Instructions for Replacing a 2002 Buick Century Front Wheel Bearing

by Tim Petruccio

The Buick Century was introduced in 1936. The 2002 Buick Century was available in the Custom and Limited trim packages. Both 2002 Century sub-models were equipped with a 3.1-liter V-6, which produced up to 175 horsepower and 195 foot-pounds of torque. The wheel bearings on the 2002 Century can wear out over time, causing them to need replacement. Replacing the wheel bearings on the 2002 Century requires some mechanical knowledge. If you doubt your ability to complete this project in a safe manner, seek a professional mechanic to perform the job.

1

Remove the center cap or wheel cover from the Buick. Loosen the spindle nut from the end of the axle, which is in the middle of the wheel assembly. Use a breaker bar and a 34 mm spindle nut socket to free the axle nut. Loosen the wheel lug nuts with a tire iron. Raise the front of the car with a jack. Place jack stands underneath the front frame rails, on both sides of the engine. Remove the lug nuts completely, then remove the wheel and tire assembly.

2

Turn the axle nut outward off of the axle, until the outer rim of the nut aligns flush with the end of the axle. Gently tap the end of the axle and nut with a rubber mallet, until the axle pops loose from the wheel bearing. If tapping the axle does not loosen the axle, place a large jaw puller around the rotor, with the center of the puller mounted in the center of the axle end. Turn the jaw puller bolt head clockwise slowly, until the axle comes free from the wheel bearing, then remove the nut completely.

3

Insert a small pry bar into the hole in the front facing side of the brake caliper. Gently pry the inboard brake pad inward with the pry bar. Remove the caliper mounting bracket bolts completely with the breaker bar and a socket. Remove the caliper and caliper bracket from the brake assembly. Hang the caliper and bracket from the front strut spring with a metal clothes hanger. Do not let the assembly hang by the rubber hose attached to the caliper.

4

Remove the brake rotor from the wheel hub assembly with your hands. If the rotor is not able to be moved by hand, gently tap the rotor from the back side outward, using the rubber mallet.

5

Remove the cotter pin from the outer tie rod stem, which is on the back of the steering knuckle. Remove the castle nut from the outer tie rod stem, using a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket. Remove the tie rod from the steering knuckle. Pull the steering knuckle outward, while turning the entire assembly so that the front facing side turns inward. Push the axle inward and through the center of the wheel hub assembly. Use the large jaw puller to push the axle through the hub assembly if necessary, until the axle is free from the hub.

6

Unplug the small electrical connector from the rear of the wheel bearing, on the back side of the steering knuckle. Unhook the wires from the frame, that protrude from the back of the wheel bearing.

7

Remove the three mounting bolts from the back side of the wheel bearing, with a 3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket. You will have to turn the steering knuckle so that the rear facing side of the knuckle is inward, in order to access one of the wheel bearing mounting bolts. Place your free hand on the outside of the bearing assembly to hold it as you remove the third mounting bolt. If the bearing does not fall free from the hub, strike the bearing with a hammer to loosen it from the hub face.

8

Install the metal shim plate against the face of the steering knuckle, at the wheel hub. Lubricate the outer side of the metal shim with caliper grease or axle grease. Install the new wheel bearing over the end of the axle, and push the axle through from behind the bearing. Install the axle nut onto the end of the axle and turn it a few times to begin threading the nut. Place all three mounting bolts into their holes by hand, turning the bolts four or five times to make sure they are properly threaded.

9

Tighten the wheel bearing mounting bolts to 96 foot-pounds with a 1/2-inch drive torque wrench and socket. Tighten the axle nut to 118 foot-pounds of torque with the torque wrench and spindle nut socket. Install the brake rotor, and spin one lug nut on by hand to hold the rotor in place.

10

Install the tie rod back onto the steering knuckle. Tighten the tie rod castle nut onto the tie rod stem to 45 foot-pounds, with the torque wrench and a socket. Install the cotter pin through the hole in the tie rod stem. Bend the cotter pin to lock it into the tie rod stem.

11

Install the caliper and caliper bracket over the brake rotor. Tighten the caliper bracket bolts to 137 foot-pounds, using the torque wrench and a socket. Remove the single lug nut from the front of the rotor.

12

Install the front wheel onto the Buick, and snug the lug nuts with a tire iron. Raise the car off of the jack stands with the jack. Remove the jack stands from beneath the car. Lower the car to the ground. Immediately tighten the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds, using the torque wrench and socket.

13

Sit in the Buick and pump the brake pedal slowly five to ten times, or until the brake pedal becomes stiff again.

Warning

  • close Never lift a vehicle on uneven ground or a slope. Lifting a vehicle on uneven ground can cause jacks or jack stands to suddenly collapse.

Items you will need

About the Author

Tim Petruccio is a professional writer and automotive mechanic. His writing combines more than 20 years of mechanical experience in automotive service, service management, automotive education and business ownership. He assisted in the automotive beta, which launched March 2011.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Feng Li/Getty Images News/Getty Images