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Front Wheel Hub Bearing

Scorpion8

Well-Known Member
Joined
February 13, 2014
Messages
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Location
SE-AK
City, State
SouthEast Alaska
Year, Model & Trim Level
2006 Explorer XLT
Had new tires put on the 2006 XLT and then slowly noticed a whine from one of the front wheels. Originally thought it was road noise from the new tires, but it got worse. Local Ford repair station ended up replacing front wheel hub/bearing. Looking at the parts, the front wheel hub/bearing assembly looks no different than that one my '97 Dodge Ram 1500. I opted to have the Ford place do the repair because it's winter here, they have a heated indoor garage and I don't.

But.... for future reference, are these hard to replace? General amount of time required? Any special tools?
 



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Nope, not hard at all. But you might need an air chisel and slide hammer (both can be rented from your local auto parts store) if they've been on a while. They have a tendency to seize up against the knuckle. If you do change them, coat both the knuckle and hub liberally with some anti-seize compound.

BTW, I'm also USN(retired).



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Thanks all! Actually looks easier than the hubs on my older Ram pickup. If only these dang repairs would wait until summer.
 






Going to disagree with the guys above.. This truck is the absolute WORST vehicle to change front bearings on that I have ever worked on.
Looking at it, it seems to be a simple job just like any other vehicle with the same style hubs, which is exactly what I thought as I began the job to change my driver side front bearing in my 2010 XLT.

My background, I wouldn't call myself a mechanic, but I do all my own work on my vehicles short of transmission rebuilds, and I've changed more than a few of this style hub....
So, remove tire, check, remove caliper and brake rotor, check. remove the three bolts from the hub, easy peasy. Nothing looks too rusty and the bolts all came out easy, I'm nearly done! Then, as I normally do , I give it a few taps from behind to knock it loose... ummm... ok, a few more light taps.... Sometimes they can be a little subborn, so a few harder taps might be in order...... huh, ok, lets try from the other side, so off comes the brake shield so I can whack it from another angle.... Still not moving....
Fast forward a few min along with a break, and at this point I am hitting it as hard as I am able to given the angles with a 5lb sledge, from every angle I can get at it from and its not budging...... OK, well, that sucks, fine explorer, you win. So I remove the entire knuckle and take it into work the next day where we have a hydraulic press. That sucker was LOUD coming out, but out it came under 20 tons of hydraulic pressure.... Wire wheel the bore enough for the new bearing to slip in, and we are good to go, take it home, reassemble, aaaaaaand done....

Now, fast forward to this past Tuesday. Its time to do the passenger side. After the fiasco with the driver side, I'm not going to waste time beating on it. Remove bolts to get to hub, give it a few "love" taps just to see if my luck with this truck has changed and it comes out easy like it should.... Nope, stuck solid.
Fine, lets remove the knuckle..... Now, I don't currently own a tie rod puller, because I have never needed one. A few taps and they generally pop out. The driver side one came out easy so why would I be concerned.... A few harder whacks, then a few more whacks from all angles and its still in there. I even tried putting my jack under the bolt and jack up till the frame juuuuuust comes off the jack stand and give it a few more whacks... still not moving.... SO, I admit defeat for the day and text my buddy to see if he has a tie rod puller.
Our text conversation goes like this: Me - "Do you have a tie rod puller?", Him - "Yea but they are dumb". Me - "what?" Him - "You just hit the knuckle in-line with the taper and it just pops out, so I never use a puller", Me - "Yea, I've been trying that", Him - "You just need a mini sledge", Me- "I have one, Its REALLY in there", Him- "A good whack is usually all it takes", Me - I KNOW, but this is my explorer, NOTHING is ever easy", Him - "lol, ok ill bring it in."

So, day two, armed with the tire rod puller, I return, and have it out in seconds, next the upper joint falls to the puller as well. Now the lower ball joint.... hmm, the tie rod puller is JUUUUUST a bit too small.... I'll spare you the cursing and whacking that ensued, but long story short, my explorer is currently at home on a jack stand with the knuckle attached with just the lower ball joint..... Im going to pick up a ball joint separator on the way home and give it another attempt this evening.... And then I STILL need to bring the knuckle back to work to press out the bearing/hub.....

