The front wheel bearings in a Chevrolet Impala are called a wheel bearing hub assembly. As you may already know, the part is pretty expensive and the labour charge to install it isn't much better. You could shop at one of those tool expo's and buy all the tools you'd need for the job to do it yourself for about the same money as the labour charge to install the bearing. And if one bearing failed, how long before the next one goes? Do-it-yourself repairs are becoming more of an option and replacing the wheel bearing on your Impala is quite doable if you have the right tools and some technical know-how.
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Things you need
- Floor jack
- Jack stand
- Wheel chock
- 1/2-inch drive breaking bar
- 1/2-inch drive socket set
- 1/2-inch drive ratchet
- Large flat head screwdriver
- Bungee cord
- Hub nut socket (36 millimetre)
- Heavy rubber mallet
- Large pair of channel locks
- Slide hammer with hub adaptor
- Light grade sand paper or emery cloth
- 1/2-inch drive adjustable torque wrench
Park the Chevrolet Impala on a flat, level paved or concrete surface. Apply the parking brake.
Place a wheel chock behind one of the rear tires. Break the lug nuts loose on the wheel you're removing using the 1/2-inch breaking bar and a socket. Do not loosen them too much or remove them.
Lift the front quarter of the vehicle you have to replace the bearing on with the floor jack. Use the rocker panel as a lift point for the floor jack and lift it high enough to place the jack stand under the front frame rail. Lower the floor jack to allow the Impala to come to rest on the jack stand.
Remove the lug nuts and wheel.
Locate the caliper anchor bolts behind the backing plate. Do not confuse these with the caliper bolts. It does not matter if you remove the caliper bolts, remove the pads and then remove the caliper anchor. But you can remove the entire assembly in one step by removing the anchor bolts. Use the breaking bar and socket to break the bolts loose. Then switch over to the ratchet to speed things up. Pry the caliper assembly off of the rotor with the flat head screwdriver and strategically wrap a bungee cord through and around the caliper to support it to the coil spring out of the way. Do not allow the caliper assembly to dangle from the brake hose.
Remove the rotor. If the rotor is rusted stubbornly to the hub, strike it with the rubber mallet on the fins near the edge of the rotor. You may have to hit it several times.
Remove the centre hub nut with the socket and a 36 millimetre socket. Remove the washer. Strike the driveshaft spindle with the hammer and pull gently from behind to separate it from the hub. It's not going to move far so you just want to make sure that it's loose from the bearing and the driveshaft spindle can move in and out on its own.
Unplug the ABS line under the bumper skirt on the engine rail and unfasten the line from the brake hose bracket with the ratchet and socket. The other places holding the line are usually just clips that you pull the line out from. The new bearing has a new ABS line so the old one will be discarded with the old bearing.
Remove the hub bearing bolts (3) on the backside of the hub. Use the breaking bar and a socket. You may have to apply some ingenuity with different sockets (shallow or thin wall) to get a bite on the upper one, but tenacity will pay off. If one of the bolts is broken loose, again switch over to the ratchet to speed things up.
Install the slide hammer hub adaptor to the hub and tighten three lug nuts to it tightly. Screw the slide hammer into the adaptor and hammer off the wheel bearing hub assembly. Pay attention to your progress. When the bearing starts to come out, do not over strike the hammer. It will come out all at once and you do not want to hurt yourself. The backing plate is also going to come off with it. Take note how it comes off so you may replace it in the same manner.
Clean the hub bearing cavity of the knuckle using a fine grade sand paper or emery cloth. You'll have to manipulate the spindle of the driveshaft around and out of your way, but this needs to be good and clean for the new bearing application. Take your time and be thorough. Also clean the face of the knuckle where the backing plate seats against.
Place the backing plate in position and insert the bearing into the knuckle hole. You may have to wiggle the bearing to establish a relationship between the bearing splines and the spindle of the driveshaft. Press the bearing on by hand and push it in as much as you can. Just far enough to get the hub bearing bolts to bite a few threads.
Replace the bearing bolts and thread them into the bearing. Tighten it with the ratchet and socket three or four times each and then switch to the next bolt. Continue that procedure all the way to draw the bearing in properly and straight. Tighten the bolts as much as you can and convince them one more time with the breaking bar, just a quarter to half turn more.
Reattach the ABS line and plug it in.
Replace the wheel hub nut and washer and tighten with the ratchet and socket. Again use the breaking bar and socket to give it a little extra.
Replace the rotor and tighten two lug nuts backwards onto it to hold it flush to the hub.
Place the caliper assembly over the rotor. You may have to remove the inboard pad and squeeze the caliper piston in slightly with the channel locks. If you can get the caliper onto the rotor and it's snug, you can skip this step. But do not force the caliper on. Just a little squeeze with the channel locks to the piston should give you plenty of room to reinstall it. Tighten the caliper anchor bolts. Remove the lug nuts from the rotor.
Replace the wheel and lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts as much as you can with the wheel elevated using the ratchet and socket only.
Lower the Impala to the ground. Retighten the lug nuts in an alternate fashion using the adjustable torque wrench (set to 100 foot pounds) and a socket.
Remove the wheel chock.
Release the parking brake. Pump the brake pedal a couple of times if you had to compress the piston of the caliper to restore hydraulic pressure to it.