1996 Saturn SL2 Front Right Wheel Bearing/Hub Replacement

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Just as I was about to start a different project, my wife Lisa complained that some noise was coming from the front of the car and that she was concerned about it. We test drove the car around the block and sure enough, the noise was coming from the front right wheel.

Just a week before then, I had recharged the AC system with R134 refrigerant for the summer season
(as explained in this post). and I thought I was done.

I jacked up the front right side of the car and when I tried to move the tire back and forth, it felt a little loose. I did the same thing on the left side. The tire felt firm with only the spinning motion. I figured that the problem was with the front right wheel bearing.

The estimate to replace the hub was about $450. Obviously it was easier to replace the whole hub with the bearing with it, because the estimate to replace just the bearing was even higher. Although the bearing was cheaper, the labor was lot more. From the local auto recycling place the quote for the hub came out to be $45, so the balance of the quote mentioned above was labor.

I found this link explaining the steps to replace the hub / bearing for a different year / model of Saturn, but the steps are very similar for 1996 Saturn SL2 model. Scroll down half the page to see step by step procedures with pictures. I followed these steps up to step 14 where you pry out the hub, at that step I diverged.

Right Front Hub

Here is how the 1996 Saturn SL2 right front hub looks like.

1996 Saturn SL2 Right Front Hub rear side

1) ABS sensor, 2) Steering Rod Knuckle, 3) The Suspension Rod Knuckle 4) Brake Caliper Bracket Connections, 5) Splined Half Shaft goes in there. Control Arm Knuckle on the upper left (unmarked).

1996 Saturn SL2 Front Right Wheel

At the center of the wheel is the 28 mm half shaft nut. I bought a hub/bearing set from Harbor Freight which included number of deep sockets for this kind of a job.

Brake Caliper

Brake caliper has two bolts, take out the top one. The lower one just slides out. Set it aside on top of the anti-sway bar.

Brake Pads

Remove the brake pads.

Caliper Bracket

Remove the caliper bracket held by two bolts.

Brake Rotor

Remove the brake rotor.

1996 Saturn SL2 Front Right Hub

Finally the Hub to be replaced.

Steering Arm to Steering Knuckle connection

Remove the cotter pin and the castle nut.

Tie Rod End Puller

Tie Rod End Puller Autozone (part # OEM 27022) . When I called Autozone about this tool, he said there was a $10 deposit on it. I was little confused about this. He explained that you could return the tool within 90 days and get your money back. Sweet!

Suspension Rod Bolts

Remove the two suspension rod bolts.

Control Arm Connection

The yellow arrow points to the second castle nut. Remove the cotter pin and loosen the castle nut. It is not possible to remove this nut, because there is not enough clearance above it. Loosen it enough that the hub will move around.

Removing the Hub

Now yank the hub towards you (away from the car). You will have to wiggle it and push the half shaft towards the engine. It will come out (eventually!).

Once the half shaft comes out, there will be enough clearance to remove the castle nut. You will need to use the puller tool again to push the bolt through the hub.

Parts removal sequence.

Here is the part removal sequence.

The old hub

I can see why they charge so much for this job, because it took a long time to do all these steps. The hardest part was the second castle nut, especially when putting it back in. It took me two half days to finish this repair.

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One Response to 1996 Saturn SL2 Front Right Wheel Bearing/Hub Replacement

  1. Kat ballard says:

    Do you think you really needed the puller?? I checked out another step by step and there were no special tools, just curious

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