Replacing an Alfa Romeo Alfetta rear wheel bearing is one of those jobs with a grizzly reputation. So when one of mine came up as an MoT advisory, I had a word with Alfa specialist Les Dufty at Automeo.
Les has no such qualms about tackling this job because he has executed it hundreds of times before on Alfa’s transaxle family (ie Alfetta berlina/saloon, Alfetta GT/V/V6, nuova Giulietta, 90, 75, SZ and RZ). Given other maintenance issues from the car’s inactive past life, he advised changing both bearings while we had the car in the air and the tools to hand. It would prove to be a wise decision.
The key to executing this job successfully is to ensure that you have the correct tools for the job – Les has a complete Alfa Romeo set (see above) – and you should allow around 2½ hours to change each bearing.
Needless to say, either familiarise yourself with local health ’n’ safety advice or use your own common sense when working on a car. Right, off we go…
1 – After removing the road wheel, loosen the six allen bolts which attach the driveshaft to the stub axle shaft flange. To do this, you will need someone in the car to apply the footbrake thus ‘locking’ the driveshaft (or hold a crowbar on the wheel studs). Take care as these 6mm allen bolts have fine threads, are easy to shear and it is possible to damage the rubber driveshaft boot.
2 – The rear hub should be secured by a split-pin, castellated nut lock and nut (Fig2a). Unlike on the offside, where the off-side split-pin and castellated nut lock have been exchanged for a non-OE nut (Fig2b). Remove any grease and then undo the split-pin, nut lock and nut.
3 – Now fully undo the allen bolts (taking care to retain the washers) and disconnect the driveshaft from the stub axle shaft flange. Disconnect the rear anti-roll bar from the De Dion tube. Lift the ARB up and pack with spacers (Fig3a). This now gives enough clearance for the driveshaft to be separated from the stub axle shaft flange, and the driveshaft can be cable-tied out of the way from the hub (Fig3b).
4 – To separate the hub from the splines of the stub axle shaft, the stub axle shaft has to be pushed inboard. To do this, the Alfa drive-flange lock (tool A2.0380.PF) is attached to the De Dion tube (Fig4a), then the Alfa hub puller (tool A.3.0327) is bolted to the hub via the road wheel studs (Fig4b). The hub is then removed (Fig4b and c).
5 – Once removed, this reveals dirt, grease and what is a tired bearing behind an old bearing collar (Fig5a). The bearing collar is removed (using tool A.5.0187PF – see Fig5b) after it has been released from where it is peened into the hub carrier. Note, that depending on which side you are working, the collars have either left or right-hand threads.
6 – To remove the bearing, Alfa’s bearing tool (A.3.0432) is fitted (Fig6a). This fits to the face of the De Dion tube through the bearing and onto the back. As the nut is wound clockwise, the bearing is pushed out (Fig6b) and hey presto, a tired bearing (Fig6c). Now, clean the inside of the bearing housing thoroughly to prevent dirt compromising the new bearing. Also, take time to inspect the bearing housing’s inner surface when flushed and cleaned, for in extreme circumstances a failed, neglected bearing can damage the De Dion tube.
7 – The new bearing should locate into the tube’s housing with minimal force (Fig7a); original equipment Febi Bilstein bearings come with a noticeable chamfer to aid this. The new wheel bearing is then wound/pushed home by reversing the bearing tool (A.3.0432) so that it is inside out (Fig7b). Screw in a new bearing collar to 250lbf.ft then peen it into the two recesses in the De Dion tube (Fig7c). Note: early Typo 116 Alfas, such as this Alfetta 2000, have different sized bearings and collars compared with later Typo 116s.
8 – To reassemble, carefully pass the splines of the stub axle shaft through the new bearing and refit the hub to the stub axle shaft (as per Fig5c). Nothing should foul if the tolerances are correct and the fit is true. Whilst gently tapping the hub into situ, get someone to hold the rear of the stub axle shaft in place. The objective is to get enough thread, so that the hub nut can be wound onto the stub axle shaft – pulling it home. (Note to check spline alignment, the castellated nut lock was trial fitted.)
9 – Before you do this, the hub needs to be locked against rotation by fitting Alfa’s drive flange lock (tool A.2.0131). Torque to approx 250lbf.ft then remove the drive flange lock tool (Fig9a). Then, refit the castellated nut lock and fit a new split-pin (Fig9b).
10 – Finally, cut and remove the cable tie to re-attach the driveshaft to the stub axle shaft. In order that the shafts are correctly lined up and the allen bolts are not placed under extraneous stress, a pillar jack raises the De Dion tube to get an approximation of the rear suspension geometry under load. Complete by refitting road wheel.
All done and dusted, the old girl can return to the road…