How to overhaul or replace steering swivels

The Defender swivel assembly is one of those components which often requires attention from owners. We explain how to overhaul or replace

The swivel assembly on a Defender can require overhauling or replacing due to wear that can be caused by a number of reasons. The exposed part of the swivel assembly (the ball) can wear, corrode and pit with age, damaging its oil seal.

That allows swivel grease (or oil) to leak out, or water and dirt to get in, all of which damages the upper and lower swivel bearings, ultimately wearing the swivel pins. This often results in vague steering, vibrations, steering wobble at speed, and excessive play at the front wheel.

The owners of the Defender shown here had noticed the signs of damage on the inner swivel ball itself, plus a front wheel wobble at speed. An inspection found excessive play in the front nearside assembly when grasping the raised wheel, indicating a worn swivel pin  or bearings, and damage on the swivel ball. It was agreed that both swivel housings (inner and outer), the bearings and the top pins should be replaced

Parts

Rather than buying individual parts, a full Swivel Housing Kit is available (part number DA3179) for Defender VIN XA onwards (non-ABS), otherwise check parts against your VIN. The kit includes swivel housing, swivel pin bearing, gasket, seals, plate, joint washers, swivel pin kit, shims and swivel grease. The complete kit cost around £110 including VAT. It’s recommended you use a thread lock on some bolts; Land Rover recommends using Loctite 270.

Tools

Jack and axle stands; hub nut socket (52 mm); 13, 14 and 17 mm double hex spanners; 8, 17, 19, 27 mm spanners and sockets; circlip pliers; pry bar and general workshop tools. 

Time: 5 hoursCost: £110Contact: www.britpart.com

Section through a typical swivel hub assembly

Health and safety

• If using a lift or ramp, before lifting the vehicle, ensure that it is rated to lift the weight of the vehicle and is in serviceable condition • Ensure the vehicle is securely on the ramp especially if it’s a wheels-free post ramp • If using a jack, after lifting the vehicle always secure it on axle stands. Always ensure the vehicle is stable and secure and is safely chocked, braked and in gear on a level firm surface • Wear eye protection when removing and fitting circlips

Click on the gallery below for our handy step-by-step guide…

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