I decided to change my wheel bearings and spindle bearings on my 1995 Bronco and figured I would do a write up on it so here it is. Its very detailed and I hope it helps instead of confuses you…. but no promises! I also noticed that I did a bad job of taking pics of the re-assembly part of the procedure. I hope to ad more pics later but for now, just remember what it all looked like before you took it apart!!
Before I get started, I need to say Thanks to my buddy Andy for his help (he’s a Jeep guy but I try not to hold that against him).
Before starting, I did some research on the forum and found that there was confusion among some of those posting as to what the proper names of the bearing sets were. This confusion was also verified when I went to purchase the parts for this job. Parts guys made many attempts at selling me the wrong stuff.
To be clear, there are 3 bearing sets for each side. From the outside in, there is an outer wheel bearing, and then there is an inner wheel bearing (this sits on the outside of the spindle but inside the hub) and a spindle bearing (this sits inside the spindle itself). Many people confuse the inner wheel bearing for the spindle bearing and will sell you the wrong parts if you do not double check what you are being sold.
Here is a picture of all the parts you will need to change the wheel and spindle bearings:
I decided to use Timken wheel bearings and races (available at Autozone) but wanted to use NAPA seals only because I just think they are higher quality, but I have done no research to verify that. Also, Autozone did not carry the spindle bearing, so I used a NAPA spindle bearing instead.
The parts numbers are as follows:
Outer Wheel Bearings: Timken Set Number 45
Inner Wheel Bearings: Timken Set Number 37
(The sets above come with new races)
Inner Wheel Bearing Seal: NAPA Part Number 24917
Spindle Bearing: B2110
Spindle Bearing Outer Seal: 13144
Spindle Bearing Inner Seal: 18844
Total cost for both sides is around $150.00 not including the tool rental.
You can also get the spindle bearing and seals in a kit; NAPA Part Number BK2. They didn’t have the kit at my local NAPA, so I purchased the parts individually. If you purchase BK2, double check to make sure both seals and the bearings are included.
If you are doing two both sides, you will need two sets of each of these parts.
Next buy, rent, or borrow the following tools:
This is an arrangement of the tools I had to suit this purpose; some of the tools may be interchanged for others (such as, I used a 3/8s ratchet for some stuff where you may only have a socket that works with a ½ inch ratchet). The following tools are what I used:
½ inch ratchet
3/8s inch ratchet
¼ inch ratchet
½ inch torque ratchet
½ inch socket
8 mm socket
11/16s inch socket
6mm – 12 point socket (bought this at Checker)
Ring Clip Pliers
Allen Wrench Set
Grease (I used Syn Power – Synthetic Wheel Bearing Grease – Whatever you buy, make sure its compatible with disc breaks)
Various Pry Bars
Race and Bearing Installation Kit (can be rented at Autozone)
2/3 Slide Hammer Set (can be rented at Autozone)
Fine Sandpaper (I used 800 grit)
Jack (not pictured)
Jack Stands (not pictured)
Shop Towels (not pictured)
And of course, beer (front and center)
These lists of parts and tools if assembled in full should keep your parts runs down to a minimum. Beer runs are another story.
General things to know:
In this write up, I use “outside” and “inside”. Outside relates to the objects closest to the wheel (outside wheel bearing is the first bearing after the wheel). Inside relates to objects furthest from the wheel (inside wheel bearing is the one on the spindle closest to the frame of the truck).
If you are not going to be changing the spindle bearing, you will not have to purchase the Spindle Bearing: B2110, Spindle Bearing Outer Seal: 13144 or Spindle Bearing Inner Seal: 18844 You will also not have to remove any of the ABS stuff or the spindle as detailed below.
The race is a tapered stainless steel ring that the bearings sit in. These are seated in the rotor and look like they are part of the rotor. They are easy to identify though because the bearings sit in them. The wheel bearing sets come with a race. I would recommend you spend the time and effort to use the new races with your wheel bearings. The spindle bearing does not use a race.
The rotor and hub come off of the truck as one piece. For the sake of the write up, I have called this part the hub. The rotor is the part that the brake pads push against when you apply the brakes. It has the wheel studs attached to it. The hub is the round part that your 4x4 engagement hub goes into. The hub is pressed into your rotor therefore, as mentioned, these come off together. Check out Steve83s axle assembly diagram here for some great detail and info on the parts to the axle. I would recommend you print that off along with this write up when doing your wheel bearings (or any other TTB axle work for that matter).
