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Old 11-30-2012, 08:17 PM   #1
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Default Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

Discussions of wheel bearing failures in Chevies (in particular) have been pretty common on several of the class B forums. One topic that comes up regularly is if it is possible to grease the "sealed" Chevy front wheel bearings. I did a bunch of reading last year during one of the discussions, and cut apart a Chevy hub that I had changed on our 07 C190P Roadtrek. What I learned was that the pickup truck guys have had the same issue for a long time, and quite a few talked about greasing them through the ABS sensor hole. Depending on who you choose to believe, life gets extended somewhere in the 2-5 times with regular greasing (most do once a year). As placebo effect is pretty common in this kind of "life" testing, I wanted to see if grease would actually get into the bearings if put in through the ABS sensor hole. I removed the back cap and front seal from the old hub so I could see if clean grease got there, and then greased the hub on the bench in a couple of different ways, turning it and not, blowing the grease around with compressed air, etc. and found it goes to the inboard bearing very quickly, as there is no seal on either side, and plenty of space on the backside. The outboard bearing is tight up on the seal and flange, with much less space for things to come through, but it did come through, especially when boosted with a shot of compressed with an air nozzle pointed that way through the hole. I don't really think you need the compressed air, as the grease will get flung around from the rotation, but I needed to make sure it was open enough to get grease through.

This year is the first time to actually try out greasing on mounted hubs. Ours are very low miles at this point, so I didn't put much grease in them, only two pumps from a one hand gun into each bearing (4 per hub). Here are some pics and text about how it went.

The van was already on stands with the wheels off, so I had an easy starting point. The Hawk brakes had bedded very nicely.



You need to remove the caliper, adapter, bracket for ABS cable and brake line, and rotor to get to the ABS sensor. Two bolts each on the adapter and caliper. You could take off just the adapter bolts and remove the whole works as a "loaded caliper", but I have never liked doing that. I want to be able to check the pads and caliper for proper movement. Be sure to carefully support the caliper so you don't hurt the brake hose.



With those parts off, you get to the ABS sensor, right on top of the hub.



Brake line and ABS cable bracket



Allen head bolt removed and sensor carefully pulled out being careful not to damage it as it comes by the splash shield.



Looking into the ABS sensor hole at the toothed wheel that the tool will sit on



I made a small adapter for the grease gun, so that it would sit in the ABS sensor hole, on top of the ABS reluctor wheel. It has a closed end and a hole out the side, at just the right height to shoot grease at the open part of the bearings. You just turn it 180* between for inboard or outboard bearings. A needle adapter would also work, but it puts the grease a bit further away from the open area of the bearing.

Here is the tool



How far the grease shoots from the tool toward the bearing-I used Royal Purple synthetic grease.



The tool sitting in the ABS sensor hole ready for greasing



With a one hand grease gun on it ready to grease



All done-I always clean the hub flange and the inside of the rotor completely to keep from getting runout. I put lugnuts on immediately when I put on the rotor, so nothing can fall in between the hub and rotor. The rustier the area is, the more important this is to do.



The only hard part of this job is that the caliper and adapter bolts are big and tight, other than that this job is really pretty simple. I didn't even have 20 minutes per side in doing it, but I started with it up and wheels off. Since I like to check the brakes every year, and make sure the calipers are free sliding, this only will ad a few minutes each year. Hopefully, it will greatly extend the bearing life. I do still think that the wrong offset wheels used on several of the class B's are a major contributor to bearing failures, and highly recommend going to stock offset wheels, even if you do grease.
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Old 12-01-2012, 03:40 AM   #2
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

Very interesting. Thank you for posting it.
Clever tool.
I want to get some jack stands - do you use four 2 ton capacity jack stands?

Do you need experience working on brakes to be able to do the job or can it all be taken apart and put back together without adjustment? If I have to ask that question is it a job I better leave to a pro?
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:10 PM   #3
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Very interesting. Thank you for posting it.
Clever tool.
I want to get some jack stands - do you use four 2 ton capacity jack stands?

Do you need experience working on brakes to be able to do the job or can it all be taken apart and put back together without adjustment? If I have to ask that question is it a job I better leave to a pro?
I have a couple of sets (4 each) of stands that I use on the RT. One is an older set of NAPA stands rated at 2 tons and a newer set of GM aftermarket stands rated at 3 tons. The 2 ton stands are actually beefier than the 3 ton ones, with nice big tops on them, but the 3 ton ones go higher. I mix and match depending on how high I need to go.

