To service the wheel bearings, you'll need to repack the bearings and replace the grease seal.
- It is customary to clean and repack the wheel bearings with grease whenever the front brakes are relined or at 30,000 mile intervals.
- On FWD (front wheel drive) cars, the procedure for repacking the rear axle bearings is similar to the procedure for repacking the front axle bearings on RWD cars.
- On drum brake cars, leave the lug nuts tight.
- It is not necessary to remove the wheel and tire assembly from the hub.
- Do one side at a time so that parts are not accidentally interchanged from side to side.
- After removing the dust cap and cotter pin, remove the spindle nut and the tabbed washer that is under it.
- To easily remove the outer bearing, rock the tire back and forth at the top. The bearing will usually pop out on the spindle.
Remove the outer bearing. Courtesy of The Timken Company.
- Remove the seal. Pull the wheel and hub from the spindle.
- When working with the wheel bearings, be sure to keep grease and solvent off of braking surfaces.
- Seals are usually replaced during a bearing repack.
- Using the old seal over is taking a chance on grease leaking out and contaminants leaking into the bearing.
- To remove the seal, use a long dowel or drift to pound on the bearing from the inside.
Use the long dowel or drift to pound on the bearing from the inside. Courtesy of Chicago Rawhide.
- The seal can also be removed with a screwdriver.
Use a screwdriver to remove the bearing.
Keep the bearing parts together so they can be reassembled in their original bearing races. Bearing parts become wear-mated to each other.
- Clean out the old bearing; do not just add grease.
- Use a paper towel to wipe all of the old bearing grease from the spindle, the bearing, the bearing cups, and the hub.
- Clean the bearing with solvent and let it air dry on a paper towel or blow it dry from the ends (parallel to the rollers) using compressed air.
Hold the bearing to keep it from spinning as you blow it off. Courtesy of The Timken Company.
- Be careful not to blow the old dirty grease into the bearing.
- Rewash the bearing and blow dry it again.
Do not spin the bearing with air. Spinning a dry bearing can damage it and can also be dangerous if bearings come loose from the bearing cage.When blowing off parts, blow into the solvent tank to avoid making a mess.
- Some bearings on front-wheel drive cars are serviceable but most are sealed, requiring no service.
- The end of front wheel drive axle shaft has drive splines that fit into splines in the rotor hub.
- The bearing supports the end of the axle just behind the splines. To get to the bearing requires removing the axle (half-shaft and CV joints).
- The front wheel bearing is either pressed on or bolted onto the steering knuckle.
- Special tools are available for removing pressed-on bearings without having to remove the steering knuckle from the vehicle.
- Check the service manual for the correct procedure.