How to Replace a 2003 Denali Wheel Hub


General Motors introduced the GMC Yukon Denali in 1998. The 2003 Denali was equipped with a 6.0-liter V8, capable of producing up to 320 horsepower and 365 foot-pounds of torque. The wheel hub is attached to the front wheel bearing on the 2003 Denali. Removing and replacing the hub bearing should take approximately two hours. All of the tools and materials needed for this project are available from an auto parts store, or through your local General Motors dealership.

Things You'll Need

  • 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set, with 6-inch extension
  • 3/8-inch drive torque wrench
  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet
  • 36-millimeter spindle nut socket
  • 2-ton or greater capacity jack
  • Jack stand, 2-ton or greater capacity
  • Tire iron
  • 1/2-inch torque wrench
  • 19-millimeter wheel nut socket
  • Large rubber mallet
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Tub of caliper grease
  • 80-grit metal sandpaper
  • Small pry bar

Front Wheel Hub Bearing Removal Instructions

  • Remove the initial torque from the wheel lug nuts, on the front wheel of the Denali that you are going to work on. Raise the front of the Denali using a 2-ton floor jack or a jack with greater capacity. Place a jack stand beneath the sub-frame, on the side of the Yukon your are replacing the hub on. Remove the wheel lug nuts complete from the Yukon, and then remove the wheel.

  • Remove the caliper mounting bracket bolts from directly behind the brake rotor. Use a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket to remove the caliper bracket mounting bolts. Turn the bolts counterclockwise until the bolts are removed from the rear of the steering knuckle. Remove the caliper and bracket from the brake assembly by hand. Hang the caliper and bracket on the front strut spring, using a wire coat hanger. Remove the brake rotor by hand.

  • Loosen the spindle nut or axle nut, using a 1/2-inch drive ratchet and a 36-millimeter spindle nut socket. Turn the nut counterclockwise until the face of the nut is flush with outer end of the axle. Hammer the outer end of the axle using a large rubber mallet. Do not hit any axle with a metal hammer, or you will damage the axle. Continue hammering with the rubber mallet inward, until the axle pops free from the wheel bearing.

  • Insert a small pry bar between the rear of the steering knuckle and the lower shaft of the strut. Turn the steering knuckle assembly so that the side facing the rear of the Denali is facing out from the wheel well. Insert a 3/8-inch ratchet and socket with a 6-inch extension onto one of the hub bearing mounting bolts on the rear of the steering knuckle. There are three mounting bolts holding the wheel bearing onto the knuckle. Remove the bolt closest to you on the bottom outside, then the bolt at the top of the knuckle.

  • Use the pry bar to turn the steering knuckle the opposite way so you can access the other side of the wheel bearing plate. Remove the third wheel bearing bolt using a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket, with a 6-inch extension. Unplug the electrical connector between the hub bearing and the frame. This is the wheel speed sensor and ABS sensor wiring. Pull the two electrical connectors apart, to free the wiring that leads to the back of the hub. Remove the spindle nut completely from the end of the axle.

  • Remove the hub assembly by hand, using a large rubber mallet to hammer the old hub off if necessary. There may be a build up of minor corrosion that adheres the hub to the steering knuckle. The vibrations from hammering with a rubber mallet will pull the wheel hub bearing free. Remove the hub completely from the Denali. Sand the hub mounting area on the steering knuckle to remove any corrosion from the front of the knuckle, and to give you a fresh mounting surface.

Front Hub Bearing Installation Instructions

  • Apply a generous portion of grease the front mounting surface on the steering knuckle. Apply grease to the inside of the hub bearing mounting hole on the steering knuckle. Hold the new hub bearing up to the steering knuckle mounting hole with one hand. Pull the connector wire through the mounting hole, then push the hub bearing into place. The axle should go through the rear of the wheel bearing, and the bearing presses directly against the face of the steering knuckle. Start the hub bearing mounting bolts by hand.

  • Tighten the wheel bearing mounting bolts with a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket, along with a 6-inch extension only until they are snug. Remove the extension and socket from the ratchet and install them onto a 3/8-inch drive torque wrench. Tighten the wheel bearing mounting bolts completely to 133-foot-pounds of torque. Install the spindle nut onto the end of the axle, and tighten the nut to 106-foot-pounds of torque using a 3/8-inch drive torque wrench and socket. Connect the electrical wiring connectors together by simply pushing them together with you hands.

  • Lubricate the front face of the new hub thoroughly. Install the brake rotor onto the new hub, and install a wheel nut by hand to hold the rotor in place. Install the brake caliper and bracket over the brake rotor. Install and tighten the brake caliper bracket mounting bolts, using a 3/8-inch drive torque wrench and socket. Tighten the caliper bracket bolts to 90-foot-pounds of torque with the torque wrench and socket.

  • Install the front wheel onto the Denali, and tighten the wheel nuts until they are snug, using a tire iron. Raise the front end of the Yukon up with the 2-ton jack, and remove the jack stand from beneath the truck. Lower the Denali to the ground. Immediately torque the wheel lug nuts to 95-foot-pounds of torque with a 1/2-inch torque wrench and a 19-millimeter wheel nut socket.

  • Step into the Denali and pump the brake pedal 5 to 10 times. This will ensure that you reset the tension on the front brakes, after removing and installing the entire brake assembly.

Tips & Warnings

  • When replacing hub bearings, it is recommended that you do so in pairs. This article is a guide for replacement of only one hub bearing, but it is universal for use on both front sides of the 2003 Denali.
  • Never lift a vehicle on uneven ground or a slope. Lifting a vehicle on uneven ground can cause jacks and jack stands to collapse. Failure to adhere to this warning could result in vehicle damage, personal injury, or even death if the vehicle collapses onto you.

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