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How I changed my 05's Front Wheel Bearing

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by High_Order1, August 27, 2007.

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  1. High_Order1

    High_Order1 Active Member

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    Hi Rob;

    If you read any of the responses, it wasn't just me. I feel I'm pretty skilled in vehicle maintenance. Even so, I still run into issues.

    I wrote my how-to's for people who want to take some money out of your pocket, and do stuff themselves. Most people I talk to feel intimidated by working on their vehicles, so I put things where a person who has limited or no tools or experience will read what I say, and think, "hell, if he can do that, I bet I can, too."

    So, maybe you ARE too deep in what you consider 'real' mechanical problems. Talking down to posters isn't going to endear you to the population. Swapping these bearings are difficult the first time, especially if you don't have the benefit of years of experience and a stocked shop.

    Lastly, a MAAP torch? Really? I'd venture 2 out of 5 on this board even have a propane torch. This isn't a forum for ASE professionals, its' for people that drive Explorers, love them, and want to learn how to extend their usefulness.

    Shawn
     
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  3. bobby walter

    bobby walter New Member

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    wow.
     
  4. mercuryrising

    mercuryrising New Member

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    Are the front wheel hubs that big a pain, i just had a noise in the front of mine, jacked up the front i have play in right front wheel, so i need to replace that hub. just looking for insight. doesnt seem that hard by looking at it.. and any one with torque specs so i know what to tighten to?
     
  5. mercuryrising

    mercuryrising New Member

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    front wheel hubs

    are the fronts as a pain ? i just noticed movement in my right front hub, so im going to replace it. and tips. and any torque specs ont he bolts?
     
  6. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    I replaced both of my front wheel bearing hub assemblies yesterday on my 2002 Explorer 4x4. The motivation was obviously because the driver's side bearing was extremely worn to the point that the ABS and AdvanceTrac and 4x4 HIGH Idiot Lights Came On. I changed the passenger side too because I felt that it probably would not have been too far behind and while I had the tools and knowledge ready to go I may as well.

    I went with SKF wheel bearing hub assemblies. My motivation was to buy a quality American made product that hopefully would out last the cheap Chinese imports. The total cost for two units was $305 delivered. Oddly, these units came with Timken bearings Made in USA...LOL! So you can see that even manufacturers can and will purchase components from their competitors. I didn't go with the Timken assemblies at $245 because I was informed that the Timken assemblies do not include the 5 bolt kit or at least not at the $245 price. Most folks, especially those up north who deal with winter snow-salt, will want to use new bolts with thread lock already on the bolts. If you plan to reuse your bolts you should put Loctite-blue on the threads.

    I had a little bit different experience from some folks on here that I will document with pictures I took along the way.

    I went out to Sears to purchase some tools while my wheel bearings were on their way in the mail. I bought the 15mm offset box wrench like others had suggested. Since there were conflicting reports on the size of the axle nut being 29mm or 30mm I thought I'd be smart and purchase both at Sears. In the end I didn't use the 15mm box wrench (explained later) nor the sockets from Sears. It turns out I'm not all that smart. I failed to realize that the socket must be very deep to get over the end of the axle spline to reach the nut As you can see in the picture the Sears sockets are very short compared to the 3 1/2 inch axle nut socket next to them. The Sears sockets were purchased as a backup in case I couldn't rent an axle nut socket from AdvancedAuto or AutoZone but in the end they were useless. As it turns out both AdvancedAuto and AutoZone do rent out axle nut sockets. My plan was to rent both a 29mm and 30mm socket to cover all my bases and find out what my axle nut size was later. It turns out that both parts stores only rent 30mm and higher sized axle nut sockets so I rented a 30mm socket. But as you would have guessed when I went to try out the 30mm socket it was very loose. Alas, I need a 29mm socket! It figures...it just figures...LOL! I could have purchased a 29mm socket from AutoZone for $14 but I found an 7 piece axle nut socket set (29mm, 30mm, 32mm, 34mm, 35mm, 36mm, 38mm) at Harbor Freight (pictured). Normally, it's $60 for the set but it was on sale for $40 and I had a 20% off coupon so I got it for $32. I believe the larger axle nut sockets will come in handy when the rear bearings need to be replaced.
    [​IMG]

    With the Explorer on the ground you want to loosen the axle nut and the wheel lugs prior to jacking it up. Normally, you just pop off the center cap on your wheels to get access to the axle nut. I have custom wheels that require the cap be popped out from the INSIDE of the wheel (if you don't want to ruin the the plastic cap). Therefore, I had to remove my wheels first, pop out the center caps, then put the wheels back on.
    [​IMG]

