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How to: 2002 Explorer rear wheel bearing replacement (pictures)

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by Tyler92, August 15, 2009.

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    1. Tyler92

      Tyler92 Member

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      When my ’02 Explorer rear wheel bearings started grinding I knew this would be an expensive trip to the dealer so I decided to take the task on myself. I read many helpful posts here and last week I successfully replaced the passenger side bearing and coil spring.

      Yesterday I took on the driver’s side and snapped a few pictures in hopes of helping others to avoid being ripped off at the dealer. If you have some mechanical background and some tools you can do it.The photos below are of the left rear of my ’02 explorer and your vehicle my differ if it’s from another year.

      Some of the tools needed are:
      Torque wrench
      Metric sockets and wrenches
      Hub puller (I borrowed one from Advance Auto for free)
      Hammer
      Small pry bar
      Chisel
      Spray all bolts and nuts and pins with PB Blaster at least one day prior to removing them. This will help loosen the rust.
      To get started jack the vehicle up and USE JACK STANDS. Safety first.

      First thing I noticed is the broken coil spring. This was broken in two spots. The right side in three.There's a good chance yours are also broken.

      [​IMG]

      Remove the two bolts holding the caliper using a 10mm socket. Pry the top out first with a screw driver or small pry bar. Don't pry on the pads and don't whack it with a hammer. Once removed tie it up to the coil spring or somewhere out of the way. Don't let it dangle by the hose. After removing the caliper pull off the rotor. If the rotor is stuck you may need to use a rubber or hard plastic hammer to pursued it. You can then pull out the emergency brake cable and end from the back plate. This will slide right out. If the E brake shoes are in good condition you can leave them on. I chose to remove mine from the backing plate to clean a little of the rust off.

      [​IMG]

      Next remove the axle nut. This nut is big and on very tight and requires a long handle 1/2 inch drive breaker bar to get it loose. Either put the emergency brake on or have someone press the brake to keep the axle from spinning while loosening. Almost every post tells you to use a 35 or 36mm socket. Who has one of those sitting around? I used a Craftsman 1 3/8 socket and it fit and worked perfectly. Once loose I used my 1/2 drive air gun to remove it. I also reused the same nut when reassembling. There was nothing wrong with it and I wasn't spending $15 to replace it.

      [​IMG]

      Now it's time to tackle the two pinch bolts that hold the upper control arm and the toe link to the knuckle. You will use an 18mm deep well socket to remove the nuts. As mine were rusted in pretty good, the way I got mine out was to insert a chisel into the slot shown to help spread apart the knuckle. Tap lightly and it should come right out. Don't hammer it too hard as you can damage the end of the bolt.

      This photo was taken after the job was complete.
      [​IMG]

      This photo was taken after the job was complete.
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Now comes the hardest part of the job which is separating the upper control arm and toe link from the knuckle. These will be rusted in and require force to get them out. Using the same chisel I hammered it back in the slot as far as I could to try and spread the knuckle apart. The toe link should come out easier than the upper arm. Once you have the chisel inserted, carefully start tapping the arms to get them out. I was not successful on the passenger side getting the upper arm off and had to unbolt it from the frame of the vehicle and pull it and the knuckle out as one piece. Then I could get at it better and it popped right out. On the drivers side it came out but with much force. Warning! Stay away from the rubber boots with all pry bars, hammers, etc and do not use any heat. If you tear the boot then you have even bigger problems.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Now remove the bolt holding the lower control arm to the knuckle.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Now it's time to pull the knuckle. This is where the hub puller comes into play. Without one of these you will not be able to pull the knuckle off the axle spline. Note I have not touched the backing plate for the emergency brakes. Every post on this forum is telling you to either cut it in half or remove the three bolts that hold it on. There is absolutely no reason to do this. It can stay attached to the knuckle through the whole process.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Success!!!!

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Time to install the new parts. I purchased these from AutoPartsDirectToYou.com. One of the forums on here stated the bearings were Timken which is of very good quality and the price was very good at $60 each. The bearings are not Timken and there are no markings on them at all so I'm sure they are a Chinese part. They do come with a lifetime warranty but who wants to do this job again soon. Not Me.

