If you plan on tracking your car more than a few times, you will eventually need to replace your wheel bearings. They will go bad much sooner than if you were just driving normally, because the excess lateral G forces, heat that is generated from braking, and the occasional curb jumping will all speed up the ware. Depending on how often you track, aggressively you drive, what tire compound you’re using, or how much power your car has will all play into how often you should replace them. A worn out wheel bearing will make a distinct noise that will get worse as you put more strain on it (if its the right wheel, when you turn left you will hear it more than when you turn right) This is because the inboard wheel will not have much weight on it. A badly worn out bearing will cause slack in the hub and could actually cause some sever damage if it completely lets go. The best way to check for worn out wheel bearings is by jacking the car up off the ground and placing your hands on the a tire at the 3 and 9 position, and then move back and forth to feel if there is slack in the hub. You wont always be able to hear the “whir” noise it makes, especially if you have a loud car. This wheel inspection should become a routine for you to do every time you have your car in the air.
About a year and a half ago when I had originally started my 4 door build, I had sourced some Integra knuckles from the junkyard. I needed these so I could put the NSX calipers and cooper rotors on. I figured while I had everything apart I would just throw new bearings in so I would have peace of mind for a while. At that time I didn’t have a press in my garage, and I honestly didn’t even want to bother trying to do it myself. I decided to take them to Dan’s Drive Line here in Las Vegas. Dan’s is a very reputable shop that does some serious drive line stuff. I had no problem paying them 260 bucks (including the bearings) to press new ones in. Fast forward to august 2019, and on one of my nightly drives up to mount Charleston I heard the definitive sound of wheel bearing growl.
I start at the tip top of the mountain and play “neutral downhill death match” with myself. I start the car, leave it in neutral, release the E brake, and see how far I can make it by only using the momentum of the car picking up speed from rolling down the mountain. I feel like this helps me work on being smoother thru the corners, and teaches me how to keep my momentum up (which is good for under powered cars on track) Anyways, on the way down I was able to hear the bearing (since the car is in neutral) This was a big time bummer for me since I only had 2 track days on these bearings and about a years worth of driving. Sure there was lots of miles of spirited road driving, but thats no where near the abuse they get on a track.
I never like to have anyone else but myself work on my cars, just because there will always be a sliver of doubt in my mind that the person doing the job did it wrong. I just feel like no matter how good the shop is, there is always one lazy person that works there that will half assed do a job. Now I’m not sure exactly why my bearing wore out prematurely… Was it due to improper installation? Was it because the shop used cheap wheel bearings? or was it just a combination of both? I will never know, but what I do know is that I will always do my own bearing installation from now on.
This all took place two weeks prior to my next track day, so it was imperative that I get it fixed. I was very reluctant to do it myself still because I just didn’t want to press them out/in, it’s kind of a sketchy thing if you don’t have the proper tooling and you can easily ruin brand new bearings if you press on the wrong part of it. I wasn’t about to take it to another shop though, and risk them possibly improperly installing the bearings again. This time around I bought OEM bearings too. Most people will say that anything else is crap, and wont last nearly as long. Along with new wheels bearings, I decided to upgrade the wheel studs as well. Since the history of the OEM ones on there was unknown (were they the original ones from 1998?), and the fact that I was constantly taking wheels on and off (I didn’t want to risk the old worn out studs snapping)
Here is the how to: Install the wheel studs and bearings. Note that I didn’t do rear bearings since they weren’t necessary at this time, only fronts.
So yes most people will run extended stud, but I wanted to retain the subtle look of my car. These studs are for Accord/Prelude, they fit perfectly, and require no customizing. The reason most people will run Extended studs is to: Run wheels spacers, or wheels with thicker metal where the lugs go thru. Most “competition” tech inspections require you to have a certain amount of threads that are threaded into the lug nut. Installing different wheels or wheel spacers will sometimes reduce the number of threads inside the lug nuts, which is referred to as the lug nuts’ thread engagement. A good rule of thumb is that you have the diameter of the wheel stud sticking out past the lug nut. This will ensure there is enough threads to secure the wheel thus giving you proper thread engagement. These studs still give the same increased tensile strength that you find on the “extended” studs so there is no down side tot he shorter ones. Another great thing about the ARP studs is the “bullnose tip” which allows for easier thread lining up when initially starting the lug nut, thus helping to prevent cross threading.
