Tuesday, July 23, 2024 Detailed Auto Topics
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On examination, the integral bearing reveals no bolts attaching it to the knuckle. These bearings are pressed into place with tremendous force. The force necessary to install these bearings can quickly destroy them, if not properly applied.

No bolts means this is a pressed in wheel bearing

Great care must be taken to avoid applying force through the bearing. This is accomplished by properly supporting the components and applying force only in specific areas. Improper installation is a leading cause of repeat failure in these type bearings.


Replacing a pressed-in wheel bearing

The steering knuckle, hub and bearing are removed from the vehicle as an assembly. An easy method of removing the hub from the bearing is with a judicious use of a bearing driver and hammer.

Removing a bearing hub with a hammer and bearing driver

The knuckle is secured in a vice and the hub is driven out of the bearing. With any service, the bearing is destroyed.  The inner race will remain with the hub and will be pulled from the bearing. A bearing driver, smaller than the hub shank is used.

Hub removed from the bearing and knuckle

With the hub out of the bearing, the bearings and races can be inspected. Wear and pitting will sometimes be visible but other times will not. The next step is to remove the inner race from the hub. This is accomplished with a special support clamp, made for the purpose and a hydraulic press.

Removing the inner race from the bearing hub

A support clamp is tightened into place, between the bearing and the hub. The clamp is supported and a press is used to push the hub free, using a pressing adaptor to avoid damage. Once the bearing race is removed, clean the shank of the hub and inspect for damage. Wear can be very smooth in appearance and appear normal. If needed, a micrometer should be used to measure for damage. Any wear means the hub should be replaced.

Removing the bearing from the knuckle

Remove any snap rings or retainers from the knuckle and the bearing is ready to be removed. The knuckle is supported and room is allowed for the bearing to come out. Press the bearing out from the back side. Once removed, clean and inspect the bearing bore.  Instructions for checking the bore can be found in the Detailed Topic, Why Front Wheel Bearings Fail.

In cases of premature or repeat bearing failure, an inside micrometer should be used to check the bore. The bore of a bent knuckle will not be round and any bearing pressed into it, will suffer repeat failure. Replace any knuckle with a bore that is more than .001" out of round.

Installing the bearing into the knuckle

Support the knuckle from the back side and the new bearing is pressed in. Great care should be used to be certain that pressure in only applied to the outer housing of the bearing. Any pressure on the inner race will damage the new bearing. The removed bearing shell can serve as an adapter if the proper tooling is not available. Press the bearing fully into place and install any snap ring or retainer necessary.

Instlling the hub into the wheel bearing

Installing the hub into the bearing is where damage is easily done. Any pressure applied through the rollers will damage the bearing. An easy way to avoid such damage is to support the hub as shown. An adapter, the size of the inner race, is used to keep all force between the race and the hub.

Install the knuckle in the vehicle and be certain to tighten the axle nut to the specified torque. Over or under-tightening may cause repeat bearing failure. With care, integral bearings can be replaced with no damage. The trick is never allowing force to be applied to the bearing by following the proper procedure.


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