How to Change the Rear Wheel Bearing on a Chevy Truckby Francis Walsh
Wheel bearings let the rotational force of a wheel spin freely around the axle. These bearings are located within the rear axle within the diameter of the brake rotors. They are held in place by a securing lock nut and packed with grease for rotating smoothly. Under the best circumstances these bearings can last hundreds of thousands of miles. Under normal circumstances these bearing should be replaced every 80,000 miles. Change the rear wheel bearing on a Chevy truck when it has been driven over the recommended mileage or the bearings begin to produce a noise that warrants their replacement.
Lift the rear of the Chevy truck off the ground and remove the rear wheel and tire to expose each end of the rear axle. Clean away build-up or debris from brake pad dust and dirt from around the caliper and brake rotor. Use an Allen wrench to remove the two securing bolts that fasten the brake caliper around the brake rotor. Pull the caliper off of the rotor and tie it away from the work area with wire or ties.
Use a screwdriver to remove the wheel bearing cap inside the middle of the brake rotor. Turn the rotor as you tap the cover with a hammer, gently using the screwdriver to work the wheel-bearing cap off the opening containing the bearings. When the cap is removed, you will see a large nut with a cotter pin holding it on its threads in place. Use a pair of pliers to pull out the cotter pin from its position. Place the wheel bearing cover and cotter pin off to the side.
Use a wrench to turn the inside nut of the wheel's bearing until it comes off of the threaded post around which the bearing spins. Place with the cap and cotter pin. Use a screwdriver to work the wheel bearing from inside the rear axle. Be sure not to get the bearing wedged inside this space or you will have to find another way to get it out. The wheel bearing slides in and out of the opening in a tight fit of grease, axel and bearing. Removing and inserting the wheel bearing evenly is the key to the successful replacement of a Chevy truck's rear wheel bearings.
Clean inside the wheel bearing opening with a straight edge. Clear out any old grease and inspect inside it. Make sure that there is no scoring or edges that will catch on the new bearings before installation. Where damage is present, correcting this problem is necessary if you want the replacement wheel bearings to spin properly and without defect. Fill the opening with new bearing grease using a grease gun or by hand. Put enough grease in the opening so that when the new bearing is installed, it will sit into a seat of new grease when fully inserted. Extra grease that spills out can be discarded, but always maintain a well lubricated opening during the installation of new rear wheel bearings.
Pack the new bearing unit with grease prior to inserting it into a well packed rear axle. Using your hand or grease packing gun for bearings, coat and cover every part of the bearings inside and outside prior to installation to avoid dry spots that create friction once installed. Center the bearing unit around the seat post and push it evenly into the opening. The wheel bearings are a tight fit and need to be tapped into position completely to be installed correctly. Tap the bearings into the space using a hammer and screwdriver or a bearing seat tool that is tapped with a hammer. Correct alignment and proper seating is critical to the life of a Chevy truck's rear wheel bearings once installed.
Tighten the bearing nut until is secured with the right amount of twisting pressure and insert a new cotter pin through the wheel bearing center post. Return the wheel bearing cover over the opening and tap with a hammer until it is seated firmly in place. Place the brake caliper over the brake rotor and tighten. Replace the wheels and tires and tighten using a lug wrench. Changing wheel bearings is an easy task that anyone can and should do every 80,000 miles for a Chevy truck.
- Use protective gloves when packing wheel bearing with grease. Using your hands can help you get more grease into the bearings by manipulating each roller with greased fingers.
Things You'll Need
- Chevy truck Floor jack Lug nut remover Allen wrench Wire or ties Pliers Wrench Replacement wheel bearings Cotter pin Grease Grease gun Hammer
- If you don't grease a wheel bearing properly you will cause the inside of the axle to heat up and damage the internal parts. This area can become so hot that it will weld together the inside bearings and axle together when not installed correctly. Add enough grease to avoid a wheel bearing condition such as this.
Francis Walsh has been working as a freelance writer since 2003. He has contributed to websites such as Shave, Autogeek and Torque & Chromeas, as well as provided content for private clients. Walsh has worked as a performance part-packer and classic car show promoter, now serving as crew chief for Nitrousfitz Racing.