Car encyclopedia

Wheel Bearing Replacement -Rear

When the rear wheel bearings are defective, the vehicle will make a rumbling and/or growling noise from the rear wheels that is noticeable from speeds of around 15 mph. The noise will get louder as the vehicle increases its speed above 15 mph and may intensify as the vehicle goes around curves. 

It takes a skilled technician to replace rear wheel bearings. They must use special tools, disassemble the rear brakes, steering and suspension components all while the vehicle is off the ground on jack stands or up on a hoist. In some cases a 10 ton hydraulic press must be used to force the old bearings out and the new bearings in place. 

There are 4 different types of wheel bearings used on the front of a vehicle:

  • (A) hub type wheel bearing
  • (B) sealed type wheel bearing
  • (C) tapered wheel bearing set
  • (D) axle mounted wheel bearing 

Below are the different replacement procedures for each type of wheel bearing:

(A) How to replace a hub type wheel bearing

  1. Before raising the vehicle, remove the axle nut
  2. Raise the vehicle and remove the wheel and all of the brake components
  3. In some cases you may have to work from the back of the hub to access the fasteners
  4. Remove the wheel bearing hub fasteners and remove the hub
  5. Install the new wheel bearing hub assembly and torque the fasteners
  6. Re-install the brake components and wheel
  7. While the vehicle is on the ground, torque the axle nut and lug nuts to factory spec
  8. Test drive the vehicle to verify that the new wheel bearing is smooth and quiet

(B) How to replace a sealed wheel bearing

  1. Before raising the vehicle, remove the axle nut
  2. Raise the vehicle and remove the wheel and all of the brake components
  3. Disconnect the outer tie-rod end, ball joint and sway bar link
  4. Remove the axle from the transmission and steering knuckle
  5. Disconnect the  ball joint, steering knuckle fasteners and remove the steering knuckle
  6. Using a hydraulic press, separate the wheel hub from the steering knuckle
  7. Remove the backing plate and snap-ring securing the wheel bearing
  8. If equipped, remove any seals and press out the entire sealed wheel bearing
  9. Press in the new sealed wheel bearing, by applying force ONLY to the outer race
  10. Re-install the snap-ring ring, any needed seals and the backing plate
  11. Press in the wheel hub while supporting the inner wheel bearing race
  12. Re-install the steering knuckle, the axle and reconnect the steering components
  13. Re-install the brake components and wheel
  14. While the vehicle is on the ground, torque the axle nut and lug nuts to factory spec
  15. Test drive the vehicle to verify that the new wheel bearing is smooth and quiet

(C) How to replace a tapered wheel bearing set

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle and remove the front wheel
  2. Remove the brake components and wheel bearing dust cap
  3. Remove the axle nut cotter pin and remove the axle nut
  4. Remove the wheel hub, being careful not to drop the wheel bearings
  5. Remove any seals and remove the wheel bearings
  6. Remove the wheel bearings and the outer race from the hub
  7. Remove the inner race from the axle
  8. Clean the hub and axle to remove any dirt and old bearing grease
  9. Install the new inner bearing race on the axle and the new outer race in to the hub
  10. Carefully pack the new bearings with the correct type of grease
  11. Place the new bearings into hub and install the seal(s)
  12. Install the hub on to the axle and torque the axle nut to the specified pre-load
  13. Install a new axle nut cotter and install the dust cap
  14. Re-install the brake components and wheel
  15. Torque the wheel lug nuts and test drive the vehicle to verify that the new wheel bearings operate smoothly and quietly

(D) How to replace an axle mounted wheel bearing

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle
  2. Remove the wheel and all of the brake components
  3. If equipped, remove any locking axle clips in the differential
  4. Remove the axle and press off the bearing and remove the seal
  5. Remove and replace the outer bearing race in the differential housing
  6. Install the seal and press on the new bearing to the axle
  7. Install the axle, its locking clip and torque the backing plate fasteners
  8. Re-install the brake components and wheel
  9. Torque the wheel lug nuts and top off any lost differential fluid
  10. Test drive the vehicle to verify that the new wheel bearing is smooth and quiet
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