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-   -   E46 front wheel bearing DIY (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=610725)

GDA 09-23-2008 08:46 PM

E46 front wheel bearing DIY
Project 6k E46 got its first major repair today - front wheel bearing. In searching for a diy I didnt really find any with pics so I thought I'd document mine today for the benefit of others. Here goes...

Tools needed

Jack and jackstands
10mm deep socket
16mm socket
17mm deep socket
32 or 36mm socket
46mm socket

3/8 and 1/2 ratchet - long handles help
1/2 impact wrench (not necessary tho.. otherwise 1/2 long breaker bar)
6mm hex
deadblow hammer
hand impact driver (not necessary but helps with rusted brake retainer bolt)
prybar or large screwdriver
long centering punch or the like

3/8 and 1/2 drive torque wrenches or ones to cover 10 lb ft to well over 200 lb ft

1 Jack car up and place on jackstands

2 using impact wrench and 17mm socket remove front wheel


3 using 3/8 long ratchet and 16mm short socket remove caliper retaining bolts


4 remove brake caliper and suspend with wire from strut being careful to not bend the brake hose


5 grab hand impact driver with hex and remove brake disc retaining bolt


6 use prybar/punch or screwdriver to gently pry off hub cover


7 take center punch or screwdriver and use small hammer to tap out the pressed in portion of the hub nut


8 when done pushing out the pressed in portion it should look like this


GDA 09-23-2008 08:46 PM

9 use 1/2 impact and 46mm socket to remove hub nut - alternatively you could use 18 inch or larger 1/2 ratchet or breaker bar and still easily get this nut off


10 once you get the large hub nut off it looks like this


11 grab a slide hammer or wheel hub press tool and start building your hub removal tool


12 I like to use a slide hammer so it looks like this...


or if you want to use a hub press removal tool with a wrench to press it out it might look something like this


13 one nice whack with the slide hammer and you should get off the hub and bearing which might just leave the inner race


and you will also see this view of the spindle


14 use a dremel or long and thin two jaw puller to get off the inner race


I used a two jaw puller so it looked like this


15 all thats left is the spindle, rear seal cover and brake disc cover so use a punch or something thin to press/gently tap out the inner seal cover to clean it and also the surrounds of the spindle assembly (not required but we all want to do this right)


GDA 09-23-2008 08:47 PM

16 use a 10mm deep socket to remove the 3 bolts holding the rear brake cover in order to clean it and remove any accumulated junk that might be held in the assembly near the abs sensor and rear seal cover


17 clean up the spindle and get ready to get on to the install


18 grab your new front wheel bearing and using a 32 or 36mm socket gently press/tap on the new wheel bearing - I used a 36mm socket and gently tapped it on with a deadblow. You might get lucky and be able to slide on the new bearing by hand. Be careful not to separate the front and rear inner races while installing as you might introduce grit into the new bearing and that might cause an early demise.


19 after you have it tapped on far enough you should be looking at something like this


20 now you can install and torque the hub nut to specs - check Bentley for your model. Mine was 214 lb ft.


21 now using a punch or like dent in the outer portion of the hub nut as a safety precaution


GDA 09-23-2008 08:47 PM

22 I like to use anti seize on the hub and surround so that brake discs are easy to remove so I lightly coat the hub


23 reinstall the brake disc and torque the retaining bolt to 12 lb ft or per Bentley for your model and then reinstall caliper and torque the caliper to the spindle per Bentley (81 lb ft for my 01 325)


24 clean the hub cover and apply light coat of anti seize on the lip and then gently tap it on with a deadblow


All thats left is to install the wheel and you're good to go. Celebrate success with your favorite cold one... possibly two :thumbsup:

Oh, heres a close up of a front that was just starting to blow out its guts and its a sign of a failing/close to fail wheel bearing - note the grease spewing out from behind where the hub nut would have been. My hub nut was covered in brown grease so this bearing probably had less than a couple thousand miles before it would have been totally gone.


Hope this helps,

vaio76109 09-23-2008 11:02 PM


DBLAZE 09-23-2008 11:43 PM

Nice DIY! Please post in the DIY section as well (or let the mods move it). Very detailed indeed!

