest part of replacing wheel bearings is actual getting to the wheel bearing. There are many parts that will need to be removed before you get to the wheel bearing, but don’t get frustrated because the simple steps below will walk you through the process of replacing you wheel bearings.
Let’s begin replacing those wheel bearings.
1. Remove the tire
a. Put the jack under the car where specified in the owner’s manual and jack the car up until it is 2-3 inches off the ground.
b. Remove the tire’s lug nuts which will free up the tire. Remove the tire and place it aside.
2. Remove the brakes
a. Use a socket wrench to take the 2 backing nuts off of the brake. These nuts are on the backside of the brake and will release the brake caliper and rotor when removed.
b. It’s best to not let the caliper hang by the brake hose so find some way to hold the caliper. You can use a bungee cord to hang from the car.
3. Remove the grease/dust cup
a. Use a flat screw driver to gently pry the grease/dust cup away from the hub.
4. Remove the cotter pin, retaining ring, and axle spindle nut.
a. Remove the cotter pin with pliers and the axle spindle nut with a wrench.
b. It’s best to put these small pieces in the dust cap so they don’t get lost.
5. Remove the rotor/hub assembly
a. Grab the disc and pull off the rotor-hub assembly.
b. After this is done, the outer wheel bearing will drop out.
6. Remove the grease seal
a. Use a flat screwdriver to pry the seal out of the rotor-hub assembly.
b. The inner wheel bearing can be easily removed when the grease seal is removed.
7. Remove the inner and outer wheel bearing race
a. Use a press or drift pin and hammer to remove the race from the hub.
b. Do the same with the outer wheel bearing race by turning the hub over.
It is very important to clean and inspect the wheel hubs and spindles. Use a wire brush, clean rag, and kerosene or mineral oil to remove any debris and lubricant.
The wheel bearings have now been removed and cleaned. We are now ready to install the replacement wheel bearings.
1. Install replacement outer wheel bearing race
a. Set the new race inside the wheel hub.
b. Tap the race in lightly with a hammer.
c. Set the old race on-top of the new race and tap in further with hammer.
2. Flip the wheel hub to replace the inner wheel bearing race
a. Repeat the step above to replace the inner wheel bearing race.
3. Fill the new inner and outer bearings with grease
a. Fill your hand with grease.
b. Move the bearing back towards your body in a scraping motion so the grease can pack the bearing.
c. Continue to pack the grease into the new bearing until the grease is coming through the other side.
d. Spread grease along the outside edge of the bearing so it is completely covered with grease.
4. Set the greased inner wheel bearing into the hub
5. Replace the grease seal for the inner wheel bearings
a. Place the new seal on top of the greased wheel bearings and hammer into place.
b. Hammer until the seal is flush with the hub assembly.
6. Re-install the brake rotor
a. Once both greased bearings and seals have been replaced, the brake rotor should be placed back the spindle.
7. Set the greased outer wheel bearing into the hub
8. Replace the spindle nut and washer
a. Place the washer on-top of the bearing followed by the nut.
b. Screw the nut into place, but do not over tighten.
c. It’s best to loosen the nut and re-tighten by hand.
d. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended torque recommendations.
9. Re-install the cotter pin and dust cap
a. Replace cotter pin because these should never be re-used.
10. Clean brake rotor surface
a. Use brake cleaner and a rag to remove excess grease and dirt from both sides of the rotor.
11. Re-install the brake caliper
a. Replace screws on backside of caliper.
12. Re-install wheel
13. Let the car down from the jack
The wheel bearings have now been replaced. These instructions will be a bit different if you are replacing a wheel with ABS brakes. If you are replacing a wheel with ABS brakes you will need to remove and replace a few additional parts.
Proper wheel bearing removal and installation is essential in avoiding premature damage to bearings and surrounding components. The following are the steps for replacing tapered single-row wheel bearings in passenger cars and light trucks.
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