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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Wheel Bearing Replacement

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$75

Talent:

****

Tools:

Socket set, hex socket set, drift or large socket set.

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz W210 (1996-03)

Parts Required:

Bearing kit, high temp grease

Hot Tip:

Check the condition of the drive belt and the belt tensioner

Performance Gain:

Restore a tight feeling to the front end of your car.

Complementary Modification:

Replace brake pads and discs

Check out some other projects from our technical library:

An often unlooked part of most cars are the wheel bearings. The bearings support the full weight of the car both while stationary and under load. As the mileage increases on the car, heat and lack of lubrication can cause the bearings to wear and possibly fail. Symptoms of a failed wheel bearing are a continual low rumbling sound coming from the wheels that may or may not go away while turning in one direction. Replacing the bearings isn't a difficult procedure, but it does involve some specialized steps to ensure that it is done right. That said, here's how you do it.

Begin by removing the front brake assembly shown in our tech article on brake pad and disc replacement. Once the calipers, pads and discs are removed, you'll have access to the wheel bearing hub (See Figure 2). Remove the dust cap from the front of the wheel hub. In some cases, the hub will just gently slide off using a screwdriver against the lip as shown here. Sometimes, you may need to use a little penetrant spray around the outer edge and let it soak in to help ease it off (See Figure 3).

Here is the hub with the dust cap removed. The axle nut sits at the center. It's a good idea to wipe off any excess grease on the nut. Use a 5mm hex socket to loosen the clamp on the axle nut. This clamp holds the axle nut in place on the spindle. Once you loosen the clamp, you should be able to easily remove the nut from the spindle (See Figure 4 and Figure 5).

With the axle nut removed, you will be able to pull the hub off. As you do, the outer wheel bearing will pop out. The tapered bearing sits inside a race that is pressed into the hub. Check the races and bearings for any signs of discoloration or pitting. These are signs that the bearing is worn and requires replacement (See Figure 6 and Figure 7). Clean all the grease off the spindle and check it for wear as well. If the spindle shows any grooves or pitting, you'll want to replace it (See Figure 8).

With the wheel hub removed from the car, turn it over to the back side. You'll see an oil seal pressed inside. You'll first need to remove this seal to remove the inner bearing and race. Use a seal puller to remove the old oil seal from the wheel hub. It will take a fair amount of force to pry the old seal from the hub. Don't be afraid if the old seal deforms or bends as you pull it out. These are designed as one time use items and you'll likely destroy it as comes out. Once the old oil seal is removed, you can extract the rear wheel bearing from the hub. Take a look at the face of the needle bearings for any signs of pitting, scratching or discoloration (See Figures 9, 10 and 11).

Once the tapered wheel bearing are removed, you'll have to remove the races that remain inside the wheel hub. The green arrow shows the race for the larger rear bearing while the purple arrow shows the race for the smaller front bearing (See Figure 12). To remove the outer bearing race, you will need to use a drift, or in our case a 30mm socket will fit inside the bore. This helps to apply an even force to all sides of the race. Use a hammer to pound the race out of the hub. This will take a fair amount of force to drive out and is probably the hardest part of the job. For the larger race on the opposite side, you'll have to use a smaller socket and hit the edge of the race at an angle. It helps to hit the race around the diameter of the edge to drive it out evenly. Take care not to damage or scratch the inside bore of the wheel hub. Just take your time and keep at it (See Figure 13 and Figure 14).

Once both races are removed, clean the inside of the wheel hub and look for any wear on the inside. Like the spindle, if there are deep grooves on the inside or pitting, replace the hub. Take the new inner bearing race and place it in the bore on the rear of the hub. You'll want to position the tapered section to accept the bearing. Make sure that you have the orientation correct before you begin to install the race (See Figure 15 and Figure 16).

Now drive the bearing race into the hub until it seats against the bottom flange of the hub. Typically, you would want to use a drift, however I found that a ball joint socket for a Porsche 911 is the same diameter as the race. Take your time and make sure that the race goes in straight. It's very easy to cock the race in the bore (See Figure 17).

Before installing the bearing into the wheel hub, it's necessary to pack it with grease. The idea here is to fill all the open spaces of the needle bearings with grease. This will evenly distribute the grease throughout the bearing. There are a couple different ways of doing this. You can buy a wheel bearing packer, which uses pressure to push the grease in, or rotate the bearing back and forth while pushing grease in. It's a good idea to apply the grease a bit on the heavy side (See Figure 18 and Figure 19).

