For those who are looking for an exhaustive writeup on how to change wheel bearings on a 3rd Gen 4runner, this post will not suffice. There is a really nice article here. That being said, this information pertains to my 1997 Toyota 4Runner Limited, 6cyl, 3.4l engine, automatic trans, rear wheel drive w/ ABS.
I noticed that my brakes were gradually becoming less responsive. After neglecting it for quite a while, I decided it was time to take a look. One tell-tale sign that the wheel bearings and/or seals are bad is wetness or dark oil saturation on the axle housing as is plainly visible here.
Cost of new parts:
1. Inner and outer seals. I purchased these from a nearby Toyota dealer for about $22 for both.
2. Wheel bearing. I purchased the OEM wheel bearing from my local Napa for about $45. The guy at the shop was nice enough to give me a %50 discount. The regular price would’ve been more than $85. Toyota’s prices were much higher. Make sure the bearing comes with two retainers.
3. ABS ring. I could only find this at the dealer. It was a challenge to find it because Toyota calls it a “Skid Control Rotor.” Usually, one can go to an auto parts store ask for it simply by ABS Tone Ring or ABS ring, but if you go to a toyota dealer, make sure to ask for the Skid Control Rotor. Btw, I was only able to find this from a Toyota dealer at a cost of more than $65.
4. An O-ring. This goes on the axle housing. I got this from Toyota for $5.99.
I will update this to let you know how much it was to get the new parts pressed on.
Now here’s the problem. I dropped off the new parts along with my axle to Golden Eagle Manufacturing here in San Dimas. My friend Bob is an owner of this family run business. They specialize in turning stock engines into racing engines. Bob had told me that they have a shop press and had invited me to bring it over.
Later I got a note from him saying that the parts weren’t matching right. I went back and picked up the parts and took them to Toyota. The guy at the parts counter said these are the right parts. On the left is the outer seal I purchased from Toyota, the one on the left is the one that was removed from my axle.
Another problem we ran into was that the new wheel bearing I purchased (left) seems a little different from the one they took off my axle (right). All the dimensions match except the protruding lip in the center of the one on the right. Again, Toyota tells me that the one on the left is the correct bearing for my runner. I am stumped! perhaps one explanation is that if the seal and bearing are factory made, they are made a little differently than OEM parts made for Toyota. Or, another reason might be that the first owner of my 97 4runner swapped out the axle with an aftermarket assembly.