In This Article:
The rear brake disc and parking brake are removed. The bearing housing is separated from the suspension, then the wheel hub is pressed out of the center of the bearing. The bearing is pressed out of the housing with a puller tool.
About 6 Hours
Bruce W. Maki, Editor
Recently, I drove my Mom's 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe on a 5-hour road trip. When I set out, I could hear a high-pitch "groaning" noise from the rear, and it sounded like tire noise to me. Towards the end of the trip, the noise got louder, and it seemed to be coming from the driver's side of the rear end. Since the car had over 150,000 miles on it, I suspected a failed wheel bearing was the cause.
So I paid attention to how the noise might change as I went around curves. It seemed to be worse (louder) when I made a right-hand turn, which puts more weight on the left side (driver's side) of the car. To verify my suspicions, when I made a left-hand turn, the noise almost went away, because the left wheel is on the inside of the curve and the weight on the inside wheels is reduced when turning at higher speeds.
To make matters worse, every once in a while I heard this gawd-awful screeching or squawking noise that only lasted a few seconds at a time. Luckily I made it home without incident. The next day I moved the car into my garage, and the left rear wheel made a sound like a cement block being dragged on a cobblestone street.
Mom!!! I broke your car!
So I fixed it. This repair was challenging because I don't have a hydraulic shop press that is normally used to press out bearings. But there are places that will do that for you, like automotive machine shops.
I bought a new bearing at Advanced Auto Parts for $25. Very reasonable, or so I thought.
NOTE: If you are working on a Hyundai, be sure to read my comments about Hyundai Technical Info at the end of this page.
[Also see Tools and Materials]
Note that before taking these pictures I did several things.
I had a HELLUVA time removing the two bolts for this bracket. My impact wrench could not reach the bolts from behind, because there are suspension parts in the way. I tried using wobble extensions, but they absorbed too much of the impact forces. I tried using a 14mm box end wrench and beating the $hit out of it with a small sledge hammer, but there wasn’t enough room to swing it. I don’t own a decent oxy-acetylene torch, so I used a MAPP/propane torch to heat up the area. Then I tried just using a 14mm socket on a big ½” drive breaker bar. I laid on the floor so I could push or pull better. Well... I broke the socket. (It was a 12 point. I replaced it with a 6 point.) So I bought a set of short impact sockets from Sears (all these years I’ve gotten by with only deep well impact sockets), hoping that would give me better access from behind with the impact wrench. Nope. But I was able to use that big beefy 14mm short impact socket on my breaker bar to remove the stuck bolt. Plus, I had soaked the bolts with PB Blaster and let it sit for a couple of days. THAT might have been the difference.
Once the bracket was removed, I was able to remove the brake rotor. These rotors have two small flat-head screws that hold them to the wheel hub. I gently removed these with a Phillips bit socket that I placed on my impact wrench.
This is the left rear axle area after I removed the brake caliper, the brake bracket, and the brake rotor. Note the miniature drum brake apparatus used for the parking brake. This is entirely cable operated, and is a real pain-in-the-@ss to remove.
A closer view of the top area of the parking brake, showing the two return springs (arrows) where they hook onto the anchor pin.
The bottom of the parking brake assembly.
Like normal drum brakes, there is a coil spring that holds the brake shoes together (lower arrow), and an adjuster mechanism that keeps them apart (upper arrow). I’m not sure if it’s even possible to turn that adjuster when the car is fully assembled... there would need to be a hole in the backing plate and I didn’t notice such a thing.
I removed the return springs at the top, but not by using the normal brake tool. These drum brakes are so small that the important parts are partially blocked by the wheel hub.
After I removed these springs, I removed the hold-down pins at the sides, using either a pair of needle-nose pliers, or the usual hold-down removal tool (which barely fit). Replacing the hold-down springs and cups was a b-i-t-c-h... certainly the most difficult hold-downs I’ve ever installed.
With the parking brake shoes removed, I removed the 4 bolts that hold the wheel hub (and brake backing plate) to the rear suspension.
