How to: - How I changed my 05's Front Wheel Bearing | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How to: How I changed my 05's Front Wheel Bearing

Prefix for threads which are instructional.


Well-Known Member
January 31, 2007
Reaction score
City, State
near Oak Ridge, TN
Year, Model & Trim Level
2005 Jack Bauer Edition
Or really, more like learn from my errors... LOL


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The how to

Replacing a front wheel bearing on a 2005 Ford Explorer


• Replacement wheel bearing assembly (see discussion)
• medium flat blade screwdriver
• ¾" socket
• 30mm socket
• 18mm socket (see discussion)
• 15mm socket
• Breaker bar
Torque Wrench
• Appropriate ratchet for sockets
• Coathanger
• Softface mallet
• Penetrating spray (I use Liquid Wrench)
• Antiseize compound

Optional but recommended:

• 2005-2006 Ford Service DVD
• Work light
• ¼” Air impact ratchet
• Doodad that can press the halfshaft out
• Another working vehicle
• A safe way to work from under the vehicle (see discussion)
• Large loading dose of valium
• Someone else to take over


I consider myself to be an intermediately advanced mechanic. I have removed and installed motors and transmissions, I just don’t enjoy it now like I used to when I was younger. I consider this to be a basic-level repair.

This really isn’t a how-to so much as it is a how-don’t. Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have attempted this without more tools. Having read another how-to on an older model, I truly thought it would be a straightforward procedure, but I was mistaken. Firstly, the bolts that hold the bearing assembly on are very, very hard to remove. Most bolts are rough for the first 3-4 turns, then you can turn them by hand. On mine, it was necessary to crank each one out all the way. Secondly, these bolts are located directly behind the bearing. This means you have to hunch over the top of the hub and strain your back. Had I known this, I would maybe have tried to figure out a way to do this from under the car and facing the back side, a more direct shot. You can’t really just turn the wheel back and forth for the third reason – there is very, very little clearance between the bolt heads and the cv drive shaft. You need to use a thin walled socket. I wound up going through 3 before I found one that would clear.

Then, the head of all of my ratchets wouldn’t fit directly onto the socket. A 4” extension is too long. Using that flexible thingy is about out, too. You have to apply a great deal of force, and when I tried it, I wound up accidentally flipping it and banging myself into things much harder than my knuckles. Another trip out found a 2” extension that worked. If you had that and an air ratchet, I believe I could have knocked 30 minutes off the procedure, and saved most of my knuckle skin.

The final issue was the halfshaft. The splines refused to pull out of the bearing. 15 minutes of malletwork produced zero results. I finally got a sledge and tapped it out. I was careful to not bend the joint too much, but I don’t think I would recommend that method to anyone else (Ford says don’t tap on it at all). I later saw a picture of something with fingers that attach to the bearing flange, and has a center screw that you tighten and apply force to the halfshaft, that would have knocked (pardon the pun) twenty minutes off the procedure and ran a much lesser risk of mushrooming the end of the halfshaft or damaging any of the cv joints or whatever the halfshaft snuggles into on the other end. Having said all that, lets’ begin:

First –

Prepare your work area. I find myself running back and forth way too much, and then have to go into town at least twice (hence the call for a working vehicle in the tool list). Gather what you’ll need and put it where you don’t have to get up or hunt for it, but don’t crowd yourself. If you do, you could slip or trip, or if something goes south, your escape path might be blocked. I also recommend a work lamp. Even outside, it can be dark inside the wheelwell. It doesn’t have to be a million candlepower, but I do recommend it can survive a drop to the floor.

I also recommend washing the vehicle before you start. Disk brake and off-road vehicles get nasty down there. That crap gets on everything and makes it hard to hold onto stuff. Plus, some of that dust might not be healthy for you. A little cleaning now can save you a lot of grief later.

Start by popping the hood. No, we’re not going to extract the bearing from the backside, but the wheel speed sensor plugs into its’ socket inside the engine compartment where you can’t reach it from the wheelwell, forcing you later to either cut its’ cable off or climb up onto the truck and hope it doesn’t fall off the jackstands.

Here is Fords’ neat drawing of it, snug in its’ home aft of and below the battery, near the frame rail (I don’t know where it was on the passenger side):


Here is a photo of where I found it. I added the arrow and inset:


Notice there is a tab at the top, you have to depress it to separate the halves. Don’t ‘help’ it with a screwdriver.

Remove the lug nut cover with a medium to large flat bladed screwdriver, and break loose the lug nuts. Break loose the center axle retainer nut with the 30mm socket.


Jack up the vehicle. Blah blah in neutral, wheels chocked, be safe, etc. etc. You know the drill. Finish removing the center nut, or at least get it to the point where you can spin it off. Or else, when you get the tire off, its’ going to be an uphill battle holding that bearing flange still while you try to crank that nut the rest of the way off. Do not accidentally hit your friend who is trying to hold the flange in the face as I did (sorry Robbie). After removing the lug nuts and the tire, put the tire under the frame. Read ahead to find all the bolts involved, and douse them liberally with the penetrating spray.


You should be here:


There are two crinkly washers applied to the lug studs on this vehicle, apparently to help hold the disk onto the wheel assembly. I am certain there probably is something I should know about them, but they were such a pain in the ass I wound up getting cutters and just cutting them off. The Ford DVD never said anything about them, and there weren’t any replacements in the Ford kit I bought.