I used brake cleaner whenever I was cleaning excess grease and such from the hub and spindle. Do not use brake cleaner on you new bearings.
This write up is done with the assumption you will be using all new parts. If you want to re-use old parts, this may not be the write up for you.
If you wanna take this a step further, you can also replace your balljoints. Stangmata501 did a great write up on that, which also included the wheel bearings. It also shows more pictures of a lot of the stuff I talk about in my write up. Stangs balljoint write up can be found:
You can view these photos plus a couple more in larger sizes at:
Step 1: Jack one side of the truck up and secure a jack stand under the frame. This will provide support if the jack should fail and will keep the truck from falling on you but it will NOT keep the suspension from falling on you. I chose to support the frame and use keep the jack under the suspension. Caution should be taken to make sure you are safe.
Set 2: Remove the wheel. Use your lug wrench or a 13/16 inch socket and ½ inch ratchet to remove the lug nuts and remove the wheel.
Step 3: Remove the Brake Caliper. The caliper is the large metal piece that is around your brake pads. Look behind the caliper. There are two bolts, one on top and one on the bottom of the caliper that have a black rubber boot around them with just the bolt head sticking out. Use a ½ inch socket to remove those two bolts. Next, firmly grasp the brake caliper and pull firmly from the top away from the rotor. Do not jerk it, just pull. With enough effort, the caliper should start to slide off. Next pull from the bottom and so on until the caliper comes away from the brake pads and rotor. You will then need to support the caliper on something like a box or cement block. I used my radius arm and rested it on there. Do not let it hang or sit on the ground. You can see the caliper on the left side of the hub and rotor assembly.
Step 4: Remove the Brake Pads. The brake pads will slide out of the claps. Grasp the top, apply pressure downward and begin to lightly pull it out. Then, slide the bottom out and so on until they pad slides out. If it is not coming out easily or is hanging up, you can push up on the top metal clasp to give the pad some more room to move. Make sure you do not bend these clasps. Repeat that process for the brake pad on the other side of the rotor.
Step 5: Remove the locking hub. I have Warn Premium Manual Hubs. I will quickly outline the removal of these hubs but other hub removal write-ups such as these can also be found on FSB:
Changing Auto hubs to Warn Manual Hub complete instructions with pics
To remove the Warn hubs, use the properly sized allen wrench and remove the hub cover bolts. Next, use the snap ring pliers and remove the inner snap ring (you can see it if you look at the middle of the hub). Next, use the pics to remove the outer snap ring that is seated in front of the hub against the outer housing. Next, use picks to carefully pull the hub out (you can also screw a bolt back in a little and slide the hub out with that).
Step 6: Remove locknut. Use the castle socket and remove the first nut. Use picks to dig it out once free from spindle.
Step 7: Remove lockwasher. Use picks to remove the washer.
Step 8: Remove wheel bearing adjuster nut. Use the castle socket to remove this nut. Use the picks to dig it out once free from spindle. Your hub/rotor assembly will now be loose and ready for removal. Here are the parts of the Warn locking hubs, the outer locknut, the lockwasher and the bearing adjustment nut:
Step 9: Remove the hub and rotor assembly. Firmly grasp the rotor so it cannot rock back and forth or up and down and slowly and carefully pull the rotor from the spindle. The outer wheel bearing may fall out. Since you are replacing these, you do not have to worry about damaging it. Once off the truck, carefully set the hub aside preferably on clean cardboard or a clean workbench. Here is the truck with the hub off:
Step 10: Remove the ABS sensor shield. This is the part that is on the front of the steering knuckle. It wraps around the silver sensor cover and overlaps the spindle. It can be seen in the picture above on the right hand side of the spindle. Behind the steering knuckle you will find a small 12-point bolt that holds the ABS sensor shield to the knuckle. Use the 6mm 12 point socket to remove this bolt. The sheild on the knuckle should fall off or come off easily. If not, you can PB Blast the spot where the shield rests against the steering knuckle and let it sit for a few minutes, then tap lightly with the SFH. If you have to use force to remove the shield, be very careful not to damage the sensor.
Step 11: Remove the bolt holding the sensor. Above the small bolt you just removed, you will see a larger bolt that holds the rear sensor cover and the sensor against the back of the steering knuckle. Use the 8 mm socket to remove this bolt. NOTE: You will not have to remove the sensor to remove the spindle, only the bolt.
