Does this sound like a wheel bearing going out? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Does this sound like a wheel bearing going out?

outrun

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Joined
June 4, 2020
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City, State
Minnesota
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Explorer AWD 4.6 EB
I noticed a humming sound in in Explorer a few months ago that starts at about 45 mph and is there all the way up to 75 mph. I rarely drive faster than that. At first I thought it was the diff making noise, but then I noticed that the sound got louder as I went around left hand corners. Not tight corners, but broad sweeping corners like an on ramp or on a street. If I turn slightly to the left it gets louder. No grinding, just a hum. I think it is coming from the rear and the drivers side but I was doing some reading that if it is coming on when you go left that means it is usually the opposite side. Does this sound like a bearing issue? I don't think the sound has gotten louder and it is has it has been minimal. Thanks.
 



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It sounds consistent with a wheel bearing. In my experience, wheel bearings have all different failure routes and symptoms, anywhere between mild humming to grinding to something that sounds like your front drive is about to fall off. Also, it is hard to tell which of the bearings is troubled, without getting the truck on a rack, running the gears, and listening very carefully to the bearing areas.

Good luck.
 






Yep, sounds like rear wheel bearing. Not a cheap repair. Had to replace both of ours on the '04 we used to own. Don't let it go on too long. Ours developed an occasional wobble that was scary.
 






Yep, sounds like rear wheel bearing. Not a cheap repair. Had to replace both of ours on the '04 we used to own. Don't let it go on too long. Ours developed an occasional wobble that was scary.
Yeah I know. I watched a few videos on how to do the rear. And even with access to a lift I don't feel like doing this job ad you need a special bearing press to do this. I got a quote for 210 in labor plus the bearing which is about 50 bucks. I think that sounds reasonable.
 






The $260 number with parts would be a great price around here. I think I paid $400 the last time I paid a mechanic to do it. They had to send the knuckle out to have the bearing pressed, so that just added to the cost. Just make sure you know exactly what bearing is going in there (Timkin, SKF, ***, National, Motorcraft are good names). Your best option is to buy the bearing yourself if the mechanic will let you. You will probably get a better price than the mechanic can get from their parts delivery service and you will know exactly what is going in there. You don't want to be doing this again next year because someone stuck a cheep part in there.

LMHmedchem
 






$50 bearing sounds very inexpensive. Make sure to use a high quality bearing...

I have found Timken bearings to be well made.
 






$50 bearing sounds very inexpensive. Make sure to use a high quality bearing...

I have found Timken bearings to be well made.

For just a rear bearing (without the hub), ~$50 is the range for the better quality bearings,

SKF GRW259 Rear Wheel Bearing ($42)
TIMKEN 516008 Rear Wheel Bearing ($48)
MOTORCRAFT BRG4 Rear Wheel Bearing ($52)
NATIONAL 516008 Rear Wheel Bearing ($53)
***these prices do not include shipping, so add $7 to$10 to the above

NOTE, a garage often pays a delivery service to bring out parts, so if the garage is paying $50 including delivery, the part may be of lower quality since the delivery folks get paid too. That is why it is necessary to verify exactly what the part is. Even if they won't let you bring your own parts, it is worth it to spend some additional dollars to get a better part.

As with any case where someone posts links to specific parts, you need to make very sure they are correct for your engine/transmission/drive/suspension/trim and not take my word for it.

LMHmedchem
 






Save some money and buy the whole hub assbly. I tried to cheap out and since I had driven it quite a ways the old hub was damaged.

Would have been $$ ahead by spending the little extra to begin with...

Hub just bolts on. An easy DIY project.
 






Save some money and buy the whole hub assbly. I tried to cheap out and since I had driven it quite a ways the old hub was damaged.

Would have been $$ ahead by spending the little extra to begin with...

Hub just bolts on. An easy DIY project.
This is not the case for the rear bearings. The rear bearing and hub are separate parts. The bearing is pressed into the knuckle and there is a snap ring retainer clip. After the bearing is installed, the hub is pressed into the bearing. If you look at the picture of the parts below, you can see that there are no bolts on the rear hub other than the lug studs. It's hard to do without some of the right equipment.

