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E46 M3 (2001-2006) Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006.


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Old Sun, Mar-31-2013, 01:06:26 AM   #1
Bill33
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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:

WHAT YOU NEED:
Parts:
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
Tools:
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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Old Sun, Mar-31-2013, 02:12:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

nice write up, thanks!
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Old Sun, Mar-31-2013, 03:30:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

What causes bearings to go bad more quickly? I didn't think it was something we had to really worry about.
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Old Sun, Mar-31-2013, 04:43:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

From my understanding, this DIY shares very little resemblance with replacing a front wheel bearing?
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Old Mon, Apr-01-2013, 12:20:12 AM   #5
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

Quote:
Originally Posted by alroy View Post
From my understanding, this DIY shares very little resemblance with replacing a front wheel bearing?
Considering there are no drive axles up front, yes it is different for the front wheels
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Old Mon, Apr-01-2013, 01:06:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsCarbonBlack View Post
Considering there are no drive axles up front, yes it is different for the front wheels
Yeah... fronts are easy, rears are a bit of a pain.

Happily, the rears also last longer than the fronts
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Old Mon, Apr-01-2013, 01:25:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

^They should at least. My old E46 had 180k on the bearings when the rears went. The fronts were still original at 203k when I sold the car.

FWIW, rear wheel bearings were one of the most difficult and annoying jobs I've done on my cars to date. Thanks for the DIY op. Looks like a great write-up.
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Last edited by niart906; Mon, Apr-01-2013 at 03:23:45 AM.
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Old Sat, Oct-05-2013, 04:12:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

Bill33, thanks for the writeup. Any chance you could restore the video that comes after the important phrase, "This is the set up that worked"? Sounds like that could be useful, as in, really useful, to see
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Old Sun, Oct-06-2013, 04:47:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

Well I can't seem to find the original video, or photo. The tool I used the first time was a PROTO J4232 puller with the 6" arms. I don't recommend this technique. It was a huge amount of tension on the hub at the beveled edge (which is what snapped the ears on the Snap-On pullers).

But unbelievably I had to do this job on my e30 which is almost an identical set up a month later.
At Auto Zone they rent (for free) an "OTC 6298 Front hub puller kit" that works perfectly. You bolt the flange to the hub and use an impact gun to turn the pressure screw on the axle end. It pushes right out.
Putting the axle back in went way easier too. I took a small triangle file to the ends of each spline on the axle to make sure it was sharp. Very easy.

The entire operation from start to finish took four hours with these tools. The operation above took me three weekends of fighting, pushing and working on my back.
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Old Mon, Oct-07-2013, 12:20:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side

How many miles on your car OP?
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Discussing Rear Wheel Bearing, Driver's Side in the E46 M3 (2001-2006) Forum - Engine: S54 - Max Hp: 333 hp at 7,900 rpm / 262 lb/ft at 4,900 rpm
Total Produced: 45,000+ - Years Produced: 2001 to 2006. at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)