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Broke the Brakes

I recently did a brake job on a 2wd 2003 Xterra. It took two different days- on the first try (not knowing how the front hub/rotor was assembled) I beat on the two with a 3lb sledge and a crow bar for a good 45 minutes. The hub and rotor did separate by about a quarter inch, but didn’t seem to separate by much more than that. Not being able to get the assembly apart, I just put it all back together searched on the interweb for a solution. I found that there is a retaining nut on the end of the axle that requires a special socket to remove. After purchasing the outer bearing retaining nut socket , the assembly came apart easily. I replaced the rotors/pads and put it all together. The problem is there is a violent shake when driving over 60 mph. This happened after that beat down session. What did I damage - the axle, hub, or bearings? The shake transmits through the steering wheel and pedals, and can also be felt in the rest of the car.

You’re going to need new front wheel bearings.


As Tester said.

For $20 you can pick up a repair manual (Haynes or Chilton’s) at an auto parts store. One of these will help a lot for many issues w/ the vehicle and sometimes save you this kind of trouble.

(You can get official factory repair manuals by spending more if you’re interested).

I would have a pro inspect this mess before you kill yourself or someone else… The bearings, for SURE are junk, but after 45 minutes with a 3 pound sledge, the hub may have succumbed also. Since you have no clue, better have someone who knows what they are doing check it…

I have the factory manual, and oddly…it doesn’t have the detail on this particular job. Bearings are cheap. I’ll put new ones in and see how she rides. The axle looked fine - I don’t have a way of checking the runout, but it’s pretty hefty piece. I would imagine that the bearings would give out before anything happened to the hub or axle.

What type of bearings are used? The old style open roller bearings with races pressed into the hub or the newer style sealed ball bearings? Take that hub apart and clean and inspect it thoroughly…

The outer is is an open roller bearing, and the inner is a sealed bearing. When I had the correct axle nut removal socket and took the hub/rotor assembly off, the outer bearing comes right out. The inner is held in the hub by the rear seal. I cleaned and repacked the outer, but didn’t take the inner bearing out. There didn’t seem to be any evidence of damage on the outer bearing or on the hub…but I don’t imagine it’d take much wrong to produce vibration above 60mph. I did place an object for a frame of reference next to the rotor when it was back assembled and rotated it while looking at the reference object to see if I noticed any runout while it was turning, and it seemed just fine…but that was without the pressure of the car resting on it.

I was mistaken about the inner bearing - it’s also an open roller bearing. I’m going to take the hub to a shop to have the old races pressed out and new ones pressed in. I’ll see if new bearings solves the problem. Thanks for the advice thus far.

Just an update - I’ve replaced the bearings and races on the original hub. The vibration lessened minimally. I’ll be putting a new hub on tonight to see if that solves the problem.

Check tire run-out by using a pointer against the tread and rotating the tire/wheel by hand and observing the tread and pointer positions. The tire might be out of balance; or, the tie-rod end worn. (I know—you beat on the rotor).

Hellokit - I was going to move the front tires to the rear and vice versa tonite before I replaced the hub. The tie-rod end is still quite firm.

The vibration can also be felt while braking hard at speeds lower than highway speeds. Would a tire that was out of round or out of balance cause these symptoms?

It looks like I replaced the bearings for no good reason. After swapping tires, the shake is now in the back. Not only that, but the vibration on braking is the rear brakes. The new drums must be out of round. I pulled the emergency brake while at speed and it was the same vibration as when using the brake pedal. So…all that beating on the front assembly? Didn’t do a thing. This was one for stump the chumps.

After replacing the front bearing, and putting the original rear drums back on, the truck is riding smoother than ever. And since this was originally about replacing the brakes, the car stops quite well now.