I can’t take credit for this idea….that belongs to BlaineJ (a.k.a., mrBlaine on various forums). A big thanks to BlaineJ for sharing this with everyone.
The above photo is what it looks like as you remove your unit bearing from the knuckle. Three bolts and the unit bearing is free from the knuckle. Living here in Arizona, it usually comes out without too much of a problem. Worse case, a couple of taps with a brass or dead-blow hammer will do the trick.
If you live in the rust belt and have those salty winter roads, you may not be quite so lucky. It is not at all uncommon for the unit bearing to rust into the knuckle to the point where virtually nothing seems to get it loose. I’ve read some interesting threads in the on-line Jeep related forums from folks describing what lengths they went to for unit bearing removal.
I got the go ahead from BlaineJ to use this photo to help explain his technique for removing a stuck unit bearing. If you are reading this while your knuckle refuses to relinquish its grip on the unit bearing, give this a try. Using a Grade 8 bolt sized and positioned like that shown in the photo, turn the steering wheel a small bit….enough to push the yoke ear on the outer stub shaft and cause it to push outwards on the unit bearing. Release the pressure on the steering wheel, relocate the bolt to the other yoke ear, and turn the steering wheel a small bit the other direction. Repeat this process, swapping sides as you go, until the bearing is broken free and you can remove it from the knuckle.
A suggestion….if there is rust on the mating surface of the knuckle, wire brush it off. Clean the knuckle too. When you reassemble the two pieces, use some anti-seize compound to prevent another rusty episode. Even if there isn’t any rust (yet), use anti-seize when you put the two pieces back together. It’s cheap insurance for the next time you need to work on your vehicle.