Bearing seizes hub in wobbly wheel shock

A "simple" wheel bearing swap proves more difficult than expected.

I rang several garages yesterday, but none of them could have a look at my suspected wheel bearing problem until next week. I was just about accepting the fact that I'd have to cancel my Saturday appointment at Freestyle and wait until next week to get the problem fixed, when Phil offered to do it for me. What a star!

Phil reckoned that it would take about an hour to change the bearings in both front wheels. To cut a long story short, one wheel took three hours...

It seems as though a bearing had seized (for an unknown reason) and things had got rather hot. Some of the grease was baked solid black. When Phil got the new race into the hub it just wobbled around and span freely. The pictures show why - the inner surface of the hub was pitted, looking as though the aluminium had become molten and then re-solidified.

Phil had a spare hub borrowed from Steve, which we decided to use (thanks Steve!). The brake disc should have dropped off my hub after removing the bolts, but we only just managed to get it off using several large spanners as leverage (heat again?). Then we had to remove the wheel studs (using Phil's vice as a press) because Steve's had stripped threads. After pressing my studs into Steve's hub we rejoined the script, and everything went well.

The car felt much better during the short drive home. The steering is sharper with much less vibration transmitted through the wheel. Even the brakes feel better. The drives to and from work today confirmed that things are much happier now, although there's still what I think is a damping / spring problem causing a harsh ride. I checked the bearing this evening and there is no play, but there is a small clunk or clicking noise if I jiggle the wheel between rotating forwards and back. Hopefully that's OK...

Many thanks again to Phil and Steve. I'd have been in a real bind without their generous help and bits. It's quite fortunate that I didn't find a one-man garage with time available, because they never would have had a Caterham hub just lying on the shelf.

This page is It was first published on Thursday 22 August, 2002 and last updated on Thursday 22 August, 2002.