Be sure to also put a coat of grease on the face of the bearing race. Once the bearing is packed, drop it in place on the hub. It's not a bad idea to hold the inner part of the needle bearing and then turn the hub to distribute more grease thru the bearing (See Figure 20). Clean up any grease that may have gotten on the outer surface of the hub where the oil seal fits and center the seal in the bore (See Figure 21). Carefully tap the oil seal into place using a flat piece of metal or wood to ensure the seal does not get cocked in the bore on the wheel hub. Keep tapping the seal until it bottoms out in the bore (See Figure 22).

Now turn the whole hub over and clean the mating surface for the outer wheel bearing race. Center the new race in the hub and carefully check that it is straight (See Figure 23 and Figure 24). Like the inner bearing race, you'll want to use either a drift or a socket to tap the outer race into the hub. Be careful not to cock the race in the bore when driving it in. Keep driving the race down until it hits the stop on the flange. Take care not to damage the tapered face of the race (See Figure 25).

Coat the spindle with a good amount of high temp wheel bearing grease. In this case, we are using the factory applied grease from Mercedes-Benz (See Figure 26).  Now fit the wheel hub back over the spindle and push it back until the seal pops over the flange on the back of the spindle (See Figure 27). Pack the front wheel bearing with the high temp grease like you did with the rear bearing. Like before, take your time and make sure that all the spaces in the bearing are coated evenly. Fit the bearing into the wheel hub. Keep in mind that the tapered section of the bearing fits into the race facing inward See Figure 28 and Figure 29).

You'll now need to adjust the wheel bearing. There are two schools of thought of how to do this. One is to use a dial indicator mounted on the face of the wheel hub and measure the amount of lateral run out on the center of the clamping nut. The other is to thread the nut on the end of the spindle and tighten it until you can't turn the hub anymore. Then back the nut off until you can just turn the hub by hand. Then tighten the 5mm bolt on the end of the nut to 11Nm (8ft/lbs)

If you use a dial indicator, set up the indicator to measure the lateral play (back and forth pulling on the rotor) while turning it. You'll need to tighten the spindle nut when the run-out measures between 0.01-0.02mm.

Like with the other method, tighten the 5mm bolt on the end of the nut to 11Nm (8ft/lbs) (See Figure 30). The last step is to put a little of the high temp grease on the inside of the dust cap and place it back onto the hub. Use a hammer to lightly tap the hub back into place. All that's left to do at this point is to re-install the brake disc, pads and calipers and you're done (See Figure 31).

Shown here are the contents of a front wheel bearing kit for one side of the car along with a tube of high temperature wheel bearing grease specifically for Mercedes-Benz.
Figure 1

Shown here are the contents of a front wheel bearing kit for one side of the car along with a tube of high temperature wheel bearing grease specifically for Mercedes-Benz.

Begin by removing the front brake assembly shown in our tech article on brake pad and disc replacement.
Figure 2

Begin by removing the front brake assembly shown in our tech article on brake pad and disc replacement. Once the calipers, pads and discs are removed, you'll have access to the wheel bearing hubs as shown here. The green arrow points to the dust cap which covers the axle nut that secures the hub to the spindle.

Remove the dust cap from the front of the wheel hub.
Figure 3

Remove the dust cap from the front of the wheel hub. In some cases, the cap will just gently slide off using a screwdriver against the lip as shown here. Sometimes, you may need to use a little penetrant spray around the outer edge and let it soak in to help ease it off.

Here is the hub with the dust cap removed.
Figure 4

Here is the hub with the dust cap removed. The axle nut sits at the center. It's a good idea to wipe off any excess grease on the nut. The green arrow points to the hex bolt which clamps the axle nut in place.

Use a 5mm hex socket to loosen the clamp on the axle nut.
Figure 5

Use a 5mm hex socket to loosen the clamp on the axle nut. Once loose, you should be able to easily remove the nut from the spindle.

With the axle nut removed, you will be able to pull the hub off.
Figure 6

With the axle nut removed, you will be able to pull the hub off. As you do, the outer wheel bearing will pop out. As you can see here, it is a tapered roller bearing that fits inside a race pressed into the hub. Check the bearings for any signs of discoloration or pitting. These are signs that the bearing is worn.

Shown here is the hub removed from the spindle.
Figure 7

Shown here is the hub removed from the spindle.

