Wheel Bearing Replacment Cost?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Dean S. Lautermilch, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. My 2000 SL1 with 134K miles needs front wheel bearings. Can anyone do it or
    should it be the dealership? Any idea on cost?
    Dean S. Lautermilch, Jan 10, 2006
  2. Dean S. Lautermilch

    Oppie Guest

    Not sure if those bearings are press-in or bolt-in cartridge. If you have a
    good independant shop you deal with, by all means ask them. They should be
    able to do the repair. Are both wheels bad? Sometimes you hit a pothole and
    kill one side only.
    Usually the bearing swap is done on the car without removing the steering
    knuckle. Plan on getting a 4 wheel alignment anyway.
    Oppie, Jan 10, 2006
  3. Dean S. Lautermilch

    Private Guest

    This is a press in sealed bearing. It does require removing the steering
    knuckle. I would suspect that only one side needs replacement. IMHO there
    is no reason to replace both, just replace the bad side. It is often
    difficult to determine which side is bad, jack up each side and spin the
    wheel to determine which one is bad. If the bearing is not too bad you may
    need to jack both sides and remove brake calipers to determine which side is

    I purchased a plain bearing and not the bearing and hub kit as there was
    nothing wrong with the hub and no more work to change without the hub. IIRC
    it would have been even harder to press the bearing with the hub installed

    I posted a complete write up on this repair, link is below or search Google
    groups on subject "S series front wheel bearings" Mar 17, 2005.

    If you have a shop do the work make sure they have the correct tooling as
    described in the write up. Brg part # and repair quoted price also in write
    It is not a difficult repair but does require some equipment and experience.
    We have had no further problems since repairing one side only.
    Private, Jan 10, 2006
  4. "Private" <> typed until their fingers bled, and came
    up with:

    I read your writeup, but I'm not clear how you removed the hub. That is
    the only step that is befuddling me - I have everything I need to put it
    back together, but I haven't figured out how to get the hub out - The FSM
    shows a nifty tool that the dealer has that pulls the hub out of the
    knuckle, but I cannot find any place (including the Mac tool catalog) that
    has this tool.
    Kevin M. Keller, Jan 10, 2006
  5. Dean S. Lautermilch

    James1549 Guest

    As a general rule, drive your car down a smooth paved road with some
    slight curves in it. A large mall parking lot will work after business
    hours. When you slightly turn, causing the car weight to shift, a bad
    bearing will get louder. And when shifting the weight away from the bad
    bearing, it will get quieter. I have yet to see both front bearings bad
    at the same time, but not impossible. James
    James1549, Jan 11, 2006
  6. Dean S. Lautermilch

    Private Guest

    Further to my Saturn S series wheel bearing write up at

    IIIRC, I looked at the illustrations of the adapters illustrated in the
    Chilton manual and considered fabricating something similar but it seemed
    simpler to try using the standard frame type press frame that I had, and to
    use steel blocking to hold the knuckle in a level position that would allow
    the hub to be pushed out. I do not remember doing any welding to hold this
    blocking in place, (this is often handy to construct a more solid blocking).
    I would NEVER weld on the knuckle.

    IIRC, I blocked the knuckle level (above the bed of my press) and pressed
    the hub out using a socket (as a press adapter) just a bit smaller than the
    shaft of the hub. IIRC the bearing came apart during this pressing and the
    outer 1/2 of the inner bearing (and the outer seal) remained on the shaft of
    the hub.

    IIRC the outer race is one piece but the inner race is in two halves. The
    outer 1/2 of the inner race (and the outer seal) remains attached to the hub
    and the inner 1/2 of the inner race (and the inner seal) stays in the
    bearing attached to the knuckle and can be simply knocked apart (with a
    hammer & punch) from the outer race which remains pressed inside the

    The outer 1/2 of the inner race was removed from the hub by heating just
    enough to expand it and it almost fell off. I did this heating with an
    oxy-acetylene torch and did it fast enough that the hub did not get hot or
    expand. I do not think that a propane torch would be hot enough to expand
    the race without also heating and expanding the shaft of the hub. I am sure
    that this race could be removed by other means like grinding or cutting but
    IIRC there is not much of a lip to catch with a bearing separator in order
    to pull (or press) it off. I used a torch because it seemed like the
    easiest way and you have to get by with what you have available. If I did
    not have a torch I would have found one to use for the 5 minutes that it
    took to do the job.

    I placed a bead of arc weld inside the outer race in order to shrink it and
    make it easier to remove using a drift punch and hammer. If I did not have
    an arc welder I would have borrowed one as while I am sure the race could be
    removed by other means, shrinking is IMHO the easiest and I use this method
    in almost every (outer race) bearing removal. Once you learn how easy it
    makes this job you will never do it any other way.

