How to Fix Car Wheel Bearings

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You've probably heard the saying "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." There's a lot of truth in that statement, but to be more accurate it should be "The squeaky wheel needs some grease." Here's how to fix those noisy wheel bearings on your car.

Things You'll Need

  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Chock
  • Channel lock pliers
  • Rags
  • Wheel bearing races
  • Wheel bearing grease
  • Wheel bearing seals
  • Wrench
  • Cotter key

Remove the Wheel Bearings

  • Park the car on level concrete. Jack the car up and place jack stands under it. Chock the rear wheels.

  • Take the tire off the wheel. Take the bearing cap off. Pull out the cotter key and the retaining ring with the channel lock pliers. Detach the nut from its spindle.

  • Pull out the outer wheel bearing and inspect it for any damage. Set it aside. Pull the rotor off the spindle. Pull out the inner wheel bearing as well as any gaskets. Inspect this bearing as well.

  • Wipe out all the grease with an old rag.

  • Remove the races from the hub. Be sure to keep them straight as you pull them off. Don't let them get crooked or they might bind and be harder to remove.

  • Clean out the spindle as well as the races. Make sure everything is clean before you move on to the next section.

Install the Wheel Bearings

  • Put some clean grease on a wheel bearing race. Slide it onto the spindle. Make sure it is on straight and fully seated on the spindle. Repeat the process for the second race.

  • Pack grease into the wheel bearings. Make sure each bearing has plenty of grease surrounding it.

  • Set the inner wheel bearing back into place on top of the greased races. Push the seal into place. Both should be lying flat.

  • Slide the rotor back on the spindle. It should be flush against the race and seal.

  • Slip the outer set of greased bearings on to the spindle. Top it with the washer. Line up the nut and tighten it by hand. Spin the wheel, and then retighten the nut. Tighten it no more than 1/4 turn with a wrench.

  • Insert a new cotter key back in the hole on the spindle. Open its prongs to keep it in place.

  • Grease the inside of the hub and tap it in place. Put the tire back on the car and lower the car from the jacks.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure to keep the grease clean as you reinstall the bearings.
  • Do not attempt to fix your car's wheel bearings if you don't have the physical strength to do it.

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