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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

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 08-27-2011, 04:58 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1998 528i 5-sp 140K+
DIY: 1998 528i FRONT Bearing the Easy Way (45 min to 60 min each side)!

DIY: 1998 528i FRONT Bearing the Easy Way (45 min to 60 min each side)!

- When replacing the Front Bearing of E39, most procedure books call for loosening the bottom of the strut, swaybar endlinks, subframe bolts etc. to gain access to the upper bolts of the bearing. The problem is: if you do it this way, an alignment is recommended after the bearing is changed.
- I will show you how to replace the Front Bearing in 30 min, without the need for any of those steps (loosening the bottom of the strut, swaybar endlinks, subframe bolts etc) that create a potential need for alignment!

- If your car has low mileage such as 50-60K, I guess you can only do the bad bearing only.
- In my case, I have 120K miles and since the lifespan of most bearings is about 130-170K miles, I elected to do both bearings (although at this moment, only my RF bearing is bad).

- The issue of re-using vs new bolts. The book says use new bolts. The reality is different. I just met my friend who works at BMW dealer. He has done hundreds of bearings in E39, E46, E60 etc. etc. At the dealer, they never ever change the 4 bolts (even though the book says so). He said he never ever ever had an issues of re-using these wheel bearing bolts. So there you go.
- Replace these bolts or keep them as you wish. I simply re-use these bolts.


1. Symptoms of Bad Bearing @120K miles:
- In case, car wandering a little bit on highway
- Noise "rao rao rao rao" during turning R or L
- Jack up the tire and spin the wheel, you can hear "marbles in a can" sound.
- See youtube video of another person with the same problem of bad Front bearing:





- See this generic bearing picture. Most modern cars use "double-row bearings".
The Inner Race is split into 2 parts: "1a" and "1b" during the mfg process.
When you turn LEFT, the weight of the car ---> steering knuckle ---> pushing on the "1b" row of bearings on the RF wheel bearing; and pushing on the "1a" row of bearings on the LF wheel bearing.

- So when you diagnose the front bearing noise, there is no hard-and-fast rule: some say bad RF bearing is bad when turning L, some say RF bearing is bad when turning R etc. etc.
It all depends on which row (Inner or Outer) of bearing is bad. BEST is to jack the car up and spin the tire to check for noise (see youtube video above) and check for play (I have a very very slight play, my suspension is brand new, so I know this is from the bearing play).




2. Tools:
- 3/8" 18-mm short socket for Bearing Bolts: this is the key to success!
- 3/8" extensions
- 17" long 3/8" breaker bar. Get it at Harbor Freight for $8:
http://www.harborfreight.com/38-driv...bar-67931.html

- 1" Iron Pipe from hardware store for extra leverage (a few bucks).
- Red Loctite
- Metal coat hanger or wire to hang the brake caliper.

- Floor Jack + Jackstand

- 18-mm wrench (for brake caliper)
- Rubber Hammer (to tap the 18-mm Brake Caliper bolts)

- CRC Brake Cleaner (if your hand creates grease on the rotor).

- Optional: Propane Torch (you may or may not need this)





3. Parts:
- Factory Front Bearing (BMW PN 31221093427) is made by F.A.G. ($150 online) but if you buy TIMKEN (which is a very good mfg of bearing), you get F.A.G. bearing anyway but at a cheaper price. TIMKEN simply buys F.A.G. Bearing and put it in a TIMKEN Box!
- TIMKEN HA593427 BMW E39 Front Bearing is $95 online!

- Good website to look up TIMKEN Bearings PN!
http://www.showmetheparts.com/Timken/

- I bought the TIMKEN HA593427 for $90/each. They may not list it but call them:
http://www.stockwiseauto.com/





4. References:

* Zeckhausen's DIY:
http://www.zeckhausen.com/E39_Bearings.htm

* Google "BMW E39 Front Bearing DIY" etc.


5. Procedures:
a. Removal:

- Chock rear wheels with bricks.
- Loosen wheel lugs (but do NOT remove them). Jack the car up and support with jackstand under subframe. Remove wheel and place it under car for added safety.




