How to Replace Wheel Bearings

Wheel bearings are parts that allow the wheels on your vehicle to spin freely and with as little friction as possible. A wheel bearing is a set of steel balls that are housed in a metal case known as a race, and it is located inside the wheel's hub. If you hear a moaning or humming sound while you are driving, it is likely that one of your vehicle’s wheel bearings is starting to fail.

Changing your own wheel bearings is considered an intermediate job that can be done at home, but will need some speciality mechanic tools. The steps provided below are generalized to cover the three most common types of wheel bearings that are found on most vehicles. Be sure to obtain your vehicle's service manual and identify the type of wheel bearing your vehicle is equipped with before you begin the repair.

Part 1 of 3: Prepare your car

Materials Needed

  • Bearing grease
  • Diagonal cutters
  • Floor jack
  • Gloves
  • Pliers
  • Ratchet (½ inch with 19mm or 21mm socket)
  • Safety glasses
  • Safety jack stand x 2
  • Socket set (⅜ socket set 10mm-19mm)
  • Screwdriver
  • Torque wrench
  • Wheel chock x 2
  • Wire clothes hanger

two safety jack stands

Step 1: Put chocks behind your wheels. Park the vehicle on a flat and level surface.

Use a wheel chock to block the tire opposite of the wheel that you will be working on first.

  • Tip:If you are changing the driver’s side front wheel bearing, you will will need to use a chock at the passenger rear wheel.

mechanic loosening a lug on a tire

Step 2: Loosen the lug nuts. Grab your ½ inch ratchet with the correct size socket for your lug nuts.

Loosen the lug nuts on the tire you are about to remove but do not remove them completely just yet.

Step 3: Lift up the vehicle. Use the floor jack and a pair of safety jack stands to lift and secure the vehicle. This will allow you to safely remove the tire.

  • Tip: Be sure to refer to your owner's manual for information on where the proper lift points to jack up your vehicle are located.

Step 4: Remove the lug nuts. With the vehicle lifted and secured, remove the lug nuts completely and then remove the tire and place aside.

Part 2 of 3: Install new wheel bearings

backside of brake caliper

Step 1: Remove the brake caliper and bracket. Use your ratchet and ⅜ socket set to unbolt the disc brake caliper and bracket from the spindle. Use a screwdriver to remove the caliper itself.

  • Tip: When removing the caliper, be careful not to let it dangle freely, as this can damage the flexible brake line. Use the wire hanger to hook it on a secure part of the undercarriage or hang the brake caliper on the suspension.

rotor with hub and bearing diagrams

Step 2: Remove the outer wheel bearing. If the wheel bearings are housed inside your disc brake rotor, as often seen in trucks, you will need to pry off the central dust cap to expose the cotter pin and retaining nut.

To do this, use your pliers to remove the cotter pin and retaining nut and then slide the rotor forward to release the outer wheel bearing(smaller wheel bearing).

Step 3: Remove the rotor and inner wheel bearing. Replace the retaining nut on the spindle and grab the rotor with both hands. Proceed to pull the rotor off the spindle, allowing the larger inner bearing to get caught on the retaining nut, and release the bearing and grease seal from the rotor.

Step 4: Rub bearing grease into the casing. Place the rotor face down on the floor with the back side facing upwards. Take the new larger bearing and rub the bearing grease into the casing.

  • Tip: The easiest way to do this is to wear a glove and scoop a fair amount of grease into the palm of your hand and rub the bearing into your palm, forcing the grease into the bearing casing.

Step 5: Install the new bearing. Place the new bearing into the back of the rotor and apply grease to the inside bearing cavity. Install a new bearing seal over the new larger bearing and slide the rotor back on to the spindle.

  • Tip: A rubber mallet can be used to tap the bearing seal into place.

Pack the new smaller bearing with grease and slide it on to the spindle inside the rotor. Now install the thrust washer and retaining nut onto the spindle.

Step 6: Install a new cotter pin. Tighten the retaining nut until it is snug and turn the rotor counterclockwise at the same time.

Tighten the retaining nut a ¼ turn past snug and then install a new cotter pin.

diagram of hub assembly

Step 7: Unbolt and replace the hub. Some cars have permanently sealed front wheel bearings as shown in the image above. The rotor mounts on a hub that contains the pressed-in wheel bearing.

Bearing assemblies on front or rear non-driven axles are mounted between a wheel hub and a simple spindle shaft.

