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Wheel Bearing Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Wheel Bearing Replacement

Time:

4 hrs

Tab:

$120

Talent:

****

Tools:

Wheel bearing puller, breaker bar or torque wrench

Applicable Models:

 
Porsche 986 Boxster (1997-04)
Porsche 986 Boxster S (2000-04)
Porsche 987 Boxster (2005-12)
Porsche 987 Boxster S (2005-12)
Porsche 987 Cayman (2007-12)
Porsche 987 Cayman S (2006-12)

Parts Required:

Wheel bearing

Hot Tip:

Put the bearing in the freeze prior to installation

Performance Gain:

Smooth driving, no wheel noise

Complementary Modification:

Replace CV joints and boots
101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Wayne's new book, 101 Performance Projects for Your Porsche Boxster. The book contains 312 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 950+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any Boxster owner's collection. The book is currently available and in stock now. See The Official Book Website for more details.

Wheel bearing replacement has always been one of those tasks that I have found very difficult to explain in text. So, for this project, I have simply arranged them in order with captions.
Wheel bearing replacement has always been one of those tasks that I have found very difficult to explain in text.
Figure 1

Wheel bearing replacement has always been one of those tasks that I have found very difficult to explain in text. So, for this project, I have simply arranged them in order with captions. This first photo shows the wheel hub after the car has been raised (Pelican Technical Article: Jacking Up and Lifting the Boxster on Jack Stands), the caliper removed, and the brake disc removed as well (Pelican Technical Article: Brake Rotor Replacement). Also, before you raise the car off the ground, remove the center wheel hub cap (see Photo 3 of Pelican Technical Article: Tire and Wheel Sizing) and loosen the axle nut (blue arrow) with a very long breaker bar while the tire is still on the ground and car is in gear with the parking brake on. The photos for this project are of a front wheel bearing for a 996 Turbo, but the whole assembly is very similar to the Boxster setup.

We're going to be removing the whole wheel bearing carrier here, so we need to disconnect everything that is connected to it.
Figure 2

We're going to be removing the whole wheel bearing carrier here, so we need to disconnect everything that is connected to it. Disconnect the tie rod from the wheel bearing carrier (inset photo - see Pelican Technical Article: Front/Rear Suspension Overhaul), and also loosen the clamp nut (green arrow) that holds the shock (see Pelican Technical Article: Replacing Shocks & Springs). Disconnect the sway bar drop link (Pelican Technical Article: Front/Rear Suspension Overhaul). Disconnect the wheel speed sensor at its connector.

If you didn't loosen up the axle nut while the car was still on the ground, you can use an impact tool to remove the nut (inset photo).
Figure 3

If you didn't loosen up the axle nut while the car was still on the ground, you can use an impact tool to remove the nut (inset photo). This nut is on very tight, and you might have to work at it with the impact wrench in order to get the nut off.

Use a high quality ball joint removal tool (yellow arrow) to separate the ball joint from the wheel bearing carrier.
Figure 4

Use a high quality ball joint removal tool (yellow arrow) to separate the ball joint from the wheel bearing carrier. When the joint is loose, use a pry bar (blue arrow) to push the control arm (green arrow) down while you lift up the carrier. Push the control arm out of the way and then you should be able to slide the carrier off of the shock. If you can't get deflect the control arm enough, then loosen the bolt at the other end of the control arm and you should be able to drop it down further. Don't retighten this bolt until the car is back on the ground in its fully weighted position. Remove the wheel speed sensor from the carrier when you have it on your bench.

Here's the axle with the carrier removed.
Figure 5

Here's the axle with the carrier removed. Again, this is from a 4WD 996 Turbo, so there's a drive axle attached to this particular carrier. This design is very similar to the front and rear Boxster wheel carrier though. The toothed section of the axle generates a signal that is read by the wheel speed sensor that is mounted inside the carrier. If your CV joints need attention, or your rubber boot is ripped or damaged, then now would be the ideal time to replace it (see Pelican Technical Article: Replacing CV Joints and Boots / Axle Replacement).

The problem with this car was suspected to lie within the wheel bearing, but we weren't 100% sure.
Figure 6

The problem with this car was suspected to lie within the wheel bearing, but we weren't 100% sure. With the carrier out and on the bench, a simple spin of the bearing gave the answer: the bearing was toast. It felt like there was sand or something in the bearing and its rotation was rough, not smooth.

