REPLACING A FRONT WHEEL BEARING AND HUB ON A MKIV VR6
The following procedure will outline the steps to replace a front wheel bearing and hub on a MKIV VR6. Either because of wear or because of hitting one too many potholes, your wheel bearings may fail. This is usually indicated by a loud grinding noise coming from the driver or passenger side tire wells. It can also be determined by jacking up the front end of the car and attempting to rotate the wheel by pushing on the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock positions on the wheel. If there is any play at all, it is time for new bearings. If you decide to replace one side, I highly recommend you replace the other side while you have the tools on you.
I decided to replace the hubs as well because the vendor gave me a good price if I bought both sides. This is generally a good thing to do, because if the splines on your hub are damaged they will accelerate the wear of your bearings.
The procedure was based on a '00 MKIV Jetta GLX 12v VR6. I took the pictures for the passenger's side, but the driver's side should be almost identical. The procedure should be valid for '99.5 - '03.
Please be careful when performing the below steps. I always label all my loose parts or place the small ones in plastic bags and label them so I know where they go.
It took me approximately 3 hours to do one side, which is what the dealer quoted me on how long it would take them to do both sides. Depending on how good you are with tools, it may take you more or less time.
First, for the parts list. I purchased all my parts at http://www.germanautoparts.com. They treated me very well, and also had the loaner tools I needed to complete the job.
1) Wheel bearing kit - VW# 1J0-498-625 - $48.00 x 2 (dealer price: $74.95)
a. Includes circlip, 12 point nut, and wheel bearing
2) Wheel hub, front - VW# 1J0-407-613g - $61.95 x 2 (dealer price: $157.48)
3) Some wire or thick string
4) Synthetic wheel bearing grease (Molykote grease works too)
Now for the tools. There is a specialized tool that you need in order to press the VW wheel bearings. If you do not want to borrow the tool, you can pull the knuckle off of the frame and take it to a mechanic shop and they will do it for you for about $20. If you do this however, you are buying yourself into an alignment (around $60 depending where you go). I bit the bullet and got the loaner tool.
UPDATE 5/24/07: For another option on this tool, check out page 3. Gary (VgRt6) has made some great tools and posted pics on how to use them. If you want to keep your own wheel bearing press and don't want to pay $300 for a new one, this is a GREAT way.
1) Schley Products 63500 VW bearing puller ($20 rental for the cup / washers, $10 rental for the ABS adapter)
2) medium flathead screwdriver (to remove wheel covers)
3) one jack
4) two jackstands
5) VW OEM wheel bolt remover (or applicable socket)
6) 30 mm 12 point socket ($7.95 at Lowe's)
7) 13 mm socket
8) 18 mm socket
9) 8 mm socket
10) Breaker bar (to fit the 30mm socket)
11) large Phillips screwdriver
12) reversible ratchet to fit your 13 / 18 / 8 mm sockets
13) two large adjustable open end wrench
14) locktite (if you feel you need it)
15) flashlight (for those hard to see places)
16) 3" extension for your 30mm socket (if you have stock rims)
17) needle-nose pliers
So before you even start, you're looking at $260 for parts and tools. If you took it to the stealership, you're looking at $766 @ $50 / hour labor. Up to you if you want to get your hands dirty or not at this point. So...let me know if you have questions.
Please be careful. Do this procedure at your own risk, I can't be held responsible if I have made a mistake in the steps.
Examining your parts and positioning your car
i. Before you begin, first examine your parts to make sure you have all the parts. You should have everything shown below. Starting from the upper right and going clockwise you see some wire, the wheel hub, the 12 point nut and the circlip, and then the wheel bearing.
ii. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the wheel bearing. The metal on the outside is called the outer race, while the metal on the inside is the inner race. Note that the inner race is divided into two segments.
iii. Drive your car to the location where you will be performing the maintenance. Apply the parking brake and put the transmission in neutral. Make sure you have plenty of light in the area you will be working.
