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I'm a bit desperate here.

Is there any way you can hammer out a wheel bearing and replace a new one without a press or puller.

I am talking raw hammer to knock out and press back in with hammer and block?

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! What is the year/make/model/engine/transmission of the vehicle in question? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Apr 23 at 13:19
  • I would avoid hammering and consider making a puller - done this often with nuts, threaded rod and bits of plate, washers even sockets can work. – Solar Mike Apr 23 at 13:28
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    @SolarMike - It really depends on the vehicle. Some older vehicles were made to have the bearings driven out and can be done with a brass drift relatively easily. Other newer vehicles you can't replace the bearing at all, you have to replace the entire hub (the way they are designed). Until we know the year/make/model of the vehicle, there's no way to give good advice here. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Apr 23 at 13:30
  • It a citroen picasso (EU car) I've bought the new bearing, so it can be replaced. I need the car for next monday and live in the sticks.I couldnt get puller before then etc. – Andy S Apr 23 at 14:01
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I've replaced bearings without either a puller or a press, it's perfectly doable, although bearing insertion set does make things much easier. These are cheap and you can get them off the internet. Failing that you can do without.

Bearing race removal:

First you need a hammer, punch, gloves, safety glasses, a torch and a piece of scrap wood to go between the hub and whatever surface you're hammering the hub on. After removing wheel from the hub you should be able to get the seals and bearings out with basic tools (Keep the seals for the time being). Once you have those out you need to get the inner bearing races off, which is the more challenging part. To do that you heat the hub it using a torch until the bearing grease starts to drip out, then hammer the races out using the punch. There will be grooves machined out of the hub to do this, you just hammer one side, then the other until it drops. Flip and repeat for the other race (assuming you have 2). Keep the old races.

Next clean the hub up, remember it's still hot! Get all the grease, grime and dirt off or it's going to get into the new bearings. Inspect it for cracks while it's clean.

Bearing race insertion: Before you try to get the new races in, you need to take the old races and cut each across using a rotary tool, saw, angle grinder or the like. Stick the new races in the freezer, this will cause them to shrink (30 minutes at least in the freezer). Heat the hub again, this will cause it to expand. Get one of the frozen races from the freezer and quickly drop it into the hole. If you're lucky the combination of the expansion of the hub and contraction of the ring may let the ring just drop straight down.

If you're me that won't happen as it's never that easy, this is where the old bearing races come in. You could use the hammer and punch on the new races directly, and I've heard of people doing this successfully without damaging them, however it's risky. Put the old race on top of the new one and hammer on that instead, the old race will spread the force out and prevent damage. The slit cut through it will keep it from getting stuck along with the new race. Work around, hammering as you go until it's seated. Note that this method can be annoying and time consuming as the old race has a habit of jumping out. Repeat for the other side, you will probably want to reheat the hub.

There's other options than reusing the old races for getting the new ones in that work better, providing you can find materials of the right diameter. A length of steel pipe just smaller than the race works great, as does a big socket.

Once you have the races in and the bearings greased and inserted you need to get the seals on, most of the time these are synthetic and can be tapped in with a rubber mallet, but sometimes using the old seals to protect the new ones is a good idea as well.

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    The single thing you forget to mention is PPG ... or Personal Protective Gear ... in this case, SAFETY GLASSES! These are a must when hammering on/with hardened steel such as bearing races. Also, use soft metal punches, such as a brass drift, is must better on the races and won't inflict any damage during disassembly/assembly. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Apr 23 at 15:29
  • Good point on the glasses, I will edit. Regarding the punches I never like a punch straight on a race, which is why I put something in between. – GdD Apr 23 at 15:30
  • I should be able to reuse the seals right? – Andy S Apr 23 at 16:57
  • You aren't supposed to @AndyS, seals wear just link anything else. Bearing kits should come with new seals, you don't gain anything by reusing the old ones. If you have no other choice then you can probably do it as long as you don't damage the old ones taking them off. – GdD Apr 23 at 17:34

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