Step 12: Remove the spindle. Before you do so, mark the spindle and the steering knuckle so you put the spindle on the same way it came off. This is important if you have ABS brakes. The sensor and shield attach through the steering knuckle to the spindle and those holes must line up properly. The spindle can be tough to remove, especially if you live where there is a lot of rust. You can PB blast the spot where the spindle hits the brake shield and if necessary, PB Blast the self-locking nuts that hold the spindle against the steering knuckle, then let it sit for a while. Once you are ready, use the 11/16 socket and remove the nuts holding the spindle onto the knuckle. Next, you will need to pound the spindle off. You can try a rubber mallet first. If that does not work, use a piece of wood. Rest the wood on the spindle and smack it with the BFH. Rotate the wood around the spindle and keep hitting it firmly (not too hard though) with the hammer until the spindle moves in all directions. Now, firmly pull the spindle straight back to slip it over the outer axle. Be careful when you do this not to bang the axle or inside of the spindle up. Once that is out, your truck will look like this:
NOTE: On the drivers side of my 95, the axle came out with the spindle. If that occurs, just separate the axle and spindle and very carefully re-insert the axle. You may have to turn it a bit to get it to seat fully. Once the axle is back in, move to the next step.
Step 13: Remove the outer race from the hub. Clean the excess grease from around the race. Lay the hub down so the rotor is facing down and the wheel studs are facing up. Use the 2/3 slide hammer and race remover. Screw the removal tool (claw) onto the slide hammer then insert the claw into the rotor. Seat the claw firmly and directly under the race. Make sure it is not seated on any other part of the interior of the hub. Adjust the claw so it is locked under the race then slide the hammer weight upwards to pound it out. You may need to have a drunk friend hold the rotor for you or you can hold it down with your feet while seated. You will be slamming the slide hammer upwards VERY HARD to pull the race out so be careful that you don’t hit yourself or your drunk friend in the face when the race flies out.
Step 14: Remove the seal, bearing and race from the rotor side of the hub. Flip the hub over and repeat the process from Step 12. The only difference is you will be removing the race, the bearing and the seal all together. Clean all the remaining grease from the rotor and set aside. Once done, your hub and rotor assembly should look something like this:
NOTE: You can remove these races, bearings and seals a variety of ways. You can use a pry bar to pull the seal, remove the bearing by hand then you can pound the race using a pry bar or crow bar inserting the bar through the rotor so it is seated against the back of the race then pound it with a BFH while moving the bar incrementally around the race until if falls out. Flip the rotor and repeat. You should be careful not to damage the inside of the rotor if you choose to use the pry bar method. I chose to use the race remover to limit the possibility for damage and because it’s a cool tool. You can also take your spindle and hub to a machine shop to have the bearings and races pressed out and back in. If you do not have a place to rent tools and do not feel comfortable using a pry bar, I would recommend the machine shop.
Step 15: Remove the spindle bearing and seal. Clean the excess grease from around the bearing. Use the 2/3 Slide Hammer and Race Removal tool, insert the claw into the spindle and seat it on the underside of the bearing. Have drunk friend hold spindle while you slide the hammer upwards to remove the bearing and seal. You can also hold it with your feet while you are seated. Again, be careful not to hit drunk friend or yourself in the face with the slide hammer. Now clean all the old grease from the spindle. Once you have removed the bearing and seal, clean off remaining grease from the spindle. This is what the spindle looks like before you pull the bearing and clean it:
NOTE: Removing these bearings with a pry bar and hammer could lead to damage on the inside of the spindle which could cause the bearing to seat improperly or not at all. I would not recommend using the pry bar method on the spindle bearings.
Step 16: Remove inner spindle bearing seal. On the axle shaft, there will be a large seal. You can use your hand or if necessary some pliers to just pull it off. Once complete, clean remaining grease off of the axle. Heres what it should look like when you are done (note the PB Blaster soaked brake shield):
You are now ready to begin putting it back together.
