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Old 11-05-2017, 05:04 AM   #1
bachands
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2002 SL2
Default Replaced Wheel Bearing on "new" '02 SL1

First time attempting a wheel bearing replacement today. I read several threads here and watched a few videos before attempting. I also purchased a bunch of specialty tools a few months ago seeing as Paypal Credit kept offering me "free money" ..... couldn't resist

The YouTube Video I most liked was one in which the wheel bearing and hub were replaced without removing the steering knuckle. The strut fasteners were never touched. So I did it that way too.

1. Loosened axle nut with impact driver with wheel still on ground. Also loosened wheel lug nuts.

2. Jacked up car and supported on jack stands

3. Removed wheel

4. Removed brakes (including rotor)

5. Used 2-jaw puller on hub to push axle out of hub splines (could've used wood and a sledge/hammer also, but I chose to do more methodically)

6. Installed slide hammer to hub and pounded out hub
- applied oil to threaded part of slide hammer "rod" (it was suggested by someone on YouTube)
- took about 30-40 whacks, but hub came off without inner race of bearing

7. Removed tie rod end using tie rod removal tool

8. Removed ball joint from steering knuckle
- Used ball joint separator and a few whacks to the knuckle with ball pein hammer (ball joint boot was not damaged)
- used long pry bar between sway bar and sub-frame to pry down LCA and remove ball joint stud from knuckle (this takes a lot of weight in my experience...it must be pryed down about 2 full inches to clear the knuckle and move it out of the way)

9. Removed drive axle from steering knuckle
- pulled knuckle/strut outward and turned knuckle for extra clearance

10. Removed drive axle from intermediate shaft and put aside
- I did this for extra clearance when using bearing remover/installer tool
- a piece of wood against the inner joint shoulder and a couple whacks on the wood with a hammer...popped right out

11. Re-installed ball joint into steering knuckle
- this is to add more stability when using bearing remover/installer tool
- once again, pryed down on sway bar and pushed knuckle back into place (this requires a lot of force and would be much easier with two people)

12. Removed snap ring from rear of bearing
- only a little cleaning was necessary in my case and the ring was moving freely
- a STRONG snap ring pliers is necessary. I used a cheap one I got from AutoZone for $20. What a piece of ****! I barely got the ring closed enough to stick a screwdriver in there and pry it out. It took me nearly an hour just to accomplish this

13. Pressed out old bearing using bearing install kit

14. Cleaned inside of bearing housing in the steering knuckle.

15. Pressed in new bearing
- lightly greased outside of bearing before installation
- outer race fully supported with proper sized drift from kit

16. Installed new snap ring

17. Pressed in new hub
- hub mounting surface lightly greased
- inner race of bearing fully supported

18. Ball joint removed from steering knuckle again
- to make access for drive axle installation

19. Installed drive axle
- inner joint is simply pushed back into the intermediate shaft until it clicks
- all splines were lightly greased before installation

20. Washer and new axle nut installed
- tightened with impact driver to pull axle all the way in (final torque later)

21. Ball joint re-installed into steering knuckle
- this was getting very tiring at this point
- nut fastened tightly and new cotter pin installed

22. Installed tie rod end
- tapered hole in steering knuckle lightly greased before installation
- stud was spinning with nut so had to hold top part with 8mm wrench
- tightened securely...no cotter pin

23. Installed brakes

24. Installed axle nut to 145 ft-lbs
- used long 2x4 wedged between brake pedal and seat to hold brakes. Also placed thick hex key (aka allen) wrench inside caliper access hole and rotor to keep hub from turning

25. Installed wheel
- lug nuts installed wrench tight

26. Took car off jackstands

27. Torqued wheel lugs to 103 ft-lbs


Being my first time, this took me all day...

...
'97 SL1, 136K, Auto, Mint Green (SOLD 146K)
'99 SL2, 126K, Auto, Silver (SOLD 149K)
'97 SL1, 136K, Manual, Burgundy (Gifted to Brother 138K)
'02 SL2, 149K, Auto, Light Gray/Silver

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Old 11-05-2017, 06:06 AM   #2
bachands
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2002 SL2
Default Re: Replaced Wheel Bearing on "new" '02 SL1

More info.....

DIAGNOSIS
I was getting a loud groaning noise from the front end directly related to vehicle speed. Hard to hear exactly where it was coming from since transmission makes a constant whining noise (like when it's in reverse only a bit quieter). Sound was heard even with trans in 'Neutral'. When turning to the right, sound got quieter. When turning left, the sound got louder. So that told me that it was probably the right, passenger side.

But to be sure, I put the car on jack stands with trans in 'Neutral'. Neither wheel had any play...both tight. People say to spin the wheels and listen for noise, but this simply doesn't work. The drive axles make noise inside the trans and the rotors make a scraping noise against the pads. So I put my fingers on the coil springs and spun the wheels as fast as I could. No vibration on the left side but a little on the right. There was my conformation!

