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Adjusting a wheel bearing.

Les Henson

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Adjusting the wheel bearings is the same from the early series to the 300TDi Discovery. The twin taper roller bearing arrangement was and still is a popular arrangement. Vehicle is a 1981 SWB S3.

This is a very easy job, and doesn't even require removal of the road wheel. You do however need to jack the wheel clear of the ground in order to check any play in the bearing. In order to ascertain if you need to do replace the bearing or adjust it - then grip the wheel at the 3 and 9 o-clock position, and try to rock the wheel. If there is some movement - then spin the wheel. If the wheel spins smoothly, then it's pretty safe to say that the bearing only needs adjusting. If there is an audible rumbling, and/or a roughness, then the bearing will have to be replaced.

Front and rear bearings are the same, but on the front, you need to seperate the drive flange from the driveshaft - the CV joint (or U/J on series), prevents you from withdrawing the front driveshaft. On the rear, the flange and driveshaft can be removed as one.

Before jacking the wheel clear of the ground - slacken the 6 drive flange bolts.


Jack the road wheel clear of the ground, remove the hub cap - steel on series, and a wierd type of rigid rubber on later vehicles.


Series vehicles have a nut and split pin holding the driveshaft in the flange - defenders and disco's have a circlip and shims.

Remove it, plus the 6 flange bolts.


If the flange is stuck, and they usually are, use this method (or similar), to break the seal.


Once removed - the two nuts, and lockwasher can be seen.


Tap a screwdriver, blunt chisel, or similar tool between the lockwasher and outer nut face.


The outer nut can now be undone using the correct box spanner or 52mm/1 1/16" socket.

Once the outer nut is removed - remove also the tab washer.


You should now be looking at this:-


Using the same socket - tighten the nut and spin the wheel. Once the wheel feels as though it's binding - slacken 1/4 turn or until the wheel spins freely with no play in the bearing.

You can use the old lockwasher providing you didn't wreck it, or it appears to have been used more than once before. You must use a new part of the washer though, and as the bearing nuts will be in a new position, then this isn't a problem. Hammer the washer flat on a convenient hard surface, re-grease the outer wheel bearing if it needs it, then re-fit the washer, and tighten the outer nut.

Should look like this now:-


Bend the tab washer inwards over one flat of the inner nut.


Than opposite, outwards onto a flat on the outer nut.


With the washer/nuts in this position, the two nuts are now locked due to the tab washer being bent over a flat on each one, and the washer is unable to turn due to the profile of the stub axle. The bearing is now set and locked, Re-assemble the drive flange using a new gasket - use new spring washers or use thread lock compound on the 6 bolts - they have a bit of a habit of coming undone. Replace the driveshaft nut/shims and circlip. Lower the vehicle onto the road, and that's the job complete.

Les. :)

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Les, The LandRover workshop manual, which I refuse to follow when it comes to wheel bearings, suggests to adjust the bearings so that when everything is tightened up, you have .003'' endfloat at the hub. I don't want to risk a bearing spinning on my expensive Mc Namara and 101 spindles so I try to acheive a situation where I have no end float and no preload. To do this I tighten the first nut up very firm, spin the hub several revolutions, back off one flat of the nut, spin hub again, then check for a couple of thou endfloat,then install lock washer and second nut and tighten very tight. the clearance in the threads of the nuts and spindle is such that when the second nut is fully tightened the endfloat is taken up. The only other thing I would suggest is to spend a few minutes with a file deburring the outer nut, as a burr can rip the locating key off the lock washer when it is tightened. The later spindles and lockwashers with flats instead of a slot and key dont have that problem.


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I agree with all of that Bill. Never thought of the burrs though. Some say that you should leave a very small amount of play after the nuts have been tightened to allow for expansion of the metal when the hub gets hot. Don't really hold with that theory myself, or should I say I don't think it would make that much of a difference.

Les :)

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