How to Change a Front Wheel Bearing on a 2003 Olds Alero

by Blaze Johnson Google

    Although only produced for five years, the Alero has its place in the history books as the last model to roll off the Oldsmobile assembly line. Compared to its N-Body cousins, which included Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac Grand Am, the Alero appeared more refined where fit, finish and styling were concerned. Like its cousins -- or any other vehicle with enough miles under its belt -- the front wheel bearings will eventually fail and require replacement. Having the correct tools is a critical aspect of this repair procedure.

    Items you will need

    • Wheel chocks
    • Large flat-head screwdriver
    • 35 mm axle nut socket
    • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar with pipe extension
    • Penetrating oil
    • Lug nut wrench
    • 1/2-inch drive metric socket set
    • Jack and jack stands
    • Large C-clamp
    • Small length of rope or bungee cord
    • Small sledge hammer and a small block of wood
    • Three-jaw puller
    • Small brass wire brush
    • 1/2-inch drive torque wrench
    • GM part No. 10289657 or equivalent updated axle nut
    Step 1

    Park the Alero on a solid, level surface – preferably concrete. Engage the parking brake and chock the rear tires. If the you have aluminum wheels, pry off the center cap with a large flat-head screwdriver. If you have plastic wheel covers, loosen the lug nut caps with a socket, then remove the wheel cover.

    Step 2

    Loosen and remove the axle nut from the axle, using a 35 mm axle nut socket and 1/2-inch breaker bar. For additional leverage, slide a pipe extension over the breaker bar handle. Remove the nut with a ratchet and the axle nut socket. If necessary, spray the threads of the axle with penetrating oil to allow the axle nut to spin off more freely. Loosen the lug nuts -- with a lug nut wrench – just enough to be able to break them loose while the front wheels are off the ground; do not remove the lug nuts at this point.

    Step 3

    Lift the front of the vehicle and secure it with jack stands. Check the wheel chocks to ensure they are secured against the rear tires. Remove the lug nuts and the wheel. Remove the two bolts that secure the caliper bracket to the steering knuckle, using a socket and ratchet. Attempt to slide the caliper and bracket assembly off the brake rotor. If the caliper and bracket will not budge, press the caliper piston into its bore by compressing the outer pad against the rotor, using a large C-clamp. Secure the caliper and bracket above the rotor and hub, with a small piece of rope or a bungee cord; do not allow the caliper and bracket to dangle by the brake hose.

    Step 4

    Remove the brake rotor. Hold a small block of wood against the end of the axle shaft, then give the axle a solid whack with a small sledge hammer. Give the axle a few more small taps with the sledge to see if the axle is able to move in and out of the hub’s splined center. Disconnect the anti-lock brake sensor connector, then remove the three bolts that secure the hub assembly to the steering knuckle. If necessary, turn the steering wheel to the left or right to gain better access to the two lower bolts. Observe the mounting position and orientation of the brake dust shield.

    Step 5

    Remove the hub assembly from the steering knuckle, using a large three-jaw puller. Make sure the tapered end of the puller’s threaded bolt seats into the center of the axle end, and the jaws of the puller are seated against the rear of the hub before tightening the puller’s bolt. Once the hub assembly has broken loose from the steering knuckle, guide the hub assembly from the axle shaft.

    Step 1

    Hold the brake dust shield against the replacement hub’s mounting flange. Feed the hub assembly’s ABS sensor wiring through the steering knuckle opening; it may be necessary to push the axle in and bend the CV joint at an extreme angle in order to allow enough space for the sensor connector to pass through. Align the bolt holes of the hub’s flange with those of the steering knuckle, then mate the hub to the steering knuckle.

    Step 2

    While holding the hub in place, thread the mounting bolts by hand. Tighten the bolts evenly, in a crisscross pattern, until the hub’s flange rests flat against the steering knuckle’s mounting surface. Finish tightening the bolts to 70 foot-pounds. Connect the ABS sensor. Install the brake rotor, mount the caliper assembly to the steering knuckle, then align the bolt holes for the caliper bracket. Thread the bracket bolts and tighten them to 85 foot-pounds.

    Step 3

    Thread the replacement axle nut onto the axle, then install the wheel and lug nuts; tighten the lug nuts as much as possible while the front tires are off the ground. Lower the front of the vehicle, then tighten the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds. Tighten the axle nut to 173 foot-pounds. Replace the wheel cover or center cap, then remove the wheel chocks.