A properly functioning wheel bearing is critical to any car, not just the E90 generation of BMW’s 3-series. The wheel bearing handles the rotational force of each wheel. Whenever a vehicle is modified, whether it be a lowered suspension or more power, there will be an effect on the wheel bearing’s life. As the E90 3-series is a very popular platform for modification, wheel bearing replacements aren’t uncommon in this generation. However, the bolt-in style of bearing used on the E90 3-series makes changing them a breeze.
Replacing a front wheel bearing is a perfect DIY job. Major components of the car are disconnected, but their reinstallation process is simple. Sockets and wrenches are what you’ll need to take it apart, too; no special tools. Watch the video or read along below to find out exactly how to replace your wheel bearings correctly on the first try.
BMW models and years applicable:
Symptoms of a failing BMW E90 wheel bearing:
- Humming or grumbling coming from one of the wheels that increases with speed
- Clunking when going over uneven surfaces
- Excess play in the steering
The first thing you’ll notice when a bearing is failing is the noise it makes. What starts as a low hum at highway speeds will turn into a howling rumble coming from the corner responsible. The noise comes from the excess play of the rollers inside of the bearing caused by their wear. Eventually, the excess play will lead to clunking and vague steering.
Leaving a wheel bearing to destroy itself is setting yourself up for catastrophic failure. A seized wheel bearing can lock itself completely while you drive down the road, causing you to come to a screeching halt in the very best-case scenario. Your best course of action is to replace the bearing as soon as you possibly can.
How much will it cost to replace a BMW E90 front wheel bearing?
We sell a kit with all of the parts necessary for this replacement. For just about $250, you get two new front wheel bearings and the eight bolts required to attach them to the knuckle. The bearings are OE-spec, made by FAG, and the bolts are genuine BMW parts.
How long will it take to replace a BMW E90 front wheel bearing?
Replacing the front wheel bearing on your BMW F30 is a relatively quick process. It involves removing the brakes and sliding the knuckle down on the strut. Beyond that, there isn’t much else. With the right tools and a clean workspace, expect to have one side completed in 45 minutes.
The hub and bearing bolt to the knuckle. The ends of their four mounting bolts are exposed to the elements and may develop corrosion depending on where you live. Having a can of penetrant and a MAP gas torch will go a long way for freeing stuck components.
Parts needed to replace a BMW E90 front wheel bearing:
Tools needed to replace a BMW E90 front wheel bearing:
Steps needed to replace a BMW E90 front wheel bearing:
Step 1: Remove the brakes
Jack up the front of the car and place it onto jack stands. Then use a 17mm socket to remove the lug bolts. After that, start removing the brakes.
Use a 6mm hex bit socket to remove the set screw that secures the rotor to the hub. There is a reasonably good chance that you will encounter a seized set screw if you’re from an area dealing with corrosion. However, the screws are pretty soft, so you shouldn’t have any issues drilling it out if you strip the head.
Next, use an 18mm socket to remove the caliper carrier bolts from the knuckle. You’ll need the 18mm swivel socket here if you’re using an impact wrench to remove the bolts. After removing the bolts, pull the caliper off of the rotor and hang it out of the way.
When you remove the caliper, don’t let it hang by its brake line. The caliper’s weight will put a significant strain on the rubber line and can cause it to tear. You can use zip-tires, wire coat hangers, or the caliper hangers linked above, among other things, to hang the caliper out of the way.
After that, remove the rotor from the hub and set it aside.
Step 2: Lower the knuckle off of the strut
The bottom of the strut housing partially obstructs the upper wheel bearing bolts, so you need to lower the knuckle off of the strut to access them. To do that, use an 18mm wrench and socket to remove the strut’s pinch bolt. The pinch bolt also secures an ABS bracket in place. Just move that out of the way once the bolt is out.
After that, place the spindle-spreading socket into the knuckle where the pinch bolt passes through. Rotate the socket to spread the knuckle and allow the knuckle to slide down on the strut housing.
Pull down on the knuckle to move it down on the strut.
Step 3: Replace the wheel bearing
Use the 18mm socket to remove the four bolts mounting the hub to the knuckle.
While performing this ourselves, we had to use a shallow 18mm socket on a wobble extension with a ratchet to remove the top rear-most bolt. Whatever you use to get the bolts out, hold onto the hub while removing the last one. Once that bolt is out, the hub/ wheel bearing assembly will fall from the knuckle.
When you install the new hub assembly, they will only mount to the knuckle in one orientation. Get the new assembly positioned correctly and then thread in the four new bolts by hand to prevent cross-threading. Use a ratchet to drive in the bolts before torquing them to 110Nm.
Step 4: Realign and secure the knuckle
Now that you fit the new hub and wheel bearing assembly, slide the knuckle back up into place on the strut. Use a jack to lift the knuckle on the strut until the alignment mark on the knuckle and strut meet.
After that, position the ABS bracket in place and reinstall the pinch bolt. Thread on the nut by hand before counter-holding it and torquing the bolt to 81Nm. Use an 18mm socket and wrench for the nut and bolt head.
Step 5: Refit the brakes
Grab the brake rotor and fit it onto the new hub. Thread in the set screw before using a 6mm hex bit socket to tighten it.
Then, take the caliper off of its hanger and fit it over the rotor. Thread in its two mounting bolts by hand before using an 18mm socket to tighten them. Torque the bolts to 110Nm.
After that, refit the wheel. Thread in all five lug bolts and torque them to 120Nm in a star pattern. Then lift the vehicle off of the jack stands and lower it to the ground.
BMW Front Wheel Bearing Torque Specs
- BMW Wheel Bearing Mounting Bolts = 110Nm or 81 ft-lbs, of torque
- BMW Strut Pinch Bolt = 81Nm or 59 ft-lbs, of torque
- BMW Brake Caliper Mounting Bolts = 110Nm or 81 ft-lbs, of torque
- BMW Wheel Lug Bolts = 120Nm or 88 ft-lbs, of torque
You’re much better off now that your wheel bearing is fresh and ready for another 100,000+ miles. If you're interested in more DIYs for your BMW, you can visit bmw.fcpeuro.com and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Owner of a flat-six swapped 1998 Impreza 2.5RS and a 1973 Porsche 914. Horizontally opposed views, only.