I have a Saab 9-3 (98-02 version) as a learning project. I have no experience maintaining cars. While entirely rebuilding the front suspension, I forgot to fit the circlip on the outside of one wheel bearing. I pressed in the wheel hub, and the whole strut is now complete, on the car, with bolts and hub screw hand tight for now.

I googled around, and apparently this is a common newbie mistake. Everyone seems to recommend putting the circlip even if it means replacing the bearing, but nobody seems to have any reason for that.

Saab's workshop manual usually has some technical overview of their cars' systems, but the front wheel hub is an exception. I can only see the bearing referenced as "angular contact ball bearing" in the Saab parts catalog. Still, the inner races seem pressed between the axle's outer joint and the hub once the nut is tightened, and I expect the bearing to not be able to slide away once that happens.

So, is it imperative for my security to to get a bearing with two circlips in there? If my mistake just shortens the lifespan of the bearing, I'm tempted to let it live however long it can.

  • 1
    Trust me they would not waste the money to cut the circlip groove and on the circlip itself, its there for a reason.
    – Moab
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


As @Moab stated, if it wasn't needed, it wouldn't be there. In most cases, the clip is there to maintain bearing position. Without it, the bearing walks and it drastically shortens the life of not only the bearing, but anything which the bearing comes into contact, mainly the CV joint. When the bearing walks, this puts pressure the CVJ every time you turn a corner. I'm sure there are other parts which will be affected as well, but needless to say, you really need to put the clip in place.

As my father always told me, if you are going to do something, never do it half a$$ed. Take care of business and do it right. As you stated, this is a learning experience ... chalk this up to your education and get it done right. Pull it apart and put the clip in there.

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    I guess I just needed to hear it. On to find one of those hub grappler things. Commented May 18, 2016 at 0:00
  • @SpyridonGouliarmis - Believe me when I say it happens to the best of us. I put a Jetta front bearing assembly back together and forgot a clip. Problem is, when you press the bearing off, it gets destroyed. I had to go buy another one to get it fixed. Hard lesson in paying attention to what you're doing. Luckily in this case another new bearing wasn't that expensive. Commented May 18, 2016 at 1:09

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