It is always a good idea to know what you are doing when you work on brakes. In this case, you are simply removing parts and putting them back in the same as they were, so it is pretty simple. Any Haynes type manual will give you plenty enough info to do it. No need to push back pistons or mess with any fluid, etc. I think the only thing that might bite someone, and is probably one of the most common errors even experienced mechanics will sometimes make, is to forget to push the brake pedal several time before even putting it into gear. Whenever you mess with the disc brake pads and calipers, the pistons get moved back a bit. Many times this is just enough that the brake pedal will go to the floor the first time you push it after everything is back together. Once you push the pedal a couple of time, everything is back in place and ready to go. I can tell you from personal experience, it really gets your attention when happens. Luckily, I had a clear path in front of me and had time to give it a pump and get the brakes back.
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Old 12-02-2012, 12:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

Thanks for the info.

My van is 15 years old - probably could use some new grease on the bearings.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:30 PM   #5
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

Booster,
This is some very good info. I wish there was a zerk mounted just for this type of maintenance.

I wonder if the truck owners ever maintained the grease on one side-only, to see if it actually outlasted the non-greased hub.

I have a spare hub also, from when I upgraded to the #10k hubs. If I get a chance, I may look into a way to add a grease zerk.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Photog
Booster,
This is some very good info. I wish there was a zerk mounted just for this type of maintenance.

I wonder if the truck owners ever maintained the grease on one side-only, to see if it actually outlasted the non-greased hub.

I have a spare hub also, from when I upgraded to the #10k hubs. If I get a chance, I may look into a way to add a grease zerk.

Thanks again.
I looked at the idea of adding a zerk. There is quite a bit of room to do it, but the hubs are sealed so you run into the problem of chips from drilling and tapping the hole (or just drilling if you use a press in) getting into the hub. I decided the risk wasn't worth it, as it is easy to do this way. The best way would also be to have two of them so you can get both bearings. That is why my adapter squirts to the side.

If I did the drilling, I was going to modify an ABS sensor so I could hook it up to compressed air hose. By slightly pressurizing the hub, you probably could make sure all the chips come back up the drill and tap, but you would have to do it dry, with no cutting oil.
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Old 01-01-2015, 06:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

Hey Booster,
I am getting ready to install new Hawk rotors and pads up front. Do you have any new advice on this hub grease job since you did it 2 years ago?

Pete
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Old 01-01-2015, 06:16 PM   #8
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

Quote:
Originally Posted by peteco
Hey Booster,
I am getting ready to install new Hawk rotors and pads up front. Do you have any new advice on this hub grease job since you did it 2 years ago?

Pete
2006 Roadtrek 210 Popular
Nothing new, but I did it once since the writeup, and will be doing again this year before I take the van off the stands. Hubs have been running nice and cool, but I think most of that is from getting right offset wheels.

I think you will like the Hawk brakes, we beat ours very hard on the mountain, east coast, parkways last year, and they performed perfectly. Got the wheels pretty dirty though, but it was about 1000 miles of 3rd gear hills, in a 7500 mile trip so I can't complain.
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Old 01-05-2015, 02:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

As part of changing the brakes I greased the hubs. I made a right angle grease tool like Booster showed previously.

One difficult part is removing the caliper mount as the bolts are very tight. Fortunately I had purchased a Harbor Freight 3/4" drive torque wrench in order to tighten the bolts to the 221 ft-lbs spec. The torque wrench was also perfect for removing the tight bolts. It was just the right length as I was able to put my foot on the wrench to push with enough torque to break the bolts free. My 1/2" drive breaker bar was too short and too flexible to break the bolts free.

I'm not sure I want to do this every year as Booster has suggested, but definitely every 2 years.

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Old 01-05-2015, 04:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Greasing Chevy sealed wheel bearings

I put 8 pumps of grease in each hub. I hope that was enough. I just read this post where they put a lot more in. My concern with too much is that it might get in the ABS sensor wheel teeth.

"I usually pump 20 strokes from my grease gun. I have heard of people putting 50 or 60 pumps in them with no problems. I believe the only mistake one could make is if they had the greaser fitting tightly in the abs hole and pressured the seals with too much grease. The wheel bearing greaser that is available on ebay lifts out of the hole automatically if it encounters any pressure. "
http://www.duramaxdiesels.com/forum/sho ... 902&page=2


I assume this is the eBay wheel bearing greaser. I asked the seller how much grease to add and he said 15 pumps.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Front-Wheel-Bea ... l%3ABlazer


Here is some more info. They recommend packing it pretty full.

http://www.courtsara.com/tips

So it sounds like we should be putting more grease in.

Pete
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