How to Change the Front Hub on a Chevy Malibu

by Christian Killian

The hub assembly on the Chevy Malibu is a sealed unit consisting of the wheel bearings, wheel studs and hub, and a mounting flange. The unit is not serviceable and has to be replaced as one piece if it goes bad. Changing the hub assembly is a big job, but not beyond most home mechanics. You can get a replacement hub assembly at your local auto parts store but be prepared, as they can be very expensive. You will need a complete set of good hand tools to do the job, but no special tools are required.

Remove the hub caps if the car has them. Remove the cotter pin on the drive nut in the center of the hub with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Loosen the nut, but do not remove it yet. Loosen the lug nuts, but do not remove them yet.

Jack up the front of the vehicle and place a set of jack stands under the frame for support. Remove the tires and wheels from the vehicle.

Remove the two retaining bolts on the brake caliper and remove the caliper from the mounting bracket. Support the caliper by hanging it with string or wire out of the way. Do not let it hang on the rubber high-pressure hose or damage may occur.

Remove the drive nut and flat washer on the end of the drive axle in the center of the hub. Save these pieces for now. Some new hubs will have replacements included, but if not, then you may need to reuse these.

Locate the three 14mm bolts on the back of the steering knuckle that retain the hub assembly. Remove them and set them aside. You may need to apply penetrating oil to them if they have never been removed.

Remove the anti-lock brake sensor cable from the dust shield and set it aside. You want to lay this out of the way so it does not get damaged, because you will need to reuse it.

Remove the hub assembly from the steering knuckle by pulling it straight out. It will more than likely be stuck in the knuckle, but you can use a small chisel or pry bar and hammer to free it and pry it out.

Remove the drive axle from the hub assembly before pulling it all the way out of the knuckle. If the axle is stuck, it is okay to use a plastic hammer or a piece of wood and a regular hammer to drive it out of the hub. Pull the hub the rest of the way out of the knuckle.

Install the new hub by inserting it into the hole in the knuckle. Add some anti-seize compound to the hub before installing it into the hub. This will make it easier to remove in the future.

Align the splines on the drive axle with the splines on the center of the hub as you slide the hub in. If the axle hangs up on the new hub, do not force them together. Inspect the hub and axle to see what you need to do, so that you do not damage anything.

Align the mounting bolt holes in the knuckle and hub, then insert the three mounting bolts. Tighten the bolts slowly and evenly to draw the hub all the way into the knuckle. Torque these bolts to 85 foot-pounds with a torque wrench.

Plug in the ABS sensor cable on the dust shield and reinstall the drive axle nut on the end of the drive axle, but do not tighten it yet. You will need to torque this nut after the car is on the ground.

Slide the brake rotor onto the hub and reinstall the brake caliper, inserting the two mounting bolts and torquing them to 85 foot-pounds. These should be torqued, even though many people tighten by hand.

Install the tire and wheel on the wheel studs and tighten the lug nuts by hand for now. Leave the hub cap off for now.

Remove the car from the jack stands and lower it. With the car on the ground, you can now torque the lug nuts to required specifications and torque the drive nut on the axle to 192 foot-pounds. You will need someone to hold the brakes on while torquing the drive nut.

Insert the cotter pin in the hole in the drive axle to secure the drive nut and install the hub caps. You can now test-drive the car. If you are replacing both hub assemblies, move to the other side and repeat this process before test-driving the vehicle.

Tip

  • check If the hub assembly is really seized into the steering knuckle, applying heat from a torch while prying on it may help.

Warning

  • close When working under a car on jack stands, be sure they are on solid ground and can not shift.

Items you will need

About the Author

Christian Killian has been a freelance journalist/photojournalist since 2006. After many years of working in auto parts and service positions, Killian decided to move into journalism full-time. He has been published in "1st Responder News" as well as in other trade magazines and newspapers in the last few years.