DIY: 1998 528i FRONT Bearing the Easy Way (45 min to 60 min each side)!
- When replacing the Front Bearing of E39, most procedure books call for loosening the bottom of the strut, swaybar endlinks, subframe bolts etc. to gain access to the upper bolts of the bearing. The problem is: if you do it this way, an alignment is recommended after the bearing is changed.
- I will show you how to replace the Front Bearing in 30 min, without the need for any of those steps (loosening the bottom of the strut, swaybar endlinks, subframe bolts etc) that create a potential need for alignment!
- If your car has low mileage such as 50-60K, I guess you can only do the bad bearing only.
- In my case, I have 120K miles and since the lifespan of most bearings is about 130-170K miles, I elected to do both bearings (although at this moment, only my RF bearing is bad).
- The issue of re-using vs new bolts. The book says use new bolts. The reality is different. I just met my friend who works at BMW dealer. He has done hundreds of bearings in E39, E46, E60 etc. etc. At the dealer, they never ever change the 4 bolts (even though the book says so). He said he never ever ever had an issues of re-using these wheel bearing bolts. So there you go.
- Replace these bolts or keep them as you wish. I simply re-use these bolts.
1. Symptoms of Bad Bearing @120K miles:
- In case, car wandering a little bit on highway.
- Noise “rao rao rao rao” during turning R or L.
- Jack up the tire and spin the wheel, you can hear “marbles in a can” sound.
- See youtube video of another person with the same problem of bad Front bearing:
- See this generic bearing picture. Most modern cars use “double-row bearings”.
The Inner Race is split into 2 parts: “1a” and “1b” during the mfg process.
When you turn LEFT, the weight of the car ---> steering knuckle ---> pushing on the “1b” row of bearings on the RF wheel bearing; and pushing on the “1a” row of bearings on the LF wheel bearing.
- So when you diagnose the front bearing noise, there is no hard-and-fast rule: some say bad RF bearing is bad when turning L, some say RF bearing is bad when turning R etc. etc.
It all depends on which row (Inner or Outer) of bearing is bad. BEST is to jack the car up and spin the tire to check for noise (see youtube video above) and check for play (I have a very very slight play, my suspension is brand new, so I know this is from the bearing play).
- 3/8” 18-mm short socket for Bearing Bolts: this is the key to success!
- 3/8” extensions
- 17” long 3/8” breaker bar. Get it at Harbor Freight for $8:
- 1” Iron Pipe from hardware store for extra leverage (a few bucks).
- Red Loctite
- Metal coat hanger or wire to hang the brake caliper.
- Floor Jack + Jackstand
- 18-mm wrench (for brake caliper)
- Rubber Hammer (to tap the 18-mm Brake Caliper bolts)
- CRC Brake Cleaner (if your hand creates grease on the rotor).
- Optional: Propane Torch (you may or may not need this)
- Factory Front Bearing (BMW PN 31221093427) is made by F.A.G. ($150 online) but if you buy TIMKEN (which is a very good mfg of bearing), you get F.A.G. bearing anyway but at a cheaper price. TIMKEN simply buys F.A.G. Bearing and put it in a TIMKEN Box!
- TIMKEN HA593427 BMW E39 Front Bearing is $95 online!
- Good website to look up TIMKEN Bearings PN!
- I bought the TIMKEN HA593427 for $90/each. They may not list it but call them:
* Zeckhausen’s DIY:
* Google “BMW E39 Front Bearing DIY” etc.
- Chock rear wheels with bricks.
- Loosen wheel lugs (but do NOT remove them). Jack the car up and support with jackstand under subframe. Remove wheel and place it under car for added safety.
- Turn the wheel outward to expose the 2 Front bolts holding the bearing.
- Note that the UPPER FRONT bolt is the “Troublemaker bolt”!
Many people undo the strut, control arm bolts to lower the steering knuckle, all because of this bolt. The UPPER FRONT bolt is hidden behind the strut, this is why you need the 18-mm 3/8” short socket, and 17” 3/8” breaker bar!
- If necessary, use a bit of heat (propane torch at the tip of the bolt to melt the factory Loctite); maybe 15-30 seconds of heat is fine. I did not use the Propane torch, instead I added a drop of oil on the bolt thread, it makes removal easier. The key thing is the 17” breaker bar, it makes life 100 times easier because the factory bolts have Loctite, which makes it stiff to remove.
- Remove Brake Caliper using 18-mm wrench (a rubber hammer is useful here). You may need to pry the brake pad a tiny bit to loosen it so you can free it from the rotor, if your rotor’s lip has rusty edge.
- Hang the Brake caliper using coat hanger or wire.
- Remove rotor (first remove the 6-mm Allen screw).
- Picture of the old Bearing/Hub assembly, note that the mounting bolts stick out about 5mm or so.
