Wheel bearing service, no matter the design, can be a difficult job. There are new products and add-ons to the ticket that can give the customer a completely repaired vehicle.
A lot of vehicles manufactured by Ford, VW and other carmakers over the past decade are equipped with cartridge-style wheel bearings that need to be pressed into a knuckle. These bearing jobs can be difficult, even if you leave the knuckle on the vehicle and use a special tool. The latest product to address this job is a “loaded” or complete knuckle that already has a new bearing installed.
Eliminating the need to press the bearing can save time. It can also save you the aggravation that comes from wondering whether or not you pressed in the bearing with the correct seal facing the wheel speed sensor. While you can beat flat rate, you can’t make more hours in the day. Loaded, unitized or complete components can maximize your profitability in the hours your business is open.
Many axle nuts are one-time use items. Some nuts destroy themselves when they are backed off the axle shaft. Other nuts have fingers that lock the nut on the axle shaft, but, over time, they lose tension. Many wheel-bearing suppliers are including the axle nut with the bearing kit.
The most controversial aspect about axle nuts is the use of an impact wrench. First, an impact should not be used to set the final torque of the axle nut. OEM and bearing manufacturers always recommend using a torque wrench for installation. Check the service information for the specification and procedures. During removal or running the axle nut down, the impact from the wrench “theoretically” might cause damage to the new bearing or axle shaft because it might be a full droop. Just use common sense when using an impact on an axle nut.
Be sure to inspect the brakes, since the caliper has to be removed to replace a wheel bearing. If the pads or rotors are near their wear specifications, recommend replacement. Also, new rotors and new hub flanges should be measured for runout. Indexing the rotor and rotating it on the hub flange for the least amount of runout can compensate for most runout problems.
Lug Nuts and Bolts
Chrysler, Ford and other OEMs use lug nuts that have a metal core covered by a chrome cap. Corrosion can occur between the cap and lug. This can cause the cap to swell. You may notice that it is a tight fit for your socket or it might not fit at all. In some cases, the tech before you might have used a larger socket and now the cap is chewed up and spins on the lug. Ford is facing a civil lawsuit from customers who were stranded with a flat tire.
Lug nuts without chrome caps are available and they can save you and the owner a lot of headaches.