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Rotor or wheel bearing?

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by Phase 1, November 14, 2017.

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    Brakes rotor or wheel bearing?

    1. Brake rotor

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    2. Wheel bearing

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    3. Something else

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    1. Phase 1

      Phase 1 New Member

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      I have a 99 explorer sport with a 5-speed 2wd with around 125,000 miles. I have crazy humming coming from the front right wheel well/engine compartment that's slowly been getting worse. It starts around 40 mph and gets louder the faster I go, anything slower and it’s silent. So question of the day is what can I do to determine if it is the wheel bearing or the brake rotor (or anything else)? Hate to just throw parts at it.


      Misc info:

      Brake lines all flushed and clean

      Brake pads evenly worn and at about half life

      No pulling to either side

      No pulsation when braking

      Steering wheel shudders in time with the humming
       
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    3. Anticitizen1

      Anticitizen1 Elite Explorer

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      I'd say wheel bearing. I've fixed a lot of these over the years, will the humming above 40mph go away when turning left? If it does, it's probably the RIGHT hub bearing. By turning the opposite direction of the humming, it temporarily reduces the stress on the bearing and gives you a fairly concise indication of the side with the problem, since at times it can be hard to trace. About a month ago my front passenger hub bearing was humming like all hell, turning left it was dead silent. If I may make a suggestion, if it is in fact the hub bearing, use a MOOG replacement. I used the Autozone Duralast bearings for a couple years, and they failed at least every year and a half. The Duralast bearing has a 1 year warranty, while MOOG has a 3 year warranty. That's convincing enough for me who has confidence in their build quality haha. Hope this helps!
       
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    4. Phase 1

      Phase 1 New Member

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      I'll have to check it when I get off and drive home but I can't think of it getting better on one side or the other. That said I haven't been looking for it either ha.
       
    5. Phase 1

      Phase 1 New Member

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      Update, so I took it up to around 40ish and did some turns and it definitely gets quieter while turning left. Looks like I'll be getting some wheel bearing work done.
       
    6. Gary Crist

      Gary Crist New Member

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      Sometimes those wheel bearing noises are tires singing too. Tires are meant to make more
      noise as they wear out. It helps you to decide to change out before the last 2/32nds.
       
    7. Mbrooks420

      Mbrooks420 High Voltage. Elite Explorer

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      I’d bet on the wheel bearing.

      I don’t think that’s by design, I think it’s a symptom of the tread becoming uneven.
       
    8. Anticitizen1

      Anticitizen1 Elite Explorer

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      I'm still definitely for the wheel bearing, been there done that more times than I'd like to remember haha. That said, bad tires can definitely cause many issues with noise vibration and harshness though, they're definitely worth checking any time those conditions are present. Tread wear, uneven wear, pressure, dryrot, missing wheel weights or bent wheels, or even defective tires can cause an enormous amount of vibration and noise at any speed, and should be addressed as soon as possible since it is an inherent safety hazard. If you have a noise up front, no noise from the rear and suspect the tires, move the rear tires to front and front tires to rear, without switching sides. If it is indeed the tires, the noise should now be present in the rear and the front should be quiet. I still think it's the hub bearing. Another tip, if you replace the hub bearing, KEEP THE ABS SENSOR. They are often reusable, and very expensive to buy if they go bad. It is held in to the hub bearing with an allen head socket cap screw, easy for you or your mechanic to remove and save for a rainy day. Some have shims to space them from the hub, they're worth holding on to. Good Luck!
       
    9. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      It's a 2WD. No hub bearings.
       
    10. Anticitizen1

      Anticitizen1 Elite Explorer

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      You know what I actually missed that he said it was a 2WD truck. I'm from CT, the 2WD version is so rare up here I don't think I've ever seen one, guess that would change the type of wheel bearing. Still sounds like a bearing issue to me, thanks for pointing that out.
       
    11. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      I grew up in CT too. I miss it, but not the snow, cold weather and rust. I owned a few 4WD SUV's and cars before I moved south, but for most of my driving life I got by with 2WD's and honestly don't ever recall getting stuck in the snow. Of course the towns and state did a good job of keeping the roads clear. In GA a 1/2" of snow paralyses the state and I just choose to stay home until it melts.

      I'd say the OP should just replace the inner/outer front wheel bearings, races and seals on both sides. They're relatively cheap, even for quality bearings, and if one side is bad the other side's not far behind. I don't like spending money on unneeded parts either, but loosing a front wheel bearing at speed can ruin your day and (provided you don't crash, or injure someone else) it'll end up costing you a lot more money. If your front rotor's are worn you might want to bite the bullet and replace them as well. Then you wont need to bother installing the new bearing races. I just did this job on my daughter's '00 2WD 5.0L Mountaineer this past spring (as PM), along with front rotors, upper/lower ball joints and say bar end-links.
       
