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Q: Replacing a hub bearing

asked by on

How to replace a hub bearing on a 94 buick regal
My car has an automatic transmission.

A: Each front wheel has a unitized hub/bearing...

Each front wheel has a unitized hub/bearing assembly that is bolted onto the steering knuckle. To get to it you have to remove the brake caliper, torque plate, and drive axle. Unless you have a high capacity (250 foot pounds) torque wrench and a front hub spindle removing tool (designated J-28733-A or equivalent), this is not a recommended DIY job. In particular, the new axle nut has to be torqued to 184 ft. lbs, no more, no less.

One of the most common problems we see with post installation DIY failures involving these unitized hub/bearing assemblies is the bearings are destroyed after a few thousand miles because the installer fails to properly and accurately torque that axle nut. The nut is critical because it establishes the pre-load on the new bearings and we are talking about clearances measured in less than thousandths of inch. With too much preload you basically destroy the new bearing by grinding the balls into the race. With tool little torque, the bearing will cock and you will have looseness. On a car of this age, it is likely the unitized assembly is rusted shut to the steering knuckle so you don't want to get stuck at that point (there are techniques to free it without destroying the knuckle).

YourMechanic performs hundreds of these replacements and can do it more economically than you can once you add up the cost of the tools. We would be pleased to first confirm that you do indeed have a bad bearing and then if so, replace the wheel bearing for you. If you still elect to do it yourself, remember that the vehicle must be supported on sturdy jack stands (hydraulic jacks alone can fail with NO warning) and you must wear safety glasses.

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