1963-1965 Corvette Front Wheel Bearing Replacement

2
Posted February 4, 2013 by Zip Corvette in Corvette Technical Articles
Corvette Front Wheel Bearing Replacement

1963-1965 front wheel bearings are something that just seem to be taken for granted. The only time we seem to think of them is when we hear a bearing noise in the front, have a vibration or wheel shimmy or have cupped front tires. All of these symptoms are front bearing related and can be remedied in one afternoon. Front wheel bearings should be checked at least once a year, repacked every 20,000 to 30,000 miles and replaced every 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Sometimes a minor adjustment will repair the situation, but if not, bearing replacement is not a major operation. The bearings, races and grease seals can all be purchased at Zip Corvette Parts. Follow along as we show how to adjust and replace the front wheel bearings on our project 64 Corvette.

Click on the images for expanded views – it’s much easier on the eyes. 
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_01

Step 1

01: To check for worn or loose front wheel bearings, jack the front end of the car up and place it on jack stands. Remove the wheel cover or center cap. Place your hands at the top and bottom of the wheel. Rapidly push with one hand and pull with the other. If you feel any movement or noise as you do this, the bearings are loose or worn.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_02

Step 2

02: We will first check to see if your Corvette’s front wheel bearings are loose. To do this, remove the dust cap and cotter key from the spindle end. Use a torque wrench and tighten the spindle nut to 15 ft. lbs. while you rotate the wheel. After you have done this, back off the adjusting nut one flat and insert the cotter key. (Note: If the cotter key does not line up with the hole, back the nut another 1/2 flat or less to align it.) Grab the wheel again as you did to check it and see if any looseness still exists. If not, then an adjustment and repack will do. If that does not take care of the looseness, or you still have a bearing noise, you will have to replace the bearings.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_03

Step 3

03: Remove the cotter key spindle nut and washer and remove the outer bearing. Slide off the rotor, if you have disc brakes. Notice how we marked the drum to insure putting it back on the same side.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_04

Step 4

04: Clean off the spindle and check the bearing mounting surface for any grooves or score marks.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_05

Step 5

05: Turn the drum over and remove the grease seal. Here we are using a grease seal removal tool available at most quality auto parts stores. If you don’t have one of these, a wide blade screwdriver will work just fine. After the grease seal is removed, the rear bearing can be taken out.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_06

Step 6

06: Use a brass drift to tap out the outer and inner bearing races.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_07

Step 7

07: These are the inner and outer bearing races and grease seals. In most cases, two types of bearings are available, economy and quality. I always recommend the top quality bearings and races over the economy type. Also, it is a good idea to replace both the inner and the outer bearings and races, not just one. Zip Corvette parts offers premium Timken bearings for all Corvette applications.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_08

Step 8

08: Set the bearing race evenly into hub and gently tap into place. I like to use a 1/4″ piece of flat bar laid across the top of the race so I can tap in the center to evenly install the race.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_09

Step 9

09: After you have tapped the race evenly across the hub, it will still need to be seated against the hub stop. To do this, take a brass drift and tap the race down until it stops against the race lip. Do this to the inner and outer races.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_10

Step 10

10: Here is the race seated against the stop.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_11

Step 11

11: There are two ways to re-pack your wheel bearings – by hand or by a bearing packer. To pack them by hand, apply some bearing grease into the palm of your hand. Take one end of the bearing and place it into the grease. Now drag the bearing back toward the heel of your hand. Do this to the entire bearing and then turn it over and do it to the other side. When you are done, the inner and outer case of the bearing should be covered and you should not be able to see the rollers from either end.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_12

Step 12

12: The other method is by using a bearing packer. These are available from most auto parts stores for $12 or less. Install the bearing between the two halves of the packer. Use a grease gun to force the bearing grease down through the top of the packer and then up through the bearing. The packer does both sides of the bearing at one time. When the grease comes out of the top of the bearing, you are through. If you are re-packing your old bearings, remember to clean them with a cleaning solvent such as mineral spirits first. Then dry them by hand. Do not use compressed air to spin the bearings dry. This can cause damage to the bearing. After the bearing is dry, check all of the rollers for wear or grooves. The slightest scratch or flat spot will cause a noise or looseness.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_13

Step 13

13: Install the inner bearing and then place the grease seal into place. Use the 1/4″ flat bar to tap the grease seal evenly into place. Make sure it is seated all the way down into place.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_14

Step 14

14: Install some bearing grease into the hub assembly before you re-install it onto the spindle.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_15

Step 15

15: Install the hub and drum or rotor back onto the spindle. Install the outer bearing and place the notched washer into place. Line the notch up with the groove in the spindle.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_16

Step 16

16: Install the spindle nut and tighten to 15 ft. lbs. while turning the wheel. Back the nut off one flat and line up the cotter key hole. Again, if it does not line up, loosen the nut 1/2 flat or less to align the hold. Install the cotter key and bend its legs to prevent it from backing out. Remember to always use a new cotter key.
Corvette_front_wheel_bearing_replacement_17

Step 17

17: Re-install the dust cap. Do not tap on the center of the cap because this will damage the dust cap. Use a flat blade screwdriver and tap against the lip to seat it on the hub. Install your wheel cover or center cap and you are done again for about 20,000 miles.
1963-1965 Corvette Front Wheel Bearing Replacement: Corvette Front Wheel Bearing Replacement

Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632


About the Author

Zip Corvette


2 Comments


  1.  
    Tony

    Your procedure to check for bearing play is flawed. I’ve seen and heard of too many amateurs and pros over-tighten tapered bearings because they think there shouldn’t be any “looseness” in the bearings. It isn’t necessary to torque the spindle nut to a specific value. Actually a little more than 15 ft. lbs. is better to “seat” the bearings. Then back it off one flat and feel for play. A slight “tunk” is what you’re looking for. This play in the bearings is to allow for expansion from heat that will tighten up the assembly. It is better to have a liitle too much play than not enough. I’ve seen spindles twisted off from over-heating after someone had the idea that there should be “no looseness”.




    •  

      Tony,

      You are correct that a new set of Corvette wheel bearings should be seated to about 12 ft/lb of torque. Once you do this you back the nut of and then hand tighten the nut until there is no play. Then you back the nut of until you can get the carter pin through, no more than half a flat.





Leave a Response

(required)