Gregory Bender

Wheel bearing replacement (front)

DIY and how-to articles on repairing the Saab 9-5 SE.


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At 130,000 miles (), I replaced both of the front wheel bearings. The original bearings weren't bad. But, I was already disassembling most of the related components to fit new struts and constant velocity joints/axles. So, I decided to fit new bearings at the same time. Removing the hub/steering swivel member assembly was pretty simple and straightforward. I just followed the procedure outlined in the Saab Workshop Information System (WIS) software.

With the assembly removed, I headed over to my 12 ton press to get the assembly apart. The procedure is really a three step process. Start by pressing the hub from the inner race of the bearing, remove the giant circlip, and then press the entire bearing from the steering swivel member. Sounds straightforward enough...

However, the inner race of both bearings was solidly frozen to the hub. By applying force with the press, each bearing broke in half (as a shower of ball bearings exploded downward from my press). This left me with an inner race still frozen in place on the hub, and the remainder of the bearing still in place on the steering swivel member.

Removing the outer race from the steering swivel member was easy. I pulled the circlip and I pressed it right out. Good.

Removing the inner race from the hub, however, was a different story. There really isn't any way to get a puller or press on the remaining inner race. So I never even bothered trying that. Instead, I reached right for my 4 inch angle grinder and carefully cut the inner race right up next to the hub. I was as careful as I could be not to nick the hub, but a nick or two was inevitable (and won't hurt anything in the long run, anyway). Once the inner race with thin enough, I popped it a few times with a chisel to complete the break and then it came right off with very little pressure from a couple of pry bars.

With everything apart, I cleaned up all the surfaces, lubricated with a good quality grease, and pressed in the new bearings. The new bearings went in easily and smoothly.

Note: The large circlips will very likely be damaged when you remove the old bearings. Both of mine were bent and I had to unbend them for reuse. I wish I had ordered new circlips at the same time that I had ordered the bearings. But, I didn't and I was unwilling to wait. Should I ever do it again, though, I'll buy new circlips.