A failing wheel bearing is never a comfortable feeling. Usually, you hear it before you feel it. This sound ranges in volume from a slight hum, to something like you're standing next to a helicopter. Luckily though, on an MK5 GTI, replacing the rear wheel bearings is a job that most anyone can do at home. Charles (HumbleMechanic) Sanville walks us through how to diagnose and replace those worn out rear wheel bearings.
Tools needed to replace your rear wheel bearing:
Parts needed to replace your rear wheel bearing:
Steps to replace your rear wheel bearing:
Step 1: Jack Car and Remove Wheels
As always, it's important to properly jack up your car. Don't rely on a single jack; add jack stands and blocks as back-up. It's easier to diagnose bad rear wheel bearings with the rear of the car in the air, with both wheels are off the ground.
Step 2: Remove Dust Cap
There's a special tool for this job, but a flat chisel does well enough. The new rear wheel bearing comes with a new dust cap, so no need to be gentle here.
Step 3: Remove Caliper Hold-Down Bracket Bolts
This step will more likely than not be the most frustrating part of the entire job. I suggest soaking these bolts in penetrating fluid long in advance. If they've never been removed before, they won't want to budge. These bolts are 14mm triple square. Make sure your socket is seated completely into the bolt before trying to break them free. If necessary, use a hammer to make sure it's securely seated. Use a breaker bar or the longest ratchet you can get in there instead of an impact; there is a good chance of stripping these out with the latter rather than the former.
Now you can remove the entire rear caliper and bracket at once. Use a bucket or wire to support the assembly so you don't put stress on your brake line.
Step 4: Remove Rotor Screw and Rotor
Using a T30 Torx socket, remove the screw that fastens the rotor to the hub. These also have a tendency to be seized, so a liberal application of penetrating fluid is advised. Now you should be able to remove the rotor. If it doesn't want to come off, a few taps with a dead-blow or wooden mallet should do the trick.
Step 5: Remove Wheel Hub Bolt and Wheel Bearing.
Using your longest breaker bar and an 18mm triple square socket, remove the bolt that holds your wheel hub in place. This will be tough to remove; it takes quite a bit of force. The bolt is designed to yield when torqued properly, so it is one-time use. *Do not use an impact no matter how stubborn it decides to be. The manual makes a point to state this multiple times!*
Your old wheel bearing should come off easily. Be sure to clean up the spindle before installation of the new wheel bearing. Any rust or debris can cause it to bind and not be installed easily.
Step 6: Install New Wheel Bearing and Bolt
The new rear wheel bearing should slide onto the spindle easily. If it doesn't, you have an obstruction. Once you have the new wheel bearing in place, you can install the new bolt. Using a torque wrench and your 18mm triple square socket, torque the bolt to 180Nm. After that, you need to tighten another one hundred and eighty degrees. You can do so by using a marker for alignment and a breaker bar.
Step 7: Reinstall Brake Rotor, Set Screw, and Dust Cap
We're to the point of reversing the steps from above for re-assembly. Put the brake rotor back on the hub and rotate until the set screw hole lines up. Install the set screw and torque to 4Nm. Lastly, put the new dust cap in place and gently tap in place with a dead-blow.
Step 8: Reinstall Caliper Hold-Down Bracket Bolts
This part can be a bit frustrating as access is limited. Again using the 14mm triple square socket, install the two bolts and torque them to 90Nm plus a quarter turn.
Step 9: Reinstall Wheel, Inspect, and Test Drive
You can now go ahead and put your wheels back on. Make sure to torque your lugs to spec; over torquing can lead to your studs shearing off. Your last step is to go on a short, slow test drive to make sure you reassembled everything correctly. Hopefully, this drive is quiet with your new wheel bearings installed.
Your car should be riding smoothly and silently now. Wheel bearings are easy to overlook since they often develop noise slowly over time. However, after installing new ones, the difference will be immediately noticeable.
Be sure to check the video below on HumbleMechanic's YouTube page, and don't forget to subscribe to get all new videos pushed right to your inbox.
Writer/Editor at FCP Euro and owner of a daily R53 MINI Cooper, a track-built R53 MINI, and a 1997 Dakar Yellow E36 M3 Sedan. ••• Instagram: @evan.madore