by Pat Goss
Progress marches forward, or is it backward? I’m not sure. It depends on your point of view. But if you happen to have an older car, or even some of the newer cars, that still use wheel bearings, such as we see here - oh, yeah, these are becoming obsolete, but you may still have these. These are tapered roller bearings and they do need periodic service.
The service is pretty simple. You take them out of the car, use a parts washer to wash all the old grease out of the bearing. You’ve got to be thorough and get rid of every last bit of the grease. Once you’ve done that, you allow the wheel bearing to dry.
Then you very carefully look at each one of the rollers. You rotate it, look at the rollers to make sure that there are no imperfections and there’s no discoloration. If any of the rollers are discolored or there’s a nick or a gouge in any of them, that bearing is bad and needs to be replaced. And when you replace it, you always replace the bearing race at the same time.
Let’s assume everything is in good shape. The next thing is to re-pack the bearing with grease, and here we have a handy hand packer from Eastwood Tools. And the way this works is you put wheel bearing grease in the bottom of it, put the bearing into it, and then push down on this, and it forces grease up through holes, through the bearing, and packs it very, very easily and very effectively.
Now, grease seals. You never put a bearing back in with an old grease seal. Always, always replace the grease seals. New ones are very inexpensive and they make the bearing last a long time.
But those bearings are going away in favor of these. Now this is a sealed bearing, although we’ve cut it apart so you can see what’s inside it. They’re usually a component part of a bearing and hub assembly, such as we have here. Now this is a new one. If you look inside it you can see the splines, which would tell us that this is either front-wheel, all-wheel, or four-wheel drive. That’s where the axle would come through, and of course the wheel would bolt on here.
All right, now we look at the back of it. We can see how it turns. Everything is self-contained. This one even has a sensor on it for ABS or traction control or both. Now, what’s the advantage here? Well, the advantage is there’s no service, but the disadvantage is when something goes wrong you replace the whole assembly. Over there, that bearing is about 12 bucks. This is about 300 bucks. Do the math. Fortunately these last a long time, but there is no service.
*Bearing packer tool
The Eastwood Company
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