You can get the rear hub and bearing as a kit,

TIMKEN HA590259K Rear Bearing & Hub Kit ($94)
MOOG 521000 Rear Bearing & Hub Kit ($95)
SKF BR930259K Rear Bearing & Hub Kit ($103, $93 w/rebate)

and you would certainly be advised to do both together if there is any chance that you need both. It is only about another $45-$50 for the additional parts and there will not (should not) be any additional labor cost. It doesn't take any more time to press on a new hub compared to pressing back the old hub. I didn't have to replace my rear hubs when I did the bearings.

If you can get the old knuckle off, there are some garages that will let you bring in the parts and they will press out the old bearing and press in the new one. It is not trivial to get the rear knuckles off. The front knuckles come off easier because they are designed to pivot for steering.

For the 4WD, the front bearing and hub are one piece that just bolts into the knuckle but the rear wheels are different.

I replace the spindle nut (axle nut) when I take it off.

DORMAN 615220 Front Spindle Nut ($9)

LMHmedchem
 






just get a whole knuckle with everything at the junk yard - you can spin the bearing to see if its good. That's what I did 5 years ago and still going strong...I didn't have a press so it was easier.
 






I noticed a humming sound in in Explorer a few months ago that starts at about 45 mph and is there all the way up to 75 mph. I rarely drive faster than that. At first I thought it was the diff making noise, but then I noticed that the sound got louder as I went around left hand corners. Not tight corners, but broad sweeping corners like an on ramp or on a street. If I turn slightly to the left it gets louder. No grinding, just a hum. I think it is coming from the rear and the drivers side but I was doing some reading that if it is coming on when you go left that means it is usually the opposite side. Does this sound like a bearing issue? I don't think the sound has gotten louder and it is has it has been minimal. Thanks.
I am no mechanic. But I just had to replace mine and worse part, it was so bad that I had to replace the knuckle. Over a week of trying to remove it. But mine was doing the same thing. For me, the noise was noticeable around 40 mph. Under 40 mph, it was faint and I really had to listen (noticeable when driving beside a solid structure with the sound bouncing back to me).
 






Moog makes a knuckle with a new bearing, hub, snap ring all assembled and ready to go. No press required, no fumbling with snap ring, no dealing with brake shield. Hardest part is removing the pinch bolt and seperating upper control arm from knuckle and tie rod from knuckle.

I am not a fan of Moog but they used to make decent products. If you don't have a press and are short on time, beats taking to local mechanic to have them install substandard parts. Part number: LK001 and LK002 depending on side. Don't ever pay list price, should be able to buy sub $200.

Also have rear parking brake shoes ready to go, they may need replacement as well.

Dorman also makes a similar knuckle replacement but Dorman make hot garbage. Nogo on their parts, wouldn't trust Dorman to make a paper trash bag.
 






Moog makes a knuckle with a new bearing, hub, snap ring all assembled and ready to go. No press required, no fumbling with snap ring, no dealing with brake shield. Hardest part is removing the pinch bolt and separating upper control arm from knuckle and tie rod from knuckle.
SKF also makes a good rear knuckle with hub and bearing.

SKF BR935002LK Rear Right Knuckle Assembly ($150 w/rebate)
SKF BR935001LK Left Rear Knuckle Assembly ($160 w/rebate)

these cost a bit less than Moog, especially since there is a rebate at the moment. Figure another $10-$15 for shipping. SKF is a Swedish company that makes exceptional quality bearings. Moog can be very good, but like many companies they now manufacture in allot of different locations from the US, to Mexico, to Japan, to China. The quality can depend on where your particular part was made but the "Problem Solver" line of parts tends to be quite good.

If you are going to attempt the repair yourself, doing the entire knuckle is definitely the easiest method for all the reasons already mentioned. Watch a few videos to see if you think you are up to it. If you can do it yourself, you will save $100 or so and end up with an entirely new setup with quality parts. All of these parts will need to be replaced eventually if you keep the truck.

You could go ebay or a salvage yard, but ebay would only save you $50 or so compared to a new part. A salvage yard is a good answer when the budget is tight but you would need to go and inspect the part and make sure you aren't getting another borked bearing. I wouldn't pay any more than $50 or so for a salvage part. We don't have any salvage yards near where I live any more (there used to be 4), so I have only used salvage yards that ship. You eat up allot of the savings when shipping heavy suspension parts.

I bought used knuckles to replace my front ones because they don't make aftermarket front ones anymore and new OE stuff is often hundreds of dollars. I got used and rebuilt them myself.

LMHmedchem
 






just get a whole knuckle with everything at the junk yard - you can spin the bearing to see if its good. That's what I did 5 years ago and still going strong...I didn't have a press so it was easier.
Thats what I did. For $30 I can replace them every now and again. Takes me about 10-15 minutes to remove them.

