View original topic: Needle grease rear wheel bearings? Page: 1, 2, 3, 4  Next
Sodo Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:52 pm

Anybody have opinions about this method to add grease to wheel bearings? I'd sure like to clean the old grease out but this is just ferkin' EASY. After getting the axle nut off, of course.

It looks like the 2" needle inserts to about the middle.

So, what's going on in there? I can imagine two situations:

1) Grease gets warm, and flows all over, continually mixing. Adding grease dilutes the contaminated grease, improving the situation.

2) Grease generally throws or is squished out of the bearing path, and stays put. Consequently the wear particles are pushed out, and stay put (out). Adding more grease increases the chance that wear particles get back into the bearing.

Anyone KNOW which condition is happening?

Terry Kay Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:14 pm

This is exactly why it would be a real good idea to remove the bearings, clean them out in a pan with some diesel fuel, repack them, and then toss it all back together.

Clean & regreased bearings are happy bearings.
Plus when you have them out & cleanm you can take a look at them to be sure they are OK before you slap them back into the hub.
Add a zerk fitting on the hub, toss that needle in the round file.

Merian Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:19 pm

Lisle makes a nice cheap bearing packer that keeps your pinkies clean and seems to work better than hand packing.

syncrodoka Fri Feb 05, 2016 4:22 pm

Adding grease to the spacer area isn't going to help your bearings. Yank the bearings, clean and repack.

Sodo Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:10 pm

HA! Easy for you to say !!!

Not sure yet that disassembly makes sense yet. Aside from the axle nut procedure.....getting to this point is pretty darn easy. Don't have to remove the brakes even. And is exactly the same as a grease fitting. I like Dave's method with the socket, ejecting (some of) the old grease.

Terry Kay Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:16 pm

What you are implicating is that you know full well that the bearings & races are up to snuff & perfect without taking them outa the hub.


Don't drink that Kriptonite milk shake.
Your judgemental call may deviate a little.

insyncro Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:26 pm

Remove the entire bearing carrier, put it in a ultrasonic cleaner, it will be sparkley clean in less than an hour.
Pack it, install it.

Drilling for grease zerks is recommended.

IdahoDoug Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:47 pm

In my experience, grease next to a bearing in a space does not mix with the bearing in the space. In the perhaps 200 wheel bearings I've opened, that was always the case except for the distressed/overheated bearings, which it WILL help as things get crazy hot.

I actually did an experiment on a birfield joint as it was popular thinking that fresh grease put into a grease port would not finds its way into the important spots. I used two different colors of grease and drove it just 50 miles or so before opening it for planned maintanance and it did mix and get into the key areas.

But this is a different style housing and so would not have the kind of turbulence that would get it into the bearings. I think it would be a bust and possibly push the cruddy grey grease that's next to your bearings as you surmise, into the bearings in a likelihood that is about the same as the other scenario.

61Scout Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:08 pm

I'd rebuild. Piece of cake if you have access to a press. And if you don't, I know you can build one! No, not trying to give you a hard time here. I built my own press. But point being is that you're not going to be able to properly inspect the bearings without disassembly, and at your mileage I'd rather have the peace of mind if it were my rig.

Try not to let that caliper hang off the flex line like that... better to use a bungee or string to tie it up and out of the way with no stress on that line.


Sodo Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:21 pm

Hmmmm. They're quiet now. OBVIOUSLY theres a super easy way to get exactly the same benefit as adding grease fittings. But yeah what about pushing dirty grease into the bearings.

What about washing them out without disturbing them?

Terry Kay Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:32 pm


Sodo Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:47 pm

I have a press but its 2:45 away. You are saying its a simple matter to buy new bearings and exchaned them?

Simpler and more reliable than taking efforts to run the OEM parts longer?

61Scout Fri Feb 05, 2016 7:56 pm

I'll leave the new bearings/old bearings debate to someone else. What I'm saying is that there's no way to properly clean and inspect the bearings and housing without disassembly.

A press, a few brass drifts and a seal puller are all you need to service the housing. Helps to have the proper bearing/seal drivers for the press too of course. But it's not difficult. Adding the zerk is easy too, just need the correct tap.

EDIT: I realize I may not have addressed your question... the assembly can be completely disassembled and reassembled using the old bearing provided that they pass inspection. It's an easy thing to screw up the bearings during disassembly and that's why I feel a lot of guys are timid about servicing the housing. It's, I suppose delicate/requires patience, but it's absolutely doable.


Wildthings Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:12 pm

Any time I rebuild my rear brakes I add grease to the outer bearing by forcing grease between the rollers with a needle. It purges the old grease out just fine. No it doesn't do anything for the inner bearing except for maybe filling the housing a bit.

Sodo Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:42 pm

Wildthings wrote: Any time I rebuild my rear brakes I add grease to the outer bearing by forcing grease between the rollers with a needle. It purges the old grease out just fine. No it doesn't do anything for the inner bearing except for maybe filling the housing a bit.

If you remove the axle, and rerplace it with some kind of appropriately sized cylinder like THIS (Daves pic, stolen from other thread):

Pumping grease into the center of the bearing with the needle, is going to do exactly THIS once the center cavity has filled. If there's no sealing at the backside it will do the same, right? Or is something different on the backside?

(Another Daves pic, stolen)

Will the axle just slide out of both bearings ----- or does it need to be pressed?

Terry Kay Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:47 pm

I guess my question is if you never planned on removing, cleaning, unspecting the bearings, & if they proved to be OK, then greasing them, why did you yank the hub?

This move to servicing them, and then start asking questions, "what if" is beyond comprehension.
Or--I don't get it.
Your there, service them.

You are going to do both sides of the van--right?

Sodo Fri Feb 05, 2016 8:59 pm

Not sure how far I'm going. My bearings are quiet. I have both nuts off.

I'm just assuming that TheSamba member is interested in what can he/she do to extend the life of what is there. It's completely, totally, and utterly, reasonable to explore these things. And reasonable to continue to use good OEM wheel bearings until they make a little noise or slop. I have never read of OEM bearings crapping out with zero warning. Don't they give hundreds if not thousands of miles of warning?

Needle greasing the rear bearings is darn easy (except perhaps the big axle nut). A Vanagon owner should appreciate knowing it can be done. A guy can go to a shop or friend's house, bust the axle nuts loose, put them back tight, then go home and do this part hisself.

Does the axle slide out of these bearings easy or hard?

Terry Kay Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:13 pm

The axle shafts are not difficult to remove.
The only thing holding them in is the inner races of the bearing and the lips on the seal.
A press makes it easier to pop it out.

You did all of this work, plus manufacture the Jungle Boogie bar to just to be able to report it's no big deal to half grease the rear axle bearings?
Take the pictures too?

I gotta think about this operation for awhile.

Let me ask this question;
If you removed the front rotors to service the wheel bearings, would you clean them up, take a look at them to make sure they were OK, then repack them both, or just the outer bearings?

61Scout Fri Feb 05, 2016 9:34 pm

Sodo, if you have a day I have a couple in the shop I'm going to service tomorrow. I'll be happy to take pictures of the disassembly process and the tools I use if you'd like. It's all outlined in the Bentley but those photos are horrible.


Merian Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:00 pm

Sodo wrote: Not sure how far I'm going. My bearings are quiet. I have both nuts off.


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