How to Change Wheel Bearings on a Car

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Very often, vehicle owners tend to ignore the condition of their wheel bearings until the wheels start making noises; it is then that they realize that they need to know how to change their wheel bearings. Ideally, wheel bearings should be changed each time the vehicle covers a 30,000-mile distance.

Tools and Materials Needed

Unfortunately, it is not possible to change wheel bearings using just a Swiss knife. Invariably, you would require the following equipments to do the task.

  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Channel locks
  • Punches of various sizes
  • Bearing race driver tool
  • Ratchet and socket set
  • Assortment of wrenches
  • Rags
  • New wheel bearings (your local dealer can help you with this)
  • Grease
  • New cotter pin and grease seals
  • Wheel blocks
  • Jack stands

Step-by-Step Procedure for Removing Wheel Bearings

  1. Jack up your vehicle. The first thing that needs to be done to remove a wheel bearing is to jack up your vehicle on a level ground. This is important from the viewpoint of safety.
  2. Disassemble the disc brake or drum brake assembly
  3. Remove the bolts. You will now be able to access the hub, which holds the bearings. Remove the hub lock bolts to get it loose; this will enable you to dislodge and separate it from the wheel drum.
  4. Remove the locknut. Remove the pinion gear from the shaft of the hub. Thereafter, use your hand to hit the hub and, thereby, release the locknut from it.
  5. Remove bearings. Use pullers to remove the bearings from the hub. If the bearings have been damaged considerably, you will have to remove the inner race of the bearings by striking it with a punch.
  6. Clean the hub. Use rags, preferably soaked in some solvent, to thoroughly clean the inner side of the hub.

Replacement of Wheel Bearings

  1. Remove shaft seal. Remove the shaft seal from the hub and drive a new seal into the same position. Place the hub on the ground with the extended shaft facing upward; next, place the new well-greased bearing over it.
  2. Drive in the bearing. Incorporate a sleeve atop the inner race of the bearing and drive the bearing into the hub well. Stop when you hear a metallic noise, which indicates that the bearing has reached its position.
  3. Fix the pinion. Re-attach the locknut and fix the pinion gear in its place. Fix the hub assembly, brake assembly, and the wheels.
  4. Double check if the bolts are tight. Double-check whether the hub, brake, and wheels are tightly bolted to be sure that the assembly does not give way while driving.

Important Tips

    • While replacing the wheel bearings, you will have to remove a number of nuts, bolts, and other smaller components (like washers). Keep these in proper order somewhere safe. The best option would be to place them in an arrangement in their order of removal. Otherwise, you would end up spending a considerable amount of time trying to figure out which nut goes where later on. In worst scenarios, you may even have to resort to professional help.
    • Many of the spare parts will have grease on them; therefore, wear a pair of rubber gloves while handling these. Protect your eyes with safety glasses every time you need to change your wheel bearings.
    • Changing wheel bearings is a time-consuming affair. If you are in a hurry and cannot devote sufficient time to this task, resort to professional help.

      Need new wheels? Compare brands, types and prices with our Wheels Buyer's Guide.