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In Kenya, where road conditions can be challenging, proper hub bearing maintenance is crucial to ensure smooth vehicle operation and safety. A worn-out hub bearing can place you and your passengers at risk of accidents. In this article, we will explore the hub bearing replacement process, covering preparation, tools, and the necessary safety precautions. Read on to find out.

Preparing for Hub Bearing Replacement

Before diving into the replacement process, thorough preparation is essential. This includes:

  • Identifying the vehicle’s make and model: Different vehicles have specific hub bearing designs and removal procedures.
  • Gathering necessary parts: Source a compatible replacement hub bearing for your car. Reputable auto parts dealers like Varsani Brake Linings (VBL) are good options.
  • Vehicle preparation: Park the vehicle on a level surface and engage the parking brake. For safety, consider chocking the wheels to prevent any unintended movement.

Tools and Equipment Needed

The following tools and equipment are typically required for hub bearing replacement:

  • Jack and jack stands
  • Lug wrench or impact wrench
  • Socket set (metric and standard)
  • Torque wrench
  • Bearing puller or hub puller
  • Hammer and chisel
  • Pry bar or screwdriver
  • Brake cleaner
  • Anti-seize lubricant
  • Grease gun

Note: Depending on your vehicle, additional tools might be necessary.

Safety Precautions

It’s essential to prioritize safety throughout the hub bearing replacement process. Here are some safety precautions to consider:

  • Eye protection: Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from dust, debris, and potential splashing of fluids.
  • Gloves: Use mechanic gloves to safeguard your hands from sharp edges and hot surfaces.
  • Proper lifting: Follow proper lifting procedures when using the jack and jack stands to prevent accidents.
  • Stable work area: Ensure the vehicle is securely supported on jack stands and won’t shift during work.
  • Brake safety: Be cautious when working around brakes. Avoid damaging brake components and follow proper procedures.

Steps for Hub Bearing Replacement

The hub bearing replacement procedure will depend on your type of vehicle. For instance, trucks like NQR, FH, Fuso, Tata, and Toyota Hiace (matatu) may require more advanced procedures compared to regular cars. Popular cars include Probox, Toyota Premio, Toyota Fielder, etc.

Here are the general steps for replacing hub bearings.

  1. Raise the vehicle: Use the jack to lift the vehicle off the ground and support it securely with jack stands.
  2. Remove the wheel: Loosen the lug nuts with a lug wrench or impact wrench, then remove the wheel and set it aside.
  3. Remove the brake caliper and rotor: Depending on your car, you might need to remove the brake caliper and hang it securely to avoid straining the brake line. Take off the brake disc rotor using the appropriate wrench size.
  4. Remove the hub nut: Use the appropriate socket and breaker bar to remove the hub nut, which secures the hub assembly.
  5. Remove the hub: This can be the trickiest part. Use the hub puller/separator to detach the hub assembly from the axle. In some cases, a combination of the puller, hammer, and chisel might be needed.
  6. Press out the old bearing (if necessary): Some hub assemblies require pressing out the old bearing using a shop press. 
  7. Clean and inspect the knuckle: Clean the knuckle where the new bearing will sit and inspect for any damage that might affect the new bearing.
  8. Pack the new hub bearing with grease: Use the grease gun and appropriate grease to thoroughly pack the new bearing according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Install the new hub assembly: Carefully press or slide the new hub assembly onto the axle. Use the torque wrench to tighten the hub nut to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  10. Reassemble components: Reattach the hub assembly, hub nut, brake components, and wheel following the reverse order of removal.
  11. Test operation: Lower the vehicle, start the engine, and test the operation of the new hub bearing by driving at low speeds and listening for abnormal noises.

Wrapping Up

Hub bearing replacement is a critical maintenance task that you shouldn’t overlook. By following the replacement process outlined in this article, you can ensure smooth operation, safety, and prolonged lifespan of your hub bearings.

However, hub bearing replacement can be a complex task, especially for larger vehicles. If you are not confident in your mechanical skills or the specific requirements for your car, don’t hesitate to seek help from a qualified mechanic. For more insights regarding hub bearings replacement, don’t hesitate to contact us today