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Replacing front wheel bearings


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Hi all,

I'm ginning up the courage to replace the front wheel bearings on my 240Z. I've never attacked wheel bearings before, but I do have several repair manuals and their doesn't seem to be anything beyond my capabilities. However, a couple of the terms leave me puzzled.

First: What the heck is a "drift?" All the manuals refer to using a drift to remove the outer race.

Second: What the heck is the "outer race?" Is it what a ignorant layperson such as I would call the "bearings?"

Third: All the manuals make reference to a special tool for installing the outer race bearings -- is this a really, really, special tool or could I buy / rent one at an auto parts store? If so, what? A wheel bearing installer?

Fourth: What parts should I expect to replace? Black Dragon Automotive sells a wheel bearing kit consisting of inner and outer bearings and a oil seal (I assume the oil seal is a grease seal.). As a matter of routine, I will replace the cotterpin. Barring unexpected damage to other components, are there any other parts I should have on hand as a matter of routine maintenance?

Fifth: Most repair manuals implicitly assume the car is between two and, oh, ten years old. My Z is a bit older than that and parts that came apart easily when young have a tendency to become one with the passage of time. Any booger areas that I should be aware of? Maybe throw a little penetrant on the night before starting the job?

Finally, any tips earned through skinned knuckles, paint peeling language, or the existential giggles gratefully appreciated.


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I replaced my wheel bearings last fall and I had only changed a flat tire before. So, if I can do it, Im sure you can too.

A drift is usually made of brass, similar to a punch, you strike it with a hammer to remove the bearing. I didnt use one. I bought a wheel bearing race kit at my local Harbor Freight store for around $30. It had different sizes and the ones needed to do the job. I did a quick search and found this link, not the same kit I bought. Not sure if you can do a loaner from your local auto parts store but worth a call.


The outer race is just that, the bearing consists of inner/outer "rings" for lack of a better word. You would use the kit above by finding the correct size diamter adaptor and tapping the race into place with it.

Definitely replace the cotter pin and get some good bearing grease. Make sure you do not mix up the bearings, open one package at a time.

Here is a tutorial from Atlantic Z that I found to be helpful.


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When you drive out the inner bearings, make sure to alternate tapping/pounding around the circumfrence of the bearing race. Otherwise you will bind the race.

Also, when you have replaced the wheel on the car, take it for a drive, doing some hard turning and then check the tightness of the hub on the spindle.

When I replaced my fronts, I didn't drive the inner bearing race in deep enough. As I drove the car, they moved deeper into the hub (where they should have been) and created space between the castle nut and the outer bearing race. This is obviously a dangerous condition.

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Johny, I have done this job about a gazillion times - well maybe a few less than that. MEZZ and tlober posted good advice. You dont need the HF FWD deal. A drift - brass is nice if you want to reuse the part - piece of rebar if you dont!

Atlantic's tech tip is the best tutorial that I have ever seen. Make sure that you pack your bearings really good with grease. There is a really cheap tool for packing grease. I usually take a big gob into my hand and use my other hand to work the grease into the bearing - repeat, repeat, repeat!

What I like to do is turn the wheel(w/tire) when I tighten the castle down. I turn it until it is hard to turn the tire and then back off. Take it for a drive and redo it. The fish scale for measuring preload is a pretty good trick! I also check the bearings a couple of times in the next week/month of driving.

I found that most cars of our era were running their bearings too loose. I bought many a VW whose owners thought that their front end was fubar and it was usually just loose bearings.

Good luck and have fun on your heated floor!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am in the process of doing the same thing on my 260 and my only difficulty was getting the races out, simply because beating the heck out of the hub, did not make sense, but it was the only way. I would highly recomend an arbor press to get the races back in nice and even, I also found it very helpful to put the races in my freezer for about 30 minutes before installing.

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I just performed this install yesterday, and yes the only way to get the old races out is with a large hammer and screwdriver. However, I rented a race driver kit form the local parts store, and after putting my bearings in the freezer for a day, I just put them in the correct location, and gently tapped them in with the race driver kit. VERY easy. The hardest part is getting the old races out, and cleaning up the old grease. HAHA

Also to remember to torque the castle wheel nut on about 25 ft lbs. THen back off 60 degrees. At least that is what the FSM says.

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Since you're replacing the races, beating on them is often the easiest/fastest way to remove. You don't really care if you bugger it up. A little PBlaster or Liquid Wrench helps.

Get the new race started with whatever you have (small block of wood or metal bar) and drive it in flush. Just tap evenly around the race in small increments, don't try to strong arm it in with one shot. After it's flush, use the old race (inverted) to drive it partially down. No reason to worry about sizing a spacer since it's exactly the same diameter. After it's slightly below the surface pop the old race out and flip it so it is in the same orientation as the new race. Use the old race in that position to fully seat the new race. As you'll see (no pics handy so you have picture it in your mind), by having it in the same orientation as the new, you'll have a little 'land' (the fatter bottom of the old race against the thinner top of the new) to drive it back out when the new race is seated.

I've always used the old race to drive the new race in and never had a problem. It's quicker and also handy since you have the parts available on dis-assembly.

No need to rent or buy any special tools, just need a little patience and ultimately to be a 'cheap' SOBROFL who doesn't want to spend the extra money.

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Sorry about the delay getting back to you all. Went out of town, computer went along but got the runs. Or something not curable by me.

Thanks for the assistance, tips and links. A special tip of the hat to Mezzz who provided a link to very useful, illustrated, step by step instructions. In addition, for some reason the picture accompanying the caption "Clean Hands" just cracks me up.

And mic240z is a person after my own heart. Cheap? Used to be cheap, my friend, now its green: just call it repurposing.


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