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View Full Version : Review of the Harbor Freight Wheel Bearing Tool



flashburn
12-09-2010, 09:38 AM
Update: The tool snapped under pressure while pressing in my other bearing. Harbor Freight does not warranty these tools either. They only warranty Pittsburgh branded tools. Final Review: Not worth the money.

http://www.harborfreight.com/fwd-front-wheel-bearing-adapters-66829.html
http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_1936.jpg

I thought I'd post a review on the Harbor Freight Wheel Bearing Tool. It was recommended by some forum goers but I could find a review of it. I hope this helps someone.

The short: Not worth it, just take the upright to a machine shop. The tool cost ~100 bucks with tax and paying someone to press bearings cost about 20 bucks, or a 12 pack of beer depending on who you go to. However, I only could work on my car, a daily driver, on Sunday when no machine shops are open around me. As such, the tool did work. When I do the fronts, I'll just plan to do it when I can get a machine shop involved though.

The Good Aspects:

The kit does work, albeit poorly. It says not to use an impact on it, but I absolutely don't see how you could possible remove a bearing in any amount of reasonable time without an impact on the large nut. It did press in a new bearing fairly easy when well greased. I did this step by hand to insure I didn't destroy a new bearing.

Most of the tool is heavy duty, but the main bolt that the kit centers around is not high enough grade steel so its threads wear down quickly, despite being oiled well. I was able to do two bearings but I'm not certain the kit would last through four bearings. Their is an immense amount of pressure on the bolt, I can't fathom why they didn't make it from higher grade steel? But it worked or two bearings so far.

The Bad:
This does not remove the hub!!! I was under the impression it did, as I think some other forum goers were too. Read that again, this does not remove the hub!!! I found a tool online called a hub shark. If you are a DIY person who like buying tools, buy the hub shark instead. It costs slightly more, but it is better designed because it removes the hub.

This HF kit doesn't include a very precise pressing plate. I had to press the bearing in to the upright with an oversize plate then push the last ~.5 inches with a slightly undersized plate. I suspect the Chinese making this "American Standard" tool (or whatever ridiculously misleading name they used) didn't pay attention to the tolerances of a true bearing press. However, it did press it in without damaging the plate.

Hope that helps someone.
[wrench][drive]

Audiudo
12-09-2010, 11:14 AM
Thank you for your review

EuroDriven
12-09-2010, 11:15 AM
GJ [up] Maybe we need a review sub forum in the b5 section for b5 specific parts / tools.

flashburn
12-09-2010, 11:34 AM
GJ [up] Maybe we need a review sub forum in the b5 section for b5 specific parts / tools.

Yeah, I was trying to find a better place for it but B5 A4 seemed best since I did the work on a B5? I dunno - admins?

-:vw:-
12-09-2010, 11:36 AM
Thanks for the review. Question on the bolt. Could you not just swap in something of a higher grade from a hardware store or use a section of threaded rod?

flashburn
12-09-2010, 02:49 PM
You probably could. But a bolt that massive is likely going to be A) really hard to find B) 15 dollars or so. For 100 dollars worth of kit you'd expect a little more. But lets say you were using the kit and the bolt snapped, you probably could find something so you weren't SOL.

somebody5788
12-09-2010, 03:25 PM
You probably could. But a bolt that massive is likely going to be A) really hard to find B) 15 dollars or so. For 100 dollars worth of kit you'd expect a little more. But lets say you were using the kit and the bolt snapped, you probably could find something so you weren't SOL.

Bolts like 2-3 bux at Lowes or NAPA

Charlie240sxt
12-09-2010, 05:40 PM
i have this kit i use an air hammer to remove the hub then use this to press everything out and back in when the supplied bolt and threaded rod gave out i took them to a machine shop and had them made outta stronger stuff now i have no issues

somebody5788
12-10-2010, 06:41 AM
i have this kit i use an air hammer to remove the hub then use this to press everything out and back in when the supplied bolt and threaded rod gave out i took them to a machine shop and had them made outta stronger stuff now i have no issues

This is an option but more expensive. A grade 8+ bolt should be more then enough. Unless you get a bearing thats literally rusted in. At that point you're using the wrong tool though lol.

-:vw:-
12-10-2010, 06:45 AM
Well... if a stronger bolt/rod could be found relatively cheap (say $10-$20) I still think it's not a bad deal at a combined total of $120 or so. Have you emailed or contacted Harbor Freight to let them know of the defect? Perhaps they could start providing a solution or better part with the kit?