Note: All these pictures can be clicked on to get super-large images.
Accessing the wheel hub and wheel bearing
1. Remove the wheel cover to your wheel if you have stock wheels with a medium screwdriver (or the VW tool if you haven't lost it)
2. With the parking brake firmly applied, loosen (do not remove) the wheel bolts with the VW OEM wheel bolt remover (or applicable socket and ratchet).
3. Loosen the 12 point nut with the 30mm 12 point socket and breaker bar. I needed a 3" extender on mine because I didn't want to scratch my stock rims.
4. Fully raise the front end of the vehicle (both sides). Place jackstands in the appropriate places so you can work comfortably.
5. Remove the wheel bolts and the wheel.
6. If you are working on the driver's side wheel, you may want to move the brake pad low width sensor out of the way so you have some room. There is no sensor on the passenger's side wheel.
7. Remove the two bolts that hold the brake caliper to the mount with an 18mm socket. Remove the bottom one first, then slowly remove the top one. Do not let the caliper drop.
8. Remove the brake caliper from the disc. You may need to wiggle it a bit to get it off the disc.
9. Hang the brake caliper from the spring using wire or thick string. DO NOT let the brake caliper hang from its brake hose.
10. Remove the Phillips screw from the brake disc and remove the brake disc.
11. Remove the 12 point nut from the axle stub with the 30mm socket.
12. Mark the position of the nut bracket for the ball joint / control arm interface. I scratched the position on the control arm with a screwdriver. See step #32 for a better picture of the scratches.
13. Using a 13mm socket, remove the 3 bolts from underneath the control arm. Remove the bracket that comes loose.
14. Push the stub axle into the hub. It should move in around 1.5". My stub axle was rusted inside my hub, so I had to loosen it by hitting it with a mallet a few times. The picture below is shown with the hub already pushed in.
15. Slowly swing the knuckle assembly away from the vehicle, pivoting on the tie rod joint. As you swing the knuckle assembly away, push in on the stub axle until it comes out of the hub. After you have freed the knuckle from the control arm, you can let it hang. Push the stub axle all the way into the transmission (it should only move in .5" or so) and tie it to the control arm. DO NOT let the stub axle hang down or come out of the transmission.
16. From here you are able to access the knuckle and the hub assembly. The following steps assume you are using the Schley Products VW bearing puller. If you are using a different tool or removing the knuckle, the next few steps will only serve as a guide.
Pressing out and in the Wheel Hub and Wheel Bearing
17. After generously lubricating the threads on the bolt with grease, attach the 1/2" ABS adapter to the outside of the puller housing. Slide the puller housing on top of the hub. Make sure the puller housing seats firmly on the hard points of the knuckle. Then slide the cup and bolt through the puller housing. Thread the large nut on the other side of the bolt. In order to remove the hub, there needs to be enough room for the ABS ring to clear the puller housing.
18. Using your large open end wrenches (or channel locks, or vise-grips), hold the nut and tighten the head of the bolt. As the nut tightens on the bolt, it will press the wheel hub and part of the inner race of the wheel bearing out of the knuckle. When you are finished, loosen the nut and remove it from the bolt. The knuckle will look something like below. Remove the three 8 mm bolts holding the dust cover to the knuckle and remove the dust cover.
19. Remove the circlip with a pair of needle nose pliers. To do this, insert the tips of the pliers into the holes and squeeze. The circlip will compress and you will be able to remove it.
20. With the dust cover removed, take this opportunity to clean the ABS sensor. Brush off the dust with a clean cloth or shop towel.
21. Find the washer from the puller tool that is large enough to seat comfortably on the inner race of the old bearing. This is the pusher washer. Set the pusher washer aside for use later. Slide three other washers onto the bolt, and slide them into the cup. Slide the small cup onto the bolt, and thread the bolt through the bearing. Slide the pusher washer onto the bolt from the other side of the bearing, and then thread the nut on. This may sound complicated, so look at the following two pictures closely before you proceed.