Positioning the wheel bearing carrier in Callas Rennsports' hydraulic press, we pushed out the inner hub (the part that the brake disc and wheel attaches to.
Figure 7

Positioning the wheel bearing carrier in Callas Rennsports' hydraulic press, we pushed out the inner hub (the part that the brake disc and wheel attaches to. As is common with wheel bearing replacements, the bearing itself fell apart and half of it remained attached to the hub (inset).

To clean up the hub, we used a standard bearing puller to remove the remains of the wheel bearing off of the hub.
Figure 8

To clean up the hub, we used a standard bearing puller to remove the remains of the wheel bearing off of the hub. The inset photo shows the hub all cleaned up with all remnants of the old bearing removed.

When the hub was removed from the wheel bearing carrier, the bearing split into two parts: one that was stuck on the hub, and the remainder that was stuck inside the carrier.
Figure 9

When the hub was removed from the wheel bearing carrier, the bearing split into two parts: one that was stuck on the hub, and the remainder that was stuck inside the carrier. We went back to the press to remove the remains of the bearing. Remove the bearing retainer plate first (inset, lower right). With the bearing completely pressed out of the carrier, it should look like the inset photo in the lower left.

Here's a neat photo showing the physical damage on the worn out wheel bearing.
Figure 10

Here's a neat photo showing the physical damage on the worn out wheel bearing. The blue arrow shows pitting of the bearing surface: once this starts in a section of the bearing, it tends to continue and get worse. The bearing should be smooth like the section indicated by the purple arrow. The other half of the bearing is also showing the same deterioration and pitting. Although the seal on the bearing looked intact, this amount of damage leads me to believe there had been some type of contamination issue at play here.

Using the hydraulic press, you can easily install the new bearing.
Figure 11

Using the hydraulic press, you can easily install the new bearing. New bearings should be kept in the freezer right up until they are installed in the car (inset). If they are very cold, it will make pressing them into the wheel carrier much easier. During installation, press on the outer race of the bearing only: don't place any force on the inner race, as this can damage the bearing. Install the bearing with the numbers facing towards the wheel hub. Typically the red / orange seal goes towards the inside of the car. NOTE: The dark part of the seal on 987, 997, Cayman, and Cayenne (and probably Panamera) contains a built in magnetic pulse ring, and must be installed facing towards the sensor.

Shown here is the wheel bearing carrier from both sides with the new bearing installed and the bearing retainer plate in place.
Figure 12

Shown here is the wheel bearing carrier from both sides with the new bearing installed and the bearing retainer plate in place.

With the new bearing installed in the wheel bearing carrier, it's time now to install the hub back into the inside race of the bearing.
Figure 13

With the new bearing installed in the wheel bearing carrier, it's time now to install the hub back into the inside race of the bearing. This is performed using a wheel bearing installation tool (blue arrow). Using a circular backing plate that is the same size as the inner race (yellow arrow), the tool pushes the hub inwards while compressing on the inner race. Crank down the bearing installation tool until the inside surface of the hub rests against the surface of the inner race of the bearing (green arrow). The inset photo in the lower left shows what the backside of the installed bearing / hub assembly should look like when the hub is fully installed. Test the hub on the bearing with a few test spins. Don't be alarmed if it doesn't spin too freely: new bearings are generally pretty stiff at first.

Reinstall the wheel bearing carrier back onto the car securing the ball join, shock tower, sway bar, tie rod, speed sensor connection, brake disc, brake caliper, and anything else you disconnected in the process.
Figure 14

Reinstall the wheel bearing carrier back onto the car securing the ball join, shock tower, sway bar, tie rod, speed sensor connection, brake disc, brake caliper, and anything else you disconnected in the process. Tighten up the axle using a brand new nut.

With the car back on the ground, use a really big torque wrench to tighten up the axle nut.
Figure 15

With the car back on the ground, use a really big torque wrench to tighten up the axle nut. If you don't have a really big torque wrench, you can use a long breaker bar and your bodyweight to apply the torque. The torque value for this nut is 340 ft-lbs, so if you divide 340 by your weight (for example 200 lbs), you will need to stand on your breaker bar with your full weight, 1.7 ft (1 ft, 8 inches) away from the center of the wheel. Do this with the breaker bar perfectly parallel with the floor.

