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How-to: Change a Front Wheel Bearing or Lug Stud (no pictures, camera died)

43061 Views 11 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  giantsfan10
Be forewarned, this is a difficult DIY. If you do not have a well-equipped toolbox, do not attempt this. This DIY assumes you are comfortable working with disc brakes, and know how to properly jack up and support your Cruze.

DISCLAIMER: This is for instructional purposes only. Neither I nor CruzeTalk accept any responsibility or liability for damage caused by following this how-to.

Apologies for the lack of pictures, but my camera died early on.

Tools needed:
T30 Torx bit
10mm socket
18mm shallow socket
18mm deep socket
32mm socket
bungie cord
impact gun or long cheater bar (I used a cordless impact gun)
4" extension
6" extension
small sledge hammer (I used a 4lb sledge)
Channellock-type adjustable pliers
ball joint separator and socket

Dorman wheel studs, part number 610-254
6 7/16" ID washers
1 M12.5 lug nut
Front wheel bearing, if needed

This how-to is the result of snapping off a wheel stud. Chevrolet designed the front knuckle to not have enough clearance between the backside of the wheel hub integrated into the wheel bearing and the front knuckle. What this means is that while a dedicated DIY'er can pop out the offending stud, a new one cannot be put in place with the wheel bearing on the car. It simply won't fit. And, if the bearing separates while being removed, as can happen when the car has seen a few winters, they sold you a $150 bearing complete with wheel studs. Wheel stud problem solved, but now there's a gaping hole in the wallet that needs mending! Now if you just need to replace the wheel bearing, ignore my carping about wheel studs and read on.

Step 1: Jack up the front of the car and set the jackstand underneath the car.
Step 2: Remove wheel.
Step 3: Thread bungie cord over coil spring. I used a loop fairly high up.
Step 4: Remove the two 10mm bolts holding the caliper on.
Step 5: Pop out brake hose from retainer on strut. Gently push straight up, and the hose pops free.
Step 6: Remove and secure caliper away from work area with bungie cord.
Step 7: Remove brake pads, set somewhere safe.
Step 8: Remove the two 18mm bolts holding the caliper bracket to the knuckle. The top bolt will need an extension to remove.
Step 9: Remove the T30 bolt holding the rotor onto the hub.
Step 10: Remove rotor and set in a safe place.

That's how to remove the brake pads and rotor. Further instructions on how to remove the front wheel bearing are below.

Step 11: Undo the ABS sensor with the T30 bolt on the rear of the knuckle. Tuck up and out of the way.
Step 12: Partially loosen the 32mm axle nut. While freeing the axle, keep this on until it's impeding progress.
Step 14: Using an extension, take the sledge and give the axle a few good hits to free it up. The CV joint will begin to compress slightly. This is normal. The axle should slide fairly freely after 8-10 hits.
Step 15: Remove the 3x18mm bolts holding the wheel bearing onto the knuckle. The bolt underneath the strut needs an extension, a slim ratchet, some choice words for the engineers, and a lot of muscle.
Step 16: Wiggle the bearing out of the knuckle. Free it from the axle if still attached. Be careful not to over-extend the CV joint.

At this point, the wheel bearing should be free of the car. If it came out intact and you feel like replacing the wheel studs because that's the only problem that now needs to be fixed, here's how to do that:

Step 1: Thread lug nut onto broken stud
Step 2: Place ball joint separator onto hub and broken stud
Step 3: Press out broken stud
Step 4: Place new stud into opening
Step 5: Place washers over stud
Step 6: Hold stud with pliers while threading lug nut onto stud
Step 7: Tighten lug nut until hand-tight

At this point, I cleaned up the knuckle, applied anti-seize to the knuckle/axle and bearing surfaces that would be in contact, and replaced the wheel bearing onto the car. I then finished tightly securing the new wheel studs into the hub, and then put the brakes back together.

