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front wheel bearings

Posted by nomis3613 
June 02, 2010 12:33AM
Hi,
I'm getting a dragging/clunking noise and feeling. At first I thought it was something with the brakes (it felt similar to a loose caliper), but I checked when I replaced the rotors and everything is rock-solid. So the prime suspect is now a front wheel bearing. Is there a test to confirm it's the bearing? (there is no play on the wheel)

This article says that the whole hub needs to be replaced. Is that right?

If I can get someone to press the bearing into the hub (using the proper press, of course), then would I be able to buy just the new bearing? Or is there other hub stuff that needs to be replaced at the same time?

Thanks,
Simon
rkj
June 02, 2010 11:20AM
Quote
nomis3613
Hi,
I'm getting a dragging/clunking noise and feeling. At first I thought it was something with the brakes (it felt similar to a loose caliper), but I checked when I replaced the rotors and everything is rock-solid. So the prime suspect is now a front wheel bearing. Is there a test to confirm it's the bearing? (there is no play on the wheel)

This article says that the whole hub needs to be replaced. Is that right?

If I can get someone to press the bearing into the hub (using the proper press, of course), then would I be able to buy just the new bearing? Or is there other hub stuff that needs to be replaced at the same time?

Thanks,
Simon

Hey Simon

Yes, you do have to replace the hub as an assembly, and they're not cheap, 150 a side I think. I just did mine and I'm pretty sure that's what they cost at Bav.

Usually you can hear a rumble if you turn the wheel a little on a long sweeper one way or the other (a left or right hander), As the car starts to hit the turn, even a gradual one you'll pick up that bearing grumble. If it's really a bad one you can hear it just spinning the wheel when the car is off the ground.

Usually around 170k they start to go. It helps to have a puller cause they usually weld themselves on the axle a bit eye rolling smiley

Rick
June 03, 2010 03:45PM
Lift the wheel off the ground, make sure it can't fall off the jack (use stands!).

Turn the wheel and put your fingers on the front spring. If you feel vibrations in the spring, suspect the bearing.
August 24, 2010 06:54AM
Thanks! I'm a bit skint on cash at the moment...so...what is better (I realise that either option is not ideal)
Can I buy a used hub? (I have heard that they come apart when you remove them so they can't be re-used)
Or what about the generic Ebay ones?

Or are bearings known to fail catastrophically (eg seize the wheel), so I really need to wait until I can afford OE-spec new?

Thanks,
Simon
August 25, 2010 12:09AM
I would recommend a used one for the best low cost option. Just get the whole strut and minimize the work of changing it.

Bob in Everett
rkj
August 25, 2010 09:25PM
Quote
Bob in Everett
I would recommend a used one for the best low cost option. Just get the whole strut and minimize the work of changing it.

Bob in Everett

I don't know how replacing the whole strut is a right move for a bad wheel bearing, not that I like using a used bearing in the first place!..... You will have to press the old hub/bearing off the axle though (more than likely). Using a wheel puller is a big help then I use a pitman arm puller for the inner bearing that usually sticks on the axle shaft.

Rick
August 26, 2010 12:32AM
Quote
rkj
Quote
Bob in Everett
I would recommend a used one for the best low cost option. Just get the whole strut and minimize the work of changing it.

Bob in Everett

I don't know how replacing the whole strut is a right move for a bad wheel bearing, not that I like using a used bearing in the first place!..... You will have to press the old hub/bearing off the axle though (more than likely). Using a wheel puller is a big help then I use a pitman arm puller for the inner bearing that usually sticks on the axle shaft.

Rick

Thanks Bob and Rick. I was thinking of buy a bearing already installed in a hub (first few posts in this thread), but if there is a better way (eg whole strut) please let me know.
rkj
August 26, 2010 01:35PM
Quote
nomis3613
Quote
rkj
Quote
Bob in Everett
I would recommend a used one for the best low cost option. Just get the whole strut and minimize the work of changing it.

Bob in Everett

I don't know how replacing the whole strut is a right move for a bad wheel bearing, not that I like using a used bearing in the first place!..... You will have to press the old hub/bearing off the axle though (more than likely). Using a wheel puller is a big help then I use a pitman arm puller for the inner bearing that usually sticks on the axle shaft.

Rick

Thanks Bob and Rick. I was thinking of buy a bearing already installed in a hub (first few posts in this thread), but if there is a better way (eg whole strut) please let me know.

I don't know if you can buy them any other way, new or used. I just paid 150 each for mine from Bav but what can you do.... if you need them, you need them- one of mine was really grumbling, when it came off she was cooked...overcooked!

Rick
August 26, 2010 06:02PM
Quote
rkj
I don't know if you can buy them any other way, new or used. I just paid 150 each for mine from Bav but what can you do.... if you need them, you need them- one of mine was really grumbling, when it came off she was cooked...overcooked!
Rick
Rick, was it a hard job to replace the hub? Any special tools required?
rkj
August 27, 2010 02:36PM
Quote
nomis3613
Quote
rkj
I don't know if you can buy them any other way, new or used. I just paid 150 each for mine from Bav but what can you do.... if you need them, you need them- one of mine was really grumbling, when it came off she was cooked...overcooked!
Rick
Rick, was it a hard job to replace the hub? Any special tools required?