While I’m showing a box end wrench here (arrow), this method didn't work for me. If the car was newer and not badly rusted, a wrench might work.
This definitely worked: The Hyundai engineers were considerate enough to place access holes in the wheel hub so you can fit a 14mm deep socket through the hub and reach the bolts. However, my impact socket was too big to fit through the access holes, so I had to use something less robust. In my case, I used a ⅜” drive 14mm non-impact deep socket, with an adapter to fit onto my impact wrench. (I didn’t even try to remove these bolts with just a ratchet... it might’ve worked.)
Of course, the wheel hub must be capable of turning to use this method.
The hub didn’t exactly fall off when I removed those 4 bolts. I used an impact hammer to push on the back of the hub, and it came right off. A hammer and punch might work just as well.
The wheel hub after being removed from the rear suspension.
Note that it is still attached by the parking brake cable. I removed the parking brake cable from the lever by using a pair of pliers and a tack puller, which is like a forked prybar.
The hub and backing plate after I disconnected the parking brake cable.
Note how one of the hold-down pins is still in the backing plate (arrow). I couldn’t remove that pin because it would hit those mounting ears for the brake bracket.
I turned the hub over and used the impact hammer to push on the thick part of the backing plate. It separated without a fight. Note that the backing plate is captured between the wheel hub
At this point I was able to remove that hold-down pin. (It could be left in place if desired, by wrapping it with tape.)
The best way to push a hub from the center of a bearing is to use a hydraulic press (like this Grizzly H2870 6 Ton Hydraulic Press from Amazon) and the appropriate blocks of metal so you can push on the right areas. Since I don’t have a shop press, and I was doing this repair on a Sunday, I decided to try using what tools I had.
I used a Harmonic Balancer Installer/Remover tool set with some long 3/8” bolts. I think these bolts were about 6 inches long. I used a large socket over the tip of the puller to give it a wider pushing surface.
I just turned the shaft of the harmonic balancer puller with a couple of wrenches. While turning, sometimes the puller wanted to tip over, so I would just back it off and force everything straight again.
After some wrenching, I managed to press the hub (red arrow) out of the bearing. Of course, I had soaked everything with penetrating oil before starting this.
Note that my procedure puts a lot of force on the tapered roller bearings inside the sealed bearing unit. I don’t think this can be avoided, because there is no way to reach behind the hub to support the inner race of the bearing unit.
The bearing housing is on the left and the hub is on the right.
Note the small curved black piece at the bottom of the photo. At first, I could not identify this piece, but eventually I realized that this was a symptom of why the sealed bearing failed: This was part of the plastic “cage” that separates the individual rollers inside the bearing.
A closer view of the inner race of the bearing.
Note how the inner race is actually in two pieces.
Using a small flat screwdriver, I scraped this junk out...
… to reveal a big snap ring.
And I mean BIG. This is without a doubt the nastiest snap ring I have ever had to remove.
The arrows point to notches in the ends of the snap rings. But I discovered that ordinary snap ring pliers were useless in removing this part.
Eventually, I devised this setup for removing the giant snap ring:
A pair of plain-Jane garden-variety slip-joint pliers that I clamped to the bearing housing (and a workbench). I squeezed the pliers with one hand while I shoved a tiny flat screwdriver between the snap ring and the housing. Once I got one screwdriver behind the snap ring, I continued squeezing the pliers until I could get 2 bigger screwdrivers behind it. Then I was able to pry up one end of the snap ring and “spiral” it out of the groove.
Tip: Every time the pliers slip from the hooked ends of the snap ring, the sharp edges get worn down a little, making it more difficult to grab those ends. In other words: You need to get this right the first time, or at least the second time.
The snap ring after being removed from the bearing housing. Isn’t this a wide bugger?
I think this was the worst part of the whole job.
The bearing housing with the bearing inside.
You can clearly see one of the two notches (arrow) in the housing. The edge of the bearing’s outer race is visible at these notches.
You would think that you could somehow push on the outer race at these two notches, and the bearing would come out. But you would be wrong.