Chris@RevoUSA
12-10-2010, 07:27 AM
http://www.harborfreight.com/12-ton-shop-press-33497.html

significantly better investment for just a few bucks more and has many many more uses.

http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_240.jpg

somebody5788
12-10-2010, 07:30 AM
http://www.harborfreight.com/12-ton-shop-press-33497.html

significantly better investment for just a few bucks more and has many many more uses.

http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_240.jpg

Honestly is 12 tons enough? I know our 30 ton struggles sometimes.

Chris@RevoUSA
12-10-2010, 07:37 AM
If a 30 ton is struggling something isn't right, those hand bolt kits aren't doing 30 tons of pressure and clearly work.

I actually just checked mine is the 20ton but I am not maxing it out anytime i've done wheel bearings or just about anything else.

costs a little more:

http://www.harborfreight.com/20-ton-shop-press-32879.html

12ton should be more than enough for wheel bearings though.

Get the 20 ton though and you can be the guy getting the 6 packs :)

somebody5788
12-10-2010, 07:39 AM
If a 30 ton is struggling something isn't right, those hand bolt kits aren't doing 30 tons of pressure and clearly work.

I actually just checked mine is the 20ton but I am not maxing it out anytime i've done wheel bearings or just about anything else.

costs a little more:

http://www.harborfreight.com/20-ton-shop-press-32879.html

12ton should be more than enough for wheel bearings though.

Get the 20 ton though and you can be the guy getting the 6 packs :)

Well it's mainly when the bearing is really stuck lol. Or a driveshaft occasionally on a Subaru that literally wont come out. I had it cranked down to it's max and sprayed penetrating oil and had to leave it that way alll night for it to come out. Then I still had to try in the morning but it came out finally lol.

-:vw:-
12-10-2010, 07:52 AM
That's a nice press but where do you get the adapters/fittings so that you don't destroy the bearing? The press alone doesn't include everything needed does it?

Chris@RevoUSA
12-10-2010, 08:31 AM
That's a nice press but where do you get the adapters/fittings so that you don't destroy the bearing? The press alone doesn't include everything needed does it?

Just press the old one out with anything that fits, usually a socket works fine, only super super crappy stanely or other poorly cast chinese stuff will be a problem and I wouldn't use as they may shatter. That should push the bearing out no problem.

If you happen to have a bearing puller plate and it fits (lots of cars it won't due to ABS ring on hub) you can use the press to pull off the stuck inner race. Since those cost a lot of money and most people won't have them just cut the inner race mostly through with an angle grinder (dremel will work in a pinch) and use a chisel to split it open at the cut. If you are replacing the hub then no need to worry about this step, hubs on most modern cars usually have no reason at all to be replaced unless for some reason the inner race failed and messed it up or something happened to the lug threads etc.

Once you have the old one out you can use the outer shell from that one to press the new one into the housing. Depending on how corroded the lip is it may wedge in slightly but a few taps with a hammer it will drop right out. As long as you grease up the outside a little and it is straight the new bearing should take almost no force to go in, if you are getting resistance I would start over. Depending on car there usually is a C clip or a lip on the back, once it hits that you'll feel pressure increase just give it a small nudge to make sure its down and let off, don't keep cranking away or you can bend the clip or crack the lip.

Then once the bearing is in (don't forget the c clip holding it in from the front) you would put the hub (outside facing down) on the black plates that should come with the press drop upright/bearing housing whatever you want to call it down onto hub. Then place older inner race on backside of new inner race and lower press down onto that. If you want to make sure its going smooth and straight you can just keep rocking the upright back and forth. If you don't press from the inner race and attempt to press the housing down any other way onto the hub you'll pop the inner race out. This again once it gets firm let off. Going too much can press the inner races on too far then the bearing is ruined a there isn't an easy way to undo it and ensure reliable long life for the new bearing.

sorry know this is a review for another press but since it not being great was being discussed figured I'd toss the press idea out there. I have to replace a front bearing on one of my cars next week (once i stop being lazy), I'll try and snap some pics, it is a mk4 jetta so won't be identical but procedure is basically the same.

