Rear bearing replacement tutorial

I’m going to continue my habit of posting tutorials here in an effort to document how some repairs are done and also in an effort to get more people working on these cars. It seems like most people are very intimidated by these cars so I rarely find good troubleshooting or repair advice when I go searching the interwebs.

For this tutorial, I’m going to discuss replacing the rear bearings. My car is a 2010 model, and I’m not sure if other years are exactly the same, but at the very least I would think they’re quite similar.

Start by removing the wheel knuckle. This part is pretty straightforward. Here are the sizes of tools you’ll need:

  • Lower Control Arm - 18mm and 21mm
  • Upper Ball Joint - 18mm
  • Sway Bar Toe Link - 13mm and 15mm
  • Axle Nut - 36mm
  • ABS Sensor - 7mm
  • Brake Caliper Bridge - 15mm

I won’t go into detail on this part. Just undo the nuts on all of the above components to remove the wheel knuckle. In my case, everything came apart very easily without using any additional tools. The only tricky part was keeping the upper ball joint loaded enough that the stud would not spin when trying to remove it. I’d recommend doing it first on both disassembly and reassembly.

Now you should have the knuckle off. Next you’ll need to remove the hub from the bearing. The hub is the piece that the wheel studs fit into. Its the splined piece in the following pic.

Using an adapter or socket with the same diameter as the hub, use a hydraulic press to press the hub out of the inner bearing race. It will be pressed outward towards the side that the brake rotor would mount. Chances are the inner race will separate during this process and half will stay on the hub as it’s pressed out.

This should leave you with the knuckle still containing most of the bearing, which is held in by a very large snap ring.

Before you can press the rest of the bearing out, you’ll need to remove the snap ring. It’s large enough that you probably won’t be able to remove it with normal snap ring pliers. Use either a heavy duty pair of needle nose pliers or an extra large set of snap ring pliers (they do make them for this exact thing as shown). If corroded, you may have to tap around the edges of the ring with a hammer and punch to break it loose, but it should come out.

Now press the rest of the bearing outward to get it out using a socket or adapter that is the same diameter as the outer bearing race. This was the most difficult part of the job for me. My hydraulic press is only rated to 12 tons which is really pushing the limits for pressing a piece as large as the wheel bearing. I had to spray the edges with penetrating oil and leave it on my press at full force for 24 hours for it to break loose. If you can get it to move at all, it should move the rest of the way much easier. Of course, if your press is bigger than mine, this likely won’t be an issue for you. Once out, your new bearing should be ready to install.

If your inner race separated into to pieces when pressing the hub out, you’ll need to remove the rest of the race from the hub shaft before you start installation. Use a cutting wheel mounted to a grinder or a dremel to cut a slot in the race. You want to cut through most of the metal, but not cut so deep that you cut into the shaft. The goal here is to simply weaken the race. After cutting a nice slot, take a chisel, place the tip into the slot, and hit it a few times. This should cause a crack to form in the race slot allowing you to remove the race.

Now it’s time to press everything back together. Start by pressing the bearing into the wheel knuckle using the socket or adapter you used to press it out.

Install the snap ring. If the old one deformed during removal, replace it. I got one from my local dealer and it was only about $8. To press the hub back into the bearing, you’ll need to press the hub from the top while supporting the inner bearing race from behind. If you don’t, the bearing race could separate again as the hub is being pressed in. The collar on the hub will bottom out on the inner bearing race when its fully seated.

The bearing and wheel knuckle should be fully back together at this point. Install the knuckle back on your car’s suspension and hopefully any grinding or squeaking noises you were hearing before are a thing of the past.

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