How do you change a wheel bearing on a 1987 to 1996 Dodge Dakota?

The following was sourced and paraphrased from Haynes Repair Manual for 1987 - 1996 Dodge Dakotas.

For 4wd models; The hub and bearing assembly is a sealed unit and is not serviceable. If it is found to be defective, it must be replaced as a unit:

  • Remove the hub cover and loosen the hub nut 1/4 turn, do not remove.
  • Loosen, do not remove, the wheel lug nuts, raise the vehicle and support it on jackstands.
  • Remove the wheel.
  • Remove the brake caliper *Don't let the caliper hang by the brake hose, hang it up with wire or set it on a block*
  • Remove the rotor.
  • Remove the hub nut.
  • Remove the hub assembly-to-steering knuckle bolts. Tap the hub assembly from side to side to loosen it from the knuckle.
  • Using a puller, pull the hub assembly from the driveaxle and wrap the end of the axle with a rag to prevent accidental damage.
  • Reinstallation is the reverse process. Be certain to lube the driveaxle-end splines with multipurpose grease. Torque the hub-to-knuckle bolts to 110 ft.lbs. The driveaxle nut torque specification was not listed, sorry.

For 2wd models using repackable, tapered-type bearings and cotter pin/nut lock type retainers:

  • Loosen, do not remove, the wheel lug nuts, then raise the front of the vehicle and support it safely on jackstands.
  • Remove the wheel, brake caliper, and rotor (if slip-on type). *Don't let the caliper hang by the brake hose, hang it up with wire or set it on a block*
  • Pry off the the hub's dust cap.
  • Remove the cotter pin (if there is one) and discard it (use a new one for reinstallation).
  • Remove the nut lock, spindle nut and washer from the spindle.
  • Now slide the hub/rotor assembly off slightly, then push it back to its original position to force the outer bearing off of the spindle so that it can be removed.
  • Remove the hub/rotor assembly.
  • Pry the seal out of the back of the hub assembly with a screwdriver. *Carefully; Take note of how it is installed and be careful not to scratch the seat*
  • Remove the inner bearing from the hub.
  • If you are repacking the old bearings, remove all traces of grease from the bearings with solvent, let them air dry, and inspect them carefully for cracks, heat discolouration, or wear on the rollers or cages. Discard the bearings and purchase new bearings and races if any defect is found. *Note that new bearings require new races* New races must be pressed in at a machine shop.
  • Clean and inspect the bearing races. If any defect is found, the part must be taken to a machine shop to have new races pressed in. *Again note that old bearings cannot be used on new races, or vice versa.
  • Use high temp. front wheel bearing grease to pack the bearings, making certain to work it completely in between all the rollers, cone and cage.
  • Apply grease thinly to the spindle at the inner and outer bearing seats, shoulder and seal seat.
  • Apply a small amount of grease inboard of each race inside the hub. Form a 'dam' of grease with your finger to prevent thinned grease from leaving the bearing and so that there is extra grease available to the bearing.
  • Insert the packed inner bearing into the rear of the hub and put a little more grease outboard of the bearing, then place a new seal over it and tap it evenly into place with a hammer and blunt punch until it's flush with the hub.
  • Place the hub assembly carefully onto the spindle and push on the packed outer bearing.
  • Install the washer and spindle nut finger tight to start with.

The spindle nut is to be tightened in the following steps:

  1. Tighten to less than 12 ft.lbs.
  2. Then, while spinning the hub in a forward direction (have a friend help, if necessary), tighten to 20 ft.lbs. to seat the bearings.
  3. Loosen the hub nut 1/4 turn, then use your hand (no wrench) to tighten the nut until it's snug.
  4. Install the nut lock and cotter pin. If the nut lock slots won't line up with the cotter pin hole, remove the lock and turn it until the hole lines up with a slot.For Dakotas using the other, sealed-type wheel bearings assemblies (should only be on 4wds, but some 2wds might use them), Haynes lists no torque value for the hub nut and 110 ft.lbs. for the hub assembly-to-spindle bolts.
  • Tap the dust cap into place with a hammer.
  • Mount the wheels, and tighten the lug nuts.
  • Check for rolling resistance, noise, and freeplay by spinning the tire. Then check the play in the bearings by grabbing the top and bottom of the tire and trying to push and pull the tire on the spindle. Any noticeable movement means that the bearings should be repacked and reinstalled, or replaced if repacking isn't sufficient.
  • Take the wheel back off, then install the brake caliper, and reinstall the wheel.
  • Lower the vehicle and torque the wheel lug nuts to 85-115 ft.lbs.