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Front Wheel Bearings

SuperKirby

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I have a '93 Ex with manual hubs. I'm 94% sure I need to change my right front wheel bearing. I've looked around and can find how to change the whoel hub assembly, but rock auto lists those at $170, vs. $12 for just the bearing and seals. How hard is it to change just the bearing, any write ups? I did a quick search and most of what I'm finding is newer or changing the whole set up.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 



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Gadget X

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If you can do any basic work on your truck, then you should have zero problems changing your bearings. The hardest part is the races, and you can use the free loan-a-tool deal at most auto parts stores for that. I'd say you should be able to get both sides, inner and outer, done in a couple hours. Good luck with it!
 






SuperKirby

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Dumb question maybe (probably)- Are wheel bearings and spindle bearings the same? If I'm going to do this I think I'm going to pull it farther apart and change the front U joints at the same time. I don't think it will be too much harder. It looks like once it's apart you cut the metal band and pull the axle out of the slip joint. That's doable. But then if I'm doing that to the passenger side I should probably do it to both sides.
 






Rhett

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I think that's the same. There is an inner and outer bearing, but you probably know that.

The only trouble you might run into would be getting the old races out of the rotor assembly. I had to take my last set to a machine shop to get them out.
 






2stroke

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No, spindle bearings are on the inside for the axle shaft to ride on. Your wheel bearings are outside the spindle for the hub to ride on. Don't bother with u joints unless they are bad. Wheel bearings are easy, disassembling the spindle, pulling axle shafts, etc. takes it to a whole new level. I don't remember if you have manual or auto hubs or not. I have the wheel bearing nut socket for manual hubs if you need to borrow it, or you can pick it up at most auto parts stores for cheap. Also don't forget to replace the seal. A big socket works wonders for driving in races and seals. I just use a punch and a BFH to remove races. I've never had one fight me like some people claim. Also, put your new races in the freezer to make them easier to install.
 






malohnes

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2stroke has it right.

Look at the stickies from Tbars and Tedj for info and how to and the bearing change. Be sure you have the 4x4 hub tool and a large torque wrench that handles 250 ft/lbs so you can torque the lock it down well. It's a tricky but straight forward affair.
 






SuperKirby

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I know for sure my passenger side u joint is bad. I think the drivers side is ok.
I have manual hubs, I don't know if that's better or worse.
2stroke, if you're in Annandale now I may have to try to talk you into helping out one day this spring. Only be about 20 minutes away. I have a covered place I can work in, just not heated so I'm not getting in too big of a hurry.
 






2stroke

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Yep, I'm in annandale, but I work second shift 3 pm-11 am.

I never torque the outer nut, only the inner. As long as it doesn't come loose, it doesn't matter. I just put a breaker bar on it and get it as tight as I can.
 






SuperKirby

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Found this on a 92 Ranger. Doesn't look too hard. There's another video on there to change the spindle nuts. Doesn't look too hard. A little time consuming if anything.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvAAAGVlU2A

Should be able to get it all done in an afternoon, if not a bit of long one.
 






2stroke

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If all you want to do is change wheel bearings, it's probably 2 hours start to finish. It would take less than 5 hours with u joints. It all depends on how much the spindle and u joints are rusted on.
 






SuperKirby

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If I'm taking it apart that far, I need to at least change the u joint on the passenger side. If I'm pulling the parts out I might as well put new stuff in. Right now I plan to order inner and outer wheel bearings and spindle bearings for both sides. If I have need them I'll change them. If not then at least I have them for when I do. I can't generally be more than about a day without my Ex and it seems more than half the time the parts store has to order parts, so I'll save the money and order everything from Rock Auto.

On the plus side, rust is one thing I haven't had an issue with yet. It's only been in MN a couple years so everything is pretty solid on it and not rusted together. That part of working on it is nice.
 






trashtruck

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I consider wheel bearings to be part of a brake job so each time I replace pads the bearings get inspected, repacked or replaced. It's really not that hard. The spindle bearings are a completely separate job and you should at least inspect them when you do the u-joint. Shops around here will charge around $140.00 to do the u-joint depending on labor rate.
 






Maniak

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I need to at least change the u joint on the passenger side.

The passenger side axle shaft is really 2 parts with a slip joint in the middle. In theory, you can take just the outer section out BUT the slip joint may be very stuck. It was even a pain to pull apart the 2 pieces on our Arizona truck.

To get the inner part of the shaft out you have to remove a c-clip from the diff which means you have to pull the diff down. To get the diff down you need to get the drivers side radius arm moved so you can get to the vertical bolt that acts like a hinge on the diff loose.

For more info on that c-clip, see this thread on how to eliminate it. http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=256302

I haven't changed any u-joints on the front axles yet... I Just grab spare axles from the junk yard... I tend to cut the drivers side radius arm so I can get to that vertical bolt. I just give them one of my spare radius arms as payment for me cutting theirs.

As for the bearings, like others said, it is easy... It takes me longer to grease the bearing by hand than it does to actually change the bearing. I've had the bearing/spindles off enough times that it doesn't take me long to pull the brakes, pull the bearing/rotor and pull the spindle..


