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Press the Bearings Into the Knuckles (Part 2)

27aThis is what the assembly looks like when ready to be pressed. I know it looks jerry-rigged, but it worked fine. The key objective is to press the bearing in STRAIGHT. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or efficient way of pressing – JUST STRAIGHT. As you can see, I’ve got the knuckle resting on pieces of steel and jack-stand extensions. I’m also using a 36mm socket pressed against a 5/16″ sheet of steel to make sure the pressure is dispersed as much to the outer race as possible. Do not press the bearing by the inner race. YOU WILL DAMAGE IT, GUARANTEED.

27bPress the bearing until (in my case) the 5/16″ sheet of steel is against the knuckle. The knuckle assembly will now look like this, however it’s not completely pressed in yet. It still has about 1/4″ to go and the old bearing will be used for that.

27cSet the old bearing on top of the assembly as shown. Now, to reiterate, the reason we’re doing this is because the new bearing MUST be pressed in against it’s outer race. Because this bearing is the same size as the old one, we can use the old one to press because it’s outer race is a perfect match. Again, we DON’T want to press the bearing on its inner race or it will be ruined. Guaranteed! I can’t say that enough times. DO NOT PRESS THE BEARING BY THE INNER RACE OR YOU WILL RUIN IT!

The bearing will make some loud “BANG” noises as it gets pressed into place. This is because the friction is so extreme. Once the noises stop and the handle on your press gets very tight, then the bearing is probably seated. Install the snap ring.

IMPORTANT: You may have already heard stories about other guys’ bearings going out after the first 500 miles. Well, this is the reason. Either they didn’t use a bearing press to press the bearings, or they did use a press, but they pressed against the wrong part of the bearing.

Fabtech includes a diagram for the reassembly order of the hub, bearings, seals, etc. Refer to it to finish the rest of this step for both sides of the vehicle.

27dIMPORTANT: Remember the inner races that were stuck to the hubs when they were pressed out? Well, we’re now going to use those races to help press the hub into the new bearings inside the steering knuckle.

Look at the picture. You can see the old outer bearing at the bottom of the stack (red arrow). This is so the studs on the hub don’t get damaged while pressing. At the top of the stack, you can see a large socket sitting on a piece of steel. Then underneath that is one of the old inner races (yellow arrow). The other inner race sits just underneath that and it needs to be resting on the inner race for the bearing that we pressed into the hub just a few minutes ago. Unlike the last step where we pressed the bearing on the outer race to prevent damage, we now need to press on the inner race to prevent damage.

UPDATE: February 21, 2005 – I have received e-mails from about 10 of you during the past year of which you specifically asked me about the bearings on your trucks. Every one of you (most of you were from California) stated that you had your lift installed at some shop for X-hundred dollars and that the bearings failed after about a month of driving. Most, if not all, of you also stated that your truck was the first Fabtech Tacoma installation that the shop had ever done. In other words, you were their guinea pig! To all of you that read my instructions and decide that you can’t install this lift on your own, I strongly encourage you to find a shop that has installed this kit with successful results. It’s quite obvious now that some of these shops don’t know what they’re doing nor do they seem to care. My Tacoma has gone over 10,000 miles since I installed the lift last year. The bearings have not shown any signs of failure because they were pressed in correctly.

UPDATE: July 1, 2006 – I just had my 30k mile service performed on the truck. Everything is in tip-top shape INCLUDING the bearings! It’s amazing because I still continue to get the occasional e-mails from people and all of them say pretty much the same thing: “I just had this lift installed last month and now there’s a grinding noise coming from my front wheels. Do you think it’s the bearings?” YES, IT’S THE BEARINGS! The shop that installed your lift has ruined your front wheel bearings so stop driving your truck and replace them now before you really cause some expensive damage. People, listen up! If you’re not going to install this lift yourselves, don’t take it to the first and/or cheapest shop that says they can install it. Get this kit installed at a shop that will do it right the first time. That money you saved by doing it cheaply the first time has now cost you more than it would have if you went through a reputable shop to begin with.

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