This was a response I wrote for a guy wanting to know what went into replacing his wheel bearings. I figured this would be an appropriate place for it in case anyone needed the same information. It applies to straight axle as well as TTB D44's with minimal variation.
Originally Posted by Kirbys73F100
Physicsguy, bearings are not difficult to replace but you will inadvertently learn a lot about your locking hubs. Also, you might as well replace the bearings if you're going to mess with the ball joints because you will have already done most of the work. You will need a specialty tool called a Spindle Nut Socket you can find at Autozone (link at bottom of post) It also helps if you have access to a press. There are many step by step guides on how to tear down your Dana 44 as far as you want on the internet but the basic process is as follows.
1) Dismount wheel/tire
2) Remove brake caliper (good time to check pads)
3) Use allen wrench to take off locking hub cover
4) Remove the snap ring from around the axle shaft. Remove the outer retaining ring in the recessed area of the hub housing with a couple of picks/small screw drivers (this sux sometimes). Remove locking mechanism of locking hub (you may need to screw a couple of your allen screws back into the mechanism to pull it out)
5) Use spindle nut socket to loosen and remove spindle nut (if this is very loose, it could be the source of the play)
6) Remove spindle nut washer with pick or screw driver
7) Once again use spindle nut socket to loosen and remove spindle nut (if this is very loose, it could be the source of the play)
8) The hub housing/rotor will slid off spindle (don't drop outer bearing and get it nasty if you plan on repacking/reusing)
9) Remove seal with a screw driver (be careful if you plan on reusing but most people do not recommend reusing this because it is so cheap)
10) Use a punch to knock out inner and out race. Save the bearings and races to compare part numbers with new ones.
This is where you do the necessary work to the ball joints. Both of which are removed through the bottom of the knuckle. One of which (can't remember which one) has a snap ring holding it on. Ball joints, of course, will need to be pressed back in. Remove the six nuts on the outside of the spindle. Remove the spindle with the use of a hammer and wedge. (Don't hit the spindle, especially where the bearing rides!) Pull the axle shaft out through the knuckle. Remove ball joint nuts. If they spin you will need to wedge something in there to stop this. (An impact wrench helps) Avoid hitting the ball joints, it's just bad practice. They can be removed through vibrations by hitting the knuckle in the right spot just like the tie rod.
1) Re-installation requires pressing in the races. You can use the old races to do this but there are several methods. Using the old races on top of new ones, use a punch to install the races making sure the new races are being seated evenly and completely.
2) Don't forget to pack you new bearings (or clean and repack old bearing) before putting this back together.
3) Gently tap the seal back into place.
4) Slide hub housing with inner and outer races, packed inner bearing and seal installed onto the spindle. Slide packed outer bearing over spindle and into hub housing.
5) Compare both spindle nuts. The inner spindle nut is the one with the "nipple" on it. Reinstall spindle nut, with the nipple facing outward, carefully as to avoid cross threading and torque to really tight and back a little using the spindle nut tool. I've heard torque to 150 ft. lbs. There are many theories to the torque specs but you want to make sure the inner nut is seating the bearing in the race completely while allowing the rotor to spin relatively freely.
6) Reinstall the spindle nut washer with the key in the keyway on the axle shaft. Make sure the "nipple" on the inner spindle nut can be seen in one of the holes on the washer. If not, flip the washer over as the holes will be in a different spot. If this does not work, remove the washer and tighten the spindle nut slightly and retry.
7) Reinstall the outer spindle nut and torque to 70 ft. lbs. (I go by feel because I've done so many of these) Once again, there are different theories to torque specs. Hopefully someone will provide input from a shop book manual.
**At this point you can test for slop in the bearings (spindle nuts) and/or ball joints by attempting to move the hub housing up or down.
8) Reinstall the locking hub mechanism, outer retainer ring, axle shaft snap ring and locking hub cover with allen screws.
Hope this helps!
PS - If you're planning on doing any other kind of front end work in the future, (Warn or Mile Marker locking hubs, limited slip, locker, spool, gear swap, better axles) now would be a great time to do it! All the previously stated work is necessary in these types of upgrades.
stumbled across this post. I cannot loosen the spindle nut. I have tried a 2' breaker bar on the socket and even hit it with a mallet. Any tips? These are right-hand threads, right?
Correct, these are right-hand threads. First, I want to clarify you are not trying to untighten the spindle nut washer because this happens to some people. The washer just comes out. If you ARE trying to untighten the first spindle nut, then all I got for ya is pull harder. Good luck!
I was already "pulling harder" with no result. Ultimately I used a cold chisel and a small sledge hammer to split the nut apart. It was rusted tight. Too bad the guy before me didn't put some grease on the spindle threads. Fortunately, the washer and inner nut came out easily. Now for another trip to the NAPA store for new bearings and a new nut.
Nice write up. However, in the small section that referenced spindle removal, there was no mention of the small bearing and seal inside the spindle. Having the spindle off, for any reason, is the best time to inspect and repack/replace these bearings/seals as needed. In fact, just having the hub/rotor off, it's a good idea to pop the spindle loose and check these too. One of those bearings going bad can certainly put a damper on your ability to actually use the front axle for it's intended purpose.......
I'm also dealing with a stuck outer spindle nut. I was "pulling harder" so much so that I bent the tabs on the spindle nut socket to the point of being unusable. I'v been soaking the **** out of it with pb blaster, and I'm going to try putting heat to it tonight, but if that doesn't work ill probably end up chiseling or cutting the nut off, too. Unfortunately. are there any tricks for these seized nuts?