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Replacing wheel bearings on early XJ 2wd front spindles

Old 02-01-2015, 02:59 AM
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Post Replacing wheel bearings on early XJ 2wd front spindles

PLEASE NOTE - THIS IS FOR 2WD NON-ABS XJ'S WITH SPINDLES ONLY

***For those of you with 4wd or the newer 2wd w/ the unit bearing hubs - please see this post w/ video from the PBR Roadhouse Boys https://www.cherokeeforum.com/f46/pb...4/#post3050561 ***

I was doing some searching for a write-up on wheel bearings for 2wd front spindles because I wanted a refresher on them since I haven't done these types of bearings in probably 20 years.

Most of you are already aware that the late-model 2wd XJs use unit bearings for the front wheels. If you have an earlier model 2wd XJ though (sorry, not sure of the year cutoff), you have spindles. I believe they moved to the unit-bearings with the introduction of ABS.

These can be easily identified by the following bearing cap on the wheel hub:



Many of you who have these have probably notice that center caps have to be removed on some OEM wheels like Canyons and Ravines. Annoying

If you have unit bearings, your hub will look like the 4wd hubs:



kinda hard to see past the crazy long wheel studs on that one, but you get the idea.

Hey, stop drooling over the custom rally setup and keep reading!

Once you've identified that you have the spindle-type hubs, get your tools together and grab an inner bearing, an outter bearing, and a seal from your local auto parts store. If you don't grease, make sure you get that too!



-Jack
-Jackstand
-Lug wrench
-Flat head screw driver
-Hammer
-Side-cutters
-Pliers
-C-Clamp
-Zip-ties
-7mm allen wrench or socket
-Ratchet wrench
-Brake parts cleaner
-Rags/paper towels
-Grease
OPTIONAL: 17mm socket to remove dust shield

Okay, the first thing you're going to want to do is remove your brake caliper from the bracket. This is where the 7mm allen wrench comes in.

If you're not familiar with removing the calipers, it's this bolt on the back of the caliper:


Use your c-clamp to compress the brake piston so you can remove the caliper, then use the zip ties to secure it to the spring or other location. DO NOT leave it dangling by the brake hose - that is, unless you like to leave the integrity of your lines to chance.



Now that you have the caliper out of the way, remove the dust cap off of the wheel hub.

Take your flat head screwdriver and place the tip where the cap meets the surface.



Lightly tap on the screwdriver with your hammer until the cap starts to separate. It doesn't take much and you don't want to mar the surface that the cap mounts to or damage the cap itself.

Once the cap begins to separate, twist with your screwdriver all the way around the edge of the cap to pry it away:



Now that you have the cap off, you'll see the spindle, cotter pin, nut retainer cap, and bearing retainer. Oh... and a mess of grease!



Use your side-cutters to bend the cotter pin down. You can also use your screwdriver, but I find it easier to use the cutters with the jaws closed because it keeps the cotter pin in place and doesn't slip off.



After you've done that, take your pliers and remove the pin by pulling up. You may have to use some force. Just keep pulling, it will come out. You may have to re-bend the pin a little to make it straighter to come out, but you're not going to hurt anything by putting a lot of force on it to pull it out.



Once the pin is removed, you'll see a retainer cap over the spindle nut. This has notches on it for the cotter pin and is splined to fit over the nut. It holds the nut in place so do not lose or damage this. Worse thing that could happen is you'd have to go by another one, but it sucks taking a break from doing something to go to the autoparts store.



Now remove the spindle nut, bearing retainer, and outter bearing. It will most likely all fall out in your hand after you remove the nut.







You'll end up with something that looks like this:



Now the rotor will just pull off and either the bearing and seal will come with it or they will be left on the spindle. Mine were both still in the back of the rotor.

Bearing:



Seal:



To remove the rear seal, take your sidecutters and rest the tip of them on the bearing underneath the seal. Then, with your screwdriver at about a 45 degree angle, pry against it on the seal:



It should come right off and more then likely will not mar the seal. The most important thing is that it doesn't mar the surface that the seal mounts into.

