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Rear wheel bearing replacement 1999 BMW 323i Convertible (E36 chassis) Help! Hubs won't budge!

Hello friends,

I could use some advice. I’m not a neophyte, but I’m not a factory trained dealership mechanic, either.

After 114000 miles, rear wheel bearing on Left is bad. Decided to do both sides and things went swimmingly until I tried to take the hubs off. I can’t remove the axle shaft from the hub. If I can’t get the hubs off, I can’t get to the bearings. The hub will not budge in spite of my heroic and creative efforts to employ leverage and brute force.

  1. a 5 pound slide hammer, and smashed that thing as hard as I could many times. Good cardio, but no movement.
  2. a 5 ton, 3 legged gear puller and standing and jumping and bouncing on it with all my 170 pounds, no movement.
  3. same 5 ton puller with a pneumatic impact wrench that delivers close to 300 foot pounds of torque, no movement.
  4. whaling on the center of the spindle with a drift hit by a heavy mallet repeatedly, until breathless, no movement.
  5. using a hub-puller (shaped like a harmonic balance puller, but with a “u” shape in the center, and jumping and bouncing on it as in #2 above, and then using the same impact wrench as in # 3. No movement.
  6. went back to repeat attempts #1 to # 5. Hubs won’t budge.

A thorough review of BMW repair manuals and extensive web-searching have not lead to a solution.

Please what shall I do now with the car as it is up on axle-stands, backed-into and dismantled in my carport? A couple of mobile mechanics I called had no experience with these hubs, or only were willing to pull the hubs in their shop.

Can’t easily get it to a shop, a tow truck won’t be able to pull it out due to clearance side-to side in the carport, and because, the rear wheels, brakes, and axles ain’t attached no more.

Is my last option that of removing the trailing arms, brakes, shocks, etc, and take the trailing arms with hub and axles attached to a machine shop and have them pressed out there?

Girlfriend wanted me to take it to a shop. I wanted to save $700.00 in labor and be the Man! I need to finish the job here and impress the heck out of her. I’m hoping to celebrate a job well done with a ride down to Big Sur with the top down before next week when she travels.

I’ll be grateful for your counsel.

Many thanks.


You didn’t miss the little screws that hold the hubs on, did you??

Give this step by step a shot. I know it says E46, and you said E36, but BMW haven’t changed much in the rear ends in forever. My 1980 320 was exactly the same setup, except for drum brakes.

I’m assuming, of course, that by “hubs” you’re talking about the brake hubs/discs.

Destructive force is never the answer…The axles are RETAINED in position by some mechanical means…You must first release whatever method is used to retain the axles…

The brake discs/drums are held in place by (normally 2) phillips head screws.
The rear half-shafts are held to the stub axles by 6 (8mm, I think) allen bolts.
The axle stub is held in place by a nut.
The bearing is held in by a retaining clip (please replace that at <$3).

The hardest thing to get out is the axle stub…but it shouldn’t require anything like a “5 ton, 3 legged gear puller” to get it out. You’ve missed something.

If, in all your hammering/pulling you’ve damaged the threads on the axle stub…well, good luck finding one in a yard. You don’t want to buy one.

Hello. Thanks for your replies especially the link to the photo album of the bearing replacement job. No, the disc is off, that was simple.

I think I have missed something, but I can’t find a blow-apart diagram of the parts for the rear wheel/brake/hub/axle assembly.

So far, I haven’t broken tools, or hurt the threads on the axle.

The wheel bearing repair kits come with snap rings, a new axle stub bolt, two additional smaller nuts, and one bolt. I can’t determine where the the smaller nuts and one bolt are fitted. I wonder if these are the fasteners I have failed to remove?

Thanks again for your feedback.