I tried that, using an impact hammer. All it did was mess up the edge of the outer race. I didn’t actually expect any results, but I thought I would give it a try.
Since I lacked a good oxy-acetylene torch, I made two stacks of cement blocks to use as a fixture to hold the bearing housing so I could place a MAPP/propane torch underneath. This torch is a little hotter than a regular propane torch, and the tip of this torch is bigger than some. Just by the size of the flame and the duration of heating, it might be possible to heat up the housing enough to break the rust inside, and possibly allow some penetrating oil in between the parts.
Of course, after I heated this for a while I sprayed it with PB Blaster (penetrating oil).
After fooling around a bit, the bearing decided to fall apart. When I was playing with the impact hammer, I loosened the metal part of the seal that holds the grease inside, which let some rollers fall out, which led to this situation.
You can get a good idea how this bearing works from this photo. There are actually two bearings in one unit here... there are 2 inner races, 2 sets of tapered rollers, 2 plastic cages, all encapsulated inside one outer race.
The is what remained of TWO plastic bearing cages. There are supposed to be two rings on each cage, with a bunch of “spokes” between them.
Note the roller bearings that are still inside the bearing housing. Note the two rollers that are close together, with gaps on both sides of them. This is a bad sign. All the rollers should be spaced out evenly around the inner race. This improper spacing is caused by the destruction of the plastic bearing cage, which probably happened when the grease dried up. This is the result of these “lubricated for life” bearings that automakers all seem to use today. ALL bearings of this type will eventually fail, and the lifetime might not be very long.
I have NEVER had a rear wheel bearing fail on a truck or car with a conventional solid rear axle. Bearings in that design are bathed in differential fluid, and as long as the fluid level is maintained properly, the bearings seem to last practically forever. And front wheel bearings on the old-fashioned rear wheel drive (and 2 wheel drive) vehicles are easy-peasy to lubricate. They are easy to replace, too.
A closer view of the outer race. There are two tapered bearing surfaces here, back-to-back.
To press on the bearing race, I used a big huge 2-inch socket from a set of cheapo ¾” drive sockets that I bought many years ago.
Other things that might work for a makeshift “press block”: Large diameter (1-1/2 to 2”) iron pipe fittings. I have used short pipe nipples, couplings or parts of a union fitting to push against bearings.
I rigged up the harmonic balancer puller to push on the big socket while pulling on two of the mounting holes in the housing. Those bolts were about 5 or 6 inches long. To adapt to the center of the puller, I had to place a smaller socket inside that big socket. In fact, I had 3 sockets nested together so the center post of the puller could have something stable to push against.
However, since my big El Cheapo socket wasn’t perfectly round it wanted to tip inside the bearing race. But it still worked.
After tightening the puller, I used a small sledge hammer to smack the end of the puller shaft.
I needed to keep the hammering to a minimum, because there is a thrust bearing (or is it a Torrington bearing?) between the black disc and the shaft of the puller. Wrecking that bearing would be stupid.
After this photo, I set the whole assembly between the two stacks of blocks and let the torch heat up the housing for about 10 minutes.
To my surprise, the bearing race (arrow) actually started moving. Once I had movement, I knew I could do this job without using a shop press.
The outer bearing race after being removed (arrow).
This was quite a challenge. You can see the stack of sockets I used to effectively “widen” the tip of the puller tool.
It's important to realize that this bearing uses an interference fit. That means the hole in the housing is slightly smaller than the outer diameter of the bearing, by about 3 or 4 thousandths of an inch.
Before installing the new bearing, I cleaned up the bore of the housing first. I sanded the bore with 400 grit emery cloth to remove any rust, and I carefully cleaned the snap ring groove.
When installing the new bearing, you have one benefit that you don’t have when removing. The parts are separate. And separate parts can be made to have different temperatures, which can compensate for that weird interference fit stuff.
