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Old Sun, Mar-31-2013, 02:06:26 AM   #1
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Default Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

E46 M3 Driverís side wheel bearing replacement DIY

This is the story of how I did the rear wheel bearing replacement in my garage. If I were you, I'd read through the entire thing a couple times before starting. I donít have a lift so I did it Fred Flintstone style on my back. I am sharing how I did it and how I would do it differently next time based on what I learned. The passenger side is essentially the same except you donít need to drop the exhaust, and the speed and wear sensors are on the caliper.

I am no expert, so obviously use your own judgment before trying this yourself. Your results may vary. See a Dr. to see if Wheel Bearing Replacement is right for you.

First off, if you donít have the special tools, the job is a lot more difficult than it is with them. The special tools needed are expensive, so if you can find someone to loan them, definitely take them up. I didnít have them, so Iíll show both ways. There are several videos showing the job on E46s, but none specific to the M car, which has its own unique features.

Some helpful general videos:

07119934755 Snap ring
33411090505 New Bearing (buy OEM)
33412295519 Axle nut (all available as a kit 33412295519)
Loc-tite blue, anti-seize, penetrating fluid, toothbrushes
Impact wrench
36mm 12pt socket (1/2Ēdrive) $8 at Sears
E14 torx socket
6mm allen head driver
12,13,16, mm wrench and sockets
Dead blow hammer
Large snap ring pliers
Small punch and peen hammer
32mm impact socket from Harbor freight
Large slide Hammer & (6) 12x1.5 grade 9 nuts and washers
Puller: Proto J4238 or similar
Bearing extractor kit: I bought the $99 Harbor freight one

Step one: Lift the car. Get both ends as high off the ground as your jack stands go. I didnít do this and was really sorry. Use good jack stands. Squirt penetrating oil around the axle nut down the axle shaft.

Remove the wheel (17mm deep socket), pop the anti-rattle spring and disconnect the caliper bracket (16mm bolts), hang the caliper with a coat hanger off the coil spring out of the way.

Remove the rotor (6mm allen). (if you donít have impact tools, you need to loosen the axle nut before removing the caliper.

Put pliers or a pry bar in the rotor vents to lock the wheel so you can honk on the nut with a 5í breaker)
Get under the car and remove the V brace ((3) 16mm bolts) and set aside. Squirt penetrating fluid around the axle nut.

Disconnect the exhaust pipe rear section ((6) 13mm bolts in front (4) in rear) and remove.

Unhook the sway bar ends and loosen the clamp brackets (6mm allen) so you can swing the sway bar down. It is just about as easy to remove it completely.

CAREFULLY de-stake the ends of the axle nut from the axle with the punch. Trust me. Do it carefully. Youíll see why in a minute. Loosen the nut with an impact wrench (36mm 12pt).

Unbolt the axle from the differential ((6) E14 bolts) you may need to set the e-brake to do this if you donít use impact tools. Wrap the axle with a stiff wire and let it hang loose.
If youíre the luckiest person alive, the axle will now slide back out of the hub and you can set it aside. Or maybe after a gentle tap with the dead blow. I wasnít so lucky.
Use the puller with largest ďearsĒ behind the hub to push the axle out of the hub. I broke 2 pullers before the large Proto one mentioned above broke it free.
This is the first Puller

This is the set up that worked
It took a LOT of force. Like, my 3í breaker bar with a floor jack handle added with me standing on it. This after 4 days of soaking the axle splines with penetrating fluid.
The factory tool looks like this and pushes the axle right out. It also has the hub puller attachment.

While youíre waiting for the penetrating fluid to work, take the used axle nut and the 32mm impact socket over to the welder. Weld them together as shown and then grind the nut ears down smooth. This is the new axle puller tool you will need to get the axle back in later.

The factory tool looks like this. It actually fits almost all the way in the bore so there is no pushing needed at all.

Axle out at last:

Back to the car. Once the axle is out, use the slide hammer to extract the hub from the carrier. Mine slid right out.

Use the long arms on the puller to remove the outer race from the hub. If that doesnít work, carefully score across the race with a dremel or small cutting wheel and break with a chisel.
Remove the large snap ring, dispose.

Using the bearing kit, pull the bearing out. Make sure the puller is square to the hub. The Harbor Freight tools had the perfect sizes for this.

One the bearing falls out, clean the bore and coat lightly with anti-seize.

The new bearing presses in opposite how the old one came out.

Make sure it is seated against the back of the bore, but donít crush the inner race. The orange side goes to the outside of the car. Install new snap ring in the groove.
Spend 20 minutes cleaning the splines on the hub with a toothbrush, or other fine grain brush. Lightly coat with anti seize.

Then add a light coat of oil. Spend another 20 minutes cleaning the splines on the axle. Get them really clean. Really really clean. Also lightly coat with anti seize and oil.
Use the puller in reverse to install the hub.

Now slide the axle in from behind. It may not slide all the way in. Compress the CV joint and use the dead blow gently to insert it. I used a 2x6 between the dead blow and the back of the axle also. it was a mother to get a clean swing on my back under the car.

Eventually it will get almost flush to the hub. Now thread the tool you made with the old axle nut onto the end of the axle and use a ĹĒ driver to draw the axle out.

As soon as there are a couple full threads showing, use the new axle nut to pull it in. Try and tighten to 125-150 FT/LBs for now.

Assemble everything in reverse; Axle to differential (74FT/LBs), Sway bar (Blue Loctite), exhaust pipe (17FT/LBs+anti-seize), V Brace (Blue Loctite & 22FT/LBs), rotor (12FT/LBs), Caliper (18FT/LB).
Install the wheel but no hub cap and lower to the ground. Tighten the axle nut to 221FT/LBS and stake the nut with the punch.

Pop in the hub cap and go grab a cold one.
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