Car Repair Questions

I have a 1988 Tracer that is broke down. I need to know what this nut is called?

Looks like “the big nut that holds the wheel on” - may also go by the name “axle nut.”

Juding by your outher tread, you are attempting to fix the brakes? If that is the case, that nut does not have to come off (it is the axle nut). To pull the rotor off, there shoudl be a small set screw - remove, and pull the rotor off the axle (over the axle nut). It may be somewhat stuck rusted in place and need good smash to loosen. In effect the rotor is held in place by the wheel/lugnuts when on.

We are not fixing the brakes.

There was a bad scraping noise and smoke coming from behind the tire. My BF thinks the bairings(sp?) are shot but he can not tell for sure until he can get the bolt loose and see and what condition of the shaft or spindle is in.(?)

Forgive me I am not car literate and I am trying to remember what he has said over the last couple days. The pic is not of my car but one I found online.

The car is old and I don’t want to put a lot of money into it. If we can get that bolt off then we can at least see what kind of cash we are looking at.

I made to posts because I wanted to answer one of the ads on Craigslist but I did not know what to call that bolt/nut so I can explain what I need to be done in the ad and that was a factual question and the other was more of an opinion.

If the bearings are shot you will be able to rock the wheel while the car is elevated.

Push on the top and pull on the bottom of the wheel to check for play in the bearings.

Don’t dismantle the assembly unnecessarily, it isn’t easy on most cars.

I am not sure it moves top to bottom but he mentioned it moves back and forth and it shouldn’t if that makes any sense.

He is pretty sure the bearings are shot but he wants to see what shape the shaft/spindle is in. (I can’t remember if it was shaft or spindle).

He said that makes a big difference in repair costs.

Slogger through a horizontal axis could also be attributed to track rod end wear.

Wouldn’t cause smoke to come from the hub though.

Ok, sorry to jump to the brakes conclusion.

As Myglaren said, raise the front of the car and rock the wheel/tire, by holding the top and bottom. If there is play, the bearings could be shot.

Removing the axle nut won’t really tell much - most front bearing are pressed in, and to see if the actual bearing is scorched you would have to press out the bearing from the wheel hub - not a job for most shade tree mechanics.

How do the brakes look? Rotors? Pads? Smoking, scraping sound could be a frozen caliper. Is this happening on a front wheel or rear?

My fault for not explaining enough.

The tire is off and it is on a jack. Front passenger wheel. He said it moved back and forth and it shouldn’t. He said he can hear the bearings so he is pretty sure they are shot.

I am not sure how the brakes, rotors or pads look. He did not seem concerned with them.

I was driving when it happened. There was a sudden loud scrapping sound on the passenger front tire and my daughter could feel scraping under her feet though the floor board. We continued but just slowly. By the time we got home (three or four miles) I could feel a warped feeling when I pressed on the brake and when we parked it there was some smoke coming from behind the tire.

He used to work in a repair garage years ago and we also got a repair book from the library for the make of the car. I am sure he needs that bolt to come off we just can’t get it with out the proper tools.

Another Doper suggested we buy them and I am sure the prices he posted were fair but I think we may need a larger breaker bar.

I am going to ask him more when I get home and see if buying the tools is more feasabe then paying someone to get the nut off.

If it is a front wheel you will need to lock the driveshaft to release the nut. They are usually castellated and have a split pin through the castellations to stop them turning. Usually they are not all that tight - but can be ‘frozen’ by corrosion.
Check to see the thread direction, left and right hand sides will have opposing threads.

Check the brake caliper first though - could be nothing more than some debris - a stone, for example, caught between the brake pad and the disc.

The only tools you should need for the nut is a standard socket wrench with perhaps a tube to act as an extension on the handle, for more leverage.

Pulling the bearing and driveshaft and pressing them back into place may be another story though.

The nuts should also be refitted to a specific torque, so a torque wrench would be called for.

Check out the availability of tools for hire or second hand tools.

Not sure a standard socket would work - I have taken off a few axle nuts and:

  1. the size is usually much larger than your standard socket set would have
  2. axle nuts are very very tight and often corroded - you can very easily break a standard socket trying to get it off - I once had to put a pipe wrench on the socket after breaking a socket wrench and then an extension.
  3. usually end up needing like a 6ft breaker bar to have enough tourque.

I’ve taken off a fair few too and not had the kind of problems you seem to have had, bar 1*

Most have come off very easily as they weren’t on very tight to start with and rely mainly on a split pin to prevent them loosening, although there doesn’t appear to be any such on the photo supplied.

I’d estimate a 32mm socket for that one.

  • Citroën GS rear, Huge nut (2¼", or its metric equivalent) took much searching for a suitable tube spanner then discovered that you actually have to crack them off with a cold chisel and replace them with a new one.

32mm is pretty damn big. Most standard sets I see go up to about 17 or 19. you big ol nut.

Fair enough, I’ll concede the issue.
I have (or had, before my son started looting them) a very extensive range of sockets and 32 mm didn’t seem to me to be much out of the ordinary. Couldn’t put my hands on a 15mm this afternoon when I needed it though.

OK, From the top
First off DO NOT WORK ON A CAR SUPPORTED BY A JACK!! Sorry, I don’t mean to yell, but jacks are not safe, and the car can fall off them and injure your boyfriend or even kill him. If he does not have jack stands, he either needs to get some, or turn the car over to a pro.

The nut in question is the axle nut, or front axle nut if you want to be anal about it.

Secondly it is big, damn big. Look at the lug studs in the picture. They have a 19mm lug nut that goes on them. Look at the axle that the nut in question is on. It is easily twice as big. I would guess it is at least a 30mm, if not 32 or 36mm (for those readers that are metricly challenged 36mm= 1-7/16")

Next is those nuts are tight, way tight, very fucking tight. According to This PDF the torque is 145 foot lbs when tightening. That’s before the rust and corrosion set in making the nut even harder to get off. This size nut and tightness is beyond a standard socket set. It may even be marginal for some 1/2" drive socket sets. A cheater pipe slipped over a driver handle will allow more force to be applied, but it also increases the chance of a socket or ratchet breaking. You can get hurt big time if either of these items breaks.
did I mention that those nuts are very tight?

Next is even after you get the nut off you have to get the axle out. On some cars this is just a good shove. On others it can take a lot of pressure from a hydraulic press to force the axle out. One student in class today mentioned they had a vehicle that took 50 tons of pressure before it sprang free. Needless to say this level of tool is not a something a shade tree mechanic would have handy.
Next comes getting the bearing out of the hub. This probably requires a press.

The bottom line here is that your boy friend should heed the famous words of the great prophet Kenny Rogers:
You got to know when to hold them
and know when to fold them.
Know when to walk away
Know when to run

IMHO your boyfriend should fold and walk away.
Look I have over 40 years in the auto repair business, and own over $80,000 worth of professional grade tools. Even with all my experience and training, I would think twice before I made the decision to do the front wheel bearings on an FWD car at home in my driveway.

Thank you all for your replies and what Rick said is what I suspected all along, this is not a driveway job and sometimes it just takes another person to shoot the horse.

I think the repair costs are going to be to costly to take it to a shop. I only paid $700 for it a year ago, when I was desperate for transportation, so I got what I paid for. I already put $300 into it on seperate occasions for repairs and tires so I think that Kenny Rogers quote applies to the entire car in this case.