top of page

Wheel Bearing Maintenance

by Scott Conger

Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine, March 1987

While the hum of a well-tuned engine may be music to your ears, the hum of a bad wheel bearing is not to be taken lightly. A friend of mine had a long neglected bearing seize at 50 mph. As a result, his wheel parted company with his car and proceeded to pass him. Fortunately he was able to "land" his car in a grassy area and received only minor damage to his fender.

A slight hum when cornering at high speed may indicate only minor adjustment, while a continual noise may indicate damage. The following article should help with your project. If possible, review the procedure in a factory manual first.


  • 2 grease seals

  • 1 can wheel bearing grease 1 wheel-puller (maybe)

  • 1 6-pack (definitely)

IMPORTANT: Keep grease off of all brake parts and rubber hoses. Do not touch brake surfaces.

  1. Drum brakes - remove drums. Disc brakes - remove 2 nuts holding hose bracket to calipers. Don't disconnect any hydraulic lines. Remove studs holding caliper to the spindle and pull free of rotor. Tie caliper to suspension with rope or wire.

  2. Drum brakes with solid wheels - Pry off grease cup, remove cotter pin and nut. Slide off hub. (You may need wheel puller.) Drum and disc brakes with wire wheels - Pull out grease cup. Have a beer. Line up hole in splines with cotter pin and pull out. If the last guy to work on the car bunged up the cotter pin, make sure the kids aren't around 'cause it may take some verbal persuasion. Unscrew the nut and pull the hub off the spindle.

  3. Remove bearings. Remove the rear seal by prying it from the back or by tapping it from the front with a soft punch. If you have ball bearings, they may have to be tapped out with a punch too. Be gentle, and work your way around the edge. Tapered bearings will just fallout. Keep track of all the shims when they come out with the distance piece.

  4. Clean bearings. Clean the bearings spotlessly. Check for nicks, pits, roughness, or discoloration (blue or light brown). Also check for wear in the bearing "cage". REPLACE ALL BAD BEARINGS. On tapered bearings, check the races for similar damage. If they need replacement, and you are not familiar with this kind of work (if you were, you wouldn't be reading this, right?) let your friendly machine shop do this for you. It'll only cost a couple of bucks and save you a lot of hassle.

  5. Pack the bearings. Remember that day your wife offered to help work on the car? Well, now is the time. Hand her one of the bearings and a large helping of grease and tell her to get to it. It is very important to squeeze the grease into every nook and cranny, so spend time at it and do it right. Place the rear bearing into the hub. Coat the hollow side of the seal with grease and install it with the hollow side toward the bearings. This keeps it from running "dry" and being torn up. It is tricky to put the seal in. Continually tap around the edge until it starts to go in and continue until it is seated. Don't whop it too hard or you will distort it and have to buy a new one.

  6. Replace hub. Slide hub over the spindle. Put in distance piece and shims, and then put in the outer bearing. Put on large washer and nut. Tighten nut to 7 - 40 ft. lbs. (Tighten to seven and start trying to put in cotter pin.) This is the tricky part. The hub should not be too tight and bind, and yet, with the wheel installed there should be no evidence of wobble. Add or remove shims as needed. After bearings are adjusted, install grease cup. Don't put grease in the grease cup. They just call it that.

  7. Reinstall all remaining brake parts.

Miscellaneous Notes

If you get any grease on any brake parts, buy a can of brake cleaner and clean everything thoroughly. If brake drum won't come off, try backing off the brake adjuster screw. If you can't get the grease cup out of the hub, go to the hardware store and buy a piece of '/2 or larger diameter "all-thread" (threaded) rod with a nut, a II," drill bit, a 7:.-24 tap and something to serve as a washer that will fit over the rod and cover the opening of the hub. Once the tool is made, screw it onto the grease cup, slide on the washer, screw on the nut, grip the end of the tool with vice-grips to keep it from twisting, and tighten down the nut. With 2 or 3 turns of the nut, the cup will pull right out.

IMPORTANT: Make sure your wife washes her hands before she test drives the car!

Not what you were looking for? Don't forget you can check our back issues using the AHCUSA Magazine Index.

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Sagging Rear End

By Ken Walsh Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine A quick and easy way to check your Healey for "tired" springs is to measure the distance from ground level to the top of wheel arch as s

Rear Spring U-Bolts

By Gary Anderson Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine, December 1991 If you hear a dull clunk from the vicinity of one or both the rear wheels when you start off from a stop, it could be

Rear Spring Replacement

By Tom Mason Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine, December 1992 One of the clearest signs of shot rear leaf springs is that the body sags in the rear and the car sits down on its tires


I commenti sono stati disattivati.
bottom of page