E46 front wheel bearing

Source: GDA

Tools needed

Jack and jackstands
10mm deep socket
16mm socket
17mm deep socket
32 or 36mm socket
46mm socket

3/8 and 1/2 ratchet – long handles help
1/2 impact wrench (not necessary tho.. otherwise 1/2 long breaker bar)
6mm hex
deadblow hammer
hand impact driver (not necessary but helps with rusted brake retainer bolt)
prybar or large screwdriver
long centering punch or the like

3/8 and 1/2 drive torque wrenches or ones to cover 10 lb ft to well over 200 lb ft

1 Jack car up and place on jackstands

2 using impact wrench and 17mm socket remove front wheel

3 using 3/8 long ratchet and 16mm short socket remove caliper retaining bolts

4 remove brake caliper and suspend with wire from strut being careful to not bend the brake hose

5 grab hand impact driver with hex and remove brake disc retaining bolt

6 use prybar/punch or screwdriver to gently pry off hub cover

7 take center punch or screwdriver and use small hammer to tap out the pressed in portion of the hub nut

8 when done pushing out the pressed in portion it should look like this

9 use 1/2 impact and 46mm socket to remove hub nut – alternatively you could use 18 inch or larger 1/2 ratchet or breaker bar and still easily get this nut off

10 once you get the large hub nut off it looks like this

11 grab a slide hammer or wheel hub press tool and start building your hub removal tool

12 I like to use a slide hammer so it looks like this…

or if you want to use a hub press removal tool with a wrench to press it out it might look something like this

13 one nice whack with the slide hammer and you should get off the hub and bearing which might just leave the inner race

and you will also see this view of the spindle

14 use a dremel or long and thin two jaw puller to get off the inner race

I used a two jaw puller so it looked like this

15 all thats left is the spindle, rear seal cover and brake disc cover so use a punch or something thin to press/gently tap out the inner seal cover to clean it and also the surrounds of the spindle assembly (not required but we all want to do this right)

16 use a 10mm deep socket to remove the 3 bolts holding the rear brake cover in order to clean it and remove any accumulated junk that might be held in the assembly near the abs sensor and rear seal cover

17 clean up the spindle and get ready to get on to the install

18 grab your new front wheel bearing and using a 32 or 36mm socket gently press/tap on the new wheel bearing – I used a 36mm socket and gently tapped it on with a deadblow. You might get lucky and be able to slide on the new bearing by hand. Be careful not to separate the front and rear inner races while installing as you might introduce grit into the new bearing and that might cause an early demise.

19 after you have it tapped on far enough you should be looking at something like this

20 now you can install and torque the hub nut to specs – check Bentley for your model. Mine was 214 lb ft.

21 now using a punch or like dent in the outer portion of the hub nut as a safety precaution

22 I like to use anti seize on the hub and surround so that brake discs are easy to remove so I lightly coat the hub

23 reinstall the brake disc and torque the retaining bolt to 12 lb ft or per Bentley for your model and then reinstall caliper and torque the caliper to the spindle per Bentley (81 lb ft for my 01 325)

24 clean the hub cover and apply light coat of anti seize on the lip and then gently tap it on with a deadblow

All thats left is to install the wheel and you’re good to go. Celebrate success with your favorite cold one… possibly two

Oh, heres a close up of a front that was just starting to blow out its guts and its a sign of a failing/close to fail wheel bearing – note the grease spewing out from behind where the hub nut would have been. My hub nut was covered in brown grease so this bearing probably had less than a couple thousand miles before it would have been totally gone.

Hope this helps,
Greg

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