King pin bearing change

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If you off-road a Jimny (or any of the Suzuki classic 4wd vehicles) then this is a job you will become familiar with.

It is also one of the worst in my opinion, not because it is difficult, but because of the smell, you will find out what I mean later.

It is also closely tied in with changing/working on the wheel bearings so some of the steps are duplicated.

The symptoms of worn KingPin bearings:

  • Steering Shimmy, see Death Wobble
  • Oil/Grease leaking from Swivel Joint
  • Vertical play in the front wheel (with the car jacked up grip the wheel top and bottom and rock it, there will be movement if they are worn, get an assistant to press the brakes, if it still wobbles then it is the Kingpin bearings.)
Leaking front swivel

It is also common not to experience any play at all and to even pass an MOT with a really bad bearing.

This is because the bottom bearing in particular can rust solid so no play is detectable.

The worst Jimnys for this are often the "one careful lady owner" ones that have sat for long periods on the driveway with the bottom bearing rusting away.

Changing the bearings


Spanner Icon.png
  • Standard metric sockets and spanners
  • Assorted screwdrivers
  • Circlip pliers (External)
  • An E10 Torx socket for the Vacuum Hub Bolts
  • A ball joint splitter
  • 1" Imperial Socket
  • G-Clamp or brake piston retractor

The Video

Before you read the guide below, you may wish to view the video.

This shows the changing of the Kingpin Bearings on a Jimny fitted with ABS so you will see me remove the sensor etc.

The rest of the guide below shows the same task in a series of steps for clarity.

Removing the Caliper and pads

Jimny Front Caliper

First of all secure the car. Then release the wheel nuts and jack up the car and remove the road wheel. This then reveals the brake caliper. The picture shows the passenger side (nearside) caliper (UK).

Unbolting the caliper

Using a 12mm spanner, release the front caliper bolt (the left is the front of the car in this picture). Then loosen the same bolt on the rear of the caliper.

Open brake caliper

The caliper then opens up using the rear bolt as a hinge.

Removing the brake pads

The pads are retained by small spring clips. A simple pull on the pads (horizontally away from the disk) should remove them. If the pads resist, gently prise out the pads with a small screwdriver - do not remove the spring clips. If you require new pads, spring clips or a caliper fitting kit then these are available in the BigJimny Store.

Removing the Brake Disc

Carrier bolt

The caliper is held on with two bolts at the rear (see below).

Caliper tied to Spring

Release the bolts and tie the caliper to the spring to keep it out of the way.

Disc removal using bolt

Now the front brake disc can be removed. If you are lucky it will simply pull off, but if you have problems then there are two M8 holes in the disk hub. Simply run two bolts into these holes and the disk will push off the hub. The picture below shows a bolt being used to push the disk off the hub.

My disk appeared to be ok on the visible side but the rear showed some bad wear so I will change them as part of this job. New disks are available in the BigJimny Store.

Dismantling the Hub

Torx bolt on hub

Now the Freewheeling Hub needs to be removed. Suzuki have used Torx bolts to secure these so you will require an E10 socket to remove the bolts.

Removing the circlip

With the hub removed, the driveshaft is exposed. The driveshaft is retained with a circlip, so use a pair of circlip pliers to remove it. This is really fiddly and can be an annoying task. Behind the circlip is a rectangular washer that should also be removed. Note that I have also marked with white paint the orientation of the freewheeling hub, this is not strictly needed.

removing a vacuum pipe

Gently pull the two vacuum hoses for the hub from the knuckle, making sure you note which one connects to each pipe. It is essential that you get this correct, else the hub will not work again. Also note that if you have an ABS equipped vehicle then you will have to remove the sensor. I do not have photos of this but the video shows it.

Warning Icon.pngIt is really easy to shear the ABS bolt! If you can, soak it for a couple of days previously in penetrating oil.

Removing the swivel seal bolts

At the rear of the hub, release the small bolts holding the seal and retainer. You can see that the swivel hub is covered in oil, a bad sign for KingPin problems.

Splitting the ball joint

Undo the nuts on the steering joints. If the joint rotates, then put a jack under the joint and lift the car slightly to lock the joint. Using a splitter, split the steering joints (two to do on the passenger side and one on the drivers side – UK).

undoing the Kingpin bolts

Finally, release the KingPin bolts themselves. There are two sets, top and bottom and they must not be mixed up. You can see in the picture that I have marked them up with a letter T. If you are doing both sides at once then do not mix them across either!

The KingPins are also held in with sticky sealant so you will need to prise them out. The hub will now pull off. Beware, if they are badly worn the hub will be full of stinking grease, oil and water so make sure you can capture the mess in something. This is the bit I hate because of the smell!

The bearings are Koyo brand as standard. The BigJimny store has two kits available, the basic kit has the two bearings and the small oil seal required to do one side. The full kit also included the large external seal although some people choose not to change this. The thing to remember is that it is not a Landrover which has oil filled swivels. The joints on Jimnys should be "dry" apart from some lubricating grease.
The next stage is to CLEAN, CLEAN and then CLEAN again. Clean the swivels inside and out, clean the knuckles and pull out the drive shaft and clean that as well.

The rebuild

The old bearing race

Once clean you can start the rebuild process. The KingPin bearings come in two parts, the race and an outer ring. This ring is still in the swivel and needs driving out.

Removing the bearing race

A simple way to drive them out is to use a 1" Imperial socket. Using an extension bar fed through the swivel, place the 1" Socket behind the ring and drive it out by hitting it. Picture from Dave at Bits4Vits

The new rings can then be driven into place with a piece of wood to protect them from the hammer. Again, this is seen in the video (picture needed here). I also hooked out the small axle shaft oil seal and put a new one in from the BigJimny kit. (picture needed here).

The rebuilt swivel

Here is the completed swivel with new rings and oil seal (and plenty of copper grease to help them all into place.

If you are changing the large seal then now is the time to put the new one on. The confusing part is the order of the seals and rings on the swivel. The pictures below show the correct orientation. Note also that the slits in the retainers go to the top.

The greased CV joint

Pack the CV with grease (but do not overpack) and re-fit the driveshaft. A suitable waterproof grease is available in the BigJimny Shop.

Applying sealant

Grease the new KingPin bearings and insert the top one in the carrier. I find the easiest way to grease the bearings is to put them in a polythene bag with some grease. Then use the bag to squeeze the grease into the bearing, this can be seen in the video. (picture needed here). Carefully insert the new bottom bearing and, holding it in place, slide the whole knuckle onto the hub. Fill the Knuckle with 100ml of grease, Suzuki recommend only 100ml and not to overfill. Now the KingPins need to be inserted, but first they need a bead of sealant around the KingPin. * Again, the BigJimny shop sells suitable sealant.

Make sure that you have put the correct Kingpin in place, remember you should have marked them when you dismantled it! Bolt the Kingpins in and tighten them to the correct torque (18ft/lbs). Refit the steering arm (or arms if it is the side with two connections), tightening the nuts to 31ft/lbs. Fit the disk and fit the caliper (Caliper bolts 61ft/lbs), brake pads and bolt the caliper down in position (Caliper pin bolt 16/ft/lbs). Re-fit the wheel and lower the vehicle.

Torque Settings

Full details of the torque settings can be found in the reference data

Page last edited on 22/11/2017 by user Mlines