Well Simon, The hubs usually are stuck on the axle shaft so I have a small four bolt hub puller that just makes the Bmw bolt pattern, when I use this the bearing on the outside (closest to you) will come off but the inside bearing stays on the shaft. I use a pitarm puller I bought years ago that fits around the back side of the bearing race and that comes off on it's own.

You see, the hub and outer bearing will come off and once the seal pass' the inner bearing it (the inner bearing) will be left on the shaft/axle.

If you don't have even a universal jaw puller this job can be a real stinker; the hub/bearing assemblies are supposed to slip right off but often they don't, sometimes in a big way sad smiley

Good luck
December 01, 2010 02:23AM
This thread is back from the dead! I've got a strut assembly and have started pulling it apart to get the hub out. From this thread (thanks!) and my progress so far I've discovered that I'll need these tools:
- universal puller
- M36(?) socket
- impact wrench?
- new cap for collar nut

Any other tips to help me avoid having the car stranded on the jacks without me able to put it back together?

Thanks heaps,
Simon
rkj
December 01, 2010 01:10PM
Quote
nomis3613
This thread is back from the dead! I've got a strut assembly and have started pulling it apart to get the hub out. From this thread (thanks!) and my progress so far I've discovered that I'll need these tools:
- universal puller
- M36(?) socket
- impact wrench?
- new cap for collar nut

Any other tips to help me avoid having the car stranded on the jacks without me able to put it back together?

Thanks heaps,
Simon

You might find the inner bearing will not slide off the axle as you're pulling off the hub, I use a pitman arm puller for this, it works perfect. The axle nut is really on there too, I usually have to use a motorcycle fork tube (4 ft pipe) on the breaker bar, a 3/4 inch drive one!

I'm not sure you picked the right choice of options for this repair but good luck Simon. I'm pretty sure you can rent a pitmen arm puller is need be.

It's been my experience that a bad front hub bearing will make a noticeable grumble if you just spin the wheel by hand if the car is off the ground, they are often not loose even when they are toasted.

Rick
December 02, 2010 10:00PM
Thanks Rick.
Quote
rkj
a bad front hub bearing will make a noticeable grumble if you just spin the wheel by hand if the car is off the ground, they are often not loose even when they are toasted.
Yeah it's grumbling bad just spinning the wheel in the air.

I don't have any pullers, so I'll need to buy one. Should I get a pitman instead of the 3 jaw bearing puller? Or do I need both?
rkj
December 02, 2010 11:17PM
Quote
nomis3613
Thanks Rick.
Quote
rkj
a bad front hub bearing will make a noticeable grumble if you just spin the wheel by hand if the car is off the ground, they are often not loose even when they are toasted.
Yeah it's grumbling bad just spinning the wheel in the air.

I don't have any pullers, so I'll need to buy one. Should I get a pitman instead of the 3 jaw bearing puller? Or do I need both?

My three jaw puller is too big for the E30 bolt pattern, I bought a smaller puller (looks like a big steering wheel puller and I use two opposing holes), that I use two lug bolts but I had to get longer ones that would work with the puller. Getting those longer bolts was hard; nobody carried them, I finally found them in my shop.

The one thing I can tell you is, look at the bolt pattern and get a puller that's small enough to work (it's a small bolt pattern). The flange puller I use I bought for a 1966 Fiat and it was too big, I had to grind it a touch!

After you get the outer bearing and hub off a jaw puller might get the inner bearing off, but be ready, those inner bearings can really be tight coming off the axle... really confused smiley

You really should order a new crush axle nut too.

The pitman arm puller was a perfect puller for the inner bearing, I bought that for an older american car steering box job that I had to use for the pitman arm removal. Just happened to have it.
December 11, 2010 10:50PM
Thanks Rick.

Update: I might end up with a brand new bearing after all. After looking into buying the tools, I've found that it might cost about the same to just get my mechanic to do the job (also avoids the risk of me being stranded with a 3 wheeled car if I get stuck halfway). So I asked him if he was willing to install a used hub that I'd supply and he said he would but he wasn't keen on the idea. But he thinks that I've way overestimated the price of a new bearing, so if he's correct then I'll just use my wallet to do the job...

Just for background info: If I'd done it myself (which I was keen to as a learning excercise), I was happy to throw in the used one in and see how it goes- even if it only had 10k miles life left in it, that would mean 5 years for me. But if I'm paying labour rates, I'll probably just get the new one fitted to avoid the risk of having to pay him to do it twice.
rkj
December 11, 2010 10:54PM
Quote
nomis3613
Thanks Rick.

Update: I might end up with a brand new bearing after all. After looking into buying the tools, I've found that it might cost about the same to just get my mechanic to do the job (also avoids the risk of me being stranded with a 3 wheeled car if I get stuck halfway). So I asked him if he was willing to install a used hub that I'd supply and he said he would but he wasn't keen on the idea. But he thinks that I've way overestimated the price of a new bearing, so if he's correct then I'll just use my wallet to do the job...

Just for background info: If I'd done it myself (which I was keen to as a learning excercise), I was happy to throw in the used one in and see how it goes- even if it only had 10k miles life left in it, that would mean 5 years for me. But if I'm paying labour rates, I'll probably just get the new one fitted to avoid the risk of having to pay him to do it twice.

Very intelligent Simon. I hate paying people to work on my car but sometimes it makes good sense... Rick
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