It's important to note that you do not always need to remove the wheel bearing carrier from the car in order to remove the wheel bearings.
Figure 16

It's important to note that you do not always need to remove the wheel bearing carrier from the car in order to remove the wheel bearings. In the case of the 4WD Turbo, it was necessary because the axle was inserted in the inside of the carrier, and it was not possible to remove it without removing the carrier. In some cases, you can replace the wheel bearing with the carrier still installed in the car and avoid using the hydraulic press altogether. In this photo (and photo 17 and 18 as well), you can see part one of a bench demonstration of the process of pulling out the wheel hub using the tool. Put a backing plate on the inner race and use the tool to pull the hub out of the bearing (the bearing will break apart at this point).

Here's part two of the process of pulling the bearing using the tool.
Figure 17

Here's part two of the process of pulling the bearing using the tool. With a backing place the diameter of the outer race on the back side, the tool can simply pull the rest of the bearing out of the bore using the long center screw.

Part three of the process involves using the tool to press in the new bearing.
Figure 18

Part three of the process involves using the tool to press in the new bearing. Using a really big backing plate that compresses against the back of the aluminum wheel bearing carrier, the front part of the tool compresses the wheel bearing into place. Finally, the installation of the hub into the carrier is performed in the exact same manner as shown in Figure 13.

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Comments and Suggestions:
jay Comments: Torque specs for lateral arm,sway bar,shock tower etc.?
October 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have that info.


I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
jay Comments: anyone have torque settings for this job?
October 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have that info.


I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Stroker Comments: Is there a special puller used for the front wheel bearings?
May 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: There is a tool set Porsche recommends. However, if you get the hub flange out of the bearing, then remove the spindle and press the bearing in and out on a shop press, as shown in the article. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Stroker Comments: How is the process different for the front wheel bearing replacement on a 2001 Boxster S. What tools are needed
Thanks
May 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Other than removing the axle as shown, it is similar. Follow the steps in the article, omit the parts for removing the axle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Arcadia986 Comments: What's going on now? I pressed the bearing out of the carrier, and it came out with a steel "sleeve" around it. I cannot press the old bearing out of the "sleeve". I look at the pics of the carrier with the bearing removed on this site, and it looks like there is a sleeve in this carrier, but then I look at another web site, a forum with pics, and the carrier looks like there is no sleeve and just an aluminum carrier housing. Are there two different size bearings, one for with a steel sleeve, or one without a steel sleeve? and of course I bought the wrong size?? Any ideas?? 2001 boxster s.
April 28, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you share a photo of your parts? The bearing should come out with the races, as a unit. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
DrFranz Comments: http://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/SuperCat/1043/POR_1043_TOLTOL_pg17.htm#item74
This kit says driven wheels only. Is that so or will it pull the front bearings as well? '99 Boxster
January 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Works on driven wheels only (rear, except C4 front & rear) - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tom Comments: Also if the brake/Pads + wheel bearing are replaced on the rears would i need to get the alignment checked. The car had the alignment done only 4 months ago.
Regards
Tom form London
October 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will want to have it checked. Something could move during the repair. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tom Comments: Hi Guys, great article by the way lost of useful info. I'm getting both rear wheel brake pads and discs replaced and wheel bearing fitted on both. Any idea of the labour hours for this job.
986 2002 Boxster.
Many thanks
Tom from London
October 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would say half a day or more. Ask the shop for a labor estimate if possible. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
UNYboater Comments: Is there any part of this process that would trigger needing the alignment checked or redone? I'm actually here from the axle replacement article; last time, I dropped the exhaust & had trouble getting it to line up again so I'm thinking of trying this method this time! I don't see any mention of alignment here or in the 101 book I have but thought I'd ask first. Thanks!
September 3, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: A bearing should change alignment angles. But it would be a a good idea to have it checked. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bert Comments: How does this process differ for front wheel bearing replacement? I saw that the wheel bearing puller is only for driven wheels, so I was curious as to what is used instead.
April 13, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What vehicle are you working on? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Bert Comments: I hope this is the right place to ask this, but how much do independent shops normally charge for a wheel bearing replacement? Thanks.
2004 Boxster S

Bert
October 10, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I wouldn't know. You can try calling a few shops for an estimate.