ErictheCarGuy did this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdRpnK5MGQ8

Consequently he did this on a 3rd gen Saturn just like mine. But since I didn't want to risk driving my car through the back of my garage, I didn't do this. Besides, the sound may only be heard when there is weight on the wheel. I tried putting both sides up and putting the trans in 'Drive'. I didn't hear anything obvious from either side.

BEARING BRAND
I chose Timken. I was on the fence about SKF, but there was about a $25 difference so I went with the Timken. Mine had "China" stamped on it but seemed to be good quality.

REMOVAL/INSTALLATION TOOL KIT
The kit I bought is probably identical to the one sold at Harbor Freight, but I bought mine on Ebay (can't remember how much).

Both the bolt head and long nut required a 1 1/4" socket/wrench. I used a socket and breaker bar on the bolt head and a long wrench on the nut. I got the wrench from Menards for about $13. It is about 18" long, incredibly solid, and worked wonderfully.

The key to ease of use is to liberally apply oil to the threads of the long bolt. I also applied oil to the backs of the drifts where the large nut would be spinning against.

Another important key is to put the large nut on whichever side is being pressed. The head bolt should never be spinning...only the large nut.

The kit is supplied with all the proper sized drifts, spacers, and caps necessary to perform the job on a Saturn S-series. It worked flawlessly

OVERALL DIFFICULTY
Believe it or not, pressing the old bearing out and installing the new one was one of the easiest parts of this job. It went so smoothly.

The most difficult parts were removing and re-installing the ball joint stud from the steering knuckle. The sway bar has to be pryed down so far I had to put all my weight on the pry bar. While doing that, it was difficult to guide the steering knuckle over the ball joint stud without a helper. I was literally standing on the pry bar at times, so I couldn't see where the bottom of the knuckle was to line it up properly. I ended up loosening the two bolts on the right side sway bar bracket to get the extra space I needed.

The other hard part was removing the old snap ring. It wasn't heavily rusted, but it sure is one tough ring. As I stated, a STRONG snap ring pliers is necessary. The one I bought from AZ for $20 is going in the trash tomorrow.

TIME
Being my first time, this job took me all day....8 hours. But that includes all the time I took to drive around looking for necessary tools (axle nut socket $15, snap ring pliers $20, large 1 1/4" wrench $13).

But now that I've done the job, it'd probably only take me 3-4 hours if I had to do it again.

TOOLS
To do the job this way, there are really only two tools that are needed:
1) Slide hammer kit
2) Bearing removal/installation kit

These two kits may cost about $150 total, but no alignment is required afterward and it still costs way less than an actual press (12 or 20 ton). Not to mention, you don't need a large space in your garage for full sized hydraulic press. So I think it's a good alternative. Perhaps the only time it wouldn't work is when the bearing is heavily seized inside the knuckle. Mine was not, so it came out without any trouble.

VERDICT
The groaning noise is gone so....... . However, I am unsure of the lifespan of this bearing. There is still a light "rumbling" sound at slow speeds when going straight and turning left. The sound is louder when turning left. It sounds like a knob on the tire, so it isn't constant like before. But it's still the right side. So although this bearing is much better, it may not last too long.

Even right out of the box I felt the bearing wasn't perfectly smooth. There was just the slightest roughness in one spot it seemed.

The bearing I replaced was definitely bad, but not terrible. The inner races would separate outward too far IMO. And there was a very noticeable "grittiness" while spinning one of the races.

VIDEOS
Video without removing steering knuckle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwAkpEqY69c
** Notice how he lubes the long bolt with engine oil
** Also notice how he spins the head of the bolt to drive the bearing...don't do it that way. Only use the nut side to drive the bearing and hub.

Saturn-specific videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zPuzVk_wf4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr5mfPmWBoo

...
'97 SL1, 136K, Auto, Mint Green (SOLD 146K)
'99 SL2, 126K, Auto, Silver (SOLD 149K)
'97 SL1, 136K, Manual, Burgundy (Gifted to Brother 138K)
'02 SL2, 149K, Auto, Light Gray/Silver

Last edited by bachands; 11-05-2017 at 06:13 AM..

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Old 11-08-2017, 01:18 AM   #3
bachands
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2002 SL2
Default Re: Replaced Wheel Bearing on "new" '02 SL1

So unfortunately I was right about the new bearing being bad. The light rumbling sound is getting louder now that I'm driving on the freeway. It's actually heard more easily when I begin slowing down to a stop. The sound always seems like it's coming from the left side while driving fast. But then when I slow down I can tell it's from the right side. The noise still gets louder when turning the wheel to the left, and quieter when turning the wheel to the right. So it's the right bearing again.

I'm disappointed in Timken's quality control. I'll have to call RockAuto and get a replacement under warranty. I'll post results for anyone who may have interest in this subject later on.