I take the rear arm with it. Found that the ball joint post can have a different thicknesses which will stop installation pretty quickly.
 






Early gen 3 had different tie rods for rear and therefore different knuckles. Is this the arm you are referring to? Controls mainly toe for knuckle, attaches from rear most point low on knuckle to behind differential at frame?
 






If it is the rear, don't tap on the AL arm when trying to remove the upper joint. Although, they are not that much if you have to replace it...

AL is very thin on the outer edge.
 






Early gen 3 had different tie rods for rear and therefore different knuckles. Is this the arm you are referring to? Controls mainly toe for knuckle, attaches from rear most point low on knuckle to behind differential at frame?
Yeah that one. I have a 2002 and was pulling parts from an 04. Was an unpleasant surprise.
 






SKF also makes a good rear knuckle with hub and bearing.

SKF BR935002LK Rear Right Knuckle Assembly ($150 w/rebate)
SKF BR935001LK Left Rear Knuckle Assembly ($160 w/rebate)

these cost a bit less than Moog, especially since there is a rebate at the moment. Figure another $10-$15 for shipping. SKF is a Swedish company that makes exceptional quality bearings. Moog can be very good, but like many companies they now manufacture in allot of different locations from the US, to Mexico, to Japan, to China. The quality can depend on where your particular part was made but the "Problem Solver" line of parts tends to be quite good.

If you are going to attempt the repair yourself, doing the entire knuckle is definitely the easiest method for all the reasons already mentioned. Watch a few videos to see if you think you are up to it. If you can do it yourself, you will save $100 or so and end up with an entirely new setup with quality parts. All of these parts will need to be replaced eventually if you keep the truck.

You could go ebay or a salvage yard, but ebay would only save you $50 or so compared to a new part. A salvage yard is a good answer when the budget is tight but you would need to go and inspect the part and make sure you aren't getting another borked bearing. I wouldn't pay any more than $50 or so for a salvage part. We don't have any salvage yards near where I live any more (there used to be 4), so I have only used salvage yards that ship. You eat up allot of the savings when shipping heavy suspension parts.

I bought used knuckles to replace my front ones because they don't make aftermarket front ones anymore and new OE stuff is often hundreds of dollars. I got used and rebuilt them myself.

LMHmedchem
I have 2005 Explorer with 238K miles which needs new rear bearings. The fronts have been replaced twice already and time for the rears. Thanks for the rebate tip. The rebate expires March 31, 2021, so I am ordering this weekend to get the rebate and will install this summer.
 






I have 2005 Explorer with 238K miles which needs new rear bearings. The fronts have been replaced twice already and time for the rears. Thanks for the rebate tip. The rebate expires March 31, 2021, so I am ordering this weekend to get the rebate and will install this summer.
Always make sure that the part I linked to is the correct part for your truck. Suspension parts can vary some and you will be annoyed if you have to return something. Check and double check.

The SKF knuckle/bearing/hub setups are a great deal right now. That is a very high quality part and you can probably get both sides for less than it would cost to have one of the bearings changed out at a shop (at least around here). If you happen to be an Amazon prime member, as standard practice I would look up the part number on Amazon and check the price. There are some cases where Amazon is less when you don't have to pay for shipping, plus you get 2-day shipping which is very expensive on Rock Auto. It probably won't help but I always check.

You should check the upper ball joints as well because you will want to change them out at the same time if they are gone, or going. If they are old, I would go ahead and replace them. It's $20-$30 for a quality part and you don't want to have to take the knuckles off again just to do the ball joints.

LMHmedchem
 



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Save some money and buy the whole hub assbly. I tried to cheap out and since I had driven it quite a ways the old hub was damaged.

Would have been $$ ahead by spending the little extra to begin with...

Hub just bolts on. An easy DIY project.
Yes that's what i did too, i don't have a press and the next shop that offers to press the bearings for me is 30+ minutes away. So instead of getting it pressed out and in i purchuased a mogg assembly that comes with lifetime warranty for $200. The job wasn't complicated at all and took me probably less then an hour.
I didnt get a quote from a shop put here in orlando they are all crooks and i stay away from them (once i wanted to get my brake pads replaced but the store refused to replace the pads if i didn't do the rotors too and gave me an estimate of $700 -> for brake pads!).
 






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