      Last edited: November 16, 2017
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    12. Phase 1

      Phase 1 New Member

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      So I'm gonna go with replacing the bears it seems. How hard is it to change them? Is it worth getting the whole hub assembly or just doing the actual bearings? Also any brands that work better in the explorers?
       
    13. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      On the 2WD the bearing hub is part of the brake rotor. Are your front rotors worn to the point they need to be replaced? Do you experience brake pulsation when stopping? If so replace the rotors, if not just replace the inner and outer bearings and the seals. If reusing your old rotors be sure to install the new bearing races with the new bearings. You'll also need high-temp disc brake wheel bearing grease and 2 new cotter pins. New rotors will come with new races installed, making the job easier. Brand depends on your wallet. Wagner is a good brand, but I've used less expensive rotors w/out any problems.

      How hard is to do? I guess depends on your experience level. It's a pretty easy job for the DIY'er, though messy. I'd rate it a 1-2 (if replacing the rotors) on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most difficult. Maybe a 3-4 if reusing your old rotors with replacing the races. The most important thing is to get the correct amount of torque on the axle nuts. Too tight will ruin the new bearings quickly. Too loses will leave too much play in the bearings, which isn't good either.

      Warning: If replacing the rotors be sure to clean the brake surfaces with brake cleaner. They come with a rust protectant on them that will fowl your brake pads if not removed.
       
      Last edited: November 30, 2017
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    14. Spudhut

      Spudhut US Navy Submariner Elite Explorer

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      I had a similar sound in a 2WD 97' Dodge 1500. Lucky for me, I caught it before it seized up and welded the inner bearing to the spindle. (Literally, I think 1 more mile would have cost me a new spindle) Its worth taking an hour to check. Replacing the bearings are simple for the semi-mechanical person.

      A $10 bearing versus a new/used spindle costing much more
       
    15. Phase 1

      Phase 1 New Member

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      Rotors should be good. even wear and no pulsing. I've heard some horror stories with having to go get the new bearings pressed in. Anything like that or more along the lines of packing em and replacing them?
       
    16. Spudhut

      Spudhut US Navy Submariner Elite Explorer

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      Pressing the bearing race is simple. A simple flat punch and hammer can be used, just be careful. I use a large socket to press the bearing races in with a hammer or press.

      The bearings will need to be packed with grease prior to installing.

      Just be aware of the torque setting when re-installing the spindle nut.
       
    17. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      You don't press in bearings, you press in races. You can borrow a tool from O'Reilly's and do it yourself with a hammer, or take them to a machine shop or someone with a press. I've done it with a hammer and drift in a pinch. IDK what "horror stories" you've heard. It's not that hard to do. You just have to make sure the new race is fully seated, which is accomplished more by sound than your eyes. It's an "experience" thing.

      As far as packing the bearings, you put a glob of grease in the palm of your hand and scrape the bearing through it at an angle to force the grease through the rollers. Put another glob of grease inside the hub to keep things well lubed.

      I recommend Timken brand bearings.
       
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    18. Phase 1

      Phase 1 New Member

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      Well sounds fairly straight forward. I'll probably try to swap em this weekend. Any idea on the torque settings for the spindle nut?
       
    19. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      There are torque specs for an initial setting and a final torque. I believe it's supposed to be a final settings is something around 37 INCH lbs, but I don't use a torque wench. I first tighten the axle nut to a fairly snug point. Doing this squeezes the grease out of the way and seats the bearings in the races, I also spin the rotor by hand a couple of times, then I loosen the axle nut and let the weight of my wrench (it's a pretty large wrench) dropped from about the 1:00 position to apply just enough tension to basically set the bearings to zero-lash (zero play). When doing this a little too loose is better than a little too tight. When I reinstall the nut locking washer and cotter pin, if the nut has to be moved a little to get the cotter pin in the hole, I loosen, rather than tighten the nut, to line up the hole.

      The idea is that when the hub heats up it will expand and put pressure in the bearings. That's why a little loose is better than a little tight.
       
    20. pjtoledo

      pjtoledo Member

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      front end noise 101, run your hand over the entire circumference of the tire. it should be smooth, no patterns, cupping, uneven wear. jack up each front wheel and spin it looking for anything out of shape or wobbling.

      putting new bearing races in a 2WD is not hard at all. getting the old ones out can be a real pain depending on the type of hub/rotor.
      the construction of some hubs does not leave any tool notches where the races hit bottom, or there isn't enough room to get a punch on the race to drive it out. BTDT
       
    21. UtahX

      UtahX Well-Known Member

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      Wheel bearing. I believe my driver's side went out this summer.
       

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