I opened a post in our forums. A Pelican community member may be able to answer your question.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
jsrewolf Comments: Went back in. Cleaned everything I could find. Reseated the sensor and tightened hex nut to to torc setting. Light's out!
April 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
jsrewolf Comments: Just completed replacing the wheel bearing and now that everything is back together I took it for a spin and although the bearing noise is gone, my ABS warning light is on. I did remove the sensor from the wheel carrier to facilitate having the bearings pressed out and in. I don't believe I damaged the sensor while out. Any suggestions on checking this out and getting the ABS light to go out?
April 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would check that the sensor is installed correctly and no debris is on the tip. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Stephen Comments: Hi! when a wheel bearing carrier is removed from the vehicle to perform the bearing change, do you need to have that wheel re aligned ?
March 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Usually no, because you are now replacing suspension components that change the alignment angle. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Rocartfe2 Comments: I recently replaced the rear wheel bearing on my 2003 Boxster. I used both the 101 projects and Bentley manual as a guide. Neither of these described how to disconnect the parking brake. You should mention having to loosen the cable and then remove the pin holding the cable to the linkage at the brake drum. This took a few minutes to figure out. Thanks for all the great work you have put into this site.
January 4, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. We appreciate you taking the time to help us make the article better. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RallyGabe Comments: Why do some sources indicate heating the carrier to 100F? I see no mention of that in your article. I did mine by cooling the bearing in the freezer, I'm just curious what your take is on it
cheers!
September 24, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: In the factory procedure, Porsche states to heat it. We will add this to the tech article. Thanks for the note.

Personally I would follow Porsche's recommendation. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Just_me Comments: There's one point where magic apparently occurs. First, you have a completely assembled rear suspension. Next, you are pressing the ball joint out of the hub. There's a step the one i came here to read about where you remove the nut, while counter-holding an impossible-to-get-access-to Torx T4 shaft. With what do you accomplish THAT? Thanks!
June 1, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If you are referring to counterholding the ball joint while removing the nut, it usually isn't needed if the ball joint is still installed. The suspsnion keeps enough pressure to holdi t still while the nut is removed. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Steve W Comments: The black/brown side of the seal is magnetic and is the side ABS sensors read. Easy to check with a piece of steel. So normally, that would be the side that faces in and the orange side faces out. However there are two different methods ABS sensors reads wheel rotation, either by reading the magnetic strip off the bearing, or by a toothed wheel hub bolt. 2005 up cars don't have the toothed wheel and read the magnetic strip so it is important the brown side be in you you will get a PSM/ABS faulure light. On other years, with the toothed wheel 04 and earlier and all GT3s, the orientation doesn't matter
April 25, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It's not exaclty the seal that has the magnetic ring, but it could be seen that way. Models that utilize magnetoresistive wheel speed sensors have this technology.

Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Joe Blow Comments: In this article, you have the orange side out and the brown side down, does this matter?
April 23, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: When researching this article for the 101 Projects book, we performed the replacement at Callas Rennsport and we came across this question. In the old days, it used to matter which way the bearing was installed (the lighter orange seal used to go to the inside of the bearing). But these days, it doesn't matter, and some of the bearings don't even come with different colored seals on them. We contacted the manufacturer just to confirm that the orientation no longer matters. This is what Tony Callas of Callas Rennsport has been teaching for the past several years in his master mechanic classes.

Now, on the newer cars that have integrated ABS sensor wheels into the bearing (2005 and later), you need to make sure that the sensor side goes next to the sensor itself. You need a special $15 magnetic tool to "see" through the seal and figure out that the sensor "wheel" is there. But these early 986 and 996 cars don't have them (only the newer cars, 987 and later). - Wayne at Pelican Parts
 
smohican Comments: On my 986 rear wheel bearing, do I need to disconnect the axle from the Gear Box as the bentley manual recommends? Or can I remove the bearring carrier as you depict here in the process?
April 12, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Indeed, you should be able to simply remove the wheel carrier as detailed in this article. I think the Bentley manual assumes that you're trying to replace it with the carrier still installed. In that case, then yes, you would need to disconnect the axle, and then you would need to pull it out from the wheel carrier to remove the bearing. - Wayne at Pelican Parts  

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