Now pull out the inner bearing and be prepared for a grimey, greasey, rusty mess:



Yup... that's trash. SOMETIMES you can just degrease the bearings, clean them off real good and then repack them. But with the water that most of our jeeps see, and with how inexpensive the bearing are, it's better to just go ahead and replace them. A rusty bearing with new grease in it is still a rusty bearing and is just another part waiting to fail. Whether the bearing is rusted or not, you've noticed up and down play in the wheel, you've already bought the parts, you've already gotten this far, just replace 'em!

Last edited by Basslicks; 03-10-2015 at 03:59 AM. Reason: More information
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:19 AM
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Talking Cleaning grease YAY!

Ok, now that you have the bearings out, you'e probably noticed a globby mess of grease on the spindle itself and inside the rotor. I'm not going to go into a ton of detail on how to clean the grease out of the rotor. Just grab some rags or paper towels and get to scoopin and wipin'. It seems never ending, but it will all come out, I promise.



Once you've gotten the lion share of grease out, use your brake parts cleaner and clean it the rest of the way. Remember, the old grease is contaminated with water, rust, dirt, and possibly even metal shavings. There's no reason NOT to clean these parts real good.

Now that the fun part is over, grab a rag and wipe down the spindle and use your brake parts cleaner to do the same thing on the spindle.



If your jeep sees mud or rocks EVER, do yourself a favor and ditch the dust shields. Mud can get caked between the rotor and shield and act like sandpaper once it dries. Rocks (talking about the little pebble kind or pieces of big rocks that chip off) can do the same thing and cause nice little grooves. If the shields aren't there, then you don't have to worry about any of that.



Watch out for the boss... mine likes to give me a hard time

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Old 02-01-2015, 04:03 AM
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Post Now for the really fun part.

Now that everything is all cleaned up, you're ready for the really fun part.

Grab your bearing and your grease, it's time to pack the bearings. What's that mean? Well, the bearings come completely clean. No grease, no oil, no lube whatsoever.



When you hold the new bearing in your hand, you'll notice a lot of play. Your bearing is not defective, this is normal. This is why you pack grease into the bearing. The tolerances on these bearings are not really tight so that you can get a lot of grease between each roller bearing and the bearing chasis.

One the picture above, you'll notice that there is a larger bearing and a smaller bearing. The larger one is the inner bearing and goes on the rear of the rotor/hub.

Grab your grease and your rear bearing and start packing!

Hold the bearing in one hand and grab a big glob of grease and put it in the palm of your other hand.



As you can see, the bearings are tapered. Hold the larger side down towards your palm and use a "scooping" motion to force the grease up between the bearings and the chasis.



Keep forcing the grease in until you see it coming out of the top of the chasis. Repeat the process all the way around until the bearing is evenly "packed" with grease.



You'll notice the bearings come packaged with another metal ring. This is called a "cup". These bearings are a universal part that are used with many makes and models of vehicles. The cherokee doesn't use these cups because there is a bearing "race" that is pressed into the hub. The bearing cup included with your bearing can be discarded or saved for whatever you want if you just can't bring yourself to throw away shiny new metal.

As far as the bearing race inside the hub, go ahead and put a liberal coat of grease on the race as well as on the inside of the hub to act as a water shield. You should also put some grease around the groove that the seal goes in as well. This will aid in installing the seal and help it seal better.



Before putting the bearing into the race, it's a good idea to go ahead and put some grease on your finger and just "cover up" the roller bearings with grease until you can't see them any more. Then apply a light coating of grease on all the metal surfaces of the bearing to act as a water shield.



Throw a little more grease in there for good measure. Seriously, grease is a good thing. I mean don't throw a whole tube of grease into this thing, but remember these are off road vehicles and will see more abuse than the average vehicle on the road. Don't be stingy with the grease! But don't be over-zealous with it either.



Throw a coating of grease on your seal to help it install easier, seal better, and - you guess it - water shield.