    The next problem with the custom wheels was the depth to which the axle nut sits relative to the outside of the wheel. That nut sits 3 1/2" below the outside surface of my wheels...the same length as my axle nut socket. Many axle nut sockets are only 3 to 3 1/8 long.
    [​IMG]

    This of course means that you better have a 1/2" extension in your tool kit.
    [​IMG]

    Only then can you get that breaker bar on there to loosen up the wheel nut. I recommend loosening the wheel nut significantly while the vehicle is on the ground. You don't want to break the nut free just a little just to find it is still on rather tight after you've removed the wheel.
    [​IMG]

    With the axle nut very loose and the wheel lugs loosened it is time to jack up your Explorer. So, I read where someone, in this thread, wanted to know the proper place to jack up the front of the vehicle. I'm close to telling anyone who doesn't know the proper place to jack up his vehicle as already being way over their head for this project. From your owner's manual you should know that the proper jacking position is below the "diamond" in the frame. For purposes of safety I'd recommend you don't just rely on your jack to hold up the vehicle. If it slips off the jack it will not be a pretty sight for you or your vehicle. Always put a jack stand under the vehicle just in case and at a minimum put your wheel/tire under the frame somewhere if you don't have jack stands. Remember, you are potentially going to be cranking the heck out of some of those bolt heads with a wrench and cheater bar.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: January 5, 2012
  7. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    Now it's time to remove the brake caliper. My brake caliper was held on my two 15mm bolts. Oddly enough, my replacement bolt kit came with 18mm bolt heads. My caliber bolts took a wrench with cheater bar to break them loose. After the initial surprise of how tight they were on there I remembered I had used Loctite-blue on them the last time I did a brake job.
    [​IMG]

    Hang that old caliper with an old wire hanger out of the way.
    [​IMG]

    Get that rotor off and take the axle nut completely off. See, my 2002 Explorer really does have a 29mm axle nut. The associate at AutoZone didn't believe there was such thing as a 29mm axle nut on a Ford. His computer showed my vehicle as having a 32mm axle but a picture is worth the end of this debate.
    [​IMG]

    I highly recommend you rent a wheel hub puller from AdvancedAuto or AutoZone. Contrary to what some folks say the spline is not pressed onto the wheel bearing hub assembly. Rather is is a precision fit that could give the illusion of a pressed fit. With the wheel hub puller you can use a wrench on the center screw nut and with very little pressure get the spline to back out of the wheel bearing hub assembly (perhaps just a 1/4 to 3/4 turn). Once it breaks free you can pretty much push it back with finger pressure. The mounted wheel hub puller should be turned as far as you can with just finger twist pressure on the center nut. You aren't going to hurt anything as long as you don't try to crank it further using a wrench.
    [​IMG]

    From the backside of the steering knuckle flange and looking at the CV joint you can see why I recommend using this procedure. As you can see, by pushing on the spline with the wheel hub puller it moves the CV joint out of the way just enough for you to get a 15mm socket on there. I'm guessing the CV joint moved towards the differential by about 1/2". This is the reason why earlier I told you I didn't use the 15mm offset box wrench I bought from Sears. I didn't need it to get onto the bolt head as the socket went right on. Another point I want to make is that I never turned the wheel to the left or right to get better access to the bolt heads. With the spline pushed all the way as it would go I didn't want to risk breaking anything by turning the steering wheel back-n-forth. I wasn't sure what would have happened with the power steering pushing it left or right with hydraulic pressure force with that CV joint and axle pushed back. Maybe it would have been fine but I didn't want to test it out. With a socket on there it isn't all that bad to get in there with a wrench.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: December 17, 2011
  8. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    This is the wrench configuration I used. It is a 3/8" drive wrench. The socket is actually a 1/2" drive 15mm socket. Then I have a wobble extension on there that allows the wrench to operate offset instead of inline. This gives you the clearance to work around the CV joint. Behind the wobble extension is a 1/2" to 3/8" conversion extension. As you loosen those 15mm bolts continue to tighten the wheel hub puller with only finger twist pressure. That will keep the CV joint as far away from the 15mm bolt heads as possible allowing you to use the socket. I'm not sure I could have used this method had I not had a wobble extension for my socket. IMHO, your best bet is to get a 3/8" wobble extension set so you can use the 3/8" drive 15mm socket which is smaller in size versus the 1/2" drive 15mm socket. But, I just used what I had on hand. If you want to add a collection of specialty sockets you can also look into getting a wobble socket set in 3/8" drive. However, just a wobble extension would be cheaper.
    [​IMG]

