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Pelican Technical Article:

BMW E30 3 Series Front Wheel Bearing Replacement
Jared Fenton
Wayne R. Dempsey

Difficulty Level: 3
Difficulty scale: Adding air to your tires is level one
Rebuilding a BMW Motor is level ten

     Are you starting to hear a grinding, wobbling noise coming from your front wheels? Have you noticed a wheel that shakes when you drive? Chances are the wheel bearings may be starting to fail. With most of the E30’s now reaching well over 250,000 miles or more, the wheel bearings may be starting to show their age. In this tech article, I will go over the steps involved with removing the old wheel bearings and installing the new units. It is a relatively easy procedure and should be able to be performed in a few hours. This article applies to all BMW E30 3 Series models from 1984-91. In this article, we will be using my 325is as the vehicle in question

     The first step is to chock the rear wheels to keep them form rolling, then loosen the front lug bolts (but do not remove) and jack the front of the car up. You should make sure to jack the car up on a frame rail or other re-enforced part of the car’s chassis to prevent the jack from damaging the body or worse. (I have seen cars that have holes through the floorboards from jacking the wrong way) A good reference is Wayne’s article on jacking up the BMW E36.

 http://www.pelicanparts.com/bmw/techarticles/E36-Jacking_Up/E36-Jacking_Up.htm

     Once the car has been jacked up and is firmly supported on jack stands, remove the lug bolts and pull the front wheels off. You will now see a dust cap in the center of the rotor. Pry these both off. You will now see a large nut inside with a pin driven inside the axle shaft. Use a flat-head screwdriver to pry this pin back and out of the axle shaft. Now have a helper apply the brakes and loosen the nut. It may be helpful to use an impact wrench to get this nut off, as it is torques down to 210 ft./lbs. do not remove the nut at this time. We just need to get them loose.

     Now, look behind the brake caliper and disconnect the ABS speed sensors on both wheels. Also disconnect the brake wear indicator sensor on the driver’s side wheel. Now look at the back of the brake calipers. You will see two bolts that hold the calipers to the mounting bracket. Remove these bolts and pull the calipers off. Now you will be able to pull the brake calipers off the mounting bracket.  Use a zip-tie or wire to suspend the brake caliper. Do not let the caliper hang by the brake lines, you may rip the lines. Now, remove the two 19mm bolts that hold the caliper mounting bracket to the hub, and remove the caliper mounting brackets.

     We now must remove the brake rotors. This is done by first removing the small Allen head set screw in the front of the rotor. You may find it helpful to spray these bolts with a good penetrant spray like WD-40 and let them sit overnight. This will prevent the screws from stripping or seizing. Remove the screws and pull the rotors off the hubs.

     Now, we need to use a puller to remove the wheel hub from the car. Thread the puller onto the hub using the holes for the lug bolts and center the puller on the axle shaft. Now remove the hub. It may take a while to remove this, so use plenty of WD-40 and keep pulling. Once off, remove the dust shield form the old hub, and transfer it onto the new hub.

     The wheel bearings on the E30 are an integral part of the hub, so the whole hub assembly must be replaced. The new hubs will come with the bearings already pre-installed. Take the new bearing/hub ad place it on the axle shaft. Use the puller to push it onto the axle shaft. Keep in mind to apply force only to the inner bearing race as you could damage the bearing. Drive the bearings as far as they will go onto the shaft. Now re-install the retaining nut, but do not tighten it right now.

     Now re-install the brake rotors, and use a new set screw to hold it in place. The old set screws are designed for one use only and can snap or break if you try to re-use them. Put the new set screws in and torque them to 12 ft./lbs.

     Next, fit the brake caliper mounting brackets over the rotor and bolt them back on to the hub. Torque the bolts to 81 ft./lbs. Now cut the zip-ties holding the rotors and place the brake pads into the calipers. Place the calipers back onto the mounting bracket and re-install the 14mm bolts that hold them to the mounting bracket. Re-connect the ABS speed sensors and the brake wear indicator on the driver’s side.

     Have an assistant apply the brakes and torque the axle-retaining nut to 210 ft./lbs. You may find it helpful to use an impact wrench to get it on there. Once torqued, use a screwdriver to bend the tang into the axle shaft. This will keep the nuts from coming off. Now put a little bit of grease inside the dust cap and put them back on. Put the wheels back on and install the lug bolts (but do not tighten) now lower the car and tighten the lug bolts in a criss-cross pattern.  

     Well, there you have it - it's really not too difficult at all.  If you would like to see more technical articles like this one, please continue to support Pelican Parts with all your parts needs.  If you like what you see here, then please visit our online BMW catalog and help support the collection and creating of new and informative technical articles like this one.  Your continued support directly affects the expansion and existence of this site and technical articles like this one.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about this helpful article, please drop us a line.

