Cleaning the bearings After the lubricant has been sampled for examination, the bearings must be cleaned. In general, light oil or kerosene can be used as a cleaning solution. While many road vehicles have this new bearing style, older vehicles still need maintenance, including cleaning and repacking wheel bearings with fresh grease. Most car manufacturers agree that repacking and cleaning wheel bearings should be done every 30,000 miles or once every two years. The reason for this is that, over time, grease loses much of its lubricity due to aging and heat.
It's also very common for dirt and debris to seep into the wheel bearing housing, either due to brake dust or other contaminants near the wheel hub. Proper bearing care and maintenance are also essential to prevent the wheel from breaking. It is important to clean the bearing in a solvent bath to remove foreign materials. Ensuring that the bearings are clean will help extend the life of the wheel after reinstallation. Be sure to repair the hub as needed, including replacing the bearings, refilling the new lubricant to proper levels with the lubricant specified by the manufacturer (do not mix lubricants) and repackaging the lubrication according to the manufacturer's specifications (if an oiled end of the wheel is being serviced).
If you're taking apart, cleaning and repackaging wheel bearings and notice that the tires are too worn out, consider replacing them as preventive maintenance. Remove the hub from the spindle when you have removed the nut and place the washer and the outer bearing of the wheel on the same rag as the nut and cap. If you have read these instructions, reviewed the service manual and determined that you prefer to have it completed by a professional for you, contact one of YourMechanic's ASE-certified local mechanics to complete the cleaning and repacking of the wheel bearings for you. Careful handling of components and proper use of tools are always critical factors in all procedures, leading to successful maintenance of wheel ends.
Whenever you plan to clean and repack your wheel bearings, consider completing the following steps first to save time, effort and money in the long term. A wheel bearing must be in good working order, clean, free of debris, and the joints must be intact and work well. To remove wheel bearings, clean them and re-pack them with grease, you'll need to make sure that the vehicle is elevated and that you have enough space to work under and around the entire wheel hub. The inner and outer bearings of the wheels, the inner hub of the wheel and the wheel spindle must also be cleaned with this method.