How to Remove a Stuck Pilot Bushing or Pilot Bearing
Three surefire ways to remove a stuck manual transmission pilot bushing or pilot bearing.
Replacing your clutch at home isn't exactly a beginner-level job. You've gotta drop your driveshafts, remove your T-case, unbolt your bellhousing, and carefully remove your transmission. After sending your flywheel out to be machined smooth, the last step before reassembly with your new clutch disc and pressure plate is inspecting the pilot tip of the transmission and replacing your transmission pilot bushing (or pilot bearing) that is press-fit in the back of the engine crankshaft.
Some applications use an oil-impregnated bronze bushing, and some use a roller bearing, but no matter what the case, chances are it's not going to want to come out of the crankshaft as easily as you'd figure. It's not often we have one that comes out with an angled prying tool, so here are three surefire methods we've used in the past to remove a stuck pilot bushing or pilot bearing.
Option 1: Use a Pilot Bearing Removal Tool
You'd think using a dedicated pilot bearing removal tool would be the most surefire method, but we're here to tell you they often don't work as well as you'd expect. The puller tool inserts into the ID of the pilot bushing or bearing and expands as the tool is tightened down, theoretically obtaining a good hold onto the bushing/bearing from its center. Then, the shaft is tightened, forcing the bushing/bearing out of the crankshaft bore. That's in theory, at least. While they do work better with steel pilot bearings, more often than not with the bronze bushings the tool just slides out, leaving you with a moderately mangled bushing that's still tightly in place.
Option 2: Hydraulic Force
More often than not, this is our immediate go-to way of removing either a stuck pilot bushing or stuck pilot bearing. First, grab a wooden dowel, steel rod, or what we normally use, a pilot bushing/bearing alignment tool that tightly fits inside the ID of the pilot bushing/bearing. Then, completely fill the cavity behind the bushing/bearing with grease.
All you need to do is insert the dowel, rod, or tool into the bore of the pilot bushing/bearing and give it a firm rap with a hammer. The hydraulic action will force the bearing out easier than you'd expect. In extreme cases where the bushing/bearing shell is deep and the press-fit tolerance is on the tight side, you may need to refill the cavity with grease once or twice before it comes all the way out.
Option 3: Cut and Chisel
We consider this a method of last resort when all else has failed. The reason is the potential for damage of the engine crankshaft. This method works equally well with either a bronze pilot bushing or a steel pilot bearing, but you do need to be extra careful with the bearing to ensure you don't cut too deeply and damage the crankshaft.
Using a rotary cutting disc is the easiest way. Carefully cut a deep divot nearly the entire way through. It's not necessary to cut all the way through, though, as this increases the potential for damage to the crankshaft.
Using a sharp, flat chisel, firmly strike the bushing or bearing shell. If you've cut deeply enough, the busing or bearing shell will crack, relieving the press-fit in the crankshaft bore.
Then it's just a matter of removing the pilot bushing or bearing with your hands and reinstalling a new one.