22. Using your large open end wrenches (or channel locks, or vise-grips), hold the nut and tighten the head of the bolt. As the nut tightens on the bolt, it will press the wheel bearing out of the knuckle and into the small cup. When you are finished, loosen the nut and remove it from the bolt. This is undoubtedly the hardest part of the installation, the bearing will fight you every step of the way. Once the bearing is out, it will look like the picture below.
23. Clean out the inside of the bearing housing with a clean cloth. I used a toothbrush to get the excess dirt out. Once the bearing housing is clean, liberally apply grease to the housing. The excess will squeeze out if you apply too much, so be generous.
24. Since the new bearing may be slightly different then the old one, you will need to find a new pushing washer. Find a washer that seats comfortably on the inner race, but is slightly smaller then the outer race. You want the pushing pressure to be applied to the outer race, not the inner race. Set the pushing washer aside for use later. Slide three other washers onto the bolt, and slide them into the cup. Slide the pushing washer onto the bolt, then slide the bearing onto the pushing washer. Thread the bolt through the bearing housing and place the small cup on the inside of the bearing housing. Lastly, thread the nut onto the bolt. When you are finished, it will look something like this.
25. Using your large open end wrenches (or channel locks, or vise-grips), hold the nut and tighten the head of the bolt. As the nut tightens on the bolt, the pusher washer will press the bearing into the bearing housing. Keep tightening until you feel the bolt lock up. When it does, loosen the nut and remove it from the bolt. Extract the small cup and all the washers.
26. Install the new circlip using a pair of needle-nose pliers. To do this, insert the tips of the pliers into the holes and squeeze. The circlip will compress and you will be able to install it. DO NOT twist the circlip. When you have finished, it will look like this.
27. Now to install the hub. Find a washer that seats comfortably on the inner race and is slightly bigger then the inner race. You want the pushing pressure to be applied to the inner race, not the outer race. Set the pushing washer aside for use later. Slide the hub onto the bolt and thread the bolt through the wheel bearing. Slide the pushing washer onto the bolt from the inside of the bearing, and thread the nut onto the bolt. When you are done it should look like this.
28. Using your large open end wrenches (or channel locks, or vise-grips), hold the nut and tighten the head of the bolt. As the nut tightens on the bolt, the pusher washer will press the hub into the bearing. Keep tightening until you feel the bolt lock up. When it does, loosen the nut and remove it from the bolt. Extract the cup and the pushing washer. The picture below shows the fully installed hub and wheel bearing.
29. Install the dust cover and the three 8mm bolts. Torque to 89 in/lbs.
30. Remove the wire holding the stub axle to the control arm. Without pulling the stub axle out of the transmission, insert the stub axle into the hub.
31. Slide the ball joint bracket back into the control arm. Re-install the nut bracket and the three 13mm bolts. Ensure that the bracket aligns with the scratches you made in step 13. Torque the bolts to 20 Nm.
32. Re-install the brake disc. Attached the brake disc to the hub with the Phillips screw.
33. Remove the wire that the brake caliper is hanging from. Re-install the caliper by sliding it over the discs. Install the two 18mm bolts that connect the caliper to the mount. Torque the bolts to 125 Nm.
34. Install the new 12 point nut. Do not torque the nut yet. I applied locktite at this point if you wish to do it.
35. Place the tire on the hub and install the bolts. Do not torque them yet.
36. Lower the vehicle slightly, just enough to stop the tire from rotating so you can torque the 12 point nut. If you have a jackstand small enough, use it.
37. Torque the 12 point nut to 175 Nm.
38. Torque the wheel bolts to 125 Nm.
39. At this point, I waited around 20-30 minutes to let the locktite dry. After that, I took the car for a test run and loved the way the new bearings sounded...not at all.
That's it! Email me with questions if you have any, I'd be happy to answer them!
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