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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Wheel Bearing Replacement

Steve Vernon

Time:

5 hours5 hrs

Tab:

$50 to $100

Talent:

****

Tools:

30mm 12 point socket, 19mm, 13mm wrench, 6mm Allen, large breaker bar or impact wrench, 3 arm puller, bearing puller, circlip removal tool, press (optional)

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (1999-00)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)
VW Golf GTI GLX (2000-01)
VW Golf GTI VR6 (2002-05)

Parts Required:

New front wheel bearings

Hot Tip:

Freeze your bearings before installation

Performance Gain:

Properly rolling wheels

Complementary Modification:

Replace ball joints

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. A faulty wheel bearing can exhibit a few warning signs. The most obvious would be a howling or grinding noise from a front wheel while in motion. This noise would get louder when you steer side to side. You can check for a noisy wheel bearing with the vehicle stationary too. Jack up the front of your vehicle and rotate the front wheel, while rotating place your hand on the front coil spring. You should be able to pick up a vibration in the spring. There may also be free-play in the bearing. You can check for free-play by jacking up the front of your vehicle and wiggling the wheel up and down. If there is any free-play, replace the bearing.

The most difficult part of the job is breaking loose the 30mm 12 point self locking axle nut that holds the drive shaft to the hub. The nut is on under a tremendous amount of torque. The simplest way to do this is to use an impact wrench to break the nut loose. Electric impact guns can be purchased inexpensively and make a great addition to your tool kit. If you do not have an impact gun you can remove the center cap on the front wheel, leave the car on the ground and insert the 30mm socket through the center. Next, place the largest breaker bar you have on the socket and break the nut loose. I ended up having to put a three foot pipe on the end of the breaker bar to get enough leverage.

Before you begin taking everything apart place your new bearing in the freezer. This will help contract the metal and make it easier to press in. Raise and support front of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle. You will also need to remove the front brakes and rotor. Please see our article on replacing you front rotor.

If you do not have an impact gun you can remove the center cap on the front wheel, leave the car on the ground and insert the 30mm socket through the center (red arrow).
Figure 1

If you do not have an impact gun you can remove the center cap on the front wheel, leave the car on the ground and insert the 30mm socket through the center (red arrow). Next, place the largest breaker bar you have on the socket and break the nut loose. I ended up having to put a three foot pipe on the end of the breaker bar to get enough leverage. If you do have an impact gun remove the wheel before using the impact gun on the nut.

This photo illustrates the 30mm 12 point axle nut (red arrow).
Figure 2

This photo illustrates the 30mm 12 point axle nut (red arrow). The brake caliper and rotor have been removed. The nut has a Nylex insert and is single use only. Make sure you replace this nut when reinstalling the axle.

The axle is going to be pushed out from the hub (red arrow).
Figure 3

The axle is going to be pushed out from the hub (red arrow). To accomplish this you will need to mark the position of the ball joint and remove the three 13mm nuts and bolts (yellow arrow, one shown).

You will need to remove the ball joint end of the tie rod.
Figure 4

You will need to remove the ball joint end of the tie rod. The inside of the tie rod bolt is slotted for a 6mm Allen wrench (red arrow), you will most likely need to use the Allen wrench to hold the tie rod while unscrewing the 19mm nylex nut (yellow arrow).

Depending on the age and condition of the tie rod end you may need to use a pickle fork or ball joint remover (red arrow) to separate the ball joint from the bearing housing.
Figure 5

Depending on the age and condition of the tie rod end you may need to use a pickle fork or ball joint remover (red arrow) to separate the ball joint from the bearing housing.

By removing the tie rod end and the ball joint the hub now has enough room to move forward while pressing the axle out.
Figure 6

By removing the tie rod end and the ball joint the hub now has enough room to move forward while pressing the axle out. Use a standard three arm press (red arrow) and push the axle out from the hub.

With the hub loose the axle can easily be separated from the hub.
Figure 7

With the hub loose the axle can easily be separated from the hub.

There are all kinds of ways to remove the hub from the mount but I have found the simplest to be a slide hammer.
Figure 8

There are all kinds of ways to remove the hub from the mount but I have found the simplest to be a slide hammer. You can borrow or rent one from your local parts store. First install one of the ball joint nuts and bolts to connect the knuckle to the lower control arm. Simply insert the hammer into the hub, secure it with the proper size disk to match the inner diameter of the hub (red arrow) and give it a couple of pulls (green arrow). Do not try and pull the hub and bearing out at the same time. There is an inner circlip on the bearing that will need to be removed before the bearing will pull out.

The hub will most likely come off with the inner race still attached (red arrow).
Figure 9

The hub will most likely come off with the inner race still attached (red arrow). Use a small three arm puller with a bar to keep the puller arms in place and pull the inner race off the hub. Check for damage and if the hub is fine place it in the freezer to help with installation.

With the hub off you can see the circlip holding the bearing in place.
Figure 10

With the hub off you can see the circlip holding the bearing in place. Use a circlip removal tool and remove the clip (red arrows). You may need to use a screwdriver to help the clip out, just be careful not to damage the mounting flange.

You should now be able to use a bearing puller (red arrow) to remove the bearing.
Figure 11

You should now be able to use a bearing puller (red arrow) to remove the bearing.

You can also remove the entire mount or knuckle and press the bearing out.
Figure 12

You can also remove the entire mount or knuckle and press the bearing out.

Clean the inside of the mount surface with a Scotch brite pad and some brake cleaner until you have removed any and all dirt and corrosion (red arrow).
Figure 13

Clean the inside of the mount surface with a Scotch brite pad and some brake cleaner until you have removed any and all dirt and corrosion (red arrow).

Use a good high temperature lube and lubricate the inside of the mount (red arrow).
Figure 14

Use a good high temperature lube and lubricate the inside of the mount (red arrow). Don't worry about the amount as any extra will be squeezed out.

Take the bearing out of the freezer (red arrow, note condensation) and using a bearing press (yellow arrow) press into the bearing housing.
Figure 15

Take the bearing out of the freezer (red arrow, note condensation) and using a bearing press (yellow arrow) press into the bearing housing.

With the bearing fully seated install the new circlip (red arrow).
Figure 16

With the bearing fully seated install the new circlip (red arrow). Make sure it is seated correctly.

Remove the hub from the freezer and press into the new bearing (red arrow).
Figure 17

Remove the hub from the freezer and press into the new bearing (red arrow).

Make sure to support the inner race of the bearing (yellow arrow) and do not use the hub flange (red arrow) as a support point for the press.
Figure 18

Make sure to support the inner race of the bearing (yellow arrow) and do not use the hub flange (red arrow) as a support point for the press. If you do not support the inner race and use the hub as a mounting point you will end up pressing out the inner race of the new bearing and destroying it. Installation is the reverse of removal. Do not forget to use new single use hardware where applicable

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:34:22 AM