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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 05-04-2012, 05:50 PM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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e39 front wheel bearings pwn'd 2 1/2 hours

just wanted to brag about how i did both front wheel bearings in under 2 1/2hours total, including getting the car up on the jackstands, dragging all the tools out to the driveway, grinding 2 sockets down, and then getting the car back down and all the tools cleaned up

The biggest trick was that I figured out how to machine two sockets so that i didnt need to remove any control arms after loosening the strut tube pinch bolt. Normally you need to pull the lower end of the strut out to access the bearing bolts. To do this you would need to remove control arms and possibly need a realignment afterwards. This is what i wanted to avoid.

after removing the wheel and caliper I loosened the strut tube pinch bolt and then whacked the hub of the rotor with a large rubber mallet for a few medium whacks until it was about 3/8's of an inch pulled out. I was then able to slip my custom socket in behind and under the strut tube to get at the front bottom bolt. The front upper bolt only required that i grind the shoulder off to taper the back of the socket so it didnt hit the strut tube.

Basically what i did was first completely remove the rearward two bolts. These are unobstructed and easy to get at. Then i used a grinder to shorten a socket until it was only as deep as the head of the bolt. On the backside of the socket i ground off the square edge of the shoulder making the socket tapered kinda like a bullet. It cut away with a regular hand grinder and metal grinding (not metal cutting) disc.

Using this super short socket plus a wobble extension i was able to turn the remaining two bolts. The problem is that as the bolt backs out it hits the strut tube from behind so you simply turn each bolt a few turns at a time as you pull the bearing away from the hub so the bolt doesnt need to come outward.

a few things i learned here:

1. trying to turn a bolt that is torqued to 75ft/lbs with factory locktite using a 3/8 racket takes way more muscle power than i was expecting. You probably wont be able to use a breaker bar in this area so start drinking milk the night before.

2. you will absolutely not get a proper torque wrench back there. Luckily i had a digital torque adapater. Its kinda like a small box that connects to a regular ratchet like an extension and it displays the torque an lcd screen.

3.i like not having to press the bearings on or off even if they do cost way more for a hub assembly style than a simple bearing only. The rears next week will be another story. The 12 ton bottle jack press waits patiently.....

4.wobble extensions are really cool. I never had one before but i can see how much im going to use it in the future. It works way better than those universal joint style connections

5. the only two socket sizes needed from start to finish are an 18 and a 16mm socket.

6. put neverseize on the bearing mount and inside rotor for now on just in case you need to take it back off someday. I couldnt believe how firmly seized my rotors were to the bearing hubs. Even after pb blaster and about 50 of the best whacks from the rubber mallet that i could get at that angle from behind they would not budge. I ended up removing them with the bearing and then tapping the bearing out from the center with a metal hammer. Fell right out.

The reason i am changing my bearings is because in the last month or so the car has gradually started to feel like it would drift side to side in the lane a little. Its almost like being likely being pushed around by gusty wind except its not a windy day lol. The car didnt pull to either side but at the same time i still had to provide too much input to keep it going straight instead of "floating" out of my lane. This floaty effect is mainly noticed on the highway while traveling at high speed. I just remember when i got the car i could do 80mph with ust jone finger on the steering wheel. I want that feeling back.
On nice smooth roads the interior would be very silent but on textured pavement the roar of the road noise was definately being transmitted more than normal to my interior.
Symptoms i did not have are grinding noise while turning hard, or marbles in a tin can noise while spinning the tire.

With the rear bearings still original i seem to still have road noise that i think is coming from the rear only now. I didnt notice the noise from the rear before because i was certain it was coming from below the floor boards near my feet. The car feels more stable but still not the way i want it. I suspect that although it was time to change the fronts at 116k miles the rears are the ones that are causing most of what im trying to fix.
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Last edited by Topaz540i; 05-04-2012 at 06:54 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-04-2012, 05:58 PM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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i will post pics of the sockets this week if anyone cares to try and replicate them.
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ESS Tuning m60 version software
m60 intake manifold
a.f.e. c.a.i.
3" obx catback
full powerflex urethane setup
545 ssk
cdv delete
m5 rear sway bar
M5 chassis rods
M5 3.15 lsd
Bc-r coilovers w/ swift springs
Akebono=suck
ss braided brake lines

coming soon:

