Front Wheel Bearing Replacement

Last Updated - September 7th, 2004


If you've got some bad grinding coming from the front of your car, you may have a bad wheel bearing.  In some cases, this may only be evident when turning in a particular direction although in time, it will get worse and worse.  You may even think you're dragging something under the car.


Difficulty:    

Time Investment:  3 - 4 Hours


Go to Pictures

Go to Instructions

Go to Tools Required

Go to Reader Comments



Pictures:

Click on a picture to enlarge it


Here is a picture showing the different bolts behind the front wheel.
Mike carefully removes the brake caliper.
In order not to stretch the break line, the caliper has been suspended from the coil spring using a cable tie.
The halfshaft is removed.
Here's the back side of the wheel bearing.  Note that the caliper adapter has been removed.
Here's the side view of the wheel bearing starting to come out.
Here is the side of the knuckle after the bearing has been removed.
Side shot of the old bearing
Rear shot of the old bearing
The old and new bearings
The other sides of the old and new bearings
Here's a shot of the new bearing installed.

Here's another shot of the new bearing.
The halfshaft is reinserted into the new bearing.
The above diagram can be found in both the Chilton guide and 1992 Chrysler factory service manual.



Instructions:

1.  Position the car somewhere where you have good access to the area around the front wheel wells.

2.  Remove the two retaining bolts behind the caliper (the booted ones).

3.  Rock the caliper back off the brake pads.
You may need to use a flat blade screwdriver or small pry bar to get it started.  The rivots on the back of the inner brake pad will also catch on the brake cylinder so you will need to use pry it a little to push the cylinder in.  Only a mild amount of force should be requried here.

4.  Once the caliper is free, suspend it from the coil spring using a coat hanger, piece of wire, piece of rope, or a couple cable ties.

5.  Remove the halfshaft on the side of the wheel bearing that is being changed.  (See Halfshaft Removal Page)

6.  Remove the caliper adapter bolts and the adapter.

7.  Remove the wheel bearing.
Remove the 4 retaining bolts in the back of the wheel bearing most of the way (leave them about 1/2 in).  Whack the tops of the protruding bolts with a hammer to dislodge the rusty bearing.  Once a crack forms all the way around the bearing, you can pry it out further with a small prybar.

8.  Clean out the hole where the bearing sits.

9.  Install the shiny new bearing.

10.  Install the new bearing seal. (See diagram).

11.  If needed, replace the wear sleeve on the drive shaft (See diagram).

12.  Reassemble everything in the reverse order.


Tools:


Reader Comments:

Shawn Harris - Copley, Ohio

For another way to remove the wheel bearings that just don't want to come out, like the one on my 92 Lebaron; if you are getting new rotors also, you can use the old rotor, flip it around on the hub, and put some sockets between the caliper bracket and anywhere else that would stay still.  Then put some lug nuts back on it, tighten them down in a pattern slowly, and it will come out well that way.  I used the same rotor on my Lebaron and it didn't warp at all so i lucked out, but those wheel bearings are a pain!  Make sure when you put the lug nuts on to tighten slowly in a pattern.  I did the same thing to my donor car but was impatient and used the air impact.  Well, it didn't turn out well because it tore the hub assy apart. 

For my wheel bearing that went into a 92 Lebaron convertible, I didn't replace a seal.  I have had my bearing in for about 30k miles so far and haven't had a problem with it at all. 

From 89-91 they had a different setup from the 92-95 which went to a hub assy.

Derek Beland - Edmonton, Alberta

Any time you replace a wheel bearing you should also replace the $4 seal ring on the backside.  It presses into the back of the steering knuckle and is in contact with the axle.  It's a green metal ring with a rubber scraper ring.  If you've ever done rear drum brakes, it looks and functions similar to the hub seal.

I've done the bearing on my 92 TBI twice because I didn't...  At $150 a pop, it was an expensive lesson.  The bearing failed because salt, water and sand got into the hub area past the seal, and both times I took it apart the hub was a giant swamp of rust.  The first bearing failed within a year, the second has been in there two years now, and we recently made a  3500km trip in it with no issues.  Proof is in the pudding.  Just change the seal.

If the seal is a bit tough to get in (like mine was) just take a Dremel with a sanding drum and run it around the inside of the mating surface. Don't take too much off, it's supposed to be an interference fit, but I found the amount of force I was using a bit excessive and in danger of hurting the seal. Maybe if I had the proper seal installer... ;)

Petar Cerovich - Bobcaygeon (central), Ontario

The seal is on the inside (axle side) of the knuckle. I've changed bearings without popping the axle out and you'd swear there's no seal anywhere in there because you can't see it. In fact, the last time I did one on my '93, I noticed that unless you're looking for it, you'd never realize that there's a seal in there.

I've never changed that Wear Sleeve on either of these vans because they've never needed it.  Usually (on most applications) the Wear Sleeve is like a thin piece of hard steel tube with a short, sharp flair on one end. You put the sleeve on the shaft and drive it up the shaft with a tube-like driver and a hammer. (To remove an old sleeve, you put a chisel flat against the tube pat of it and strike it gently, once. The tension on it causes it to split right away and you just slip it off.) If you run your fingernail along the area where the seal rides on the stub axle, it should be smooth.  If you feel a groove (even if it's smooth and shallow), it's time for a new
Wear Sleeve.  And in case you haven't figured it out yet... It's there so that your seal doesn't wear into the stub axle - if that happened, the only recourse would be to have the worn area metalized ($$$.)