Volkswagen Air Cooled 1949-1969 Repair Guide

Wheel Bearings

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REMOVAL, PACKING & INSTALLATION



Beginning with 1966 models, tapered roller bearings were used in the front wheels of all model Volkswagens. Previously, all models were equipped with ball bearings in the front wheels. The front wheel bearings should be cleaned and repacked with grease at intervals of 30,000 miles. In servicing the front wheel bearings, the following procedures should be followed:

Ball-Bearing Equipped Models
  1. Jack up the side of the car, remove the hub cap from the wheel, then remove the wheel.
  2.  
  3. Remove the small dust cap that covers the locking nuts at the tip of the axle.
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  5. Unscrew the hexagonal locknut, remove the locking plate, inner hexagonal nut, and the thrust washer. Nuts on the left axle have left-hand thread; those on the right have right-hand threads.
  6.  
  7. Pull the brake drum off the axle stub, while at the same time being careful to keep the inner raceway and the cage of the outer bearing from falling on the ground. If the brake drum resists being removed, it may be necessary to back off the brake adjustment slightly and also bolt the wheel back onto the brake drum so as to have more leverage in pulling on the drum.
  8.  
  9. Remove the plastic grease seal from the hub and take out the cage of the inner bearing.
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  11. Leaving the inner raceway in place on the axle, and the outer raceway in place in the hub, clean all components in solvent and also clean the inside of the brake drum, being careful to keep any grease or oil from touching the interior surface of the drum. Caution should also be exercised in order that the brake shoes themselves remain free of grease.
  12.  
  13. Repack the inner bearing cage with grease and place it within the hub. Now the plastic seal can be reinstalled by tapping it in lightly until it achieves a flush position. A flat piece of wood placed atop the seal may prove helpful in this operation.
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  15. The inner raceway on the axle should now be greased and the wheel replaced. After repacking the outer bearing cage, this part can now be inserted in the hub. Bearing installation is completed with the installation of the inner race, thrust washer and hexagonal nut.
  16.  
  17. Tighten the hexagonal nut until the thrust washer can just be moved sideways with a prytool. Install the locking plate (replace it with a new one, if unusable) and the locknut. The locking plate tabs should be bent over, and the hexagonal nut tightened down.
  18.  

It is always a good idea to use new plastic seals and locking plates. When working on the left front wheel, take note that this wheel drives the speedometer cable. After removing the cotter pin and the dirving end of the cable, proceed normally.

Roller-Bearing Equipped Models

Roller-bearing equipped models include the type 3 and the type 1 Karmann Ghia and beetle models of 1966 and later.

On beetle models, equipped with drum brakes, the procedure is much the same as that listed for roller-bearing equipped models except that the final adjustment is more exact. Adjustment requires that the following procedure be followed:

  1. Loosen the clamp nut screw.
  2.  
  3. Tighten the clamp nut to a torque of 11 ft. lbs. while at the same time turning the wheel.
  4.  
  5. Loosen the clamp nut until the axial play of the wheel is between 0.001-0.005 in. (0.03-0.12mm.).
  6.  
  7. Tighten the clamp nut screw to a torque of 7 ft. lbs. and recheck the axial play.
  8.  
  9. Install the hub cap.
  10.  

The following directions apply to type 3 and the 1500 and 1600 Karmann Ghia, supplied with disc brakes:

  1. After removing the front wheel and disc cap, bend up the lock plates on the caliper securing screws and remove both the screws and the caliper assembly.
  2.  
  3. Secure the caliper to the brake hose bracket by means of a piece of wire or rope. The caliper should not be allowed to hang by the brake hose.
  4.  
  5. Loosen the socket head screw of the clamp nut. Unscrew the clamp nut.
  6.  
  7. Remove the wheel bearing thrust washer.
  8.  
  9. Remove the disc.
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  11. The parts removed should be cleaned thoroughly in a cleaning solvent solution. Because dirt and lining dust can act as abrasives, these particles should be kept out of the bearings for obvious reasons. Check all parts for wear, damage, and proper size.
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  13. Lubricate the bearings with a lithium grease of the proper type, pressing grease into the cages and fill the grease cavity of the disc. Grease should not be put into the disc cap.
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  15. Press in the outer race of the inner bearing.
  16.  
  17. Fit the inner race and cage and insert the grease seal. When fitting the grease seal, drive it in by tapping it lightly with a rubber hammer; avoid tilting seal.
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  19. Press in the outer race of the outer bearing.
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  21. Install the thrust washer and ensure that it is not tilted.
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  23. Adjust the bearings so that the axial play is between 0.001-0.005 in. (0.03-0.12mm.). The adjustment process is as described in the preceding section on adjusting front wheel bearings on beetle models equipped with roller bearings.
  24.  

 
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