Is there a good way to change a pressed wheel bearing without a hydraulic press?

Clearly it's better to do it the right way, which I'm doing (well, a mechanic is doing), but I was wondering if a viable alternative would be pressing the bearing in using a C clamp or something.

I found this video of a guy freezing the bearing and heating up the hub then just sliding the bearing in, but that seems like it would compromise the integrity of one or both of those parts.

  • 2
    I wouldn't do it any other way. I don't exactly have a hydraulic press lying around either, so taking it to a mechanic that will just charge your a little bit for doing it for you is the way to go. Any other method would risk damaging the components in a way that renders the bearing unsafe or reduces its life. Sep 17, 2015 at 16:33
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    Most home freezer don't get below 0 degrees F. Many places get much colder than that in winter. I would guess that the drum was heated to no more than 400 degrees F. That is near the temperature that the brakes would heat it to stopping the car.
    – mikes
    Sep 17, 2015 at 22:04
  • I have used a vice. May 27, 2018 at 17:00

5 Answers 5


There are tools available that can do the job without using a press:

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There are many more. The overall theme is the C-clamp like stile of pressing the bearing in and out.

There is an old saying, there is a right tool for the job. These or a press is the right tool. There are other ways but you always run the risk of damaging the bearing, knuckle or both.

  • That's a pretty awesome kit! Haha, a new tool to buy ... I've never seen this particular kit. Sep 17, 2015 at 21:17
  • Technically that's still a press, but it's using a screw mechanism in place of hydraulics.
    – Tom Penny
    Apr 4, 2016 at 18:12

Late answer, but there is no good way to do it yourself. You can heat the knuckle and freeze the bearing overnight as some have mentioned, but it is not ideal and only works sometimes and you need access to a heat source.

Do not use a hammer, you will likely damage the bearing. I do all my own work too, but a pressed bearing is one I pay a shop to do.


Heating a bearing beyond 300 degrees Fahrenheit will likely compromise the bearing by changing the metallurgic structure of the component.

180* is usually adequate, and 250* is a good max to work with. The important thing is to use a rose-bud with a torch (not a regular tip) or an induction heater and heat the component evenly but focus the heat around the key-way if there is one. Remember that the steel expansion rate is about 6 mils/inch dia/100 degree F>

Make sure you have everything in place beforehand, as you will only have a few seconds to install the bearing once it reaches the appropriate temperature. An infrared thermometer will aid greatly in this endeavor.

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    300 F is not a high enough temp to realign the molecules and change the structure of the steel in the bearings. Apr 4, 2016 at 16:12
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    300 F won't bother the standard 52100 bearing steel . but it will mess up the grease and any polymer ball separators ; I would not do it. May 27, 2018 at 16:58

use the correct tools or a mechanic is ALWAYS the best answer. In regards to the heating and cooling method mentioned before, one poster stated heating the bearings would likely damage them, well in the videos others have mentioned you DO NOT heat the bearings, heat the KNUCKLE that the bearing goes into... your FREEZE the bearings... i have not tried this method nor would i recommend it if you have a set up like the tundra where your knuckle also houses your upper ball joint... but, if you have no other choice research the method carefully.


I used to install steel bushings all the time in machinery all the time. We never heated the receiving bore, just submerged the bushings in liquid nitrogen until the boiling stoops. Usually under a minute. They just slide right in and expand when they come back to normal room temp. That being said, I never tried it with a bearing. MAKE SURE TO USE GLOVES AND NEVER REACH INTO LIQUID NITROGEN TO GET THE BEARING/ bushing! Use a coat hanger or similar to retrieve.

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    While this might work I'm not sure many people just have liquid nitrogen lying around. Jul 18, 2019 at 15:50

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