SO yea, it can be done, but unless you have a fully stocked shop with a press, dont do it on a day you are going to need your truck the next day....
 






Mine weren't easy either. I replaced the two front ones on my 2010 Sport Trac last year at a little over 100K miles. They were both original--never before replaced. So they were totally seized against the knuckles. The first one took me around eight hours. Most of that time consisted of working to separate the hub from the knuckle by alternately using an air chisel and slide hammer. It was a *****, and my hand was numb after using the damn slide hammer for so long--even with wearing anti-vibration gloves. The second one took less time because I'd refined refined my techniques on the first one. Needless to say, I coated the mating surfaces of the new hubs and the knuckles very liberally with anti-seize compound so I wouldn't have to go through that crap again.
 






Wow mine were very easy on my 2006 Explorer , about 2 hours the first time on mine then did my friends 2007 Monty in about hour.
 






@Scorpion8 Mine (2004) were seized for good! Here's how I did it, without huge hammers, etc.
Sorry for the blur. The bar of aluminum at left bears against the floor, top between two wheel studs. Long pipe used on ratchet, no impact gun.

front_10.jpg



Use a regular old rear axle slide hammer, removed center rod and weight from the foot, used long 5/8-18 bolt to bear against the axle end, 3 wheel lug nuts behind the foot. Pulled that baby out nice & clean!
front_13.jpg



Here's how rusted and corroded the old hub was, next to the new one.
front_16.jpg


My job went even harder than others described. One of the three hub bolts could absolutely not be loosened unless the knuckle were released from ball joint and swung out of the way of the CV joint. Didn't like all that work, so sawed-off the bolt head from behind. Didn't matter that the seized bolt got thrown away with the bad hub.

The axle nut is used to press the new hub home, after cleaning out the hole in the knuckle real well. imp
 






Thanks all. The one thing I haven't seen is the use of sacrificial bolts. On my Ram truck, the suggested method used removes the 3 bolts from behind the knuckle that are used to snug up and retain the bearing/hub against the knuckle, then you partially screw in 3 longer bolts of the same dimension (except for length) and beat on the heads from behind the knuckle to drive the hub/bearing outward, slowly rotating between each bolt so the hub is driven out without canting.
 






Thanks all. The one thing I haven't seen is the use of sacrificial bolts. On my Ram truck, the suggested method used removes the 3 bolts from behind the knuckle that are used to snug up and retain the bearing/hub against the knuckle, then you partially screw in 3 longer bolts of the same dimension (except for length) and beat on the heads from behind the knuckle to drive the hub/bearing outward, slowly rotating between each bolt so the hub is driven out without canting.
@Scorpion8
A very good solution. But, on the Explorer, the Ram I know nothing about, there is barely enough room to get the damned bolts out, after you've freed them up. As said, if the knuckle is released from it's upper ball joint, it may then be swayed outwards and sideways, which gains room behind it to hit longer bolts. I'll stick to my method. imp
 






Yea there is no way you could gen enough force behind it on all three bolts to get it out. I did try that on my first one.
 






So in case anyone is interested, here in the ending to my hub replacment saga (started above in post #6 Front Wheel Hub Bearing)

So, to get the bottom ball joint out, I ended up buying one of these ball joint separators from harbor freight 3/4 in. Ball Joint Separator and went to work. It really didnt seem to be working as it was really easy to turn for quite a ways. Finaly it started it get a bit harder to to then BANG!, the tool dropped to the ground, I thought it had just broken by the sound, my wife came out of the house and asked what I broke, but no, the tool was fine, the crazy loud sound was just the stud coming out of the taper....
I had the nut threaded back on the shaft even with the end so the knuckle didn't just fall to the ground. It had threaded on easy enough, but now with the stud free of the knuckle, it just turned with the nut, so I had to put a hex wrench in the bottom to hold it while I undid the nut (they are made this way for this exact reason)
I only add this part to my story because once the nut was free, the hex wrench would NOT come out of the stud..... At this point I was so done with this whole thing (remember this is day 3 of my saga) and I stood up and took a few steps toward my hack saw to just saw it off.... but luckily I stopped, only because then it would be that much harder to put everything back together and it was a high quality wrench... So a few min of beating on it, made more fun because i had to hold the knuckle up at the same time so it didn't just fall to the ground when the wrench came out, and so I had room to beat on it, and its out.... I dont know how it go so stuck when I didn't really put any pressure on it, just unscrewed the nut a few threads...

