How to Change Wheel Bearings on a BMW E46

The wheel bearings of a BMW E46 3 Series are crucial for the suspension system. Although they usually last a long time, a worn or damaged wheel bearing can cause a car to become sloppy to drive. A bad wheel bearing can produce strange noises, including whining and grinding noises. This time you will learn how to change wheel bearings on a BMW E46.

Changing the wheel bearing on an E46 is relatively easy, although the process does require a few special tools and some special knowledge.

How to Change Wheel Bearings on a BMW E46

Removing The Wheel Bearings On A BMW E46
BMW 330i M Sport

The steps you must follow to correctly replace the wheel bearings on a BMW E46 are as follows:

  1. Raise the car with the ground jack and support it on jack stands. Remove the wheel at the corner where you are replacing the wheel bearing; put it aside. Remove the two caliper retaining bolts with a 16mm socket. These are located on the back of the caliper, at the top and bottom facing the wheel well. Slide the caliper off the rotor. Support it with a piece of wire tied to a hanger piece, so it doesn’t damage the soft brake line.
  1. Remove the brake disc retaining bolt with a hex key.. Pull the rotor straight out of the hub and set it aside. Use a flat head screwdriver to gently remove the hub cap. Using a hammer and screwdriver, lightly tap the bent portion of the hub nut to prevent the hub nut from unscrewing.
  1. Use a 46mm socket and impact wrench to remove the hub nut. Use the hub pressing tool or slide hammer to disassemble the hub and bearing by holding it to the hub and pressing it down. If the inner wheel bearing ring is still on the car, use a small puller to remove it.
  1. Remove the inner seal cap with a thin punch by lightly tapping the seal cap outwards. Wipe down the spindle and surrounding areas with a clean rag. Using a 10mm deep socket, remove the three bolts holding the rear brake cover. Clean the cover and nearby areas, including the rear seal cover and the ABS sensor. Reinstall and tighten the rear brake cover bolts.
  1. Press in the new wheel bearing by tapping on its outer edge with a 36mm socket and blow hammer. Insert it carefully, making sure it is installed in a straight line. Install and tighten the wheel bearing nut with a torque wrench. Use a punch or screwdriver to tap the outside of the hub nut down to prevent the nut from unscrewing.
  1. Applies a thin film of anti-seize compound to the surface of the hub, where the rotor mounts. Reinstall the disc and disc retaining bolt. Torque the bolt to 12 lb/ft. Reinstall the caliper and caliper bolts. Torque the caliper bolts to 81 pound-feet with a torque wrench. Again reinstall the hub cover by tapping it with your fingers. Also install the wheel and lower the vehicle to the ground.

Items you will need

The items and tools to use are as follows:

  • floor cat
  • cat stand
  • Socket and ratchet set
  • Impact wrench
  • 6mm hex key
  • non-stick compound
  • New hub assembly and wheel bearings.

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