A4Shizzle
12-10-2010, 12:31 PM
Just an FYI on the presses, I tried their 6 ton bench top model and the front upright wouldn't even fit in there, not to mention the frame started to bend under load. I'd say the 12 ton is bare minimum to get the job done if you go that route.

flashburn
12-10-2010, 12:35 PM
http://www.harborfreight.com/12-ton-shop-press-33497.html

significantly better investment for just a few bucks more and has many many more uses.

http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/370x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_240.jpg

Yep, agreed. I should have just bought the damn press. Maybe I'll write harbor freight and ask if they'll comp me the difference because I'm unhappy with their tool kit? I also don't think it was on sale when I was looking though. Either way I agree, buy the press and find some steel plates for bearing pressing plates.

The only advantage that the tool I reviewed has over a press is I could use the tool while the upright was on the car (had my hub not been seized on). Still, if I did it again I'd buy the press and remove my uprights then let other people use it for a six pack!

flashburn
12-10-2010, 12:44 PM
Update: Contacted HF customer service, let's see if they do anything?!

Chris@RevoUSA
12-10-2010, 01:39 PM
The only advantage that the tool I reviewed has over a press is I could use the tool while the upright was on the car (had my hub not been seized on). Still, if I did it again I'd buy the press and remove my uprights then let other people use it for a six pack!

Yeah doing it in the car is the main advantage to those tools, I"ve used them and seen them work for that. With all the hassle i usually ended up ripping it out and doing it in a press anyway.

the later cars are bolt in bearings and hubs in one unit.. so much easier.

Corrado_Guy
12-10-2010, 06:30 PM
You don't have to spend a lot for a wheel bearing puller, I use some scrap metal and a bolt from a coil spring compressor and I don't have a problem doing this with a few wrenches. This is how I did them on my Corrado.... http://www.corrado-club.ca/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9170 I revised this set-up a little bit to use a square tube as the cross-bar to make it a little stronger, these are from my Syncro...

http://members.shaw.ca/SyncroJetta/Jetta_Syncro_230.jpg

http://members.shaw.ca/SyncroJetta/Jetta_Syncro_234.jpg

I haven't had to do them on my Audi but I would be surprised it if would be all that different. You should really get an alignment after wheel bearings just in case the alignment gets thrown out or was out to begin with. That's about $20 worth of scrap metal and a bolt that cost $20 and came with a pair of coil spring compressors.

GR-RALLYE
12-10-2010, 07:52 PM
I used this kit to do all 4 of my bearings and it worked just fine, didn't have a problem with the bolt snapping or wearing down the threads. the one I used had the right sized plate though that worked to pull and press the bearings in.

But yes it doesn't pull the hub off, but o'reilly will loan a slide hammer or harbor freight has one for $25 that will work just fine.

For the hassle though I wouldn't do this without an impact gun - preferably a electric one unless you have a huge compressor or it wont be able to keep up.

flashburn
12-13-2010, 02:35 PM
Update: Contacted HF customer service, let's see if they do anything?!

Well, they didn't do much in terms of CS. They said I could return the kit but I smartly don't have a receipt anymore :( Foolish!


You don't have to spend a lot for a wheel bearing puller, I use some scrap metal and a bolt from a coil spring compressor and I don't have a problem doing this with a few wrenches. This is how I did them on my Corrado.... http://www.corrado-club.ca/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9170 I revised this set-up a little bit to use a square tube as the cross-bar to make it a little stronger, these are from my Syncro...

I haven't had to do them on my Audi but I would be surprised it if would be all that different. You should really get an alignment after wheel bearings just in case the alignment gets thrown out or was out to begin with. That's about $20 worth of scrap metal and a bolt that cost $20 and came with a pair of coil spring compressors.

Yeah, after seeing the kit in action I think you are really only paying for a series of pressing plates.


I used this kit to do all 4 of my bearings and it worked just fine, didn't have a problem with the bolt snapping or wearing down the threads. the one I used had the right sized plate though that worked to pull and press the bearings in.

But yes it doesn't pull the hub off, but o'reilly will loan a slide hammer or harbor freight has one for $25 that will work just fine.

For the hassle though I wouldn't do this without an impact gun - preferably a electric one unless you have a huge compressor or it wont be able to keep up.

Yeah, based off the previous forum chatter on the tool, I suspect this version of the tool was a newer revision focused around saving some costs or something.

I was blessed is a huge air compressor.

Didn't think about a loan-a-tool. I'll remember that in the future, thanks!

flashburn
01-14-2011, 01:36 PM
Update: The tool snapped under pressure while pressing in my other bearing. Harbor Freight does not warranty these tools either. They only warranty Pittsburgh branded tools. Final Review: Not worth the money.