Clean all the grease off the spindle and look for any grooves or pitting.
Figure 8

Clean all the grease off the spindle and look for any grooves or pitting. If the spindle shows any of these, you'll want to replace it.

With the wheel hub removed from the car, turn it over to the back side.
Figure 9

With the wheel hub removed from the car, turn it over to the back side. You'll see an oil seal pressed inside. You'll first need to remove this seal to remove the inner bearing and race.

Use a seal puller to remove the old oil seal from the wheel hub.
Figure 10

Use a seal puller to remove the old oil seal from the wheel hub. It will take a fair amount of force to pry the old seal from the hub. Don't be afraid if the old seal deforms or bends as you pull it out. These are designed as one time use items and you'll likely destroy it as comes out.

Once the old oil seal is removed, you can extract the rear wheel bearing from the hub.
Figure 11

Once the old oil seal is removed, you can extract the rear wheel bearing from the hub. Take a look at the face of the needle bearings for any signs of pitting, scratching or discoloration.

Once the tapered wheel bearing are removed, you'll have to remove the races that remain inside the wheel hub.
Figure 12

Once the tapered wheel bearing are removed, you'll have to remove the races that remain inside the wheel hub. The green arrow shows the race for the larger inner bearing while the purple arrow shows the race for the smaller outer bearing.

To remove the outer bearing race, you will need to use a drift, or in our case a 30mm socket will fit inside the bore.
Figure 13

To remove the outer bearing race, you will need to use a drift, or in our case a 30mm socket will fit inside the bore. This helps to apply an even force to all sides of the race.

Use a hammer to pound the race out of the hub.
Figure 14

Use a hammer to pound the race out of the hub. This will take a fair amount of force to drive out and is probably the hardest part of the job. For the larger race on the opposite side, you'll have to use a smaller socket and hit the edge of the race at an angle. It helps to hit the race around the diameter of the edge to drive it out evenly. Take care not to damage or scratch the inside bore of the wheel hub. Just take your time and keep at it.

Once both races are removed, clean the inside of the wheel hub and look for any wear on the inside.
Figure 15

Once both races are removed, clean the inside of the wheel hub and look for any wear on the inside. Like the spindle, if there are deep grooves on the inside or pitting, replace the hub. Shown here is the new inner bearing race. Make sure that the flange of the hub is perfectly clean before continuing.

Position the new race in the same orientation as the old one.
Figure 16

Position the new race in the same orientation as the old one. The tapered section of the race should face as shown in the photo here.

Now drive the bearing race into the hub until it seats against the bottom flange of the hub.
Figure 17

Now drive the bearing race into the hub until it seats against the bottom flange of the hub. Typically, you would want to use a drift, however I found that a ball joint socket for a Porsche 911 is the same diameter as the race. Take your time and make sure that the race goes in straight. It's very easy to cock the race in the bore.

Now take the high temp grease and coat the outside of the new bearing.
Figure 18

Now take the high temp grease and coat the outside of the new bearing.

Before installing the bearing into the wheel hub, it's necessary to pack it with grease.
Figure 19

Before installing the bearing into the wheel hub, it's necessary to pack it with grease. The idea here is to fill all the open spaces of the needle bearings with grease. This will evenly distribute the grease throughout the bearing. There are a couple different ways of doing this. You can buy a wheel bearing packer, which uses pressure to push the grease in, or rotate the bearing back and forth while pushing grease in. It's a good idea to apply the grease a bit on the heavy side.

Be sure to also put a coat of grease on the face of the bearing race.
Figure 20

Be sure to also put a coat of grease on the face of the bearing race. Once the bearing is packed, drop it in place on the hub. It's not a bad idea to hold the inner part of the needle bearing and then turn the hub to distribute more grease thru the bearing.

Shown here is the new oil seal that covers the rear wheel bearing.
Figure 21

Shown here is the new oil seal that covers the rear wheel bearing. Clean up any grease that may have gotten on the outer surface of the hub where the seal mounts and center it.

Carefully tap the oil seal into place using a flat piece of metal or wood to ensure the seal does not get cocked in the bore on the wheel hub.
Figure 22

Carefully tap the oil seal into place using a flat piece of metal or wood to ensure the seal does not get cocked in the bore on the wheel hub. Keep tapping the seal until it bottoms out in the bore.

Now turn the whole hub over and clean the mating surface for the outer wheel bearing race.
Figure 23

Now turn the whole hub over and clean the mating surface for the outer wheel bearing race. Shown here is the new race ready to be installed.