Now go ahead and grease up your spindle. Be sure to apply grease to the surface that the seal is going to mate to.


(I did put more grease on this than you see in the picture)

Now, put your hub back on. Pack your outter bearing and coat it with grease, and reinstall it the same way you saw it come off. Bearing, bearing retaining ring, nut, nut retainer cap, cotter pin. Grease, grease, grease.



DO NOT. I repeat DO NOT over tighten the spindle nut. Think of it like your oil filter. 1/4 turn past finger tight is about all it takes. You're really just looking to make sure that there is enough pressure on both bearings that there is no vertical or lateral play in the wheel. If you tighten it too much, it will create friction and keep the wheel from spinning freely. It will also generate heat which can change the consistency and effectiveness of the grease. Too loose and you'll be right back where you started looking like a cambered-out racecar and having sloppy play in the wheel. Finger tight - no tools on the nut. The rotor should free spin for quite a bit when you spin it without the caliper on.

Now go ahead and put your nut retainer cap on.



Cotter Pin.



Bend up the pin so that it doesn't come out



Grease it up.



Now put your cap in place and lightly tap it all the way around with the hammer. This is where those bearing caps you didn't use will come in handy.



Hold onto your caliper... seriously hold onto it. Snip the zip ties, and put your caliper back in place on the brackets. Grab your allen wrench and tighten the bolts back up. Once it's tight, go ahead and pump your brakes a couple of times to push the piston back out to where it was. If you don't do this, just keep in mind, the first time you go to stop, your foot will go to the floor. Better to pump them now.



Put your wheel back on and check for vertical play. If you still have play vertically but not horizontally, you may want to check your ball joints. If the ball joints are good, just pop that dust cap off of the hub, take your cotter pin out and tighten up the nut a little more making sure that the jeep's weight is off the wheel. Don't forget to go ahead and clean all the braking surfaces off with brake parts cleaner. In case you didn't know, your brakes work on friction - grease kinda takes that away. Clean clean clean!



Well, now you're done and you've learned something that can be applied to a lot of different makes and models.

Sorry about the pictures being blurry in some of the shots. The stupid auto-focus on my camera wasn't cooperating with me. This is my first technical how-to so I hope it made sense and didn't bore the crap out of you.

Hope this helps someone!
-Justin

Last edited by Basslicks; 02-26-2015 at 10:54 PM. Reason: More information
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Old 02-25-2015, 06:27 PM
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Thumbs up

Thanks for the write up! I'll be changing out my bearings and seals for the 1st time in my 90 xj, when I overhaul my front brakes and covert rear drums to disc.
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Old 02-26-2015, 04:07 AM
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Hey, no prob! Glad it helps someone. Just confirming, yours is 2wd, correct?
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Old 02-26-2015, 10:35 PM
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Thanks for a detailed write up. Good job on it
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Old 02-26-2015, 10:49 PM
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You're welcome and thanks!

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Old 02-27-2015, 11:48 AM
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I have 4wd actually

Originally Posted by Basslicks View Post
Hey, no prob! Glad it helps someone. Just confirming, yours is 2wd, correct?
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Old 02-27-2015, 05:24 PM
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Default Replacing wheel bearings on early XJ 2wd front spindles

Originally Posted by Jeepin Dan View Post
I have 4wd actually
Then yours will be unibearings. Same process except the bearing and hub are one piece.

Last edited by Outlaw Star; 05-01-2016 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 02-27-2015, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Outlaw Star View Post
Then yours will be unibearings. Same process except the bearing and hub are one piece.
FTFY
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Old 02-28-2015, 04:50 PM
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Thanks fellas, appreciate the input. Will update when the task is at hand
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Old 03-05-2015, 04:52 PM
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Really appreciate this write up.
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Old 03-10-2015, 04:00 AM
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You're welcome!

***For those of you with 4wd or the newer 2wd w/ the unit bearing hubs - see this link -> https://www.cherokeeforum.com/f46/pb...4/#post3050561 ***
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