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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 10-12-2014, 04:48 PM   #1
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: VA
Posts: 81
My Ride: '01 330ci
Rear Wheel Bearing, Hub, and Axle Shaft Replacement Tips:

I had a metal rapping sound from the right rear of my 330ci. It was speed specific and would get faster as the wheel would go faster. I had a mechanic ride with me and he said it was the left rear wheel bearing. He then told me they couldn't do it because they didn't have the BMW tool. I looked on this forum and around the internet and found it could be done without the tool.

I replaced the bearing, hub, and axle as well while I was in there with everything removed. I wasn't 100% convinced it was the bearing and felt it could be the axle shaft. So I went ahead and replaced it also. After getting finished and test driving it, the noise was gone. This is a 2001 330CI with 165,000+ miles on it. Here are some tips that may help someone-

- If you're replacing the axle, make sure you go to: http://www.realoem.com/bmw/select.do and check the part numbers for the axles. Since mine was a 330, the axles were different than lower model numbers.

- The week before starting, I removed the wheel and sprayed PB Blaster around the disc allen bolt and sprayed into each mounting hole hoping it would possibly soak down between the disc and hub. The allen bolt came right out with no problem and the disc came off with two sharp raps of a sledge. I also removed the center cap on the wheel and I would spray PB Blaster all around the nut. I did this each morning before I left hoping the movement would help the PB Blaster get in and around the nut and maybe to the axle splines. It may not have helped, but it didn't hurt.

- Instead of the nut collar being staked at an angle on the axle end indentations, it was hammered straight in making it impossible to hammer a screwdriver in between and pry the collar away from the axle on either side. I had to use a drill to drill both sides to remove enough material so the nut could be broken loose.
- I used an old Harbor Freight Chicago Electric impact gun (paid $30 at the time) item# 68099 - http://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-e...nch-68099.html - to remove the axle nut. With several shots of the gun, the nut slowly started to move. I had a breaker bar on hand to use but didn't need it. I was surprised since HF isn't that great with some products. The quick hammering vibration of the gun on the nut is much better for loosening than a steady pressure with a breaker bar. Not to mention the repeated shock will loosen rust bond somewhat.

- The axle shaft was seized in the hub splines as it typically does. I spun the axle nut on several turns and used it to center a heavy solid metal rod. I used a jack to steady the rod at the nut and with all my might hit it probably 15 times with a full sized 8 lbs sledge. Didn't budge a millimeter. Removed it and used a 5-ton three jaw puller I got as a loaner from Autozone part# 27078 - http://www.autozone.com/autozone/acc...er=516519_0_0_ I flipped the arms around to the wider width because the edge of the hub is tapered at the rear and the smaller width arms kept popping off. I SLOWLY cranked on the center bolt and heard the pop of the axle starting to break loose. I didn't have much confidence in the puller since the center bolt was rather small with smaller threads. But it worked. Of course loosen the 6 E14 axle bolts at the diff housing and move the axle off the diff. There may be enough flexibility in the CV connections, but to be safe I moved the axle off.

- I chose to use a MAC slide hammer/hub puller that I borrowed from a friend to remove the hub. I read on this forum where using the method of a large bearing separator and wheel bolts will deform the e-brake backing plate on a 330. This also saved me from having to remove the parking brake/shoes. I did buy the large bearing separator just in case, but returned it. You can get a hub remover as a loaner from Autozone, Advance Auto, or Pep Boys. The hub came off after 5 hard whacks with the remover. I think this should be the preferred method since you don't have to fiddle with the e-brake shoes and after removing the axle nut and axle, the hub is only held with the pressed force into the center of the bearing. It should come off fairly easily.

- First, if you don't have a good heavy set of cir-clip/snap ring pliers either buy some or get them from a friend. I couldn't find a place that loaned them, so I ended up buying the 10" set from Harbor Freight. They wouldn't even close enough to get the snap ring off. I had to use my channel-lock pliers to squeeze the pliers to get the ring off and on. HF snap ring pliers are junk.
- To remove the bearing, I bought the Harbor Freight Front Wheel Bearing Adapters set item# 66829 - http://www.harborfreight.com/fwd-fro...ers-66829.html I read where people snap the head of the bolt with this set. So, I choose to go to LOWES and buy a 12" 3/4" threaded rod and three nuts (cost $8 or so total). I used these first and it pulled the bearing out. Just make sure you use the largest sized HF adapter that will fit into the opening for the rear of the bearing.
- I used the same rod to install the new bearing also. Use a larger adapter for the rear that extends beyond the rear opening to press the new bearing in.
- Use the same sized rear HF adapter as when you removed the bearing, when installing the hub. That way you won't press out the center race of the bearing while pressing the hub shaft into the center of the bearing.

All in all it's wasn't that horrible of a job. I only had this car to use, so I had a back up tool for each job. For ex.- Electric impact & breaker bar, sledge with a rod & 3-jaw puller etc. Just in case one didn't work. I also took 2 days to do it so I wasn't pressured or rushed to get everything done. This site has saved me on many things and I hope this will help someone in the future.
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