So, while I ate dinner, I put the new bearing in the freezer, which is about -20 degrees Fahrenheit. And I placed the bearing housing in the oven, which I set to 450 degrees. I used the convection feature of our oven, which in theory should heat the part faster, because a fan circulates the air. I ate a leisurely meal, and after an hour of baking and chilling auto parts, I put the housing in a metal wire basket (similar to the baskets used on kid’s bicycles) and quickly went to work in the garage.
In this picture the housing is smokin’ hot, perhaps almost 450 degrees.
I spread some copper-based anti-seize around the inside of the bore. This should make bearing installation easier.
I set the cold bearing into the housing. While the bearing didn’t exactly drop right in, it was easy to get started in the hole.
I got the bearing about half way in just by tapping it lightly with a hammer. You need to be careful when hammering this, so the bearing doesn’t get tilted AT ALL. By this point I think a lot of heat had been transferred from the housing to the bearing, so the size difference started to disappear.
Remember... the outside diameter of the bearing is a couple of thousandths of an inch BIGGER than the bore in the housing. This is called an interference fit, and it’s used on important things like wheel bearings. You can either use a lot of force to install the bearing (the housing will stretch) or you can use temperature differences to make the job a little easier.
I rigged up the harmonic balancer puller again, only the housing was turned over. Also, I used the old outer race as a press block, with the same stack of sockets inside it.
The 3/8" bolts in this setup were about 7 or 8 inches long. I almost had to run out and buy some threaded rod, but I found some super-long bolts in my personal hardware collection.
NOTE: Hyundai warns against pressing on the bearing's outer race. They claim it may cause damage. To me, pressing on the inner bearing would seem more likely to cause damage, by denting or cracking a roller.
I have to wonder if something is lost in translation, or if the outer race is so thin that it could get bent. Whatever the case, be careful if you follow my procedure. Make sure the old race (being used as a press block) is perfectly aligned with the new bearing. Since I heated up the bearing housing, the force required to press the bearing into the housing was much less than what would be expected at room temperature.
Hyundai's service manual says the bearing press-in load should be between 4,500 and 5,000 kilograms, which equates to a range of 9,900 to 11,000 pounds. That's 5-1/2 tons!
I can confidently say that I did not need to apply 5 tons of force to push the bearing into the housing, though it certainly got tougher towards the end.
The new bearing after being pressed all the way into the housing. This wasn’t too difficult, although it got noticeably harder as the bearing got farther in and the temperatures equalized. I would advise working quickly, and having everything set up before taking the parts out of the oven and freezer.
I installed the snap ring. Before doing this, I used a Dremel tool and a cutting disc to sharpen the metal around those notches, just in case I have to work on this again someday.
Before the hub can be installed in the bearing, the backing plate needs to be set in place.
I applied some anti-seize to the hub and placed it inside the bearing inner race. It’s not possible to heat up the bearing (much) to make it bigger... I suppose heating to 200 degrees F might be acceptable. The hub could be placed in a freezer, giving some extra temperature difference. I don’t think the amount of interference fit is very much.
I used a piece of 1/2” threaded rod as a “squeezing tool” to force the hub into the bearing. I used stacks of large diameter washers to push on the inner race and the face of the hub. I think these washers were for ¾” bolts (but they might have been ⅝”).
After some wrenching, the hub was pressed into the bearing. Before the hub was all the way in, I set the brake hold-down pins in their holes and secured them with masking tape.
Note the shiny bolt, just above my hand. I temporarily bolted the backing plate to the housing, to keep it from moving around while I was pressing the hub into the bearing.
Build A Basic Workbench (From HammerZone.com)
I set the bearing housing back into the car, making sure the rear drive axle slipped through the splines in the hub properly. (I applied anti-seize to the splines in the hub first.)
Then I bolted on the housing with the 4 original bolts and tightened them to 58 to 66 foot-pounds.
Next I installed the washer and axle nut. The axle nut needs to be really tight... I went to about 160 foot-pounds on my torque wrench. (Hyundai specifies a torque range of 148 to 192 foot-pounds.)
I installed a new cotter pin through the axle nut.