- Turn the wheel outward to expose the 2 Front bolts holding the bearing.
- Note that the UPPER FRONT bolt is the "Troublemaker bolt"!
Many people undo the strut, control arm bolts to lower the steering knuckle, all because of this bolt. The UPPER FRONT bolt is hidden behind the strut, this is why you need the 18-mm 3/8" short socket, and 17" 3/8" breaker bar!







- If necessary, use a bit of heat (propane torch at the tip of the bolt to melt the factory Loctite); maybe 15-30 seconds of heat is fine. I did not use the Propane torch, instead I added a drop of oil on the bolt thread, it makes removal easier. The key thing is the 17" breaker bar, it makes life 100 times easier because the factory bolts have Loctite, which makes it stiff to remove.

- Remove Brake Caliper using 18-mm wrench (a rubber hammer is useful here). You may need to pry the brake pad a tiny bit to loosen it so you can free it from the rotor, if your rotor's lip has rusty edge.
- Hang the Brake caliper using coat hanger or wire.
- Remove rotor (first remove the 6-mm Allen screw).









- Picture of the old Bearing/Hub assembly, note that the mounting bolts stick out about 5mm or so.





- Now this is the key to success:

* Loosen all 4 bolts holding the bearing. For Front 2 bolts: turn wheel outward. For Rear 2 bolts, turn wheel inward to expose them to make room for the breaker bar to work. No need to start engine, just turn the wheel manually from steering wheel.
* Now leave the UPPER FRONT bolt "Troublemaker bolt" alone for now. Remove the other 3 innocent bolts (no need to take them out, just leave them hanging there); leaving the bad guy for last.
* You will see that the 18-mm short socket barely clears the Strut by 5mm, so while undoing this "troublemaker" bolt, pull the bearing outward at the same time. This way the socket does not hit the Strut.
* If the bearing does not come out of the mating surfaces, whack it slightly with your favorite hammer, it will come out.

b. Installation:
- Check new bearing to be sure it is in good shape, spin it and you will see it is tight.
- Clean mating surfaces with a small screw driver.
- Apply Red Loctite on the bolts. I also put a drop inside the New Bearing Threads.

- Install new bearing. The bearing only fits one way, the notch fits on wheel sensor side.
- Again tighten the "troublemaker" bolt first. Finger-tight only. Then finger-tighten the other 3 bolts.
- Torque these 4 bolts to 75 lb-ft. If you cannot fit the Torque Wrench in there, just snug it tight the German way using the breaker bar LOL! With the Red Loctite, the bolt is not coming out.





- Install rotor and retaining bolt (but first: apply a tiny bit of antiseize to prevent rotor from bonding to hub).

- Install Brake Caliper, I use a bit of antiseize on the 18-mm bolts. Torque to spec.: 60 lb-ft.
I usually tap this with a hammer for about 60 degrees (from let's say 1 o'clock to 11 o'clock positions). This is because it is difficult to fit a Torque Wrench in the wheel well.

- A thin smear of antiseize to prevent:
a. Bonding of Rotor to Hub
b. Bonding or Wheel to Hub.





- Clean rotor from any grease created by this job using CRC brake cleaner.

- Install wheel and just snug tight it.

- Remove jackstand and lower car to the ground.

- Now tighten the wheel lugs to spec. 88 lb-ft or so.

- STOP FOR BEER BREAK....LOL!

- Now replace the other side bearing.

- Once both bearings are replaced, with engine OFF, gently depress the brake pedal to seat the brake pads (remember you pried the pads open a bit before).
This is IMPORTANT TO DO, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!


6. Autopsy:

- I don't have time for an autopsy of the OLD bearings, but I will do it soon when time permits.


That is all boys and girls. It is not that difficult. Actually if you can change a flat tire, you can do this seriously. Desperate housewives (BTW what happened to that show?) can do this LOL.
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Last edited by cn90; 08-27-2011 at 09:32 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2011, 05:14 PM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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I would be remiss if i didn't add this unique & time/money-saving DIY to the bestlinks for ease of reference!

