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Front Wheel Bearing Replacement

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease." On your bug by the time the wheel starts to make a noise it is too late for grease. We are going to discuss front wheel bearing maintenance. About once a year it is good to pull the front drums and clean and pack the front wheel bearings. If you have neglected to do this you may hear about it. But it will be more than a squeak. A bad front wheel bearing can roar so loud in the car that some people have thought that the whole transmission had gone bad. By jacking up the front end of the car and spinning the wheels you can easily determine if you have a bad wheel bearing by the awful roar.

To replace a front bearing or to clean and pack them the front drum has to come off. The wheel can remain bolted to it. On the older bugs the drum is held onto the spindle by a pair of 27mm nuts jammed together against a lock plate. From '66 on it was held on by a pinchnut that is tightened by an allen screw. An aftermarket nut has been made for the older bugs.

The left spindle has left hand threads. Once the nut has been removed the wheel and drum can be pulled straight off the spindle. You may have to loosen the brakes.The outer bearing will usually fall out when you pull the drum off. The inner bearing will be held in the drum by the grease seal. You can remove the seal with a crow bar or whatever.
You should be replacing it with a new one. There are two types of bearings. The older cars came with ball bearings and the newer with roller, which are better. These are available now for the older cars.
You can see cracks or pits in the race of a bad bearing.
If one has gone bad, you probably may as well replace them both. If you have the older ball bearings the center race of the inside bearing will be pressed onto the spindle. You can remove it by starting it with a chisel and then prying and tapping it off the rest of the way.
A new one can be driven on with a punch. The outer races are pressed into each side of the drum. Once you have cleaned the drum and all the parts with mineral spirits you can see the edge of the bearing race through the center of the drum. They can be driven out with a punch.
Make sure the drum center is clean and dry and then hammer...
and punch the new races back into the drum.
Now pack grease into the new bearings with clean hands. Pack the grease deep into all the spaces of the bearings.
Pack some grease in the center of the drum but don't overdue. Remember the spindle will be going back in there. Put the rear bearing back into the drum and tap the new seal in place.
If you have the older type drive the inner rear race onto the spindle. Now you can slide the drum back onto the spindle. Push the outer bearing and race over the spindle and into the drum. Next slide the thick metal spacer over the spindle and against the bearing.
If you have the older jam nuts you will want to use a new lock plate between them.
In either case you will want to tighten the nut just tight enough to allow the spacer to be moved with just a little effort with a large screwdriver.

 

Put the grease cap back on and and spin the wheel and enjoy the silence. You can see this done in detail in our Vol.4 Brake Maintenance repair video available from Bug Me Video.

Rick Higgins and Crew
Bug Me Video, Inc
.

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