Running aftermarket wheel studs is a must, once you start to use your car for things other than just daily driving. Aftermarket studs are ore durable and can withstand more torque (from higher horsepower + grippier tires) and will be able to handle more lateral force. Things that can cause studs to fail and shear off are: Age, heat, and oxidization. This is an often overlooked upgrade, but it’s literally the only thing that is keeping the wheels on your car. Now it’s not very common for our lightweight, lower power cars to shear studs off. For me I would rather just error on the safer side, and get studs that are going to stand up to anything I can throw at them. It’s also worth noting that running aluminum lug nuts and track driving isn’t recommended. During the increased heat, and lateral forces from track driving its can actually strip the aluminum lug nut out. Yes I run aluminum ones on my 4 door, but I’m only on street tires, and have very low top speeds. On my EG I run chromoly ones.
First off we will start with the rear of the car.
Make sure you break all the lugs loose before you get the car all jacked up, and securely on jack stands.
Remove the wheel, un bolt the caliper, and pop off the rotor.
You can either hit the old studs out with a BFH (Big fucking hammer!) They will come out a lot easier than you think. If they are being stubborn and don’t come out easily, be careful you don’t “mushroom” the tip which could prevent the stud from sliding out of the hub. You can always thread an old lug nut on and hit that until the stud is loose, then remove the lug nut so the stud can come out. The other way to remove them is just take the hub completely off and press the studs out, I will show you both ways.
At this point you can choose to do it two different ways:
- You can leave the hub bolted to the car, slide the new studs in, and use a few washers or spacers then thread an old lug nut on and tighten. this will suck the stud into the hub completely. you don’t actually have to use a press. But I must warn you, you can do damage to the new studs threads due to the friction of you tightening it. (especially if you’re using an impact) its best to just do it manually so you can feel when the stud is fully seated to the hub.
- there is a special tool that you can use to reduce the friction, and lower the risk of damaging your new threads.
- Or you can choose to remove the hub and use a press. ( like I did.)
Pry the dust cover off.
You will now have access to the 32mm nut that holds the hub on.
Use a breaker bar to loosen the nut, and the hub should just slide off. If it doesn’t easily come off, use a rubber mallet to firmly hit around the hub to jolt it loose.
Now take you bare hub over to your press, and begin to press in the new studs. Below is one way you can do it. But my preferred way is to use an old brake rotor.
Seen below is the old brake rotor, and this gives the hub an even surface to press in the studs. This ensures proper stud installation, not to mention that it makes the whole thing a breeze since all I do is rotate the whole thing around for each hole.
Below Is the comparison between the new and old studs.
Now if you don’t want to hammer out the studs, you can use the press.
Once all are removed, grab your trusty old rotor and install the new studs.
Final product, ready for installation. Honestly the rears are very easy, and no press is necessary. The front however is where having a press is going to be necessary.
Slide the hub back on, thread the 32mm nut back on (don’t forget the lock washer that goes on before the nut, and tighten to 134 lb/ft
Take a punch, or in my case a shitty screw driver and tap in the nut to “lock” it in.
Now slide on the rotor, I don’t use the phillips screws to hold the rotor in place as it is not necessary. Then bolt the caliper back on.
put the dust cover back on.
gently tap it back on, being careful to not dent or bend it. I use the rubber end of the hammer.
Wheel goes back on, and now only a trained eye can see that I have aftermarket studs.
That wraps up the rear. If you were going to do the rear bearings its very easy. You would just replace the whole hub (that part that you removed with the 32mm nut) you would have just pressed your new studs into a new hub. There is no pressing required for the rear bearing.
Now on to the front:
There is no way to sneak the studs out or in, so you will have to remove the whole spindle and press out the hub which will allow the space to have the studs completely slide out.
Before you jack the car up it would be easier to break the 32mm axle nut free while the car is on the ground. Don’t worry I forgot, and I’ll show you another way of doing.
Here you can see the stock studs.
Remove the wheel.
Below you can see how I pit a large screw driver in the rotor veins, and use the caliper to brace against it to stop the hub from rotation while trying to loosen the 32mm axle nut.
Now unbolt the caliper, and slide the rotor off. Loosen the lower ball joint nut, but leave the castle nut threaded 3/4 way on to help shield the ball joint threads as you whack it with a hammer until it finally breaks free. If you don’t leave the nut on, you swing and miss hitting the ball joint threads, you will most likely damage the thread too much which will stop you from being able to thread the lower ball joint nut on. Rendering your ball joint useless, and unless you’re a pro with a die and can chase the thread well enough to allow the nut to thread on by hand, your ball joint is trash and you’ll need a new one. *Pro tip, turn the castle nut upside down so if you do hit the nut, you wont bend the “castle” prongs of the nut, which can also cause you trouble.
