[T3] frontwheel bearings

Jim Adney jadney at vwtype3.org
Wed Oct 1 08:03:16 PDT 2014

On 1 Oct 2014 at 7:21, Ken Main Mail wrote:

> Are there correct front wheel bearings to buy for the 71 vw type 3?  I grab
> the tire and shake back it and forth in and out.  I wobble them.   It feels
> like the bearings are loose.  I tighten up the bearings per spec and still
> clunk, very loose.  I am wondering if I have wrong bearings.  It feel like
> the inners on both wheels are sloppy..  I don't see the play on the outer
> bearings.   All New wheel bearings inners and outers,  upper and lower ball
> joints, steering gear box, inner/outer tie rods, steering damper, and
> alignment.  The whole front is rebuilt.  It is at both wheels itself.

VW increased the ID of the inner bearings in mid-68. That means that 
the inner end of the spindle on the later cars, including your '71, 
is larger and stiffer. The only thing I can think of, that would 
cause your symptoms, is that your front axle beam was replaced at 
some point with an earlier, '66-68, beam. This would lead to that 
inner bearing being loose on the spindle. The difference in spindle 
diameter is 2 mm.

The only time I've run into this problem was with early '68 cars 
where the bearing had been replaced by a late bearing, giving it 2 mm 
of side play. That produced exactly the same symptoms you describe: 
no end play but still a lot of side play.

I don't think there are any bearing choices that would fit in our 
rotors and still be loose on a correct '71 spindle. If you're willing 
to take the rotor off, measure the spindle inner dia, or just pop the 
seal off and slide the inner race onto the spindle and see if it is 

If your problem is just a small amount of excess play, it could also 
be that the spindle has worn and is now undersize where one of the 
bearings sits. The only thing you can do about that would be to 
replace the knuckle or "upset" some metal in the worn area to take 
out the play. The latter is not likely to be a long term solution.

Jim Adney, jadney at vwtype3.org
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

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