The Honda Civic uses a double-wishbone front suspension system and pressed-in wheel bearings called hub bearings. This system is durable and light weight, perfect for the small, nimble Civic. When the wheel bearings do wear out, new ones must be pressed in with a press to avoid damaging the new bearing or the steering knuckle.
Removing the Steering Knuckle
The steering knuckle should be removed in a logical order. It is attached to the rest of the suspension by the ball joints, the tie rod end and the drive axle nut.
The first step in the process is removal of the axle nut. Removal of this nut requires a long breaker bar or air-powered impact gun. When using the breaker bar method, have someone hold the brakes while you loosen the axle nut. This prevents the vehicle from moving and possibly falling off the jack.
Continue removing the steering knuckle by removing the tie rod end; this allows easy movement of the steering knuckle for access to the remaining fasteners.
Once the axle nut and tie rod are removed, the ball joints can be removed. The preferred order is the lower ball joint first because this allows you to slip the axle out of the hub. The upper ball joint can then be released, and the steering knuckle comes out easily.
Where to Get the Bearing Pressed In
Since the bearing is a pressed-in unit, a trip to the local auto parts store or repair shop may be in order. There, they will remove the lock rings and press the old bearing out with a hydraulic press. Then they'll clean and lube the surfaces, and press the new bearing in to the steering knuckle and the hub back into the new bearing.
Making the first stop at the auto parts store can save running around time. The charge for pressing in the bearing could be lower if you purchase the bearing there, and even if they don't offer the service, they will know who does.
Reinstalling the Steering Knuckle
Reinstalling the steering knuckle, with the new bearing installed, is a reverse order procedure. Start with the upper ball joint, then reinsert the axle and install on the lower ball joint. The key to making this procedure go smoothly is to clean and grease the splines on the axle and hub so they slide together easily. Then make sure that the ball joints and tie rod studs are clean. They wedge into a tapered hole in the steering knuckle. When both of those surfaces are clean, they won't slip against each other while you are trying to tighten the fasteners.
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