- Now this is the key to success:
* Loosen all 4 bolts holding the bearing. For Front 2 bolts: turn wheel outward. For Rear 2 bolts, turn wheel inward to expose them to make room for the breaker bar to work. No need to start engine, just turn the wheel manually from steering wheel.
* Now leave the UPPER FRONT bolt “Troublemaker bolt” alone for now. Remove the other 3 innocent bolts (no need to take them out, just leave them hanging there); leaving the bad guy for last.
* You will see that the 18-mm short socket barely clears the Strut by 5mm, so while undoing this “troublemaker” bolt, pull the bearing outward at the same time. This way the socket does not hit the Strut.
* If the bearing does not come out of the mating surfaces, whack it slightly with your favorite hammer, it will come out.
- Check new bearing to be sure it is in good shape, spin it and you will see it is tight.
- Clean mating surfaces with a small screw driver.
- Apply Red Loctite on the bolts. I also put a drop inside the New Bearing Threads.
- Install new bearing. The bearing only fits one way, the notch fits on wheel sensor side.
- Again tighten the “troublemaker” bolt first. Finger-tight only. Then finger-tighten the other 3 bolts.
- Torque these 4 bolts to 75 lb-ft. If you cannot fit the Torque Wrench in there, just snug it tight the German way using the breaker bar LOL! With the Red Loctite, the bolt is not coming out.
- Install rotor and retaining bolt (but first: apply a tiny bit of antiseize to prevent rotor from bonding to hub).
- Install Brake Caliper, I use a bit of antiseize on the 18-mm bolts. Torque to spec.: 60 lb-ft.
I usually tap this with a hammer for about 60 degrees (from let’s say 1 o’clock to 11 o’clock positions). This is because it is difficult to fit a Torque Wrench in the wheel well.
- A thin smear of antiseize to prevent:
a. Bonding of Rotor to Hub
b. Bonding or Wheel to Hub.
- Clean rotor from any grease created by this job using CRC brake cleaner.
- Install wheel and just snug tight it.
- Remove jackstand and lower car to the ground.
- Now tighten the wheel lugs to spec. 88 lb-ft or so.
- STOP FOR BEER BREAK....LOL!
- Now replace the other side bearing.
- Once both bearings are replaced, with engine OFF, gently depress the brake pedal to seat the brake pads (remember you pried the pads open a bit before).
This is IMPORTANT TO DO, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
- I don’t have time for an autopsy of the OLD bearings, but I will do it soon when time permits.
That is all boys and girls. It is not that difficult. Actually if you can change a flat tire, you can do this seriously. Desperate housewives (BTW what happened to that show?) can do this LOL.
Last edited by cnn; 08-28-2011 at 12:33 AM.
Unbelievable! I'll have to try this..... Cam saves the day yet again!
i was waiting for this DIY Cam to see how it works in reality
looks like i can do it now
one question - I remember you said do NOT remove wheels but loose bearing bolts first
Last edited by champaign777; 08-28-2011 at 12:01 AM.
Im jacking this thread to brag how i changed my control arms without loosening the pinch tube.
SPEC stage2+ kevlar clutch, JBR 11lb lightweight flywheel, ESS Tuning m60 manifold software tune, 3" SS freeflow OBX catback, afe cold air intake, m60 intake manifold, Cdv delete, powerflex urethane sway bar bushings, M5 rear sway bar ,Autozone replacement driver side blinker light bulb, 545 short shifter zhp weighted, "dsc off" sticker, m5 3.15 lsd differential, m5 chassis rods, akebono ceramic pads, G2 caliper epoxy, ecs braided lines, BC-Racing br-plus series w/swift springs 8/6
Another incredible DIY!
Please review my thread: http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...o-Improve-Ride
Well done with great documentation. Thank you.
It turned out with the 17" breaker bar (3/8" type from Harbor Freight), it was a breeze to remove these bolts.
So do it as mentioned above, remove wheel, then undo the 4 bolts.
No need to worry about anything else.
I haven't had the need to do this yet, but someday I'm sure I will.
Much appreciated once again CNN!
THX for posting up the tricks of the trade.
"Buy Timken" will no doubt be the new rule for front wheel bearings.
you have aftemarket struts
I just starter this job and its pain in the ass
Sachs struts are LONGER than your, you need special tool for 2 front bolts
Last edited by champaign777; 09-01-2011 at 05:50 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
Update on Autopsy,
It was a bear to dismantle the bearing simply because I do not have a fixed place to clamp the hub while removing the large 40-mm nut. Even so, this 40-mm large nut probably uses the same torque as the Axle nut, so removing it by the 40-mm socket is not easy, even if you clamp the hub!
1. There are 2 seals on the Inner Side.
2. Anyway, with an angle grinder, the 40-mm nut came off after some struggling LOL.
The anatomy is exactly as shown in the first picture of this thread.
- The Hub includes the Inner Race "1b"
- Two (2) rows of balls
- Inner Race "1a"
- Then the large 40-mm nut
3. The race surfaces are very shiny and smooth with absolutely no damage at all.
I think the wear is from normal wear of the balls (and races), creating a very slight play. Amazingly, the grease is still inside and in good shape after 13 years and 120K!