Jb lwfw

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  #3  
Old 05-04-2012, 10:12 PM
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Albo Albo is offline
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Could you have just used a ratcheting wrench?
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If you don't want to do nothing, you must want to do something.
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  #4  
Old 05-05-2012, 05:10 AM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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Only if it has a really deep offset. The back side of the knuckle is not flat.
__________________
ESS Tuning m60 version software
m60 intake manifold
a.f.e. c.a.i.
3" obx catback
full powerflex urethane setup
545 ssk
cdv delete
m5 rear sway bar
M5 chassis rods
M5 3.15 lsd
Bc-r coilovers w/ swift springs
Akebono=suck
ss braided brake lines

coming soon:

Jb lwfw

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  #5  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:34 PM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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so anyway i change my front wheel bearings friday and all is quiet until 24 hours later saturday night im cruising down the interstate doing about 80mph to keep up with traffic and i throw a wheel bearing. The whole floor board starts shuddering and i have to slow it down to about 60mph to stop the car from vibrating itself apart and it still sounds like im doing 110mph on a gravel road with studded tires. All i can think is why did i have to reuse the bearing bolts? a whole other story there...

after jacking the car up it ends up being in the rear and having nothing to do with my front end. When i spin the rear tires the driver side is dead silent. Not even brake drag noise. The passenger side on the other hand is loud, crunchy, and jerky. I was up until 2 ordering parts last night. Why couldnt i have done the rears first?
__________________
ESS Tuning m60 version software
m60 intake manifold
a.f.e. c.a.i.
3" obx catback
full powerflex urethane setup
545 ssk
cdv delete
m5 rear sway bar
M5 chassis rods
M5 3.15 lsd
Bc-r coilovers w/ swift springs
Akebono=suck
ss braided brake lines

coming soon:

Jb lwfw


Last edited by Topaz540i; 05-06-2012 at 07:35 PM.
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  #6  
Old 04-18-2013, 12:16 PM
mjbennett9 mjbennett9 is offline
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Mein Auto: 525i (E39)
For whatever reason, only your torgue measuring tool pic shows up correctly. Can you reppost the other pics including the custom sockets you made?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Topaz540i View Post
just wanted to brag about how i did both front wheel bearings in under 2 1/2hours total, including getting the car up on the jackstands, dragging all the tools out to the driveway, grinding 2 sockets down, and then getting the car back down and all the tools cleaned up

The biggest trick was that I figured out how to machine two sockets so that i didnt need to remove any control arms after loosening the strut tube pinch bolt. Normally you need to pull the lower end of the strut out to access the bearing bolts. To do this you would need to remove control arms and possibly need a realignment afterwards. This is what i wanted to avoid.

after removing the wheel and caliper I loosened the strut tube pinch bolt and then whacked the hub of the rotor with a large rubber mallet for a few medium whacks until it was about 3/8's of an inch pulled out. I was then able to slip my custom socket in behind and under the strut tube to get at the front bottom bolt. The front upper bolt only required that i grind the shoulder off to taper the back of the socket so it didnt hit the strut tube.

Basically what i did was first completely remove the rearward two bolts. These are unobstructed and easy to get at. Then i used a grinder to shorten a socket until it was only as deep as the head of the bolt. On the backside of the socket i ground off the square edge of the shoulder making the socket tapered kinda like a bullet. It cut away with a regular hand grinder and metal grinding (not metal cutting) disc.

Using this super short socket plus a wobble extension i was able to turn the remaining two bolts. The problem is that as the bolt backs out it hits the strut tube from behind so you simply turn each bolt a few turns at a time as you pull the bearing away from the hub so the bolt doesnt need to come outward.

a few things i learned here:

1. trying to turn a bolt that is torqued to 75ft/lbs with factory locktite using a 3/8 racket takes way more muscle power than i was expecting. You probably wont be able to use a breaker bar in this area so start drinking milk the night before.

2. you will absolutely not get a proper torque wrench back there. Luckily i had a digital torque adapater. Its kinda like a small box that connects to a regular ratchet like an extension and it displays the torque an lcd screen.

3.i like not having to press the bearings on or off even if they do cost way more for a hub assembly style than a simple bearing only. The rears next week will be another story. The 12 ton bottle jack press waits patiently.....

4.wobble extensions are really cool. I never had one before but i can see how much im going to use it in the future. It works way better than those universal joint style connections

5. the only two socket sizes needed from start to finish are an 18 and a 16mm socket.

