Removing a pilot bushing or bearing is one of those projects that often stumps the shadetree, DIY mechanic. Specialty tools exist to do the job, but amateurs are less likely to buy a tool they would use only a handful of times. So what do you do? Raid your pantry for a loaf of bread. Hagerty contributor Bozi Tatarevic, on his Boost Brothers channel, shows how to turn Wonder bread into a wonderful tool.
The pilot bearing has an important job, supporting the input shaft of a manual transmission. If it is worn it can damage the input shaft seal on the transmission, pumping out oil from the transmission and causing clutch failure. Modern cars use an anti-friction bearing, more commonly known as roller bearing, while older vehicles utilize a bronze bushing which is pressed into the end of the crankshaft.
Removing a pilot bearing carefully is important—the interference fit in the crankshaft needs to be undamaged. With nothing to pry or grab onto, you run into a dilemma. Fortunately, there is a fix that is rare in the automotive world in that it is easy, cheap, and clean. Pack the area behind the bearing with bread, apply pressure through the opening for the input shaft, and the bearing will press out neatly. To apply pressure, you can use a dowel of the same diameter as the input shaft or a clutch alignment tool. I’ve even seen half-inch ratchet extensions used for this purpose.
Another option is to use grease in the same matter; it is just a bit messier but takes advantage of the same hydraulic properties that make the bread trick work. Yes, you can file this under the “one weird trick you won’t believe,” but in this case it’s actually true.