How to Replacing wheel bearings on driven wheels

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Wheel bearings are small metal balls held within small rings that are designed to scale back rolling friction and permit the car’s wheels to spin freely, all while sustaining the vehicle’s weight. A wheel bearing is located within the wheel hub, which connects the wheel to the axle. Each wheel has its own set of wheel bearings.

What Are Wheel Bearings? 

A wheel bearing bears the weight of your car where the wheel meets the wheel hub and allows the wheel to turn freely. Without a wheel bearing, the turning of the wheel would produce an incredible amount of friction at the point where it joins the axle, leading very quickly to a worn out axle and hub.

At its simplest form a wheel bearing consists of a set of spherical or cylindrical-shaped steel rollers encased in a metal frame. The frame is called a race, and it’s made up of two circular tracks in which the bearings are held snugly but allowed to rotate with the wheel’s motion. The interior of wheel bearings is heavily lubricated to assist in friction less motion of the bearings.

As with most automotive systems, the basic form of the wheel bearing gets a little bit more complicated and consists of various types, depending on year, make, or model of vehicle.

Driven wheels – independent suspension

Cars with front-wheel drive have front-wheel bearings that resemble closely those within the rear wheels of rear-wheel-drive cars which have independent suspension (See How car suspension works ). The type of bearing used also has much in common with non-driven wheel bearings (See Checking the half shafts ). However the bearings of live rear axles are quite different. The main difference between driven and non-driven hubs is that a drive shaft projects into a driven hub from the inner side.

With non-driven bearings the hub turns outside a central, stationary, solid stub axle. In some driven hubs the arrangement is similar, except that the `stationary axle’ – the hub carrier is hollow and therefore the drive shaft runs through it to attach with the hub. The hub bearings are exactly like those of a non-driven hub, and you dismantle them within the same order. But it’s usual for the ‘hub’ – properly called the drive flange – to show on bearings inside the hub carrier. so the inner race revolves, while the outer race is stationary.

There is likely to be a plastic water shield on the inner side of the hub assembly, either attached to the drive shaft or clipped to the hub carrier. There is also an extra grease seal on the outboard side of the pair of bearings. As usual, renew all grease seals whenever you dismantle a hub. There may be additional spacer rings between the seals and bearing races. Details vary from car to car: when dismantling, make notes or drawings of how of these parts are arranged and which way round they are going.

Dismantling a driven hub

Dismantling is far an equivalent as for a non-driven hub (See Removing wheel bearings ). But there’s one major difference the hub nut is usually very tight; if possible, loosen it with the wheel on the bottom. Remove the hub dust cover and hub-nut locking device within the usual way — on some cars this means raising and removing the wheel, then replacing and lowering it.

The force needed to loosen the nut is such that you’ll need to prevent the car from moving — you’ll even need someone inside applying the brakes. Extend the handle of a socket wrench with a length of pipe for extra leverage. Check if the hub nut has a right or left-hand thread, then loosen it. On cars with no central hole within the wheel, loosen the hub nut with the wheel off: a helper applying the brakes is important.

Work with the car raised on axle stands under frame members. Chock the wheels that are on the bottom , and apply the handbrake if it operates on those wheels; otherwise release it. Loosen wheel nuts before raising the wheels. Move aside a disc caliper or begin a drum (if not integral with the hub) within the usual way (See Renewing drum-brake shoes ).

Front-wheel drive

On a front-wheel-drive car, remove the entire hub-carrier assembly. Unscrew the nuts from the steering ball joints , and uncouple them with a ball-joint separator. If the car has a MacPherson strut (See Renewing MacPherson-strut inserts ), remove it from the body and therefore the track control arm (but with unit replacement suspension remove the lower half the strut only).

You may now be ready to pull the hub carrier free. If not, disconnect the drive-shaft outer joint (See the way to check U-Joints ). Support the a part of the drive shaft that remains on the car to avoid straining its joints.

Rear-wheel drive

On a rear-wheel-drive car you’ll not got to remove the hub carrier: if you’ll disconnect the drive shaft, you’ll dismantle the hub with the carrier still in place. The inner race of an inboard tapered ball bearing may remain on the drive shaft. If so, tap it off gently with a soft-faced hammer. Detach the water shield from the hub carrier. Price out the inboard oil seal , taking care to not scratch its seating. you’ll now be ready to pull the drive flange out of the hub carrier.

If not, support the carrier on blocks (if detached from the car) and knock the flange out, using a suitable socket or pipe as a drift to avoid hammering it directly. The bearings may remain within the hub carrier, in which case you’ll remove them within the same way as bearings remaining during a non-driven hub. With tapered roller bearings , if you simply want to see and lubricate them, there’s no got to drive out the outer races if you’ll still see them clearly.

The inner race of the outboard bearing may begin on the drive flange and wish an impact puller to get it off. The outboard grease seal can also be left on the drive flange. Price it free, taking care to not scratch its seating, and discard it. Clean, check, renew, lubricate and reassemble.

Reassembly

The procedure for refitting a driven hub is strictly an equivalent as for a non-driven hub. Clean all parts thoroughly (except plastic shields) with paraffin or white spirit, inspect bearings and renew if damaged.

Lubricate the hub with an approved grease, consulting the car handbook or a dealer for details of the sort and quantity. To reassemble the hub, reverse the dismantling procedure, fitting new grease seals with care to avoid damaging them.

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