All right, so, 3 days later, I finally have the knuckle off. The thing that's really stupid is this entire story up to this point has been just to get here at which point I have done 0% of what I even started out to do.... It should literately have been 10-15 min from the time I brought the jack out of the garage, but no, ford decided to design it such that there is no way to get the hub out easily.... thanks ford.

Unfortunately, I'm not yet done for the day. My driveshaft boot apparently tore some time ago and puked out all its grease and replaced it with moisture, There is no way I am doing this again for a LOOOONG time, so I have a driveshaft on hand. Yay something simple. So, pop the driveshaft out of the axle tube and go to pull it out, and I can hear the ford engineers cackling with glee.... Hmmm, not enough room between the swaybar link and shock to get it out.... maybe if I try to go above the swaybar... nope.. SO, I guess I disconnect the swaybar link.... All things considered, it goes pretty easily, just annoying because I have to hold a socket on the bottom and the top of the link, oh, and the brake caliper is hanging right in my way. so thats cool. Anyhow, get the link apart, and the driveshaft falls to the ground, pop the new one in, and reconnect the swaybar, Throw the knuckle in the back of the jeep and off to bed. (also, it was about 40°F that day)

Day 4. The hydraulic press again makes short, if noisy, work out of removing the hub from the knuckle, then the fun part of cleaning the knuckle up enough that the new hub/bearing slides in. 15 min later its done and ready to take home and install.... Thankfully nothing after this point is worth mentioning, other than my torque wrench breaking after torquing just one of the hub nuts, so delay while thats replaced, but then everything went smoothly after that....

Reading this story, it would be easy to assume I am just some inept retard who really shouldnt be working on cars.... But thats really not the case. IMO,, its just bad design combined with bad luck. Over the years I have installed several lift kits on various vehicles, replaced alternators, water pumps, radiators, A/C systems, shocks, struts, driveshafts, motor mounts, brake calipers and master cylinders, replaced various sensors, rewired bits, rebuilt carburetor's, even adjusted points and timing a few times.... But I have NEVER, EVER had as much trouble as I seem to have working on this explorer.....
 






Had new tires put on the 2006 XLT and then slowly noticed a whine from one of the front wheels. Originally thought it was road noise from the new tires, but it got worse. Local Ford repair station ended up replacing front wheel hub/bearing. Looking at the parts, the front wheel hub/bearing assembly looks no different than that one my '97 Dodge Ram 1500. I opted to have the Ford place do the repair because it's winter here, they have a heated indoor garage and I don't.

But.... for future reference, are these hard to replace? General amount of time required? Any special tools?
Easy replacement but I live in Florida - absolutely no rust. Could be a bear if the assembly is rusted into the knuckle. Replaced the two front hub/bearing assemblies last week. Both old ones came off with no issues. Standard tools in anyone's tool box. Total time (including jacking, removing wheels & reverse): about 1 1/2 hours. You will probably never have to ever replace these again.
 






Had new tires put on the 2006 XLT and then slowly noticed a whine from one of the front wheels. Originally thought it was road noise from the new tires, but it got worse. Local Ford repair station ended up replacing front wheel hub/bearing. Looking at the parts, the front wheel hub/bearing assembly looks no different than that one my '97 Dodge Ram 1500. I opted to have the Ford place do the repair because it's winter here, they have a heated indoor garage and I don't.

But.... for future reference, are these hard to replace? General amount of time required? Any special tools?
PS Mine is a 2WD so no axle to remove
 






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