Throughout the lifetime of a vehicle, you may experience problems with the axle bearings (the bearings allow the axle to spin while holding it to the vehicle). Occasionally the bearings will leak grease, and sometimes the wheel, or axle, bearing will begin to make noise during operation. In more serious cases, the axle bearing could cause gouging or scoring damage. To fix these issues, you will need to remove the axle bearing and replace it. Replacing axle bearings can be an intimidating task if you have never done it before. Learn how to remove axle bearings on your own.
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Chose an appropriate surface. You are going to have to raise your car up off of the ground in order to remove the axle bearings, but you must never attempt to do so on uneven ground. You need a flat, stable surface. The relatively even concrete surface of a garage floor may be ideal; an angled driveway is not.
Apply the parking brake. While this is useful to prevent the wheels from moving as you raise the vehicle, it is even more important later when you will remove the bearings.
Raise the vehicle using a car jack.
There are several different types of car jacks, each of which work a little differently. The vast majority–including those that each car is typically equipped with–convert the user’s force (applied a handle) to extend the head of the jack. As it extends, it will make contact with and then push whatever is in contact with the head.
The most important thing regarding use of a jack (after finding a flat surface) pertains to placement of the jack. Most vehicle manuals will tell you where the jack must be placed, so read it. If the jack applies pressure in the wrong place, it can damage a door, tear wires, or punch a hole through a fluid tank.
Place jack stands under the vehicle. If you are going to get under a vehicle (as you must while performing this job), jack stands are highly recommended over regular car jacks. Jacks tend to be fairly narrow and somewhat unstable, and so are more suitable for quick tire changes. To use a car jack for this task is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted.
The jack stand must be placed under the car frame itself. You cannot place the stand under a fuel or oil tank or other weak spot; the weight of the car will destroy them. Obviously, though, for this job keep them clear from the area of the axles.
Raise all 4 wheels of the car. This will ensure safety and precision in removing axle bearings. If you only raise 1 wheel or 1 side of the car, you run the risk of the car falling if it becomes unbalanced.
Removing the Axle Bearings
Remove the trays and coverings that are in the way.
Remove the engine tray (also known as the under tray) if applicable. This rests under the engine, and will usually obstruct your access to the axle. (Note, some vehicles do not have this, and others have had it removed and never replaced.)
Remove the transmission tray.
Remove any plastic covering that rests over the suspension wishbone.
Remove the tires. You will not have access to the axle bearings without first removing the tires. You will probably want to replace more than one axle bearing at a time (after all, if one is worn out then the other on that same axle probably will be soon as well), so remove all of the appropriate tires.
Remove the brake pads from the caliper, and then unbolt the caliper itself. The caliper is the device that squeezes the brake pads against the disk rotor (for the common disk brake). They should just be bolted in place, so remove the bolts.
The caliper is connected to break lines. These apply the hydraulic pressure that makes the calipers work. There is no need to detach the caliper from the brake lines. You only need it out of the way, not removed entirely.
Release the parking brake. The parking break will also be in contact with parts that must be removed. It does not have to be disassembled, but must be deactivated.
Remove the disk rotor. When fully assembled, this is what the brake pads normally make contact with. It will be bolted on, but just remove the bolts and pull it off. For some, a hammer may need to be used to break the rotor loose.
Remove the axle bearings using the bearing replacement/removal tool. This will separate the bearing and the axle by pushing them apart.
Some of axle bearing removal tools can be used without the need of an impact wrench or power drill, but others do mandate it. Read the instructions that come with your tool before you use it.
Some axle bearings can be removed with just an impact wrench. Know which type you have before you begin this project so that you start with the appropriate tools.