    I don't want to give you the impression that it is cakewalk using this method. The fact of the matter is that those bolts are a PITA. My vehicle is a garage kept Florida no salt no rust vehicle. The bolts were NOT rusted anywhere yet removal of those three bolts was still a PITA. I still used a cheater bar on the end of my wrench. Note there is no rust in this picture. Also note that the replacement bolts for the caliper have 18mm heads versus the original bolts that had 15mm heads. I used the new 18mm head bolts for my caliper when I put it back on. The reason is that the old bolts had Loctite-blue on the from the last time I did a complete brake job and there was no reason to clean the old bolts and re-use them if I had new bolts. BTW, I believe the reason why even non-rusted bolts are a PITA to take out is because that yellow thread lock they use on the bolts is good stuff. When that yellow thread lock heats up it probably melts or chemically changes to lock the bolts in place. As I said before, if you re-use your old bolts you should be using Loctite on them.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a picture of that goop that some folks describe as RTV sealant behind the wheel bearing hub assembly and the steering knuckle flange. BTW, I rented a slide hammer from AutoZone. I didn't need to use it as my old wheel bearing hub assembly started to peel away as the bolts were taken out. I recommend you have a slide hammer available should your hub assembly not come off as easy as mine. You don't want to use that wheel hub puller to get the hub assembly to come off the steering knuckle flange by torquing against the CV joint and axle assembly. If yours is stuck use a slide hammer to PULL the wheel bearing assembly off.
    [​IMG]

    With the old wheel bearing hub assembly removed it looks like this. The hard work is done and reassembling will be a piece of cake compared to what it took to get the old one off.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: January 5, 2012
  9. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    What does everyone do with these old parts?
    [​IMG]

    The SKF wheel bearing hub assembly kit came with all the bolts. It has Timken bearings made in the USA. The caliper bolts have 18mm heads versus the 15mm heads on the original bolts. I used the 18mm bolts without a problem.
    [​IMG]

    This is what the socket arrangement looks like with the torque wrench.
    [​IMG]

    The new wheel bearing hub assembly on and torqued to spec. The axle nut is on only as far is it will go with a wrench while keeping the bearing from spinning with the other hand. It will be torque when the wheel is on and the vehicle is on the ground.
    [​IMG]

    Here are the torque specs:

    83 ft-lbs on 3 bolts for the wheel bearing hub assembly

    83 ft-lbs on 2 bolts for the brake caliper

    184 ft-lbs on the axle nut

    95 ft-lbs on the five wheel lugs

    It took me about 4 hours to change out both the driver's side and passenger's side wheel bearings. I moved slow and deliberate, piddled around trying to get the right wrench configuration, took breaks, took pictures, and had lunch in between. I can certainly see how some folks took 4+ hours for just one wheel bearing while others could do it in one hour. The vehicle runs so much smoother and quieter. If you are thinking about doing this job yourself then may god have mercy on your...AHEM...I mean don't fret too much. It wasn't all that bad with the right tools and technique.
     
    Last edited: December 15, 2011
  10. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    BTW, I've heard some folks say that you aren't supposed to reuse the old axle nut. Is there any truth to that? I reused mine as it wasn't showing any signs of deterioration nor rust. Did most folks here reuse the axle nut?
     
  11. dpost01

    dpost01 New Member

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    I reuse the axle nuts often and I dont have a problem with them. Maybe I am wrong or just ignorant to why I need to replace a nut.

    I am having a problem with mine. Every post I have been reading talks about the bolts on the backside that hold the hub on, but mine came off easy. This may be due to changing them 4 years ago, idk.

    My problem is I can not get the hub our of the knuckle. I have been banging on it with a 3 lb mini-sledge but it isnt budging. SyberTyger mentioned using a slide-hammer, which I dont have. Is there any other way to get the hub out? All three bolts are out and the hub nut is off.

    I would include a picture but I dont see an other to insert a file. All the buttons want a http:\\ link.
     
  12. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    Rent a slide hammer from AdvanceAuto or AutoZone. That is the best way to get the hub off without damaging anything.
     
  13. dpost01

    dpost01 New Member

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    Got a slide hammer from Autozone, but it only has a jaw attachment. I guess the guy didnt ask me what I was doing and I didnt know I had to ask for a different attachment. Looks like I have to go back and get a front hub puller or something.
     