Step 17: Seat the spindle bearing (part number B2110). Select the appropriate size disk from the bearing and race kit. To do so, find the biggest one you can that is the same diameter of the bearing, but still will fit into the spindle where the bearing is to be seated. Just keep matching the disks up with the bearing until you find the right one. Clean the anti-rust compound off the bearing with a clean dry shop towel. Now, with your fingers, grab a liberal amount of grease and grease the spindle bearing up. Apply a thin layer of grease to the inside of the spindle where the bearing will be seated. Next set the bearing on top of the spindle where the old bearing was. Now, use the bearing installation disk you selected and with a little force as necessary, tap the bearing into the spindle using the SFH. You will know when the bearing is seated because there will be a noticeable pitch change in the sound as soon as it is seated. It is important that you keep the bearing level and flush the entire time. If you allow the bearing to become too heavily angled while you are seating it, it may not seat properly. Also, you may have to use a couple different sizes of bearing installation disks to get it seated all the way. I used a larger one to get it started, then a smaller one to finish seating it. Do not hit the bearing too hard or you can damage it. Here is the spindle ready for the bearing and seal:
Step 18: Install the outer spindle bearing seal (part number 13144). Lightly grease the outside and inside of the seal and firmly press it in by hand over the bearing. Its all plastic, so should go in fairly easily. If necessary, use the race and bearing seating tool, select an oversized disk and lightly tap it into place.
Step 19: Install the inner spindle seal. Lightly grease the axle where the seal will sit. By hand, slide the seat onto the axle and press it up where it is supposed to be. It may move back off the axle slightly. This is okay just so long as it does not slide completely off. If it does, push it back on a few times until it begins to seat. It will look like this:
Step 20: Install spindle. Apply a liberal amount of grease to the axle shaft. Next, carefully slide the spindle over the axle. You may have to work a little to get the spindle on fully. You can wiggle the axle around a bit while you apply pressure against the spindle. You can also reach behind the steering knuckle and move the axle at the joint assembly. Once the axle is straight and the spindle is lined up, it should go on with just a little jostling. Slide the spindle up until it meets the knuckle. Make sure you line the spindle up the way it came off. This is important because you will need to re-attach your ABS sensor shield and will need the boltholes to line up properly. If you did not mark the spindle and steering knuckle, the sensor will use the “notch” that has the bolthole on the bottom (the other one has the hole on the top). Once you have everything lined up and the spindle is on, put the nuts back on and lightly tighten them. Now, look around the back of the steering knuckle and make sure your inner spindle bearing seal is seated properly and is not bent or folded and that it didn’t slip off its proper position on the axle. If the seal is not seated, pull the spindle out a little, reseat the inner seal and try again. If the seal looks like it is seated properly but not fully, this is okay. It will seat once you torque the nuts down. Once you are satisfied the seal is seated properly, torque the nuts to 40 foot-pounds. NOTE: I put anti seize on the back of the spindle hoping it would make it easier to take off next time.
Step 21: Attach the ABS sensor cover and shield. Re-install the two bolts holding the sensor cover and shield on using the 8mm socket and the 6mm 12 point socket.
Step 22: Install the outer bearing race (race from Timken set 45). Place the hub on cardboard or a workbench rotor side down, hub side up. Apply a light coat of grease to the bearing race and set it in the hub so the largest end of the race is facing upwards like this: \ /. Next select a disk from the bearing and race installation kit that is big enough to just fit inside the hub. You want to make sure it fully covers the race. Place the tool over the race and use the BFH pound the race in. This will take a few good hard shots before it is fully seated. You will know when the race is seated because the pitch will change and the hammer will bounce off the tool.
Step 23: Install the inner bearing race (race from Timken set 37). Place the hub on cardboard or workbench rotor side up and repeat the process from step 20. Heres a couple pics of the install tool in use:
Step 24: Confirm the inner wheel bearing will fit the spindle. My bearing set did not fit the spindle. I had this issue with both sides. Is what I did to help was I used 800 grit sandpaper and lightly buffed the spindle all the way around to remove the tarnish and any possible burs etc that may have been left over from the old bearings. This took a while and I kept testing the fit regularly. You have to be careful here because if the bearing does not fit the spindle, it can get stuck on there very easily and can be extremely difficult to remove. If you do get a bearing stuck, you can use a small screwdriver and lightly tap the inside ring of the bearing to straighten it up on the spindle to remove. Once you can take the bearing on and off the spindle a few times without it getting stuck, you are ready to install it into the hub. NOTE: Getting the inner wheel bearing was one of the most difficult things to do on this job. You have to be careful not to damage the bearing if it gets stuck on the spindle, which mine did several times. Take your time here to make sure it fits nicely before moving on to the next step. A little bit of work getting the bearing to fit:
Step 25: Install inner wheel bearing. (bearing from Timken set 37). Once you have confirmed your inner wheel bearing will fit the spindle properly you will need to pack the bearing with grease. Clean the bearing with a clean dry shop towel then using the bearing grease packer or the hand packing method, pack the bearing with grease. In my opinion, the 10 bucks you spend on a bearing packer is well worth the money. It only takes 1-2 minutes to pack the bearings using a bearing packer. Once done, remove the bearing from the packer and clean the excess grease out of the middle of the bearing set. Next, firmly but gently place bearing into the race with the taper going the same direction as the taper of the race: \ /.