    Please note the caution I wrote in the first write up regarding the
    desirability of costructing a washer type press adapter to use when
    installing the new bearing. NEVER attempt tp press any new bearing by
    applying a force through the balls. When using a shop to perform this
    repair, NOTE the CAUTION to first ensure that the shop has the correct
    addapters to prevent loading the balls when installing the bearing in the
    knuckle or the hub in the bearing. ONLY PRESS ON THE PROPER RACE.

    The foregoing is just my opinion and YMMV. I do not think this is an
    especially dificult repair but, I do have a lot of similar experience and
    have most of the tooling required.
    Private, Jan 12, 2006
  7. Dean S. Lautermilch

    Lane Guest

    That's a lot of work to get the two separated. I have a press and welder as
    well, but I prefer to just take the parts (that I'd already removed from the
    car) to my local Saturn service department. It takes them only a few
    minutes and I recall the charge was minimal. FYI.

    Lane [ lane (at) evilplastic.com ]
    Lane, Jan 12, 2006
  8. Dean S. Lautermilch

    Private Guest

    As I said, YMMV. It probably took me longer to do the write-up than the
    actual job. I only did the write-up because it was an area that was not
    well covered by either of my two manuals. It was my attempt at contribution
    to this group. I made this contribution in a format that a Google groups
    search would easily find.

    The closest Saturn dealer was 175 miles away.

    My local parts jobber had the brg the next day.
    It took my machinist friend less than 1/3 hr to machine the brg press
    washer, while I waited. He was located across the street from the parts
    I now have the tooling and knowledge that will allow me to do a similar
    repair on either of my Saturn cars.
    It is my experience that "no repair that you are prepared for is ever

    For me going to the dealer would have been a very big deal and they could
    have said "We are busy, leave it with us, and come back tomorrow".

    Even if there was a Saturn dealer close by it still would have taken me
    longer to travel to the dealer (twice?) than it took me to do the job &
    there would have been pressure to buy the part from them, probably for
    (much?) more money.

    Why do you have the tools if you think it is better to get the work done by

    I suspect that most of the readers of this group do not have the required
    tooling or experience, and the dealer option is the best course of action.
    However it is not an inexpensive repair and I was able to pay myself over
    $50/hr (tax free) to perform this repair. I also have confidence that it
    was done right.

    Just my .02
    Private, Jan 14, 2006
  9. Dean S. Lautermilch

    Lane Guest

    Why do you have the tools if you think it is better to get the work done
    Because in this case, the dealer knows how to do this job without using a
    welder or having custom press parts machined as you had said you needed to
    do. The amount of time it takes them vs. the amount of time it takes a
    driveway mechanic with the same tools still makes it worthwhile to let them
    do it with significantly less trouble and time involved. I'm all for
    learning how to do new things and you can see that from my website, but the
    amount of swearing, sweat, and skinned knuckles that some jobs have given me
    make me want to let someone else do it - especially when the job is
    virtually effortless for them due to their experience, knowledge, and
    specialized processes & equipment. This has been my experience.

    I do believe that the average person with a Haynes/Chilton manual, basic
    tools, and some patience can do all the parts removal and reassembly
    themselves and save quite a bit of money. But when it came to pressing out
    and pressing in new bearings - that's where I thought I'd relay the
    experience I'd had. YMMV.

    Lane [ lane (at) evilplastic.com ]
    Lane, Jan 15, 2006
  10. Dean S. Lautermilch

    Private Guest

    I think we are in basic agreement. There is definitely a line between what
    a driveway mechanic can or should attempt to do but this is a movable line
    that depends on their access to tooling and the skill set they bring to the
    job. I do agree that this is one of those jobs that is very close to this
    line. The basic disassembly is more likely to be within the average
    driveway mechanic's tool and skill set and that the actual hub and bearing
    rebuild is of a higher level of difficulty.

    As a licensed mechanic and also licensed welder with much heavy mechanical
    experience, I have often removed outer bearing races easily, quickly, and
    successfully from locations that would require very specialized adapters in
    order to remove with press or puller. I have done this successfully so many
    times that it is my preferred technique, and I use it first on almost every
    job of this type. I would use this technique (if possible) even if I had
    the correct pullers and adapters. I have never seen additional damage
    caused by the technique (when performed properly) and it works even if the
    bearing race was installed using bearing glue. I have seen additional
    damage caused by puller and press failures.

    I suspect that we could have a similar debate on the merits of broken bolt
    extraction using drilling and "easyouts" vs. welding a nut on the broken

    I think the OP has received all the information he needs to make his repair
    decision and I hope this discussion benefits others.

    just my .02, YMMV
    Private, Jan 16, 2006
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