  14. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    You want the Axle Puller part #27032 from AutoZone. It attaches to the Slide Hammer part # 27033. You want the big Slide Hammer with just the threads on the end of the shaft so you can attach the Axle Puller.
     
  15. Doug25

    Doug25 New Member

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    Awesome thread. Ive done this three times on my Sport. Autozone has cheap bearings, BUT, They have a one year warranty. After one year I replaced both couse they went bad anyway and got Timkens at Pep Boys for a few dollars more after the warrantied bearings went bad again (china) Wait until you do the CV shafts,, dont forget to get the seal too and theres a left and a right.
     
  16. dpost01

    dpost01 New Member

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    Finally got mine off. It was a combination of a 3 lb hammer hitting the old hub from side to side and the slide hammer, plus a brother-in-law cause that slide hammer is a major pain in the hands after 10+ hits.

    Dang ABS light is still on. Time to grab my scanner and find out which code is present.

    Turns out, I wasnt paying attention to the ebay auction and bought a 95-01 front hub. Oh well.
     
  17. Ronin8002

    Ronin8002 Well-Known Member

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    Great writeup!! I'll be using your posts to do mine as I'm starting to get front wheel bearing noise.

    In the past I have re-used my axle nuts when I swapped out my front diff and have experienced no issues
     
  18. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    BTW, I was talking to a Ford enthusiast (dude who works at AutoZone and owns 4 Ford Mustangs) and was told that Ford specifies that the axle nuts be torqued a maximum of three times then use a new axle nut. The dealer probably always puts a new nut on there when they do the work as it is more money for them plus they don't know how many times the axle nut has been re-used. This same fella says he is surprised a 29mm nut in on my 2002 Explorer since his experience is that it should be 32mm or possibly 34mm. A manager had also told me the same thing when I first went in there to rent a 29mm axle nut socket. Whatever...right?
     
  19. Ronin8002

    Ronin8002 Well-Known Member

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    Good info! I guess I'll order some new axle nuts to use just to be on the safe side. Thanks!
     
  20. SyberTiger

    SyberTiger Active Member

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    I was over at the local Ford dealer this afternoon to pick up an IAC gasket. I asked specifics about the axle nut used on my 2002 Explorer. They were unable to tell me what size the axle nut is after looking on their computer for 10 minutes. Further, they had none in stock but said the cost per axle nut would be $15 each....ouch!

    Lastly, I asked service manager how much it would cost to have them replace both the front wheel bearing hub assemblies with new sensors included. The cost was estimated to be $530 for the wheel bearing hubs, $270 for labor, plus $56 for sales tax or a total of $856. It was called an "estimate" because the labor charge could be higher if unforeseen issues cropped up. Glad I got it done for $305 using American made bearings and sensors; Largely, in part, because of the useful info in this thread contributed by so many.
     
  21. 2002GreyHD150

    2002GreyHD150 Active Member

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    shawn you TOTALLY missed everything I was saying...

    1a. I don't do "general automotive mechanical work" for a living. So you are not taking anything out of my pocket. If that were the case, why would I give hints and suggestions? I restore classic cars, muscle cars, and street rods which are 2-3-4 times older than out Explorers.

    1b. I have likely the same tools all home mechanics do at my house. I don't do repairs or projects at work. Except for pulling /swapping engines, since my garage is too short.

    2. "don't get into your head about the OP's turmoil" This I will admit I could have worded better. The OP's problems are on the extreme end of this project. I meant to other's reading this not to let the OP's turmoil thwart them or scare them.

    3. I'm all for saving $$ and doing everything myself.

    4. as for talking down to others: Don't believe I was, I was being very direct that this is NOT a hard project and people get in their heads from spending WAYYY to much time READING about solutions on the internet instead of just diving in. There have been SOOO many discussions of this repair and horror stories that are just out of this world crazy. I see why people get freaked out.

    5. MAAP torch vs propane. We are doing AUTO REPAIRS not sweating plumbing fittings. I would venture that 2 of 5 people on here don't have a torch yet at all. therefore a MAAP torch is a smarter purchase since it will do BOTH plumbing and get hot enough to do hard automotive jobs as well.

    I try my hardest to be too the point on these types of repairs where people just freak out instead of just get to work. Cut through all the hub-ub and break it down.

    Sorry if you had a tough go of it. It wasn't a shot at you saying anything negative about YOUR situation or your mechanical aptitude.

    Remember its the internet, we cannot inflect tone or attitude. Just read into it what we want.

    Rob
     

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