...
'97 SL1, 136K, Auto, Mint Green (SOLD 146K)
'99 SL2, 126K, Auto, Silver (SOLD 149K)
'97 SL1, 136K, Manual, Burgundy (Gifted to Brother 138K)
'02 SL2, 149K, Auto, Light Gray/Silver

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Old 11-15-2017, 02:52 PM   #4
bachands
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2002 SL2
Default Re: Replaced Wheel Bearing on "new" '02 SL1

This job has turned out to be more work than I anticipated. Part of it was my fault, part of it was Timken's fault.

The grease from the inner CV joint of the drive axle spewed out all over the place. Apparently my RTV sealant wasn't enough to seal the tear I had made when re-installing it into the intermediate shaft. Lesson learned . I purchased a new drive axle from RockAuto, and it should be here by the weekend. I chose the most expensive, Cardone, brand so hopefully I won't have any problems.

The return procedure by RockAuto is pretty good. They give an option of either buying a new bearing out right and getting re-imbursed, or sending back the old one and receiving a new one afterwards. Since I didn't want to wait I bought a new one. The new one is nice and smooth with no rough spots

The inner race of the bearing came out with the hub this time. Then when attempting to remove the bearing, the cage for the ball bearings sort of folded and everything just pushed all the way through. This left the entire outer race still in the knuckle. I had to sort of re-assemble the ball bearings and inner race to push out the outer race. The ball bearings really are necessary to do this else there is no drift that is the right size to push against the outer race when removing the bearing.

Installation of the new bearing and hub went smoothly. So now I just have to clean up all the damn axle grease and then re-install everything once the new drive axle comes in.

So now I know the Timken bearings are made of ball bearings. Are SKF bearings roller bearings? I wonder

...
'97 SL1, 136K, Auto, Mint Green (SOLD 146K)
'99 SL2, 126K, Auto, Silver (SOLD 149K)
'97 SL1, 136K, Manual, Burgundy (Gifted to Brother 138K)
'02 SL2, 149K, Auto, Light Gray/Silver

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Old 11-15-2017, 11:47 PM   #5
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2001 SC2
Default Re: Replaced Wheel Bearing on "new" '02 SL1

Pretty much all passenger car grade (100% CRAP according to our aerospace inspectors lol) are ball bearings. Some truck wheel bearings have a wider surface area and have room for proper roller bearings, and I think RWD vehicles tend to have rollers in the front as well.

Pretty sure our automotive wheel bearings are made in our Chengdu, China plant...there's a reason they don't do the aerospace bearings and it's not just because the government won't let another government have access to flight critical parts...lol

My last wheel bearing game ended with SKF...pretty much all other brands went bad in under a week, though the Timken one took nearly 2 months. Quite a bit of the issue is up to the installer, if the bearing goes in at all crooked it either has to be taken out and reset or it'll be "reset" with a new bearing in a small number of days.

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Old 11-16-2017, 12:09 AM   #6
bachands
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2002 SL2
Default Re: Replaced Wheel Bearing on "new" '02 SL1

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
My last wheel bearing game ended with SKF...pretty much all other brands went bad in under a week, though the Timken one took nearly 2 months. Quite a bit of the issue is up to the installer, if the bearing goes in at all crooked it either has to be taken out and reset or it'll be "reset" with a new bearing in a small number of days.
Yeah, I may be taking another chance with the Timken. When I purchase replacement parts I avoid the cheapest, but I don't get the most expensive either. Timken fits the bill well in that regard. This new Timken they sent me seems perfectly smooth and installation went well, so I'll get to see how long this one lasts. If it doesn't last very long, I'll be buying a different brand next time for sure. If quality costs me an extra $25, so be it...I'll take the hit.

SKF bearings boast 100K+ mile life expectancy, which is damn good IMO. RockAuto also offers OEM bearings. Obviously they are the most expensive, and they also don't come with the hub. But those are the choices I have if this new bearing fails prematurely.

...
'97 SL1, 136K, Auto, Mint Green (SOLD 146K)
'99 SL2, 126K, Auto, Silver (SOLD 149K)
'97 SL1, 136K, Manual, Burgundy (Gifted to Brother 138K)
'02 SL2, 149K, Auto, Light Gray/Silver

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Old 11-16-2017, 08:04 AM   #7
trottida
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1999 SL2
2001 SL1
Default Re: Replaced Wheel Bearing on "new" '02 SL1

I've switched from Moog bearings to Timken and I'm having a better experience. However, I did note that the first set of Timkens I purchase actually were packaged with SKF branded bearings. The second one I purchased did not have any branding. Take a look at the bearing race to see how they are branded and take note. This may be why some Timkens are lasting longer than others.

...
Current rides
2001 SL1 MT (410,500 km @ 11/2017)
1999 SL2 MT (251,500 km @ 11/2017)
2011 Suburban LT (101,450 km @ 11/2017)

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Old 11-16-2017, 10:32 AM   #8
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Replaced Wheel Bearing on "new" '02 SL1

If you want a quality part then buy the SKF kits as the hub should also be replaced and the final job verified in spec with a dial indicator after the axle nut is replaced and torqued.

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