Step 26: Install inner bearing seal (part number 24917). Lightly grease all of the rubber components of the seal. Place the seal over the bearing. If your race and bearing install kit has a disk big enough to fully cover the seal, you can use that and the SFH to lightly tap the seal into place. My kit did not, so I opted to use the SFH by itself to lightly tap the seal in. To do so without damaging the seal, start on one side and very lightly tap while holding the other side in place then keep tapping while you rotate the hammer around the seal. Much like putting the lid on a paint can only with a fraction of the force. Visually confirm the seal is fully seated all of the way around. Once the seal is seated, you can use your finger to pack more grease behind the bearing. NOTE: You can also use a 4x4 piece of wood to seat this seal. Place the wood on top of the seal and lightly tap it with a hammer. Visually inspect to confirm seal is properly seated.
Step 27: Prep outer wheel bearing (bearing from Timken set 45). Clean the outer wheel bearing with a clean dry shop towel then pack this bearing with grease and set it and the bearing adjustment nut (the one with the pin) on clean shop towel someplace that is easy to reach from the area of the truck you are working on. You will need to be able to easily access this and the bearing adjustment nut after you put the hub assembly back on.
Step 28: Install the hub. Carefully place the hub and rotor assembly over the axle and on to the spindle. Be very careful not to catch the bearing at an angle on the spindle. This may take a few attempts and a lot of patience. The process we ended up using was to line the hub up to the spindle as perfectly as possible, then with one quick motion, we pushed the hub into place. It was not easy but after a couple of attempts, we got it on there. Also, because it was 110 degrees outside, we ended up icing the spindle down where the bearings were to be seated, and then dried the area thoroughly before putting the hub on. Cooling the spindle seemed to help quite a bit (it may have all been mental??). Once you have the hub on fully, hold it in place and insert the outer wheel bearing. Make sure it is pushed in and fully seated in the race. Next, thread the wheel adjustment bearing onto the spindle (make sure the pin is pointing outwards so you can put the lockwasher on) and hand tighten it against the bearing. Now use the castle socket and ½ inch torque wrench, torque the wheel bearing adjustment nut to 70 foot-pounds of torque while spinning the hub and rotor assembly back and forth. You are fully seating the bearing. Now, back the nut off 90 degrees (one quarter turn). Now, re-torque to 20 foot-pounds. Install the lockwasher. Make sure the pin and groove line up properly on the lockwasher. Now install the outer locknut and torque to 150 foot-pounds.
Step 29: Install the brake pads. Carefully install the brake pads by inserting the one end of the brake pad (top or bottom) first then lining the other end up with the clasp and sliding it in. You may have to flex the clasp a bit for the pad to go in. Repeat on the other side. NOTE: the pad with the metal clasps attached to it is the outer brake pad.
Step 30: Install brake caliper. Place the brake caliper back over the brake pads and push it back on until it seats properly. I have found its easiest to start with the piston (back) side of the caliper, place it as far down as you can the rock it towards you until level, then rock it back and forth while pushing down to get it seated. Once seated, install the two caliper bolts and tighten.
Step 31: Install locking hubs. Install the hub assembly. Install the two snap rings. Install the hub cover. Almost there:
Step 32: Put the wheel back on. Make sure it spins smoothly with no noise. Lower the truck then do the other side.
Once you complete the job, take it out for a poser shot like this:
Pat yourself on the back and go help your friends drink beers.
Thanks to KyleQ who provided me with some of the text for this from a write up he did that can be found here:
Wheel Bearing Write Up - Needed
As with most write ups, I am sure there are other better ways of doing some of this. Please add tips/tricks that have worked for you.