For securing the wheel onto the new studs, I torqued the lug nuts at 60 ft/lbs, 80 ft/lbs, and finally 95 ft/lbs. I then drove the car slowly around the block and re-checked the torque.

I needed to change a rear lug stud too. That was much easier, as the rear hub has sufficient clearance to allow the studs to be removed without removing the bearing.

So, that's how to change a front wheel bearing, or a lug stud.

EDIT: In light of new information, it is possible to shave part of the head as demonstrated below, and install into the front wheel hub in that configuration. Thus, skipping all the messy/frustrating parts of needing to deal with the wheel bearing.
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A couple guys installed a stud the other day at the shop w/out changing the wheel bearing. You can install them by shaving the side of the head of the stud off.

Kinda like this:

(sorry for the big pic)

I get your washer trick, I used to do that. I got tired of wasting washers though, and spent $20 on one of these:

Not trying to **** on your HT thread here, just trying to help create less work.
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It's an idea I didn't have, so I'm glad to have heard it. The washers worked for my DIY'er self who is likely to do this once every other blue moon. They were looking pretty gnarly near the end, so it's nice to see there's a tool for the pros to use.

Shaving the stud if it doesn't fit is part of some car's service manuals from a quick search, so it's safe to use.


Thanks for your input here. It helps us home garage guys, to understand the tricks of the shop. Greatly appreciated. Maybe as the aftermarket catches up with the cruze parts, we'll see a lug that's made to go directly in. I had thought pressing the old one out would be the toughest part, not getting clearance for the new one!
Yeah, no problem and thanks for putting up the HT in the first place. It's actually a good overview for how to do the wheel bearing. I'd add a note to keep the axle nut on the end of the axle while you're driving it out. I know you said to use an extension to drive it out, but I've seen them slip and burr up the threads a bit.

The shaving trick is something I learned when I owned a Grand Am. GM wheel studs used to be extremely soft and they'd break a lot. I used to keep spares at home. Grinding the side off makes it easier to fit in from behind and gives less chance to damage the threads when you pull it through. Sometimes they still get nicked up though.

The nice thing about the stud installer is that it is like a mini wheel bearing. The center is concave like that to fit a lugnut. When you tighten it down, as soon as the nut hits the center of installer, it spins instead of grinding, which makes pulling the rest of the stud through a breeze.
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Edited. Thanks for the pointers!

Next time I'll put a little bit of penetrating oil onto the top washer to keep the lug nut spinning better. It wasn't too bad, though.

If the others need to be done, I'll update this with actual pictures.

EDIT: In light of new information, it is possible to shave part of the head as demonstrated below, and install into the front wheel hub in that configuration. Thus, skipping all the messy/frustrating/expensive parts of needing to deal with the wheel bearing.
The money saved on the wheel bearing can be spent on the stud installer, possibly a 12x1.5" thread cleaner and beer :)
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I like your style!
Smarter, not harder son!
I was googling this yesterday, and found someone using an old 1/2" socket for the device that Cleck mentions, instead of using washers. That may work as well. If a general shadetree mechanic has more than a few studs to replace then then there's a problem.

Also instead of a ball joint press they used a standard C-Clamp, with a small socket on the other side. Pressed the old stud out into the socket. Granted this was not a cruze, so it's not verified, but it's a good idea.
Not all C-clamps have enough leverage or clearance to pop out a wheel stud. Mine certainly wouldn't.

That's another good idea for using castoff sockets instead of washers.

You folks are full of good ideas I didn't have. Keep them coming, please! I love learning new tips and tricks!
nice how to thread sciphi! helped me out today when I did my wheel studs. I do want to add for anyone who reads this. when doing the fronts all I had to do was take off the caliper (2 18mm bolts) and set aside. then take the 3 bolts joining the knuckle to the hub and just loosen them till theres a thread left. by doing that I didn't have to take off the 32mm nut and I was able to push the dust cover to the inside of the car and pulling the hub outwards and get the new studs in. there is a spot on the hub towards the front that has a groove so to speak that gives you a bit more wiggle room.
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