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How to do Front Wheel Bearing Maintenance

Need to do your yearly front wheel bearing maintenance? this description outlines basic process for doing this on 320i hubs, but the process is similar for 2002 hubs.

Jack up car

place jackstands under car

remove front wheels


unbolt calipers from struts. hang them from springs. do not let them dangle by the hoses.



use channel locks to pull bearing cap off


remove cotter pin on axle nut


remove axle nut


pull hub off axle. keep finger on the outer washer so that outer bearing does not drop out.



put hub on work bench on clean paper. do not want to get dirt in the bearings.

clean all the old grease off the axle so that you can examine it for damage.


here is your chance to use those goofy angled screw drivers that come in the screw driver sets. use the flat blade part to reach down inside hub to tap out the inner grease seal without damaging it.




pull out the inner bearing. clean it out. any degreaser or brake cleaner will work. make sure they are fully rinsed and completely dry before repacking with grease.


pack with grease. i use vavloline synpower but that is probably overkill for a street car. you can do this by hand or use one of those plastic bearing greaser tools. i do it by hand. just make sure the thing is full.

clean out hub and examine bearing races for damage.

pack inside of hub with grease. i don't know if there is some specific amount, i have always just filled the recesses with a few fingerfuls.

replace inner bearing.


replace grease seal. fill back of seal with grease before inserting.





clean and repack outer bearing. insert in hub.


assemble the hub and slide back onto axle. keep finger on outer bearing so it stays on.


put outer washer back on


put axle nut back on


put rotor back on

put caliper back on strut

put wheel back on (with wheel center cap off, if there is one)

adjust bearing load. basically you want to snug it up to set the bearings, spin the wheel, then back off a little bit at at time until you feel smooth wheel movement with a touch of play when wiggling from 12 and 6 o'clock positions. a touch is defined as you can't really see it move, but you can feel just a little movement.

put cotter pin back in.


replace grease cap. tap in with hammer. i do not fill the grease cap with grease, but some folks do. no harm in extra grease.


repeat for other side of car

put car back on ground

TQ your lug nuts.

go drive.

recheck wheel bearing play after a few days of driving.


edit 3/14

need new bearings in the hub?

lay out all the parts.


inner bearing


grease seal



keep the workspace CLEAN! don't get dirt in the new bearings.

heat up hub


tap in race using race tool




now do the race on other side


grease up the roller bearings and fill the hub. this is how much i used on one hub. can was new when started.




on hub as with repack


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Thanks for showing this. I've looked at the job many times and wondered if I was getting into something that I didn't have enough experience to do. I see how easy the process is now and feel comfortable doing it now. Thanks again.

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just my $0.02 Regarding heating of the hub for installing races:


Go throw the race in the deep freeze for a bit.


Sometimes with the heated hub and the frozen race it will drop right in, not requiring force.

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This write up helped me out a bunch. I kind of knew what I was doing, but this DIY solidified it for me.


Thanks again Marshall. 

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Used the tips from this FAQ (heating up the hubs and freezing the bearing races) on a pair of tii hubs this past weekend.  Purchased the bearing race and seal driver tool from Harbor Freight.  It had the sizes for the tii bearings in their kit (59.0mm & 44.5mm).  Easily installed the new bearing races and seals.  Cleaning up the hubs was a pain, but worth it.  Rubber gloves help.


Thanks for the write-up Marshall !

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I followed the steps here but when I go to put the hubs back on the spindles, I'm having a hard time getting them to seat all the way back on the spindle. If I push hard, it will go all but 1/4" of the way, and when I let go, the pressure of the oil seal pushes it to about a 1/2" gap.


I tried pushing REALLY hard and mangled an oil seal (tore the rubber off) so once I replace that, does anyone have advice? Should I just do up the nut and use that to force it back on? Am I missing something? Too much grease?

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