Center the new race in the hub and carefully check that it is straight.
Figure 24

Center the new race in the hub and carefully check that it is straight.

Like the inner bearing race, you'll want to use either a drift or a socket to tap the outer race into the hub.
Figure 25

Like the inner bearing race, you'll want to use either a drift or a socket to tap the outer race into the hub. Be careful not to cock the race in the bore when driving it in. Keep driving the race down until it hits the stop on the flange.

Coat the spindle with a good amount of high temp wheel bearing grease.
Figure 26

Coat the spindle with a good amount of high temp wheel bearing grease. In this case, we are using the factory applied grease from Mercedes-Benz, available from Pelican Parts.

Now fit the wheel hub back over the spindle and push it back until the seal pops over the flange on the back of the spindle.
Figure 27

Now fit the wheel hub back over the spindle and push it back until the seal pops over the flange on the back of the spindle.

Pack the front wheel bearing with the high temp grease like you did with the rear bearing.
Figure 28

Pack the front wheel bearing with the high temp grease like you did with the rear bearing. Like before, take your time and make sure that all the spaces in the bearing are coated evenly.

Fit the bearing into the wheel hub.
Figure 29

Fit the bearing into the wheel hub. Keep in mind that the tapered section of the bearing fits into the race facing inward.

ThisPicture shows the setup of a dial indicator on the wheel hub if you use this method to adjust the bearing run out.
Figure 30

This picture shows the setup of a dial indicator on the wheel hub if you use this method to adjust the bearing run out.

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Comments and Suggestions:
imallens Comments: hello, I have a 1999 e320 4matic. how do I replace the wheel bearings on a 4matic? thanks
July 6, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You will have the deal with the front axle and the bearing is a little different. We don't have a tech article for your vehicle. 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
 
John Comments: And I immediately checked the actual write-up section, sorry for the question. .01-.02mm indicated above the picture steps.
June 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: OK, no problem. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
John Comments: What is the run out spec for the car? Your last step says to check, but doesn't specify how much is acceptable.
June 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: .01-.02mm - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bud Comments: THEPELICAN STAFF THANK YOU FOLLOW UP AT NICKS REQUEST THE PLAY IS IN THE FRONT WHEEL DRIVERS SIDE THE PLAY WAS FOUND BOTH TIMES BY FIRESTONE WHERE I BOUGHT MY TIRES TOOK TO MERCEDES WHERE I BOUGHT THE CAR THEY SAID IT IS NORMAL FOR PLAY IN ALL THE TIRES ON THE CAR MERCEDES DONT CARE WHAT ANYONE SAYS THERE SHOP FORMAN IS CERTIFIED MECHANIC OTHER MECHANICS ?? SAY BEARING MERCEDES SAYS NO CAR IS UNDER WARRANTY ALSO IHAVE THE EXTANDED WARRANTY WITH MERCEDES FACTORY WARRANTY RUNS OUT MARCH 4TH OF NEXT MONTH ???
February 22, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would ask Mercedes to show you the play, then measure it and show the spec that it falls within. There very well may be tolerance it is in. But if you are concerned about your warranty running out and being stuck with the repair, you should have them better explain the issue to you. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
bud Comments: is it true the wheels on a 2010 e350 mercedes all have play in them ?
February 19, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The wheels, no. The suspension, how much play and where is it? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
wileycoyote1963 Comments: Apologies, I did eventually find the article for W124 front wheel bearing service. No need to respond to my first comment.
January 13, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
wileycoyote1963 Comments: Is the front wheel bearing change basically the same on a W124 E320 from 1995? I looked through the W124 section and didn't find anything for the front wheel. This looks like it would be the same, anyway, that is my question - may I use this on a W124 E320 from 1995?
January 13, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Check our tech articles for the W124 article on that subject. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Abdullah Comments: Thank you for the above, i have replaced the front wheel bearings of my CL500 model 2002 but i faced the following issues which i think it's software.

1- I feel a little vibration while breaking like the breaks are locking even if do breaking slowly.

2- Cross Speed controler is not working.

I would really appreciate if you can advice if i did something wrong or this is something normal before i take my car to workshop.
October 19, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I would love to know what a cross speed controller is. Sound slike the wheel spped sensors may have shifted while you did the wheel bearings. Remove them, clean them and properly reinstall them and see if this doesn't fix your problem - Kerry at Pelican Parts  

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