TBF Tech : How to CHANGE
A Wheel Bearing 

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Thanks to MACXR8 and RJs_EF for producing this article - to ask any questions about what you see here...

So, you’re driving along and you hear a disturbing sound coming from the vicinity of one of your wheels.  Sounds a bit like rushing water? Something scraping along under the car?  A bit ‘grindy’ even?

Once you've eliminated the other possible causes (brakes gone metal to metal, a stick or stone caught in a wheel) you may have to admit it - your wheel bearings may have packed it in….or maybe you just want to inspect them and see if they have been packed properly – and hopefully avoid hearing any disturbing noises!

NOTE: Repacking your wheel bearings is also highly recommended if you have driven through deep water - high enough to splash into or near your wheel bearings themselves, as the sudden cooling CAN cause them to ingest water, and that's assuming your bearing seals were in a good condition in the first place!

Bearings are pretty simple to inspect/change, and for most Ford’s, especially around the EF/EL era, they are also pretty cheap.

Applicability:

This method is generally unsuitable for most front or four wheel drive vehicles.

You will need:

  • Pliers (preferably needle-nose)
  • Ratchet and Socket set - 1/2" drive minimum.
  • Flat Blade Screwdriver
  • High Temperature grease (from auto parts store – less than 15 bucks and you’ll have some left over for next time)
  • Adjustable Spanner (medium size – up to about 25mm)
  • Fencing wire or wire coat-hanger - opened up.
  • Many, many rags.
  • A couple of free hours and, if you can swing it, a mate with a car (to drive you to the auto parts store if you lose or break the split-pin or something….)

 

Then get to it (you will find a more detailed explanation in a manual, however this will get you through quite easily):


BELOW: A typical front wheel, hub and bearing assembly:

INSTRUCTIONS:

Remember, if you've got any questions about this article, please click HERE...

1. Take the wheel off

2. Brake calliper off (2 bolts at back of it – about 10-12mm), use wire to lash it to the spring or something - keep the weight off the brake lines!!!  Make sure you don't let anybody get in the car between now and when you bolt them back on - if they accidentally step on or brush the brake pedal, you may be cleaning up a brake fluid spill not to mention having to bleed the brakes & re-insert the brake pistons in the calipers after careful cleaning!!!

3. Take the grease cap off the hub (use a screwdriver to pry it off).

4. Wipe away the greasy crap underneath so you can see what you're looking at

5. Take the split pin out (use pliers - preferably needle nose) - make sure you don't lose it.  It is a good idea to change the split pin, as bending and re-bending weakens it – each ‘half’ is about 2mm thick and the pin is about 30mm long, so buy one in advance.

6. Undo Nut and remove (good idea to place these bits in a container. The good Tupperware always goes down a treat – your wife/hubby/partner will love it :)

7. Pull the hub off.  The bearings will probably fall out, don't let them hit the ground - (but if you're replacing them who cares?)  There is an inner & an outer bearing – different sizes, so you can’t confuse them.  Take note of which goes where & what way around they fit to save yourself time & embarrassment on assembly later on.  If there's any sign of discolouration of the grease, or rust - change the wheel bearing & wheel bearing seal.

8. Clean all the old grease out from the inside of your brake rotor with a rag, make it all spotless (to avoid any incompatibility with greases).  Use an old paint brush and some parts-wash, kero or turpentine to wash the bearings clean - do NOT use petrol!!!  Dry them completely by blowing out with compressed air (preferably) but do not spin the bearing in your hand as it can fly to pieces ending up in your eye or somebody else's...  If you don't have compressed air, a good padding over with a clean rag or paper towel will do while slowly rotating the bearing in your hand...

8.1 - Carefully inspect the bearing for signs of damage or corrosion.  Both the bearing rollers & outer race should look like a dull chrome.  If there are ANY signs on either bearing of pitting, cracking (even micro cracks), discolouration of any kind, scoring, scratches or rust, replace both the wheel bearings & bearing seals.  If the outer race has been damaged, I would strongly recommend referring to a mechanic to have them press the old races out and install the new, as a press will be needed along with the appropriate tools.

8.2 - Carefully inspect the seal wiper lip for signs of wear.  Replace if any wear is apparent or if water / rust is found.  Carefully pry the old seal out with a screw driver being extra delicate not to damage the seating surface. Gently tap the new seal into position by using something flat (even a flat piece of timber will do) to spread the force across the whole seal all at once... 