6. put neverseize on the bearing mount and inside rotor for now on just in case you need to take it back off someday. I couldnt believe how firmly seized my rotors were to the bearing hubs. Even after pb blaster and about 50 of the best whacks from the rubber mallet that i could get at that angle from behind they would not budge. I ended up removing them with the bearing and then tapping the bearing out from the center with a metal hammer. Fell right out.

The reason i am changing my bearings is because in the last month or so the car has gradually started to feel like it would drift side to side in the lane a little. Its almost like being likely being pushed around by gusty wind except its not a windy day lol. The car didnt pull to either side but at the same time i still had to provide too much input to keep it going straight instead of "floating" out of my lane. This floaty effect is mainly noticed on the highway while traveling at high speed. I just remember when i got the car i could do 80mph with ust jone finger on the steering wheel. I want that feeling back.
On nice smooth roads the interior would be very silent but on textured pavement the roar of the road noise was definately being transmitted more than normal to my interior.
Symptoms i did not have are grinding noise while turning hard, or marbles in a tin can noise while spinning the tire.

With the rear bearings still original i seem to still have road noise that i think is coming from the rear only now. I didnt notice the noise from the rear before because i was certain it was coming from below the floor boards near my feet. The car feels more stable but still not the way i want it. I suspect that although it was time to change the fronts at 116k miles the rears are the ones that are causing most of what im trying to fix.
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  #7  
Old 04-19-2013, 08:22 AM
mjbennett9 mjbennett9 is offline
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Topaz540i,

Would you be willing to rent/loan your customized sockets? I'd pay for shipping. Easier than me trying to reinvent the wheel. I've done similar to other members. Actually, I gave away a BPS sensor for someone trying to resolve their ABS issue, and asked that they pass on to next person looking for one too, if it didn't fix his issue. Anyway, just a thought. Thanks!

P.S. the symptoms you described match exactly what I've been going through. I just did a large front end job, that fixed a majority of the issues, but not the drifting.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...0&postcount=56

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...=435307&page=3
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  #8  
Old 04-19-2013, 02:46 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Location: San Jose, California
 
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Mein Auto: 02 BMW 525i M54 automatic
This thread is a good one to cross reference to the canonical ones found by typing doing a thread find for "front wheel bearings" in the bestlinks:

- How to diagnose & replace front wheel bearings the easy way (1) & how to replace front wheel bearings the traditional way (1) (2) & as part of a complete suspension overhaul (1) & how to replace rear wheel bearings (1) (2) (3) & a rear axle suspension & wheel bearing installation DIY by mmm635 (1) (2) & rear bearings done the cn90 easy way (1) or the Smolck slide-hammer way (1)
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Note: Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need, in seconds!
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  #9  
Old 04-20-2013, 09:03 AM
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johnstern johnstern is online now
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Topaz-Just FYI I changed front wheel bearings in my 99 528iT using a 3/8 Snap-On swivel socket and an impact gun. Granted I have Bilstein struts which are a little shorter than the Sachs and grant easier access to the wheel bearing bolt. I never touched another bolt/nut-just the wheel bearing bolts in the same sequence you noted.

Snap-On swivel sockets are expensive but nothing else works like them. They turn smooth as silk at ridiculous angles. I bought mine on EBay so the cost was not so great. Their 1/4 inch, metric, 6 point swivel sockets are amazing.
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  #10  
Old 04-20-2013, 12:28 PM
mjbennett9 mjbennett9 is offline
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Johnstern,

Could u Post the link the exact 3/8" socket u mentioned? Also, u mention a 1/4" socket. Are both needed?
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  #11  
Old 04-20-2013, 09:49 PM
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johnstern johnstern is online now
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I believe the front wheel bearing/hub bolts have 16 mm heads. Here is the link for that swivel (Snap-On calls them universal sockets) socket new:

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item....e=&dir=catalog

I suggest you look for it on eBay since you'll get a much better price.

1/4 sockets are not needed to change wheel bearings.
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  #12  
Old 04-21-2013, 08:15 AM
ninetyseven ninetyseven is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnstern View Post
I believe the front wheel bearing/hub bolts have 16 mm heads. Here is the link for that swivel (Snap-On calls them universal sockets) socket new:

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item....e=&dir=catalog

I suggest you look for it on eBay since you'll get a much better price.