Searching for "bearings" in the bestlinks, I find only these, for the front:
- cn90 DIY: 1998 BMW 528i COMPLETE FRONT SUSPENSION OVERHAUL
- Zeckhausen E39 Front wheel bearings DIY
- 530iman E39 front wheel bearings & hub

And, only these for the REAR:
- mmm635 E39 Rear Suspension & Wheel Bearing Install DIY (bimmerforums, bimmerfest)
- thesteve E38 Front wheel bearing replacement (bimmerboard)

Plus this, for both:
- TIS front & rear axle (1)

Putting it together, along with this newly written DIY, we get something like:

- 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).

Of course, if you know of better links, please advise (so that we add value with every post).

Last edited by bluebee; 08-28-2011 at 10:22 AM.
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  #3  
Old 08-27-2011, 05:23 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Wow, that's simple. A load off my mind, to be sure. Seems like there's a lot of talk about wheel bearings lately. I guess the rears are a lot harder though!
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Old 08-27-2011, 06:05 PM
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blz456 blz456 is offline
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CN,

What would we do without you?
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  #5  
Old 08-27-2011, 06:49 PM
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gchand gchand is offline
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CN - Thank you another prize repair post, including the parts sourcing tips!
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  #6  
Old 08-27-2011, 09:28 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
...I guess the rears are a lot harder though!
The REAR Bearings are already shipped, I should receive them next week.
Next weekend is the REAR Bearing DIY.
I will show you the Easy way.
I have a tendency to simplify things in my life, transforming complex issues into simple things, but that is another story LOL.....so stay tuned for the REAR bearing DIY!
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  #7  
Old 08-27-2011, 10:50 PM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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I don't suppose anyone with a 540 can chip in on whether this method applies there?

Looking forward to the rear bearings, though at the rate rust is advancing lately I might not need them :s
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  #8  
Old 08-28-2011, 12:27 AM
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moots moots is offline
wat's dat noise
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this is just freakin awesome.thanks cn90.
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  #9  
Old 08-28-2011, 05:50 AM
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DHoang DHoang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
The REAR Bearings are already shipped, I should receive them next week.
Next weekend is the REAR Bearing DIY.
I will show you the Easy way.
I have a tendency to simplify things in my life, transforming complex issues into simple things, but that is another story LOL.....so stay tuned for the REAR bearing DIY!
I don't know how you're going to outdo this DIY trick, but I'm sure you will
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Old 08-28-2011, 09:52 AM
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nyclad nyclad is offline
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Excellent!

Wow...this is cool. I wish I had know that when I did my front wheel bearings...including the cheaper Timken branded *** bearings. (kidding...sort of...)

Actually, I had to change the thrust arms anyways since I was replacing the original one with the junk Powerflex bushings with the EAC pressed in Meyle HD bushings.
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  #11  
Old 08-28-2011, 06:39 PM
maher528 maher528 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
The REAR Bearings are already shipped, I should receive them next week.
Next weekend is the REAR Bearing DIY.
I will show you the Easy way.
I have a tendency to simplify things in my life, transforming complex issues into simple things, but that is another story LOL.....so stay tuned for the REAR bearing DIY!

I did both rears about 2 months back..

misery
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Old 08-28-2011, 07:13 PM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Update on Autopsy,

It was a bear to dismantle the bearing simply because I do not have a fixed place to clamp the hub while removing the large 40-mm nut. Even so, this 40-mm large nut probably uses the same torque as the Axle nut, so removing it by the 40-mm socket is not easy, even if you clamp the hub!

1. There are 2 seals on the Inner Side.

2. Anyway, with an angle grinder, the 40-mm nut came off after some struggling LOL.
The anatomy is exactly as shown in the first picture of this thread.
- The Hub includes the Inner Race "1b"
- Two (2) rows of balls
- Inner Race "1a"
- Then the large 40-mm nut

3. The race surfaces are very shiny and smooth with absolutely no damage at all.
I think the wear is from normal wear of the balls (and races), creating a very slight play. Amazingly, the grease is still inside and in good shape after 13 years and 120K!

My theory is: with time, the balls wear down, as the bearing is not adjustable, there is a very slight play, very slight that you only detect with the wheel in the car. Once the bearing is removed, it is hard to re-produce the play.











