Back in October of last year I took our car to a dealership mechanic who moonlighted from his house. He replaced the original spark plugs on our V6 car and gave me a list of things to keep an eye on.
One of those items was the front passenger wheel hub assembly. The assembly houses a set of bearings that let your wheel spin around smoothly. Over time those bearings will get beaten up and pot marked. Eventually you’ll start to hear a little noise from them while driving, then a lot of noise as the problem gets worse.
On our way back from Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, cruising down the interstate at 70 (ish) mph, the passenger front wheel well sounded louder than it should. I figured it was time to change out that part.
I did a little price shopping and found out the following:
- I had a mechanic replace this part on a different car to the tune of $270. They just did one wheel.
- RockAuto.com, my usual favorite, was not the cheapest for an OEM quality part (approximately $100).
- RockAuto had some parts listed at a mere $30. Yikes!
- Amazon had the cheapest OEM quality part with free shipping.
I went ahead and ordered two hubs so I could replace the front driver and passenger sides at the same time. I like to replace parts in pairs. If one side of a symmetrical system is causing problems, it stands to reason that the other side is deteriorating as well.
The total cost was $206.
Jacking up the front end of the car and removing the wheel, axle nut, and disk brakes revealed the hub assembly.
The big center bolt is the drive axle. There is a black half moon shaped piece and that is the brake dust cover. The light blue electrical connector in the top left corner is the ABS sensor harness. The wheel hub assembly is the orange rusty looking part with the 5 bolts sticking out of it.
I borrowed a couple of specialty tools from the auto parts store. One was a 36 mm socket to take off the big axle nut. The other was this drive axle hub puller doodad.
It was suppose to pop the wheel assembly hub out from the drive axle by pressing the drive axle in. In 10 year old car reality however, it didn’t cut the mustard.
After a couple of hours pounding away at the assembly with a 2 lb hammer, and later on with a big cold chisel (meant for masonry), I eventually separated the two rusty parts.
Above is a picture of the drive axle without the hub assembly. The little spindle grooves fit into grooves on the assembly. That is what turns your wheel.
After wire brushing off a lot of the rust and gunk on the car, the new shiny wheel assembly was ready to go in. I lathered up the new assembly with anti-seize compound. In theory, that should prevent the parts from rusting together again and some future car owner will have a much easier time replacing this part. I also applied dielectric grease to the electrical ABS harness. All that does is help to keep out moisture because water and electricity should never mix.
Installation is pretty much the reverse. My Haynes manual listed disassembly as 6 steps. Youtube videos abound to help fill in the details.
The first side took 3.5 hours. The other side took 1.5 hours once I knew the secret of cold chiseling. Mechanics bill would have been $540 ($270 x 2). My parts cost was $206, so my labor cost was $334 or $66.80/hr. That seems more than worth it to me!