Re-packing your 1965-1982 Corvette’s front wheel bearings is a dirty job, but someone has got to do it. The Corvette front wheel bearings should be re-packed every 30,000 miles or sooner under harder use conditions. This is an important service operation which has a definite bearing on safety. A Corvette with loose front wheel bearings will lack steering stability. It may have a tendency to shimmy or wander as you drive down the road or it could cause increased wear or cupping of the tires. Worn front wheel bearings will give you a definite vibration through the steering wheel along with a pronounced low growling or whining noise.
Our Project 77 had worn front wheel bearings so we are not only going to re-pack the bearings but replace them along with some other needed items. We contacted Zip Corvette Parts 8067 Fast Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, (800) 962-9632, and they were able to supply us with everything we needed to complete the service procedure. We have our grease gun in hand so let’s get packing.
Click on the images for expanded views – it’s much easier on the eyes.
01: Here are the new Corvette parts Zip provided: Inner and Outer Bearing Kit, spindle seals, axle cups, spindle washer, spindle nuts and dust shields. You will also need some common hand tools, a torque wrench, jack and jack stands, and wheel bearing lubricant that is water resistant and has a high melting point. A shop manual for your year Corvette will also be very helpful.
02: Place the car securely on jack stands. Remove the brake caliper and use safety wire or even a bent coat hanger to hang the caliper from the frame. There is no need to disconnect the brake hose. Also you will see that we placed some wooden blocks between the brake pads to keep the calipers contracted. This will make it much easier when it comes time to re-assemble.
03: Remove the axle cap cotter key, axle nut, washer and outer bearing.
04: To remove your Corvettes inner bearing and seal, re-install the axle nut a few turns by hand. Place your hands on each side of the rotor and make a quick even pull towards you. This will easily pull the inner bearing and seal out of the rotor.
05: We are going to replace the dust shields because they were damaged. The lower retaining bolts are different lengths so keep track of their position. The upper spindle bolt has tabs from the dust shield bent against the head of the bolt. Bend these tabs back to remove the bolt.
06: With the dust shield removed, scrape off the old spindle seal.
07: Thoroughly clean the spindle shaft. Mineral spirits and a hard bristle brush will work wonders. Dry the shaft off and look for any deep gouges, nicks, scour marks, dark spots caused by heat, or out of roundness. Since Corvette wheel bearings are a slip fit, any of these conditions will cause a problem with the bearings. So a spindle with any of these problems should be replaced.
08: Now thoroughly clean the bearings. You need to remove all of the old lubricant. Again, mineral spirits and a hard bristle parts brush will work. Also thoroughly clean the bearing area of the rotor. Remove all traces of the old lubricant.
09: After the bearings are thoroughly washed, blow out the excess solvent with compressed air. DO NOT ALLOW THE BEARINGS TO SPIN FREELY WHILE YOU USE THE COMPRESSED AIR TO CLEAN IT. I know it’s cool to let the bearing spin, but you will do damage to it. When the bearing is dry, check for damage to the rollers and also the races. Look for pits, dark spots, uneven rollers, discoloration or chips. Hold the bearing edges in one hand, then place your fingers in the center hole of the bearing simulating the spindle and put pressure on the rollers as you turn the bearing. If you feel any hard spots, flat spots, or a jerky roll instead of an easy roll, replace the bearing. Two of our bearings were bad so we are going to replace them all.
10: Whenever you replace any wheel bearing, also replace the wheel bearing race. To remove the old race, look for these cut out areas in the rotor. This will allow you to place a brass drift up against the edge of the old race and tap it out.
11: Here you can see how the race can be tapped out of the rotor.
12: Install the new race with a bushing installation tool. (Available from any tool rental) Make sure you start the new race squarely into the hub to avoid distortion and possible cracking. Use a brass drift to make sure the race is seated all the way down against the hub lip.
13: Lubricate the races with water resistant, high melting point wheel bearing lubricant. I like to use Amsoil GLC-10 Synthetic Grease. It is a high temp, water resistant extreme pressure lubricant. The choice is up to you.
14: The easiest way to pack the wheel bearings is to use this wheel bearing packing tool. They do an excellent job and are readily available from most auto parts and catalog tool companies for under $10. All you do is place the bearing in the bottom, slide the top down onto the bearing, attach the grease gun and start pumping. It will do a much better job than you ever could by hand.
15: Place the packed inner bearing into the hub and install the grease seal. Remember to make sure the seal is placed squarely into the hub then gently tap it into place.
16: You can now install the spindle seal and dust shield. Remember to put the correct length bolts into place and also bend the tabs around the top retaining bolt.
17: Place a thin layer of wheel bearing grease on the spindle and slide the rotor onto the shaft. Then re-install the outer bearing, washer and nut. (Hand tighten the nut only) Re-install the caliper and wheel.
18: This is the proper way to adjust the front wheel bearings.
19: If you have a 65 to 68 Corvette you will need to install a static collector on each front wheel. These were used to suppress static in the radios.
20: After the wheel bearings are adjusted and the cotter key is installed, you can then install the axle grease cap. Use either a large socket (my favorite) or a flat blade screwdriver along the edge to install it. Never hit the center of the grease cap with a hammer to install it. When this is done, re-install the wheel cover or center cap on your wheel. Remove the car from the jack stands and get packing.
1965-1982 Corvette Front Wheel Bearing Replacement:
Corvette Front Wheel Bearing Replacement
Text and images by Justin Abbott
Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632
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