CessnaPilot 09-24-2008 12:00 AM

Can you show us the old bearings and give a little on why you did it? If the answer is "just 'cause" then I say cool. BTW that might just be the most sierra hotel torque wrench I think I've ever seen.

Arsevader 09-24-2008 12:48 AM

Great DIY though you should just throw away that hub dust cover and use a new one. They get damaged when you remove them which allows dirt to enter the hub. They are super cheap at the dealer.

brycerichert 09-24-2008 01:17 AM

great writeup!

Gadgetrick 09-24-2008 06:26 AM

How long should bearings last?

Great DIY but I don't think I could do this one myself. First of all, I don't have the tools... :)

ssm1991 09-24-2008 07:25 AM

One of the best and most detailed DIYs I've seen. And there are a lot of good ones here. One month member and already contributes bigtime. :thumbsup:

GoingNuts 09-24-2008 07:32 AM


Originally Posted by Gadgetrick (Post 8578437)
How long should bearings last?

Great DIY but I don't think I could do this one myself. First of all, I don't have the tools... :)

I was thinking the same. But being tool-less, I believe it may be possible to drop the weight of the car on the hub to force it loose. Obviously this has to be done carefully.

Arsevader 09-24-2008 10:10 AM


Originally Posted by GoingNuts (Post 8578525)
I was thinking the same. But being tool-less, I believe it may be possible to drop the weight of the car on the hub to force it loose. Obviously this has to be done carefully.

This sounds like a bad idea.

The slide hammer that the OP used is nice but not actually needed.

The only tools you actually need are easily available at most auto parts stores for purchase or even borrowing.

When I did my front hubs, a 3 leg puller was perfectly fine to pull off the hub.

As noted I would actually replace the front dust cap and in fact the rear seal as it can get deformed when you pull the inner race off the spindle. It's cheap insurance.

nathancarter 09-24-2008 10:16 AM

Very nice! Great photos too. Thanks for your time and effort.

n2Bimmer 09-24-2008 10:39 AM

good job, but you dont need all those fancy puller, i did mine a few months back and it was pretty easy taking them apart, just smack it with a hammer, but if you have the pullers just use them. hey anyone have a DIY for the rears, i hear the rears are much harder

hoppa79 09-24-2008 05:12 PM

Great post~

How many miles were on the car before you switched the wheel bearings?

GDA 09-24-2008 06:27 PM

Thanks for the words guys.

To respond to a couple questions -

I bought most of my tools used off ebay and craigslist over the last 3 to 4 years so those who dont have tools now should not be shy on getting started on their own collection. Pretty soon after a couple months you will look back and realize how many new things you can accomplish by yourself.

Last pic in the write-up is the front driver wheel bearing that I just removed off the car. The car has 133k miles and there were no records of any wheel bearings being replaced. I was getting some groans on the freeway and some low marble/grumbling when slowing down below 20 mph so I decided to do all four as part of the full suspension refresh and 330 brake swap. I plan to the other front tonight. :D

Several posts on replacement of hub cover and rear seal are spot on. I have done a couple of these so I was very careful in taking them off so I wouldnt damage them. If I wasn't able to get them off in great condition I would have replaced them.

The pullers make this an easy job and all of the types pictured can be rented from Autozone for a day for low fee. I'd recommend to anyone to have a 3 leg hub puller or an OTC slide hammer and puller set in their toolbox. Both can be purchased for a pretty nominal amount and each will pay for themselves quickly. And also as noted you can also get this job done with a hammer/big prybar and a dremel too.

Oh, I have become a tool junkie and my Snap On techwrenches (torquewrench) are some of my favorite tools in my toolbox to use. :thumbsup:

n2Bimmer 09-24-2008 06:45 PM

when i replaced mine at 70k miles due to the hub threads being realllyy bad from stupid shops busting the bolts on the wheels, i only used the bearing/hub, it states that you need to replaced the dust cover and the cap, i bought it but didnt use it and just returned it at my dealer.

watchbuff 10-07-2008 08:36 AM

Would a wheel bearing act up from hitting a high curb too hard?

dokebito 02-17-2009 04:23 PM

how long did it take you to change the bearing out? my front passenger side bearing started making that annoying noise and i want to change it asap. my friend's dad has most of the tools (he's a mechanic) so i could spend a weekend fixing the bearing and get rid of that annoyin noise...

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