      [​IMG]

      I took the knuckle and new hub to NAPA to press out the old and press in the new. 1 hour and $30 later it was ready to go back together.
      I didn't take pictures of the installation but here are a few tips.
      Use some sandpaper or wire wheel to remove the rust from the pins on the toe link and upper control arm and used a generous amount of antisieze on them before inserting back into the knuckle. Clean the bolts and also use antisieze on them.
      Install the axle nut first only snug and then reattach the toe link and upper control arm.
      Torque the pinch bolts to 66 Ft Lbs. The axle nut shows 203 Ft Lbs. I feel this is too much so I went with 175 Lbs and will check it periodically. My thought is that possibly the bearings wore out prematurely do an over tight axle nut. Your call on this.
      It will all go back together 100 times easier than it came apart. For the average occasional backyard mechanic, plan on at least a full 8 hour + time frame for doing this.
      If you have any questions or comments please post them here and I'll try and answer them. Hope this helps and good luck.


      Finished job. This picture also shows a new spring and strut installed which I did along with the bearing replacement.

      [​IMG]
       
      Last edited: August 15, 2009
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    3. tv4fish

      tv4fish Member

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      Tyler: I see no one else has added a "thank you" to you for this post -- so here is one --- Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this - It will be beneficial to someone, I am sure. :)
       
    4. Tyler92

      Tyler92 Member

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      Thank you Tv. Yes I hope it helps people on here. It's a tough job but doable.
       
    5. EasyRhino

      EasyRhino Well-Known Member

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      Way to go - I admire your perserverance to go for it, and your generosity in the detailed post here. I suspect that some day I will need to tackle this job as well, and I must say I am not looking forward to it. However, your post may well save me some pain and frustration - two factors I already have plenty of in my life, so thanks!:chug:

      Mods, how about a sticky?
       
    6. Tyler92

      Tyler92 Member

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      Thanks Rhino. I appreciate your comments. If you have to tackle the job feel free to drop me an email if you need help.
       
    7. trucku

      trucku Well-Known Member

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      Excellent Post!
       
    8. EasyRhino

      EasyRhino Well-Known Member

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      You cold just drop by for a cold beer or three and a wrench, but I guess that Saratoga is a long way off (BTW, one of my favorite towns with some of my favorite, uh, shall we say, bars? - and restaurants). :thumbsup:
       
    9. vannboy

      vannboy New Member

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      Nice work! Couple of questions:

      How did you know the bearings needed to be replaced? I'm getting some vibration while driving and it is magnified when I turn left. Was told by my local mechanic I needed one front and one rear complete hub assembly (bearings included). They want to charge about $500 labor for this. Wish I was a better backyard mechanic...lol. I need a mentor in SoCal to show me the ropes and help me spruce up my baby!!

      Also - what strut/coil combination did you use? I have a 2002 XLT 4x4, just went over 100K miles and need to replace mine.

      Thanks again!
       
    10. Tyler92

      Tyler92 Member

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      How bout I stop in around February? I'll even bring the beer. LOL. Living in Hawaii must be fantastic. I'm jealous.
      Yes Saratoga is nice, and despite the economy is still thriving and growing.
       
    11. Tyler92

      Tyler92 Member

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      The RR bearing started making a noise like I had a snow tire on that side. I ignored it but it finally after 6 months started to really grind. I jacked up the rear and tried to move the RR. It wobbled all over the place.

      I bought MOOG springs and Monroe shocks from Advanced Auto. The springs were $112 for the pair and the struts were $89 each. I then had to borrow a spring compressor to remove the old and install the new. I did happen to find that Monroe now makes a complete unit called the "Quick Strut". It's the complete spring and strut assembly already assembled. All you have to do is install it in the truck. That's the way to go.
       
      Last edited: August 20, 2009
    12. vannboy

      vannboy New Member

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      Awesome - thanks! I've seen some complaints about the quick strut for other vehicles, but hopefully it works out for the Explorer. It's a bit more expensive than buying the two separate but seems to be a lot less hassle.
       
    13. rgcme33

      rgcme33 New Member

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      I have a question about the procedure (I have to do it next week), since it requires a puller to remove the knuckle from axle, is there any special tool or procedure to reinstall knuckle to axle? or will it just slide back on?
      thanks for a great writeup by the way, very helpful!
       
    14. Tyler92

      Tyler92 Member

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      Yes it will slide most of the way back on and then you can just draw it the rest of the way on with the axle nut. Good luck.
       
    15. rgcme33

      rgcme33 New Member

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      Thanks!
       
    16. EasyRhino

      EasyRhino Well-Known Member

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      Feb is fine (weather) here :thumbsup:.

      The only thing I do not miss about Saratoga is the winter!:cool:
       
    17. vannboy

      vannboy New Member

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      Well I chickened out and had Ford replace my front driver hub assembly ($450). WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!! I was getting a pretty bad grinding noise, especially when turing left. The ride is A LOT smoother now. Ford told me the right one is starting to make some noise, and the upper control arm bushing is starting to tear, so maybe I'll have the huevos to tackle those when the time comes...

