How to Use a Gear Puller

Posted: September 25, 2020 By: MattM

Nothing can make a small job a large job like not having the right tool and the project turning into a catastrophe. Many items on an engine, transmission, and drivetrain are installed in a press-fit or interference fit situation where the part fits so tightly it must be pressed on. This means that when you need to remove the gear, pulley, bearing, etc. it may take extreme force to get the part to slide off of or out of where it is located. This is where having the right tool for the job is important. There are a number of types of gear and bearing pullers but they all work about the same. Read below as we give some quick, simple tips for using one.

Most all bearing or gear pullers have a similar design where they have 2-4 jaws that have hooks or loops on the end that can hook behind the item you’re trying to remove and have a center bolt or pin that you can tighten down on the center of the shaft. As you tighten the bolt or pin it evenly pulls the bearing, gear, pulley, etc off just as it was installed.

  1. Clean The Area- The biggest mistake you can make during this job is to jump right into removing the part without cleaning around it or in the bore where the item is located. Start by using compressed air and a degreaser to remove all debris from the area where the part will be sliding over as you pull it. Also inspect the area for any rust and remove it with sandpaper or a similar abrasive.
  2. Install the Tool- Start by threading the center pin out so that there is room for the arms of the puller to hook behind the part you’re removing. Then locate the arms behind the part and tighten the center screw down until the pin touches the center shaft. Most manufacturers have designed a dimple into the center shaft for the tool to ride in so make sure the pin is located in that recess.
  3. Pulling The Part Off- Once you have some pressure on the center shaft by tightening it you might not see the bearing, gear, or pulley moving visually. Do not go overboard tightening the puller down as you may cause damage. Instead start by tightening it down with a wrench or ratchet by hand until it is quite tight. Then take a hammer tap around the opening or lightly on the center shaft, or the part to help vibrate it loose.
  4. If the part does not come loose you may have something that is extremely stuck and you may need to introduce heat. If you feel comfortable with a torch you can lightly heat the opening or the part with a torch to help break the part free off of it’s seat. Sometimes corrosion builds up in where the part is pressed in and heat will help “soften” things up to start moving. Do not try this method if you are a beginner with a torch!
  5. If you can’t fully fit the arms of the puller behind the part it isn’t uncommon to modify or clearance the arms to get them in a tight area. Be mindful to not take away too much material as it will lower the integrity of the arms and also will most certainly void your warranty!

We’ve found that two jaw and three jaw pullers are the most common and will work on a variety of things including steering wheels, bearings, pulleys, gears and more and a set of them are important for automotive repair and restoration! Find our full line of pullers and automotive specialty tools HERE.

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