Common Mistakes to Avoid When Replacing Wheel Hubs

A wheel hub assembly is one of those parts that need to be installed the right way the first time. An improperly installed wheel hub assembly causes quite a few problems, such as:

  • Vibrations when braking
  • Premature bearing failure
  • Uneven brake pad or rotor wear

Replacing a wheel hub assembly requires some finesse. Take a look at this list of 5 of the most common mistakes to avoid while replacing wheel hubs:

1. Using an Impact Wrench Instead of a Torque Wrench

Wrench

Standard or digital, torque wrenches are better than impact wrenches for these jobs.

Modern impact wrenches are very powerful. Many can produce 500 to 1000 ft. lbs. of torque, which is more than most automotive engines. But they do not tighten to a precise amount of torque. A torque wrench is specifically designed to help you torque a fastener to a precise measurement, which is necessary when installing a wheel hub assembly. The amount of torque you use makes a big difference in your wheel hub’s performance. For example, an over-torqued assembly takes on excessive load. An under-torqued assembly can reduce the bearing’s lifespan or even cause the bearing assembly to fail.

Because they are so powerful, you should not use an impact wrench to:

  • Loosen axle shaft nuts – The large amount of instant torque can damage CV joints
  • Tighten any nuts – It is very easy to over-tighten any nut with an impact wrench.

2. Failing to Use the Provided Self-Staking Nut

Sometimes it’s tempting to reuse the old nut. We strongly recommend against it. Self-staking nuts are only intended to be tightened once. A reused nut can loosen on the road.

3. Failing to Clean the Axle Shaft and Wheel Speed Sensor

Speed sensor

There may be debris in the axle shaft and on the wheel speed sensor that could affect your new hub’s performance. It’s important to ensure that both areas are clean before installing the new hub. It only takes a few minutes. You can use a wire brush, emery cloth, or a fine file. Don’t use any lubricants on the axle shaft threads. Lubricants affect torque readings.

4. Failing to Inspect the Bore and Measure Flange Runout

When you have a failed wheel hub, it’s possible that the bore of the knuckle is damaged, too. That can cause premature wheel bearing failure. When the old hub is removed, use the opportunity to inspect the knuckle for damage. Look for corrosion and make sure a bore gauge rotates in the bore without any trouble. Also, before installing the new hub check it’s runout. As a rule of thumb, on a modern vehicle, hub runout should be between .000″ and .0015″. If you take the time to verify the hub before installation, any other runout issues will be easier to troubleshoot. For example, if the rotor shows runout when it is re-installed, you’ll know that either:

  • The rotor is bad.
  • The interface between the rotor and hub has rust or debris causing the runout.

5. Using a Lower Quality Replacement Wheel Hub Assembly

A wheel hub is a part you absolutely should not skimp on because it plays an important part in ensuring that your wheels function properly. A low-quality wheel hub assembly is likely to bring on a whole lot of problems shortly after installation because it’s not designed to hold up well over time.

When it comes to wheel hubs, quality is everything. You want to put the best quality hubs in your customers’ cars in order to reduce comebacks. When looking for a high-quality wheel hub assembly to keep in stock, you want to get one that’s:

  • OEM-grade
  • Made of high-strength steel
  • Preloaded
  • Bearing noise tested
  • Built with triple-lip seals

The wheel hub assembly offered by GMB fits the bill. Read more about it here.

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