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  #13  
Old 08-28-2011, 07:14 PM
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Jason5driver Jason5driver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
The REAR Bearings are already shipped, I should receive them next week.
Next weekend is the REAR Bearing DIY.
I will show you the Easy way.
I have a tendency to simplify things in my life, transforming complex issues into simple things, but that is another story LOL.....so stay tuned for the REAR bearing DIY!
Can't wait!

Thank you again Sir!

Thanks!
Jason
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  #14  
Old 08-28-2011, 08:30 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Say, what are the "good" replacement brands that supply these bearing assemblies for our cars?

F.A.G.
Timken (F.A.G.)
SKF (ah!, SKF = F.A.G. !!)

What about BCA? I've seen this brand listed as a quality supplier for some types of bearings.

Last edited by pleiades; 08-28-2011 at 09:53 PM.
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  #15  
Old 08-28-2011, 10:02 PM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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Just did it today as well based on Cam DIY
Unfortunately Sachs struts are longer than aftemarket Cam bilstein
They are so close to bottom nut that you must to take them off
I spend a lot of time and finally found a way how to do it w/o removing the strut
Here we go :



and this is my handmade socket which did this trick


Last edited by champaign777; 08-28-2011 at 10:04 PM.
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  #16  
Old 08-28-2011, 11:23 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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Uh-oooh.... then this is a Bilstein-only DIY?
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  #17  
Old 08-29-2011, 06:13 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
Uh-oooh.... then this is a Bilstein-only DIY?
For people with Sachs Strut, I think it is nice to get the "recessed 18mm wrench" as champaign777 showed above.

Just Google "recessed 18mm wrench" and see what you get. Sears has it but I am not sure it is deep enough:

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00944364000P

Last edited by cn90; 08-29-2011 at 11:20 AM.
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  #18  
Old 08-29-2011, 06:16 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Also,

For those of you who wonders what "Made in USA" or "Made in Germany"means, below is good reading from "EuroDavid" on roadfly on the same thread that I asked him re F.A.G. mfg operation.

Read threads #13 and #14 (by EuroDavid):

http://forum.roadfly.com/threads/131...sweet-surpirse
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  #19  
Old 08-29-2011, 07:15 AM
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bmw_n00b13 bmw_n00b13 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
For people with Sachs Strut, I think it is nice to get the "recessed 18mm wrench" as champaign777 showed above.

Just Google "recessed 18mm wrench" and see what you get. Sears has it but I am not it is deep enough:

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00944364000P
By eyeballing champaign's DIY special tool, I'd say it isn't.
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  #20  
Old 08-29-2011, 07:40 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pleiades View Post
Uh-oooh.... then this is a Bilstein-only DIY?
I wonder for those with Sachs, you can make your own socket.
Just buy a generic 18mm socket for $5 and use an angle grinder (it takes about 5-10 min to cut it to the shape below) to make something like this, it should fit in that tight space:


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  #21  
Old 08-29-2011, 09:08 AM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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you need to cut the head of "recessed 18mm wrench" for Sachs Strut to 4-5 MM
be ready to spend half day but it can be done and you dont need to remove anything like Cam did
but the job is a real PITA for Sachs

car feels good

Last edited by champaign777; 08-29-2011 at 11:19 AM.
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  #22  
Old 08-30-2011, 07:41 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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champaigned,

How did you make that 18mm wrench?
Any detail on how to make that 18mm wrench for those with Sachs struts?
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  #23  
Old 08-30-2011, 08:20 AM
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champaign777 champaign777 is offline
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go an buy 8 Piece Metric Offset Box Wrench Set from Harbor Freight



buy some cut-off tool and cut 18MM head to 4-5 MM



use WD 40

be ready to spend good 2H to take these bolts off


Last edited by champaign777; 08-30-2011 at 09:07 AM.
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  #24  
Old 08-30-2011, 08:46 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Oh,

You "trimmed" the 18mm wrench so it is thinner!
Good Trick!
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  #25  
Old 09-02-2011, 12:02 PM
pleiades pleiades is offline
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champaign,

Were you able to remove/replace all the hub bolts or did you have to leave the front lower one in there and re-use it (with loctite red or ...)?
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