~Mark
 






2stroke

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If the boot on the passenger side isn't torn up, the slip joint should come apart ok. I always grease mine good, and put it back together with big zip ties. To change the joint itself is usually not that hard. I'd say the hardest part is always getting the spindle off. I think its only 4 bolts holding it on, but then you have to break the thing free with a few screwdrivers or flat punch, and it's always a fight. I recommend Moog grease-able u joints, but some others swear by Spicer non grease-able. I get Timken wheel bearings, and most would agree with me. As for spindle bearings, they are a needle and cage type bearing, and even if they fail, 4x4 would still work. I always put a little grease on mine and make sure it isn't locked up, but to be honest, I've never changed them. Forget the C clip eliminator, that is great for off-road, but it's just headaches for a daily driver. Not to mention you have to practically pull the whole front axle to open it up to pull the C clip out.
 






SuperKirby

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I found a video on youtube of a guy changing the passenger u joint on I think a 93 Ranger. All he did was cut the band for the slip joint boot and is able to pull the axle apart. That's my plan. I hope it works. If I can't get the slip joint apart, there's a possibility it may stay as is for now.
The more I am able to read about it, it really doesn't look that hard. I just get a little nervous on things I've never done before.
 






Maniak

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If the boot on the passenger side isn't torn up, the slip joint should come apart ok. I always grease mine good, and put it back together with big zip ties. To change the joint itself is usually not that hard. I'd say the hardest part is always getting the spindle off. I think its only 4 bolts holding it on, but then you have to break the thing free with a few screwdrivers or flat punch, and it's always a fight. I recommend Moog grease-able u joints, but some others swear by Spicer non grease-able. I get Timken wheel bearings, and most would agree with me. As for spindle bearings, they are a needle and cage type bearing, and even if they fail, 4x4 would still work. I always put a little grease on mine and make sure it isn't locked up, but to be honest, I've never changed them. Forget the C clip eliminator, that is great for off-road, but it's just headaches for a daily driver. Not to mention you have to practically pull the whole front axle to open it up to pull the C clip out.

Ditto what he said... Although I'm one of those non greasable Spicer U-joint people... I try for Timken bearings although they have been getting harder to find.. I've been using SK more recently...

I do agree though, unless you need to pull the diff open for some other reason or do some hard wheeling, don't bother with the c-clip eliminator. I only mentioned it in case the entire shaft had to come out due to a frozen slip joint...

Here is a shot I took when I had thing apart for the extended Radius Arm install (and axle beam crack repair).. that pile of dust is what came out of the joint. That was about 300k miles and the boot was still good, but I never took it off until that time... And that is being in the dry part of the country, no rust here.
4165185372_e818494441.jpg


~Mark
 






2stroke

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Also something to consider, and I want to do myself is replace the big O-ring on the locking hub itself. There is a seal on the back of the wheel hub to keep grease in and crud out, but the only thing protecting the front is the o ring on the hub. Mine are broken and need replacing, its possible yours do too.
 






SuperKirby

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The c clip thing seems beyond my pay grade, especially if it's not something I need to do. Be it good bad or other, I am not a hardcore wheeler and the thought of being in a situation where I need to start pulling the axle on a regular basis seems unlikely. I guess if I'm ever in that situation I'll consider the c clip eliminator.
I'm hoping and planning that I can just slide the slip joint apart. There's not really any rust on my front end or underneath and only about 130k miles on it. We're going to plan for it working.
From what I can tell, I need 4 wheel bearings (looks like all the same bearing, inner or outer, left or right) and potentially 2 spindle bearing kits? Add a big tub o' grease and what size wheel hub socket? Anything else besides basic tools?
 






SuperKirby

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Also something to consider, and I want to do myself is replace the big O-ring on the locking hub itself. There is a seal on the back of the wheel hub to keep grease in and crud out, but the only thing protecting the front is the o ring on the hub. Mine are broken and need replacing, its possible yours do too.

I'd be interested in finding out more about this. Is this a special o ring or just a hardware store replacement? Can you take the hub itself apart and clean and degrease it? How, and how do you reassemble?
 



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2stroke

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I'm pretty sure I've taken the manual hub apart, but I don't remember how. Its not needed anyway. The o ring just looks like black rubber, but its probably something like 2" in diameter. I never measured.

I'm thinking the inner and outer bearings are the same, so you need 4 bearings/races, 2 grease seals, 1 or 2 u-joints, torch of some kind, anti-sieze, and NLGI #2 wheel bearing grease of your choice. I prefer Lubrimatic marine, but it doesn't matter much.

For tools, 19 mm breaker bar, ford spindle nut tool, chisel and flat end punch, big hammer, Flat screw drivers, big socket for driving races and seals or a seal driver kit, and whatever socket fits the nuts that hold the spindles on. Also a torque wrench capable of inch pounds (I think the inner spindle nut is 19 in pounds). I have done the job totally without a torque wrench, and have been fine.
 






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