1/4 sockets are not needed to change wheel bearings.
what is pwned?
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  #13  
Old 04-21-2013, 10:22 AM
mjbennett9 mjbennett9 is offline
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I would say for stock shock, there is no way to do this without lowering strut (new alignment). I also noticed almost in everyone's case, each person's job varies (mileage may vary kinda thing) a lot! I'm less worried about lowering the strut than I am with the thrust arm (curved) blocking the lower bolt. See Fudman's post, as well as two pics I took today. I do know in my case, I cannot get teh strut high enough with two control arms/tie rod all connected (and sway link). If I recall, a min. of teh sway link will have to be disconnected and the tie rod on steering end. The two remaining connected thrust arms should all the wheel assembly to fall a few more inches. It doesn't really matter as the non-ball joint ends can be loosed very quickly and dropped to get the strut low enough. I just hope the ball joint end of the curved thrust arm can be moved around enough to get a swivel socket in there good enough. Based upon various postings, a swivel socket will succeed for this task.

Fudmans stock shock blocking bolt http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...10&postcount=1

The other question is, can the 4 bolts be loosened with a breaker bar (not using an impact gun). My pics attached.

The original intent of my post was to look for other pics of strut to see how close to the thrust arm balljoint. I was thinking my strut was pretty low as I mentioned to the tech to check orientation of the struts since all the wrok I did. I still think they didn't orient it correctly (height of strut aside). Anyway, fudman's looks similar to mine so most like it was locked (pinched) in place correctly (heightwise).
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  #14  
Old 04-24-2013, 08:34 AM
mjbennett9 mjbennett9 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnstern View Post
I believe the front wheel bearing/hub bolts have 16 mm heads. Here is the link for that swivel (Snap-On calls them universal sockets) socket new:

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item....e=&dir=catalog

I suggest you look for it on eBay since you'll get a much better price.

1/4 sockets are not needed to change wheel bearings.
I didn't find one on ebay, but will try different search parameters. However, here's a possibility too:

http://www.sears.com/craftsman-indus..._tnt=39869:4:0

I need to crawl under the car and see if it's 16mm or 18mm as well
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  #15  
Old 04-24-2013, 08:35 AM
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AnotherGeezer AnotherGeezer is online now
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Bearing pooner.

rofl
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  #16  
Old 04-28-2013, 07:42 AM
mjbennett9 mjbennett9 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnstern View Post
I believe the front wheel bearing/hub bolts have 16 mm heads. Here is the link for that swivel (Snap-On calls them universal sockets) socket new:

http://buy1.snapon.com/catalog/item....e=&dir=catalog

I suggest you look for it on eBay since you'll get a much better price.

1/4 sockets are not needed to change wheel bearings.
I double checked; bolts are 18mm. ebay last sold an 18mm swivel socket in March; no more for sale. Looking at a craftsman version instead. http://www.toolsforshop.com/craftsma...mm-19l597.html
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  #17  
Old 05-11-2013, 07:03 PM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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I vaguely remember the 6 cyl model having something different which made access to the bolts easier.
__________________
ESS Tuning m60 version software
m60 intake manifold
a.f.e. c.a.i.
3" obx catback
full powerflex urethane setup
545 ssk
cdv delete
m5 rear sway bar
M5 chassis rods
M5 3.15 lsd
Bc-r coilovers w/ swift springs
Akebono=suck
ss braided brake lines

coming soon:

Jb lwfw


Last edited by Topaz540i; 05-11-2013 at 07:08 PM.
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  #18  
Old 05-11-2013, 07:22 PM
helpmyfive helpmyfive is offline
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Without reading all of this I must add my 2 cents. I did one in about an hour, only because I screwed up and didn't remove the sway bar link the first time. Here's the quicker version:

jack the car
remove the wheel
lift the wheel assembly until the sway bar link has no pressure on it, remove it
loosen the strut and raise out of the way
turn the wheel to the right
remove the caliper bracket
remove two of the wheel bearing bolts
turn the wheel the to the left
remove the other two bolts, but leave the socket on the bolt because it's wedged into the strut now.

Bingo bongo, Bob's your uncle and OFF comes the wheel bearing. No special tools. No grinding. No surprises.

This should be 20-30 minutes max. Reassembly should take no more than 10 mins.
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