9. Time to get messy with a high temp bearing grease - HTB - (you can get a suitable grease from auto parts store - just make sure you tell them what you need it for) usually for less than 15 buckeroonies a tub.  Put a liberal smear on the outer races (i.e. the bearing surfaces which should still be held captive inside of your brake rotor) and a bit more to partially fill the recess between these in the casting.

10. Pack the cleaned or new bearings by squishing them into the tub and pushing grease into them - very messy, but do it properly.  A good amount of grease will fill the gap between the rolling elements themselves.  Remember to push the grease into the cage both around the sides and ends of the rollers, and rotate the bearing in your hand just to make sure it gets all the way in...

11. Slide the new (packed) bearings onto the spindle where they belong (on greased components). The rear one can be put on the steering knuckle 'protruding bit' (make sure it’s the right way around) and then carefully put the hub back on.  Push it back and a little bit of grease should squeeze out - if you've put enough on, then put front bearing in place and push it all in.

12. Then put the retaining washer followed by the nut back on, and do it up gradually while turning the rotor.  You will probably be surprised how far it does up with a spanner, even though you may think you put the hub back on all the way.

12.5. From ‘macxr8’ (see forum pages): “Do them up too tight and it will wear too quickly, too loose and you get noises and you can even get funny brakes.”

Tighten the nut, as you tighten spin the rotor to help bed it all in. With a small screwdriver try moving the washer the nut sits on. It will be correct tension when you can move the washer freely without too much force. The washer should be able to sit at the top and not drop from its own weight. Once happy put the lock cage on and rotate till the holes for the split pin line up, you may have to move the nut slightly for it to line up.  It is better to do up fractionally more than to loosen.  You may have to recheck in a week or so as the bearings bed in.

A good idea also is to check a repair manual for the required torque setting for your vehicle - however a torque wrench will be required to successfully complete this.

13. Then the nut retaining cover thing...

14. Then install the Split pin.  Wrap it around the nut retainer by bending it into place.  The idea behind this is that it will stop the nut from undoing if it comes loose...

15.  Make sure it's all secure

16. Then lightly grease inside of the Grease Cap to stop corrosion (DO NOT fill this with grease) and put it back on - tapping it gently into place.  It may take a little thumping to get into place - it needs to be a little tight as this pressure is all that holds it there - make sure you get the alignment correct or it'll lock tight and you'll never get it all the way home!  Be gentle or you may dint the cap centre (which isn’t a disaster either) as they are generally made of pretty thin / soft material.

The grease cap - apart from keeping the dust out - is designed to provide an air space for the excess grease to expand out into when it gets hot.  Jamming this cap full of grease results in the grease having no where to go, and may actually result in the bearing overheating!!!  

17.  Bolt the brake calliper back on - put the annoying-to-line-up bolts back in and tighten (or use loctite if yours do not have the nut retaining wires).  Remove the calliper retaining wire from wheel arch.

18.  Wheel back on - nuts, etc.

19.  Wrestle with the wheel while it’s still up on jack (and no-ones underneath the car) to make sure there's no looseness indicated by clunking, spin the wheel, etc.  If it sounds abnormal - check it out.  Should be sweet though.  Most wheel bearings - even when they're desperately crook won't show up during this test!  If anything, you're more likely to hear the brake pads as they gently rub on the disc...

20. If you're absolutely sure that you've accomplished every step listed here perfectly, it's time for a slow test drive, with slow turns just to make sure there are no hidden surprises.

21. Relax. Crack a beer - you've done it!  Well done.


If you’re just checking the bearings, when you have them out, make sure hey have sufficient grease on them and they aren't marked or scored. If they are greasy and smooth – they’re most likely fine.  Even if you only check them, it's a good idea to remove the old grease and replace with new stuff.

If you need to get the bearing caps out of the hub, you can knock them out with a hammer and flat punch.  I used a heavy duty flat blade screwdriver, but you have to be gentle with that. You may not need to, I didn’t change them over on another car. They were fine.  If you want to do it, go for it - They are the metal seal thingy's that have a rubber seal around them. Pressed into the hub on each side. A bit of a pain in the butt, although do-able with a little patience. May add anywhere between 10 and 45mins to your time though.

Any problems (which there shouldn’t be) or if you want to ask some questions while getting ready to do it, feel free to do so
HERE.  (NB: Aaron asked, this is the answer he got!!)

Thanks to MACXR8 and RJs_EF for this article...

(back to the TBF tech pages)

Related Pages on www.trueblueford.com :  TBF tech, Engine & Ancillaries Forum Discussion
Discuss this car and more by clicking HERE.

 

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