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Get Your Bearings Straight – How to Use a Wheel Bearing Press

You’re elbow-deep under the hood of your car, trying to change out a stubborn wheel bearing. No matter how much muscle you put into it, you just can’t seem to get that pesky old bearing pressed out. What you need is a tool designed for just this purpose – a wheel bearing press. In this article, I’ll explain what a wheel bearing press is, why you need one, and how to use it properly. With the right techniques and a quality bearing press, you’ll be swapping out bearings in no time. So put away the hammer and get ready to learn the ins and outs of pressing and installing wheel bearings the right way.

What Is a Wheel Bearing Press?

A wheel bearing press is a specialized tool used to install or remove wheel bearings. Wheel bearings are what allow your wheels to spin freely while keeping the wheel attached to the axle. Over time, wheel bearings can wear out or get damaged, requiring replacement.

Removing the Old Bearings

To remove the old bearings, you’ll need to use the press to push the bearing out of the wheel hub. Place the wheel on the press with the bearing facing down. Position the press ram over the inner race of the bearing. Apply firm and even pressure to slowly push the bearing out of the wheel.

Installing the New Bearings

Before installing the new bearings, inspect the wheel hub for any damage and clean it thoroughly. Then pack the new bearings with wheel bearing grease. Place the wheel on the press with the hub facing up. Position the new bearing over the hub and place the press ram on the outer race of the bearing. Apply firm and steady pressure until the bearing seats fully into the hub.

Tightening Everything Up

Once the new bearings are installed, you’ll need to reinstall the axle, wheel, and any other components to complete the job. Tighten all fasteners to the specified torque and you’re ready to go. With a quality wheel bearing press and some mechanical know-how, you’ll have your wheel bearings replaced in no time.

Using a wheel bearing press does require some mechanical skill and knowledge to do the job properly. If you’ve never done this type of work before, you may want to consider having a professional mechanic service your wheel bearings. But for the DIYer, a wheel bearing press is an extremely useful tool to have in your garage.

How to Use a Wheel Bearing Press

So, your wheel bearing has seen better days and it’s time for a replacement. Don’t worry, with some basic tools and patience, you can tackle this yourself. The key is using a wheel bearing press to remove and install the new bearings.

Disassemble the hub

First, remove the axle nut and washer. Then, take off the outer wheel bearing and hub. You may need to use a puller to remove the hub. With the hub off, thoroughly clean all auto parts before installation.

Remove the old bearings

Position the hub in the wheel press with the inner bearing facing up. Place the correct size adapter over the inner bearing and apply firm and even pressure until the bearing pops out. Do the same for the outer bearing.

Install new bearings

Put the new inner bearing in the hub and place the adapter over it. Apply pressure until the bearing seats fully in the hub. Add the new outer bearing in the same way.

Reassemble the hub

Put the hub back on the axle. Add the outer wheel bearing, axle washer and axle nut. Tighten the nut while spinning the wheel to ensure proper seating. Loosen the nut, then re-tighten to the specified torque.

Test your work

Take a test drive to ensure the replacement was successful and you’re back on the road. Replacing wheel bearings yourself can save time and money. With the proper tools and patience, you’ll have your wheels spinning freely in no time.

Wheel Bearing Press Tips and FAQs

Using a wheel bearing press can seem tricky if you’ve never done it before. Here are some tips to help you get started and answers to common questions.

Go slowly and be careful.

Forcing parts or moving too quickly can damage the bearings, hub, or spindle. Take your time and make sure everything is aligned properly before applying pressure.

Protect the bearings.

Place protective sleeves over the spindle and hub before pressing the bearings on or off. This helps prevent damage to the bearings and other components. The sleeves distribute the force evenly and protect the surfaces.

Use the proper adaptors.

Most wheel bearing presses come with different sized adaptors and spacers to fit various bearing sizes. Choose adaptors that properly fit your specific bearings. Adaptors that are too large or too small can cause damage.

Do I need a shop press?

Not necessarily. While a shop press can be useful for some heavy-duty jobs, a basic wheel bearing press kit will work for most standard passenger vehicle bearings. Wheel bearing press kits are more affordable, compact, and designed specifically for pressing on and removing wheel bearings.

Can I rent a wheel bearing press?

Yes, many auto parts stores that rent tools will rent wheel bearing press kits. Renting is a good option if you only have an occasional need to replace wheel bearings. However, for most DIY mechanics a wheel bearing press can be a useful tool to have in your garage. Kits start at around $75-$150, making them an affordable addition to your tool collection.

Do I need a hydraulic press?

No, for pressing on and removing most standard wheel bearings a manual wheel bearing press will work just fine and is more affordable and compact than a hydraulic press. Hydraulic presses are really only needed for very large commercial applications. For DIY use, a basic manual wheel bearing press is all you’ll need.

Conclusion

So there you go, gearhead! Now you’ve got the lowdown on using a wheel bearing press to replace those stubborn wheel bearings. It may look intimidating at first with all those heavy parts, but take it slow and follow the steps. You’ll be pressing in new bearings like a pro in no time. Just remember to be safe – wear your gloves and eye protection. Don’t force things if they don’t want to budge. And make sure to check your work when you’re done so you can feel confident about the repair. Now get out there and keep those wheels spinning smoothly! You’ve got this.

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