Renewing wheel bearings
Rob Hawkins provides a general guide to renewing wheel bearings and highlights some of the common problems that can arise.
An irritating rumble from one of the road wheels is often the first indication that a wheel bearing is starting to fail. It can be difficult to confirm this diagnosis – there might be no play evident when wiggling the raised road wheel, and the noise could also be caused by a worn or old tyre.
Play in a wheel bearing can sometimes be eliminated by tightening the driveshaft nut. This is the case on older cars, such as the front wheel bearings on the Jaguar XJ40. However, in some cases, over-tightening the nut can damage the bearing.
The work involved in renewing a wheel bearing can vary, depending on the type of bearing fitted. In this feature, we cover three types.
The least messiest job requires fitting a new hub and bearing assembly but, as we found on our Vauxhall Insignia project car, that might not be as easy as you think. Renewing a wheel bearing that’s part of a rear brake drum is also covered here – this set-up is common on front-wheel drive vehicles such as the Vauxhall Tigra and Corsa.
Perhaps the most involved wheel bearing renewal job is where the hub and upright need to be removed, separated and the wheel bearings pressed out. We recently did this on the front of a Jaguar XK8 and discovered the ABS reluctor ring had to be cut off to be able to separate the hub from the upright.