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How Replacing the Wheel Bearing On Your Vehicle Yourself Can Save You Money and Net You More Tools

Every now and then a repair such as a noisy wheel bearing may come up on your vehicle and you may question whether or not to to tackle it yourself. Lots of questions about this type of repair or any repair for that matter may arise. These are some that come to my mind:

What is the cause?
Can I diagnose it?
Can I get a new or used part?
How does it come apart?
How does it go back together?
Can I do the work myself?
What tools do I need?
Do I have or need to purchase the tools?
How long will it take me?
What is the cost for someone else to do it vs. my time and money spent on tools I will need?
If I purchase tools, can I use the tools for something else later?

All of these questions add up. With a little thought about each you may find yourself ahead of the game. I’ll give you a perfect example. Remember, it does not always happen like this but man is it sweet when it does!

I have a 2002 Hyundai Elantra with 110,000 miles. I noticed the wheel bearing on the right side started making noise. I raised up the front of the vehicle and chocked the left front wheel. Next I put the car in drive and watched the right front wheel from the front of the car. It was wobbly. I placed a long screwdriver on the knuckle and could hear that the bearing was bad. As a comparison just to be sure, I did the same thing to the other side. No wobble. No noise. The right side wheel bearing was confirmed to be faulty.

The first thing I did was find out the price and availability of the part. This is always the first step after you know what the problem is. I searched online for the part and found it at a national retailer for $30. I ended up paying a little less because I purchased a few other things and used a coupon.

It has been my experience that I would need a hydraulic press to push the faulty wheel bearing out and to push the new wheel bearing in.

Great. Now I needed a press.

I decided to get an estimate from a local dealer at this time. This was to help me decide if I should continue with trying to do this myself or chalk it up to someone who may be competent with the correct tools.

The dealer wanted $250 dollars. Now I had a goal to come in under. I started searching Craigslist for a press. Hoping that maybe, just maybe I could get a deal on one. The reason? One that would do the job from Harbor Freight was $200. That plus the bearing would put me close to the estimate and I would still have to do the work. At this point I was still leaning towards doing it myself even if I had to buy a brand new press. After all, I could use it for other things.

A week or so went by and I had found nothing. Then I found something. I found the exact same press I was looking for. It was for sale by a guy about 10 miles away. It was practically brand new. He used it once and it did not fit his application. He wanted $125. Sold.

I purchased the wheel bearing since I committed to do the job myself and tackled it a few days later.

I knew I was going to need some scrap metal to block up the knuckle because the knuckle needs to sit level in the press. I scored some pieces from a neighbor for free. These scraps needed to be cut into something manageable.  A few weeks prior I purchased an electric grinder for half of its original price on Craigslist. I paid $40. A grinding wheel to cut the scrap metal was $3.

I managed to get the steering knuckle off of the car with relative ease and onto the press.  I did have to buy a cylinder of mapp gas to heat the knuckle up to help the old bearing press out. The heat was about $12. Everything came apart fairly easy.

The new wheel bearing went in great and everything went back together well. The final road test confirmed that the noise was eliminated and the vehicle was repaired.

So lets add it up and compare:

Price of press……………125.00
Electric angle grinder…..40.00
Cutting disc………………… 3.00
Mapp gas…………………..12.00
Bearing……………………..30.00
Scrap metal……………………..0

My total for everything was $210 plus three hours of my time. Hey, I was in no hurry. The estimate was for $250. How did I do? By the way, I’m not counting the cost of the other tools needed to do this job since I already had them. That is something to consider as well. That would have put me way over the estimate the dealer gave me. In that case it would have been better for me to let them do the work.

I know that jobs like this do not always work out as well as this one. The point is with a little patience, some creativity, and a bit of luck, it can happen. Remember to consider all of your options before making a final decision on where and how you spend your money. Good luck to you and the next time your vehicle needs repair.

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