      FYI - thepartsbin.com is selling the Timken front wheel hub assembly for $128.
       
    18. Attila

      Attila New Member

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      Great pics! Your post should be a sticky..

      I did my driver side rear bearing 3 weeks ago. I had to replace because the rear end was grabbing and pulling to one side. That thing was noisy, sounded like the when the u joints used to go out.

      Did the work myself in my driveway, not to hard to do. I did have a shop press the bearing for me. The old bearing was in pieces when the shop guy gave it to me. I also replaced the cv shaft as a well because boot was toast.
      Darn thing was stuck until i used a wedge between the shaft shoulder and the gear case to free it.

      I decided to do the front bearings/cv shafts at the same time because one side was starting to growl. Front was easier to do. I found easier way to get at the 3 hub assembly bolts. Once you get the wheel nut off and the brake caliper out of the way, push the cv shaft in with the special pusher tool to the point where you can get an actual socket on the bolts. Then start wrenching away. Way faster than the offset wrench. It went faster because i snapped one of the bolts. who cares, you get set of 3 with new hub assembly.....
       
    19. lrm

      lrm New Member

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      I replaced my rear bearing/hub 2 years ago on the passenger side, yesterday I worked on the drivers side. I mangled the top ball joint rubber boot with a tie rod separator (whoever said do this gently hasn't worked on an old truck, those things are stuck) and tie rod end rubber boots. I cover them with replacement boots when I'm done.

      I could not get the hub off using a three armed wheel puller. I hit with hammers, pried behind it with the tie rod separator, broke three tools tightening the puller. Would an impact wrench work to shake it loose?
      I think I'm going to have to replace the CV joint since the spindle and hub are locked together. Does this involve opening up the rear axle? I'm probably taking it to a shop unless someone has a sure fire way to get the hub off - hammers, heat, and puller aren't doing it.

      Thanks for the help!
       
    20. j_b_5_2

      j_b_5_2 New Member

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      You either need bigger tools or more muscles.lol. But seriouly they dont just pop off. You gotta put some weight behind it.
       
    21. rhs7

      rhs7 New Member

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      One more follow up question...

      Excellent post -- you probably saved me hundreds of dollars in collateral damage due to heat and really big hammers.

      I am going to pull my hubs and spindles to replace the rear differential seals. No damage yet, just leaking. My question is should I replace these bearings while I have the hubs off? Or just antiseize everything up real well so the spindle comes off easier when the bearings finally go bad? Also, can someone direct me to the BEST post on replacing these differential seals.

      I have got 90k on a 2002 XLT 4X4.
       
    22. lrm

      lrm New Member

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      I broke three wrenches turning the puller. The threads on the puller are very worn in the spot I've been cranking them on. I hit the tip of the CV spindle with a hammer first, then a plumbers wrench with the nut backed off so I didn't damage the spindle. Lots of PB blaster on the hub, tho it's hard to get it in the right spot. I have been hammering on it two different days. If I bring it in a shop to do I'm afraid they'll just bust it and charge me to replace the CV axle.

      Is there a way to open the CV joint and get the spindle out? Or is the next step to replace the rear axle?
       
    23. Tyler92

      Tyler92 Member

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      Are you sure you have everything disconnected from the hubs? Are you using this type puller? It sounds like you may have a puller that may not be up to the task. Pulling the hub off the spline was one of the easier things to do. You may want to try another puller. Remember, the hub, backing plate, and knuckle come off as one piece.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG][/IMG]
       
    24. josh93rodeo

      josh93rodeo Member

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      This was a great "how to". Just wanted to say thanks. I just finished this job on my 02'. The only thing I did different was I pressed the bearings in/out with my 12 ton shop press so I didn't have to pay for that.

      Thanks for a great how to. This is the stuff that makes this such a great forum.
       
    25. jpoprock

      jpoprock Active Member

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      Wow! This is brilliant! Thank you so much! What a coincidence... My rear srping is broken too. I'm convinced Lowes broke that for me slamming paver stomes down to hard onto my trailer. I had a guy that was doing some body work for me attempt to fix it, but he only toed in a second spring and didn't remove all of what was broken! So, it needs a new one. Those Midas spring/shock things look cool.

      My buddy has done this before, so he's doing the work for me. I only planned on doing the rears, and was only going to replace the hub/bearing. Not the ABS cable, brakes, seals, etc. I hope that is good enuff.
       
    26. ProGun3400

      ProGun3400 New Member

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      Tyler, Thank you much for the pics and write up. Getting ready to tackle this job soon. Have one howling on my (03 Explorer) drivers side rear. Replaced both fronts after the last brake job and discovering drivers side going bad.
       

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