An axle bearing puller is a tool used to remove the bearings from an axle housing. Resembling a large T with curved top arms, the axle bearing puller is easily placed inside of the bearing race and used much like a claw-hammer. With one of the short arms reaching into the center of the bearing race and the other acting as a rest on the axle housing, the long handle is pulled, effectively prying the bearing race from its mounting cup. Another type of axle bearing puller is much like a small dent puller or slide hammer, with a pair of fingers that reach into the bearing race. When the hammer slide is pounded against the stop, the bearing race is forced out of the axle cup.
A wheel bearing is a two-part component with the bearing race being set into position inside of the bearing cup, a large expansion on the axle tube, by force and the bearing itself simply riding inside of the bearing race. When removing a wheel bearing, the actual bearing typically falls right out of the bearing race, and an axle bearing puller is required to remove the bearing race out of the bearing cup. The axle bearing puller can also be used to remove the grease seal that is pressed into position in the bearing cup, outside of the bearing, to prevent melted grease from exiting the bearing cup.
Most commonly used on solid rear axle housings, an axle bearing puller is an integral part of servicing the axle bearing. The requirement for the bearing race to be pressed into the bearing cup prevents the race from spinning inside of the bearing cup and creating heat, galling and destruction of both the bearing and the bearing cup on the axle housing. This also deems an axle bearing puller necessary to remove the seated bearing race. The puller is also commonly used in removing the inside and outer bearing races from front wheel hubs.
Due to the pressure involved in seating the bearing race, it is not uncommon for an axle bearing puller to be revolved from side to side in order to remove the race from the cup. Working a little at a time, the axle bearing puller is alternated in many positions around the bearing race until the component is freed. It is very important that the puller not be forced with taps from a hammer due to the possibility and potential of damaging the bearing cup.