  • Tip: If your bearing is housed inside a hub that can be unbolted, simply use your ratchet to unbolt the hub from the spindle and install a new hub.

bearings spindle with pressed bearing setup

Step 8: Remove the spindle if needed. If your bearing is pressed into the spindle, it is recommended that you remove the spindle from the vehicle and take both the spindle and the new wheel bearing to your local repair shop. They will have the specialty tools to press out the old bearing and press in the new one.

In most cases this service can be done inexpensively. Once the new bearing pressed in, the spindle can be installed back on to the vehicle.

Part 3 of 3: Reassembly

Step 1: Put the brake rotor and caliper back on. Now that the new bearing is installed, the brake rotor and caliper can be placed back onto the vehicle using a ratchet and the appropriate sockets that were used to remove them.

Step 2: Install the tire. Replace the wheel and tighten the lug nuts by hand. Support the vehicle with a floor jack and remove the safety jack stands. Slowly lower the vehicle until its tires just touch the ground.

Step 3: Complete the installation. Use a torque wrench to tighten the lugnuts to manufacturer specifications. Lower the vehicle completely and remove the floor jack.

Congratulations, you have successfully changed your vehicle’s wheel bearing. It is important to perform a test drive after changing the wheel bearings to ensure that the repair is complete.. If you encountered any problems while changing your wheel bearings, call a professional mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, to replace them for you.


Next Step

Schedule Wheel Bearings Replacement

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Wheel Bearings Replacement. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Wheel Bearings Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating

(1,022)

Rating Summary
964
39
2
1
16
964
39
2
1
16

John

27 years of experience
767 reviews
John
27 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front) - Texas City, Texas
He’s nice and showed up early, fixed my ear ache of a wheel bearing problem and made suggestions on what else needs to be fixed- which can be done at a later time. I will definitely utilize him again later!
Dodge Dakota - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front, Passenger Side Front) - Alvin, Texas
John is a fantastic mechanic. Recertified Master mechanic ASE. He is very knowledgeable, proficient and professional. I'm grateful for Your Mechanic for sending you ask my mechanic the 1st time. I couldn't ask for better.

Travis

13 years of experience
477 reviews
Travis
13 years of experience
Chevrolet Cobalt - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Passenger Side Front) - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Travis was able to come earlier than our scheduled time which was great. He finished in less than an hour and put me back on the road in no time. He's a great mechanic.

Adam

17 years of experience
88 reviews
Adam
17 years of experience
Dodge Dakota - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Front, Passenger Side Front) - Boca Raton, Florida
Adam was very professional and polite and patient to explain how and why what happened to the vehicle parts definitely recommend Adam will be requesting him for follow up work I give an AAA++++

Diana

18 years of experience
19 reviews
Diana
18 years of experience
Oldsmobile Alero - Wheel Bearings Replacement (Driver Side Rear) - Hoboken, New Jersey
The experience was great. Diana replaced the wheel bearing and let me know of any other issues the car had.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How To Replace a Tire Valve Stem
Tire Tire valve stems are the valves located in a vehicle’s wheel where the tires are inflated from. They contain a spring loaded valve core that seals itself using the air pressure inside of the tire. Over time valve stems...
Why Are My Tires Wearing Out Faster Than Normal?
If If you noticed that one or more of your tires are exhibiting signs of abnormal wear or is wearing out at a suspiciously fast rate, it may be a sign that there are other problems with your vehicle. Your...
What Advantages Do Aftermarket Suspension Components Offer?
Most Most modern cars’ and trucks’ suspensions are carefully designed to ensure adequate performance under a variety of conditions. Still, every suspension represents numerous compromises, as manufacturers must design their cars for a variety of needs and conditions while ensuring...

Related questions

There is a knocking sound coming from the back wheel

From what you describe, it would appear that your vehicle experienced some sort of issue when you hit the dip. It may be possible that a suspension or engine component was damaged when the impact was made, and is now...

I've just had my car aligned and new tires put on, and my car when at highway speeds feels loose, and wanders from side to side.

Hi. It sounds like there may be some loose suspension and steering parts in the front end of your car. There is a possibility that the steering parts that were loosened to do the alignment were not tightened all the...

Getting wobbly handling on the highway

A few things could be causing the wobble you feel at high speeds. The solid front suspension is susceptible to this condition, especially if aftermarket items are being used or the suspension has been modified. The front steering can...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com