A bad wheel bearing can be a major annoyance. It can cause a knocking noise and vibration while driving, leading to premature wear on your tires. Luckily, replacing a wheel bearing is a reasonably easy process.
Here’s how you can replace a wheel bearing in 14 easy steps:
- Confirm the issue with a scan tool.
- Get the right wheel bearing replacement.
- Get access to the axle nut and loosen it.
- Jack up the car and remove the wheel.
- Take the axle nut off the rest of the way.
- Remove the brake caliper and rotor.
- Put the wheel straight and hit the axle stud inward.
- Remove the ABS Sensor.
- Removing the Bearing Hub.
- Clean the surfaces with sandpaper.
- Install the new hub bearing.
- Reattach the ABS Line.
- Reattach the brake caliper and rotor.
- Get the wheel back on.
You are probably thinking, “There is no way I can do this on my own,” but you are wrong! It is easier than you think, and I will show you how. Just follow these simple steps, and you will have your car up and running in less than an hour!
1. Confirm the Issue With a Scan Tool
Scan tools are really cheap and can be bought at most auto parts stores. They connect to your car’s computer and will tell you precisely what is wrong with it. This is the best way to confirm that you need to replace your wheel bearing.
If you don’t have a scan tool, you can listen for abnormal noise or vibration while the car is in motion. If it is a wheel bearing, you will hear a knocking noise coming from the affected side of the vehicle.
2. Get the Right Wheel Bearing Replacement
There are many different types of wheel bearings, and they come in different sizes. So, make sure you get the right one for your car. You can usually find this information in the car’s owner’s manual.
If you don’t have the owner’s manual, you can usually find the information online. Just enter your car’s year, make, and model, and you will likely find the information you need. Remember that you cannot replace a bad wheel bearing with a wheel bearing of a different size, so this is the most important step.
3. Get Access to the Axle Nut and Loosen It
The axle nut is the bolt that holds the wheel bearing in place. It can be tricky to get to, but it’s the one thing standing between you and the bad wheel bearing. You will have to remove the center cap, which might mean removing the wheel and putting it back on for the next step.
You will also need the right size socket and breaker bar to loosen the axle nut. The breaker bar will give you more leverage and make the job a lot easier, but you can also use an air tool.
4. Jack Up the Car and Remove the Wheel
The easiest way to jack up the car is to use a floor jack. You will want to place the jack under the vehicle’s frame and not the bumper. This is where it gets tricky.
Each car is different, so you will have to figure out the best place to put the jack. Look in your owner’s manual for any information, since it might contain the correct placement. Once the jack is in place, use the handle to raise the car. Then remove the wheel and place it under the vehicle for added protection.
5. Take the Axle Nut off the Rest of the Way
With the wheel off, you should have enough room to remove the axle nut the rest of the way. Use a wrench to hold the axle nut while using the breaker bar or air tool to loosen it.
Just be careful not to let the car fall off the jack.
6. Remove the Brake Caliper and Rotor
The brake caliper is the part of the brake system that squeezes the brake pads against the rotor to stop the car. It is held together by three bolts that you’ll find at the back.
Remove these bolts and set the caliper and rotor aside. You can place them on a stool because the attached cables are not long enough to reach the ground.
7. Put the Wheel Straight and Hit the Axle Stud Inward
Reattach the old axle nut and hit the axle stud inward with a hammer. This will help break the bond between the axle and bearing hub assembly. Now remove the three bolts holding the bearing.
Pro tip: You can turn the knuckle to get better access to the bolts.
8. Remove the ABS Sensor
The ABS sensor is the part of the brake system that monitors the wheel’s speed. It is held in place by one or two bolts. You will have to remove the entire thing and set the sensor aside.
After that, you’ll be ready to install the new wheel bearing.
9. Removing the Bearing Hub
Use a slide hammer kit to remove the bearing hub, which is the hardest part of the job. The slide hammer kit will help remove the bearing hub without damaging anything else.
If you don’t have a slide hammer kit, you can use a chisel and a hammer. However, you’ll need to be careful not to damage the axle or any other parts.
10. Clean the Surfaces with Sandpaper
You want to make sure the surfaces are clean and dry before replacing the wheel bearing. Sandpaper will help clean them up and remove any rust and debris.
You can clean it with a 400 grit sandpaper and also apply anti-seize on the sanded surfaces to prevent metal bonding. This makes it easy to work on your bearing hub next time.
11. Install the New Hub Bearing
The hub bearing will go into the same place as the old one. Make sure you line it up correctly and install the bolts. Then tighten the bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications (usually 75 foot-pounds)
It would also be smart to apply some anti-seize on the hub bearing. This will help it to move easier in the future. Additionally, make sure the sensor line is in the right spot before bolting the bearing on the wheel assembly.
12. Reattach the ABS Line
With the bearing in place, you can now reattach the ABS line. This creates a direct connection to the car ECU so that you can get reports on any issues. The ABS light should go off on the dash if you get this part right.
There are usually one or two clips holding it. Just snap them back into place and tighten the clamp. You should also connect it correctly in the engine bay.
13. Reattach the Brake Caliper and Rotor
The next step is to reattach the brake caliper and rotor. Make sure you tighten the bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications. You can easily find torque specifications on the manufacturer’s website or online forums.
This is also a good time to check the brake pads and rotor for wear.
14. Get the Wheel Back On
At this point, you are ready to put the wheel back on the car. It is as easy as aligning it and torquing the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds.
Anybody can do this as long as they have the right tools. Make sure that you have a torque wrench and that you use it to make sure that the lug nuts are properly tightened. You do not want the wheel coming off while you are driving, so this step is essential.
The final step is to put the hubcap back on and admire your work! You have replaced a bad wheel bearing on your car, and it is now running smoothly.
Changing a wheel bearing is not as difficult as it may seem. You can do this job in your driveway or garage with minimal fuss with the right tools and knowledge.
All you need to get started is a clear understanding of how to remove the old hub bearing, how to clean up the surfaces that will be touching each other, and how to torque the lug nuts to the correct specification. Follow these steps, and you will be on your way to a smooth-running car.
However, if you don’t feel confident in your DIY skills, talk to a mechanic.