Today’s project involved replacing the stock MX-5 front wheel bearing hubs with an upgraded RX-8 hub from Timken part #: HA590360 (OEM part #: F189 33 04X which is ironically stamped on the back of the Timken product along with a Mazda logo – mind you there was no Mazda logos on the original hubs I took off the car). And it’s all thanks to fucking Detroit… and Jessie who diagnosed the problem simply by hearing the symptoms.
So long story short I went to volunteer for Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix completely forgetting how fucked the roads are in Michigan. Some of the pot holes I hit on this trip were teeth clenching and made me curse myself out for doing it. I love Detroit, but it’s a city you fly into and rent a car and not destroy your personal one. Lesson learned $206 dollars later. I was lucky enough to find a deal through RockAuto.com who was selling the Timken parts for a good 3rd less than the competition. Plus I found a 5% coupon online and there was no tax, with free shipping having the part arrive the day after I ordered it. How cool?!
I was volunteering in Pennsylvania the day the part arrived, doing my first IndyCar event at Pocono Raceway, and driving there confirmed something was amiss as the front end of the car was making some humming noise. It wasn’t terrible. There was no vibration that was annoying, but it was in the background.
Today I stopped by AutoZone to rent some tools I’d need for this job including a slide hammer and a torque wrench (which was broken) all in $120 dollars deposit, which I got back upon returning the tools a few hours later. I also stopped at Lowe’s home improvement store to pick up some Loctite blue thread locker in addition to the anti-seize I picked up at AutoZone with the tools.
The job was fairly straightforward. There was no videos to watch on YouTube of someone else having done this, and frankly I wasn’t really going to do it myself because I lack the technical experience to do the job. But it was simple. Few things went along stubbornly but otherwise it was a quick job. I took a shit ton of pictures of most of the process which I’ll share below.
Unlike the right hub being bad, it turns out that the bearing in the left hub was damaged. It was making some noise when turning right especially so you can see how I was tricked. But I think the failure was at the very early stages because everything felt pretty tight on the car when I tried to diagnose it (besides hearing the noise).
I did both sides simultaneously so it went along pretty quickly.
I’ll let the pictures tell the story:
Notice how the Timken product has Mazda stamped on it with the OEM part number on the back of the plastic ABS sensor cover.
I still can’t believe this box arrived by FedEx in one day!
Beautiful day to tinker with the car!
First order of business was to spray every bolt and nut with CRC degreaser… that stuff works like magic!
After I sprayed everything I went to the store to pick up my AutoZone rental tools for the job… $120 deposit later, they’re here:
Notice that the slide hammer and the axle puller are separate parts.
Then started spraying the CRC some more, and more… the screws holding the rotors/disks on were a pain to get going!
A couple of angry yanks on the slide hammer and the hub popped out, this was actually the easy part!
And the other side:
Comparing the OEM MX-5 hub on the right with Timken RX-8 hub on the left side… similar but there are obvious differences like that dimple in the center of the RX-8 hub.
I used some plastic baggies I had laying around to cover up the ABS sensor which was the first thing I unbolted in this job.
The old hubs:
Another side by side between MX-5 and RX-8 hubs:
Time to lube them with anti-seize and do the easy work, installing the new part:
Perfect fit, and so much easier to install then uninstall:
I dabbed Loctite thread locker on every bolt I put back in.
Job done… took the car on a test drive on the way back to AutoZone to return the rental tools. Sounds so much better! And feels tighter too. I thought the car wasn’t loose to begin with but now the steering is much much tighter than when it was with the shot bearing. Very happy with this install and will get to try it out on my next road trip to VIR in a couple of days. I hope the gas mileage improves because lately it had dropped from 34mpg I typically got going to Watkins Glen to just about 31mpg. That’s a big difference!