You’re going to be actually hammering on the LCA (lower control arm) and you’re going to be hammering hard, really hard. It will take quite a few hits to get it to loosen its self from the lower ball joint. Don’t be worried about how many times you’re hitting the LCA, you can go wild on it. Just don’t hit the ball joint boot, or you will most likely break the boot.
Now move to the upper control arm, loosen/remove the nut, and thread it on upside down.
Again with the hammer hit the spindle repeatedly until the upper arm is free from the spindle. You must be very careful to not hit the rubber boot, this will pinch it and most likely break the boot.
Lastly the outer tie rod. Same thing as above, remove the nut flip it upside down and thread back on 3/4 of the way.
Hit the spindle with the hammer, being careful to not hit the boot. a few good swings and it should come free.
I leave all the nuts threaded on until I have hammered all three loose completely. (this will prevent the spindle from falling, and possibly causing damage)
Below is what the spindle looks like completely removed.
And below is what your car will look like with out the spindle. If you’re having a hard time getting the balljoints free, you can remove the 17mm long bolt that holds the shock fork to the LCA. This will allow for more movement in the suspension.
Now this is where it gets hard. The spindle is awkward and is very hard to get level on the press. You will have to use some ingenuity (you’ll see what I did) The more friends you have available to help the better. (I sadly had none)
First the hub has to be pressed out of the spindle. Find something the same diameter as what my pointer is pointing to below. You can use a socket, pipe, or steel piece. I used a ball joint remover tool it that has various sizes of steel.
Once removed it will look like this.
There is almost always going to be the old bearing race still stuck on the hub. Im pointing to it below.
You are going to have to carefully cut with an angle grinder and cut off wheel, a diagonal slit to “release” the race from he hub. DO NOT cut all the way thru or you will damage the hub and not be able to reuse.
Use a strong flat piece to pry apart the slit you just cut. A chisel, flat head screw driver, I’m using a ball joint spreader.
You can see how I still made a small grove in the hub. This is no big deal, just clean the burs off with sand paper, scotch brite, or steel wool.
Below you can even see the score mark from the previous bearing swap (that I didn’t do) its the larger darker line, and mine from this time is the shorter silver line.
You will remove the OEM studs just like we did on the rear, either with a hammer, or pressing them out.
Now you are going to install the new studs. My old rotor method doesn’t quite work because of the lip on the hub doesn’t fit into he brake rotor. So I just used two steel spacers to keep the hub even and level as I pressed in the new studs.
Below is the hub with all the new studs pressed in.
Now we move on to actually pressing out the old bearing. First off there is a C clip that needs to be removed before you attempt to press out the bearing. Seen below.
Circlip pliers will make this easy.
Now take the whole spindle over to your press, and make sure it’s even and level. Get a piece of steel the same size as the bearing you’re trying to press out. Then you can see I put a large circular chunk of steel on top to ensure even pressing.
I had to do some sketch ass shit to get the old bearing out. (this is very dangerous, and if I wasn’t by myself I would have been able to have more hands to use proper tools)
Once the bearing is out it will look like the picture below.
Completely clean out the spindle where the bearing goes, place grease around the shiny area where the bearing will be pressed into. This will help reduce the friction as it gets pressed in, ensuring it going in properly.
For some reason I didn’t take any pictures of pressing it in. (I was all by myself so it was difficult to have the heavy spindle teetering on the press and making sure the bearing stays as even as possible as I pressed it back in) The new bearing will go in relatively easy compared to removing the old one. Make sure the words on the bearing are facing out like below.
Reinstall the C clip. If you can’t get the C clip installed then you need to press the bearing in further.
Now grease the hub where it goes into the new bearing, and press the hub back into the bearing.
Below is some more of the sketchy things I had to do to ensure the spindle was level and even as I pressed in the bearing and hub.
Do this to both sides, and you are now ready to reinstall the spindles.
And below is the final picture of everything installed.
This job isn’t really as scary as it seems, just give your self a full day to complete the project and you’ll be good. Before you even start I would make sure you have all necessary tools, and supplies.
I hope that all the pictures are a good visual guide for you to see the steps of how everything goes. I also hope that after reading this article you are inspired and motivated to go work on your car this weekend. Doing a job like this is just as rewarding as it is challenging and you will feel very accomplished once you’ve finished it. Remember there is no better feeling then saying “you did the work yourself”
As always thanks for reading, and if you’ve got any question about anything car related don’t hesitate to reach out. I truly want to help you! Email me at Billy@Functiontheory.com, DM me on Instagram @FUNCTIONTHEORY, or just comment below.