Comments and Suggestions:
Joeyk Comments: Thank you for this and all of your articles. Very helpful.
August 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Shawn Comments: Please explain or show a photo of how to use the puller to drive the bearing/hub assembly onto the spindle. A typical puller will not screw onto the threaded spindle. Thank you.
May 14, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If we get the chance to, we will. We are not currently performing the procedure and do not have an E30 subject vehicle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
george sara Comments: I have no comment at the moment because this my first visit to you're on line shopping
January 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for stopping by. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Kaleb Comments: "Use the puller to push it onto the axle shaft." I am having trouble visualizing what you mean by this? Could you clarify a bit, as to where to place the puller arms, etc? Thanks.
March 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The tool grabs the axle threads and pull the shaft into the bearing. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Lem Comments: You forgot the step to remove the retaining nut. You just go from removing the rotors to using the puller on the hub.
December 17, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes sometimes there is a retaining bolt for the rotors, sometimes it gets discarded during a brake job - Nick at Pelican Parts  
JT Comments: I have the exact same problem as Jason below. It is not yet a constant issue wouldn't do it when I took it to my mechanic, but it's starting to happen more and more, and it has me worried. What could this be? Bearings or something else?
May 2, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try checking for a rubbling noise in your front end while making left and right hand turns. - Kerry at Pelican Parts  
Alan Comments: what size is the axel nut for 1986 bmw 325e? thank you
October 18, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: it should be 36mm
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
arieLICIOUS Comments: hello there i'm very glad find this page, my name is arie n i'm from indonesia, how can i get ALL bearing transmision part for Manual Transmision E36 M52 1995, how much for it all? how much for shipping cost to Prabumulih,South Sumatera, Indonesia 31122.
Thanks n Hope to hear fast respon from you.

Best Regards
::arie
arie_mdn2005@yahoo.com
August 31, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right part, and give you a price on shipping.


- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jason Comments: I have an extremly loud noise that occasionally come from the front end only at lower speeds. The noise will go away when I turn the steering wheel or apply some brake pressure. The rotors and pads are in great shape. Could this be a wheel bearing?
August 12, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It sounds like you have a bad wheel bearing. Raise the front end and check for play in the wheel bearings.


- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
connor Comments: when i hit bumps or pot holes, it feels like my wheel is shaking like the lugs are loose... they aren't. and i'm not hearing any grinding. could the wheel bearing be the problem? thanks
July 8, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check the front end for play and replace any loose parts, also take a look at the struts to see if they are leaking or worn.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
E30MCHENRY Comments: WHERE CAN I BUY THE PULLER FOR THE PROCEDURE?? AFFORDABILITY IS KEY
June 15, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can help you find the right tool.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Shane Comments: Wayne, thanks for all the help. Im curios, i just bought a '86 325e but it has a clicking sound when i brake that doesn't sound too good, i can feel it in the steering wheel a bit. would this be a wheel bearing, steering, or brake problem?
March 15, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Only when braking? I would think it's something related to the calipers and the discs then. It may be as simple as a rock stuc somewhere in the vicinity of the wheel and/or tire. Try jacking up the car and spinning the wheel with the brakes on and off to see if you can replicate the noise. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
sam Comments: Thanks,i think you might be right about the brakes.They are finished,from yesterday the car cant stop and the noise is worse when i force to brake and i will check the wheel bearings too.Thank you.
August 10, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
SAM Comments: I have a noise on my 325i steering wheel,when turning and sometimes when just driving.A sharp squeeling noise while turning and a thick humping noise when driving.What might be wrong?
July 7, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Squeeling is typically brakes. Thick humping noise is typically something with the driveshaft (bearing?) or wheel bearings. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
maark24 Comments: Tech article says "The new hubs will come with the bearings already pre-installed." I can't locate rears, only fronts. Got p/n? Supplier? Thanks.
May 12, 2010
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you call over to our sales guys at 1-888-280-7799, they can hook you up with the proper hub. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
maark24 Comments: any pics of the puller setup? how does it become a pusher to reinstall?
October 6, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I have an article coming soon with lots of photos where we perform this on a 996 Twin Turbo. The procedure and tool is the same, it will be up on the site semi-soon. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  
Zach Comments: 36mm
October 5, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
tony Comments: thank u really helpfull
September 17, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.

- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
raysaenz Comments: What size is the front axle nut on 1991 318is? 35mm?
June 28, 2009
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I'm not 100% sure, the BMW documentation isn't specific on this. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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