My theory is: with time, the balls wear down, as the bearing is not adjustable, there is a very slight play, very slight that you only detect with the wheel in the car. Once the bearing is removed, it is hard to re-produce the play.
Does the 18-mm socket fit in there?
Last edited by cnn; 09-06-2011 at 10:07 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
Thank you for posting this, I just bought my 540 less than 2 weeks ago and I need to replace my left front bearing. This was helpful, I know I would have been staring at the "troublemaker" for a while trying to figure out how to get it out.
Noone socket fits there !!!
this MF took full day from me, Sachs is different story
here we go
and this is my handmade socket
the idea was the same , the implementation was a bit different
Last edited by champaign777; 08-29-2011 at 12:56 AM.
Question, my car will be setup like champaign777's vs. cnn's if I have the OEM struts still? ( I have not looked) So... that means this will be a little more difficult since I will likely have to make my own wrench as well. Good thing I have the ability to do so.
Ive gone through the whole thread. Thanks alot to the OP!
Just one question to clarify as I am still unclear on it. I have a 2001 540i with the sport package (OEM suspension- as far as i know)
Is the strut on my car going to prevent me from getting at the bottom bolt (where that special tool is required?)
- Drive the front on ramps.
- Insert the socket + extension to play around with and see which bolt(s) you can get to without problem.
- For the "troublemaker" bolts, use champaign777's method: offset wrench from Harbor Freight. Use an Angle Grinder to shave it down a tad.
(But first, learn how to use the Angle Grinder: wear goggles, observe precaution as the Angle Grinder does not have a safety switch, i.e., if you drop it, it still runs!). If you don't want to use an Angle Grinder, then use a Bench Grinder.
Thank you cnn. I just went outside and I do indeed have the troublemaker strut, lol. i will have to use champaign777's method.
I am still unsure which side is bad on my car. When I am dricing straight, the carf howls away (obviously a bad bearing) but when I turn the car ever so slightly right, switching lanes) the howling stops. When I turn left the howling is also present. So that would indicate a bad RF bearing, but after doing alot of research, especiallywith these "dual row bearings" it may not be a bad RF but rather a LF.
Also when driving I can almost feel the LF wheel grinding away through the footrest, but then friends say they can feel it in the passenger side footwell but noise travels differently through a car.
Anyways, I jacked up both sides of the car and removed the wheels on both LF and RF. (Neither wheel shakes when trying to move with my hands) Pryed apart the brake pads on both wheels and tried to figure out which side is making the sound. But both wheels seem to making a different sound lol. I am uploading vids of each side now.
Filmed with iphone 4 so quality is what it is, try and watch in HD and turn volume up, THANKS!
RIGHT FRONT (two videos hard to really hear the sound)
<iframe width="425" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/scaQTmdlaTA?hl=en&fs=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
<iframe width="425" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/RmlIg0bPtwM?hl=en&fs=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
<iframe width="425" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_2eLNiL2DEQ?hl=en&fs=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Last edited by absolutegtr; 09-06-2011 at 02:19 PM.
If you have more than 130-150K miles, replace both.
They are cheap (I paid $85/each for Timken bearing, which is F.A.G. brand anyway), info in this thread above.
I just did my left front bearing yesterday. I ordered it online, got it for $120 delivered to my door. ( I got impatient and ordered from a different vendor than what was in this thread)
Anyway, I have the OEM struts and as such I needed to fabricate my own tool to get the 2 front bolts out. But I had a problem. I had the car in the air, torn apart, and no keys to the Lincoln towncar in the driveway so I couldn't go off to Autobone or Harbor Freight. So, what do I usually do in this situation? I get creative. You guys are gonna love this solution I came up with, I promise it is the simplest solution there is when needing to get these bolts out, no welding no cutting required. All you need is an 18mm socket and a bench grinder and about 20 minutes.
Take note that you do need to bevel the edge at about 45* to get it to slip past the strut. The socket is about a half a penny deep and it is slightly shorter than a razor blade (its what I had handy for size comparison). Also, take note that I did grind the socket down on the bottom side (the side nearest the lettering).
Cool, I like it!
Another way to shave down a socket is an Angle Grinder (it is faster than a Bench Grinder). Wear googles for eye protection.
How did the job go? Was it easy w/o undoing the strut?
PS: Remember the autopsy I did in post #14 above?
You guys will laugh at this...I was at the local Ace Hardware store and see that they sell ball bearings, the same size as in the ball bearings above.
The Ace Hardware store sells each ball for $1.80 (personally I do not know what this is used for at home, maybe some trailer bearing etc.???).
Now if you can resell the old balls: $1.80 x 14 (14 balls per row, see autopsy pic above) x 2 rows = $50.40!
Last edited by cnn; 09-15-2011 at 11:57 AM.