Chevrolet Full Size Cars 1979-1989

Wheel Bearings

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Properly adjusted bearings have a slightly loose feeling. Wheel bearings must never be preloaded in service. Preloading will damage the bearings and eventually the spindles. If the bearings are too loose, they should be cleaned, inspected and then adjusted.

Hold the tire at the top and bottom and move the wheel in and out of the spindle. If the movement is greater than 0.005 in. (0.127mm), the bearings are too loose and must be adjusted.

ADJUSTMENT





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Fig. Fig. 1 Wheel bearing adjustment

  1. Raise and support the vehicle safely using a jackstand under the lower control arm.
  2.  
  3. Remove the hub cap from the wheel for access, then remove the dust cap from the hub.
  4.  
  5. Remove the cotter pin and spindle nut.
  6.  
  7. Spin the wheel forward by hand and tighten the nut to 12 ft. lbs. (16 Nm) in order to fully seat the bearings and remove any burrs from the threads.
  8.  
  9. Back off the nut 1 / 4 - 1 / 2 turn until it is just loose, then finger-tighten the nut.
  10.  
  11. Loosen the nut until either hole in the spindle lines up with a slot in the nut, then install a new cotter pin. This may appear to be too loose, but it is the correct adjustment.
  12.  
  13. Proper adjustment creates 0.001-0.005 in. (0.025-0.127mm) end-play.
  14.  

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION





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Fig. Fig. 2 Pry the dust cap from the hub taking care not to distort or damage its flange



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Fig. Fig. 3 Once the bent ends are cut, remove the cotter pin from the spindle



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Fig. Fig. 4 If difficulty is encountered, gently tap on the pliers with a hammer to help free the cotter pin



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Fig. Fig. 5 Loosen and remove the castellated nut from the spindle



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Fig. Fig. 6 Remove the washer from the spindle



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Fig. Fig. 7 With the nut and washer out of the way, the outer bearings may be removed from the hub



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Fig. Fig. 8 Pull the hub and inner bearing assembly from the spindle



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Fig. Fig. 9 Use a small prytool to remove the old inner bearing seal



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Fig. Fig. 10 With the seal removed, the inner bearing may be withdrawn from the hub



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Fig. Fig. 11 Thoroughly pack the bearing with fresh, high temperature wheel-bearing grease before installation



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Fig. Fig. 12 Apply a thin coat of fresh grease to the new inner bearing seal lip



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Fig. Fig. 13 Use a suitably sized driver to install the inner bearing seal to the hub



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Fig. Fig. 14 With new or freshly packed bearings, tighten the nut to 12 ft. lbs. while gently spinning the wheel, then adjust the bearings



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Fig. Fig. 15 After the bearings are adjusted, install the dust cap by gently tapping on the flange

Before handling the bearings, there are a few things that you should remember to do and and few things you should not.

Always remember to DO the following:


Remove all outside dirt from the housing before exposing the bearing.
 
Treat a used bearing as gently as you would a new one.
 
Work with clean tools in clean surroundings.
 
Use clean, dry canvas gloves, or at least clean, dry hands.
 
Clean solvents and flushing fluids are a must.
 
Use clean paper when laying out the bearings to dry.
 
Protect disassembled bearings from rust and dirt. Cover them up.
 
Use clean rags to wipe bearings.
 
Keep the bearings in oil-proof paper when they are to be stored or are not in use.
 
Clean the inside of the housing before replacing the bearing.
 

Do NOT do the following:


Don't work in dirty surroundings.
 
Don't use dirty, chipped or damaged tools.
 
Try not to work on wooden work benches or use wooden mallets.
 
Don't handle bearings with dirty or moist hands.
 
Do not use gasoline for cleaning; use a safe solvent.
 
Do not spin-dry bearings with compressed air. They will be damaged.
 
Do not spin dirty bearings.
 
Avoid using cotton waste or dirty cloths to wipe bearings.
 
Try not to scratch or nick bearing surfaces.
 
Do not allow the bearing to come in contact with dirt or rust at any time.
 

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tire and wheel assembly.
  4.  
  5. Remove the brake caliper mounting bolts and insert a block between the brake pads (if necessary to hold them in position) as the caliper is removed. Remove the caliper from the disc and wire it out of the way.
  6.  
  7. Carefully pry out the grease cap, then remove the cotter pin, spindle nut, and washer. Remove the hub, being careful not to drop the wheel bearings.
  8.  
  9. Remove the outer roller bearing assembly from the hub. The inner bearing assembly will remain in the hub and may be removed from the rear of after prying out the inner seal. Discard the seal after removal. To install:
  10.  
  11. Clean all parts in solvent and allow to air dry, then check for excessive wear or damage.
  12.  
  13. If replacement is necessary, use a hammer and drift to remove the outer or inner bearing races from the hub. When installing new races, make sure they are not cocked and that they are fully seated against the hub shoulder.
  14.  
  15. Using a high melting point bearing lubricant, pack both the inner and outer bearings. Be sure to properly fill the bearings with grease.
  16.  
  17. Lightly grease the spindle and inside of the hub.
  18.  

Although a seal installation tool is preferable, a section of pipe with a smooth edge or a suitably sized socket may be used to drive the seal into position.

  1. Place the inner bearing in the hub, then apply a thin coating of grease to the sealing lip and install a new inner seal, making sure the seal flange faces the bearing cup.
  2.  
  3. Carefully install the wheel hub over the spindle.
  4.  
  5. Using your hands, firmly press the outer bearing into the hub.
  6.  
  7. Loosely install the spindle washer and nut, but do not install the cotter pin or dust cap at this time.
  8.  
  9. Install the brake caliper.
  10.  
  11. Install the tire and wheel assembly.
  12.  
  13. Properly adjust the wheel bearings, then install a new cotter pin and the dust cap.
  14.  
  15. Install the hub cap, then remove the supports and carefully lower the vehicle.
  16.  

PACKING



Clean the wheel bearings thoroughly with solvent and check their condition before installation.


WARNING
Do not blow the bearing dry with compressed air as this would allow the bearing to turn without lubrication.

Apply a sizable dab of lubricant to the palm of one hand. Using your other hand, work the bearing into the lubricant so that the grease is pushed through the rollers and out the other side. Keep rotating the bearing while continuing to push the lubricant through it.

 
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