At this point, you are supposed to check the end play of the wheel hub. End play is supposed to be less than .05mm, or .002 inches. Checking end play means prying the hub outward and then pushing it inward, and measuring the amount of movement. The movement is measured with a dial indicator attached to a firm base, such as the suspension control arm.
I didn't measure end play. I've never measured end play. I've never seen a mechanic measure end play, but I don't watch mechanics very often these days. But the engineers put that in their manual, just to be safe. Maybe a dealership mechanic will measure end play.
I guess I did a "qualitative" check of end play: I grabbed the hub and pushed and pulled. I couldn't feel it move.
A closer view of the mounting bolts that hold the housing to the rear suspension.
After this photo, I replaced all the parking brake components, set the brake rotor in place, installed the brake bracket, and bolted on the brake caliper. I put the wheel back on and torqued the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds.
I was not impressed with the sealed bearing I bought at Advanced Auto Parts. Before installing the wheel, I turned the hub by hand and I could feel a slight “bumping” sensation instead of the perfectly smooth rotation you would expect. When I test drove the car, I could hear a very slight noise. I’m hoping this noise goes away, or at least doesn’t get worse too soon, but I’m not so foolishly optimistic to expect it.
I wonder if maybe the plastic bearing cage inside the bearing got damaged during installation, and now a little piece of plastic is floating around and getting run over by roller bearings? I don't know... but if the bearing noise returns I will have to replace the bearing agan.
I’m not too sure about the quality of auto parts at national chains like AutoZone and Advanced Auto Parts.
Hyundai is generous enough to provide a website that gives car owners (or anyone, actually) free access to a lot of service manual information:
The site is a bit quirky. After logging in, you can click on "Shop" to find shop manuals. Now... 9 out of 10 people would think "Shop" would take them to an online store to buy something. But that's not how this site works.
Then you have to pick your vehicle from a drop-down box, but there are multiple models where you would expect to see just one. For example, there are 4 entries for the Santa Fe: DMA, CM, NC, and SM.
According to Wikipedia's page about the Hyundai Santa Fe:
I have no idea what the "NC" designation means, or why they list "DMA" instead of "DM". (The site seems to leave you with as many questions as answers.)
And then you pick the year from the next drop down box, which will limit the entries that show up in the big blank box on the left side of the page. And picking an engine will limit the results even more. In my case, there is just an icon of a book with the text "G 2.7 DOHC".
Clicking on that text opens up the book to reveal 16 chapters such as Engine Mechanical and Brake System. I clicked on Driveshaft and Axle and found Rear Axle Assembly within that chapter. THIS IS A LOT LIKE THE HELP FILES YOU FIND IN APPLICATION SOFTWARE, like Microsoft Word or Excel.
Speaking of Microsoft, there is one hitch with HyundaiTechInfo.com... YOU NEED TO USE MICROSOFT INTERNET EXPLODER TO USE THE WEBSITE!!!!! W... The F...!!!
I could not get the site to work properly with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. I never tried Safari.
So when I finally choose "Rear Hub / Carrier", there were two choices: "Component and Compenent Location", and "Repair Procedures". Many chapters have these two choices. The location page will display an exploded diagram of the pertinent parts on the right side of the screen, and the repair page will display text and smaller images that are basically ripped directly from the factory service manual, as far as I could tell.
THIS IS REALLY FRIGGIN' AWESOME. Hyundai is practically giving away the factory service manuals for their entire lineup of cars. Kudos to Hyundai for not being like everybody else and trying to squeeze hundreds of dollars from you for a manual. Yay! Information wants to be freeeeee!
AND YOU CAN PRINT OUT EACH PAGE USING THE PRINT BUTTON. You can also email the page to yourself, but I found that none of the images showed up when opened in Gmail. Maybe it will work in MS Outlook? Oh well... But seriously, you can print your own factory service manual, one page at a time.
Suddenly, working on my Mom's car doesn't seem like such a hassle.
Their website also has sections on TSB's (Technical Service Bulletins), DTC's (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) and a bunch of other stuff. If you own a Hyundai, or you work on Hyundais, you'll want to set up an account at HyundaiTechInfo.com. It's free.