Prepare your coathanger. Untwist it and stretch it out. Find something solid as far back on the right side of the wheelwell as you can get. I picked something more in the middle, and it wound up constantly dangling in my way.

Unclip the many fasteners that hold the sensor cable to the brake line. Remember how they go. (BIG hint, remember how that sensor wire snakes around the caliper. You will see that again later.)

Take the 18mm, get behind the caliper and remove the two bolts.


This is a photo hunched over the wheel assembly looking straight down. Your target is the bolt marked with the white arrow (there are two, one above, and one [not pictured] below). Don’t mistake it for the one the red arrow points to. That’s a slider to compensate for pad width.

After removing both of the caliper bolts, take your mallet, and carefully tap the top of the caliper towards the right until you can see the top bolthole. Thread the coathanger you tied off earlier through this, and pull the slack out as you continue to tap the caliper loose. Tie it off and let the coathanger support the weight of the caliper, NOT the hose. Do not bend the brake line any more than you need to. You may need to separate the wheel sensor line from the caliper a little at this point. They just unsnap from each other.

Now, take the disk off. Look at it. If it is deeply scored or discolored on either side, you might consider getting it turned down or replacing it. Same for the brake pads. If they are thin, your next job might be a pad replacement.


Comes the bad part. Using all your mojo, figure out a way to remove the three bolts holding the !@#$%%^ bearing assembly on.


In the above photo, two of the three are marked by white arrows. I apologize for the ****ed perspective, but its’ pretty cramped in there. We are looking down and back from the front bumper. The red arrow points to the tie rod end, and the green arrow points towards the floor. This also shows my earlier attempt to use a knuckle adaptor and breaker bar to remove those bolts, which didn’t work very well at all. With this setup, you could only turn maybe a quarter turn at a time. That bolt is at least two and a half inches long – you do the math!

It was bad enough that I gave up. Here is a picture of a buddy that came to rescue me:


See how hunched over he is? That’s why I say that figuring out a way to do it from the other side would be the way to go next time, and using an air wrench. Yes, that is a lot of light, but note to the left my initial lamp that I dropped and broke.


You get the bolts loose, you should be ready to remove the bearing assembly. Ford specs out a special tool in their DVD (Remover, front wheel hub, 205-D070 (D93P-1175-B)), and maybe you could rent something similar from one of the big box parts stores. I am definitely going to look next time. Once you get the assembly off, clean the mating surfaces using some degreaser and a razor knife, and apply some anti-seize. Because it was difficult to push the new bearing on, we decided to put some on the splines, too. I don’t know if that’s ok, but it is what we did and it worked for us.

The kit I bought came from Ford, and it was only around ten or so more dollars than from one of the big boxes. My kit came with all new bolts, and a preinstalled speed sensor. It even had a replacement holder for the sensor wire mounting location above the shock absorber.

The box said it was p/n 4L2Z 1104 AA and if I recall correctly, it was around $170. Assembly pretty much really is the reverse of disassembly. Torque the bearing bolts equally. Run the center nut back on there as best you can. Ford specifies a new nut, but the kit didn’t have one. So, I used the old one. Hope my wheel doesn’t fall off. Install the rotor, having cleaned your greasy pawprints off of it so you don’t contaminate the disc pad linings. Correctly routing the sensor wire, reinstall the caliper.

Clip the sensor wire back up the brake line, then put the tire on and hand-tighten the nuts. Lower the car, torque the nuts (DON’T forget the center nut!!) and reinstall the cover. Finally, reinstall the sensor connector halves.

That should be it! Oh - the torque specs are: center nut (184 lb-ft), the caliper bolts (24 lb-ft), and lug nuts (100 lb-ft) according to Ford. I couldn’t find the specs for the bearing bolts.


They're not that difficult...Done a couple for customers' vehicles already. Usually a rear one though. With a hoist and air tools, the job goes quickly.

When I bought my '04, it had a noisy left rear bearing, and I whined about it when I came back from my first road test, and the dealership whined right back saying how they sold me this one below cost (they really did...I saw the buy ticket and verified it thru my contacts at the auction) and they couldn't afford to take more loss on it, but offered to look at it and tell me if it was for sure a bearing, or if it was rear end noise, which I agreed to. If it was a rear end, I could refuse the vehicle. Fair enough. Well, the guys that looked at it (this is a Ford dealership, mind you) mustn't have known their butts from a hole in the ground, because the salesman (who's a friend of mine) called me and told me he had good news...They installed two new rear wheel bearings and new rear rotors all free of charge. Evidently, somebody screwed something up while inspecting it, and wrecked something. I didn't ask any more questions, just took delivery of the vehicle after a final road test, and felt better about not having to fix a vehicle I just bought. Come to think of it...That's probably one of the first vehicles I've ever bought that I didn't have to (or want to) fix something on right away after buying it! Only thing they dropped the ball on was the fact that the air filter was plugged tight. I didn't even bother checking it for about a week after I bought it just because I assumed they'd have done it when they set the vehicle up. No biggie...Gave me an excuse to buy a K&N for it.

With a hoist and air tools, the job goes quickly.

That's my point. Soon as I build up enough scratch to buy the other front bearing, I am gonna find both of those. I'll bet I can do it hubcap to hubcap in less than 35 minutes with those items....


Where did you get your bearings from. I've seen many different brands. I wish we had a Autozone up here because they carry Timiken bearings, which I've always used on my vehicles.

I took mine off last friday to see if it was bad and after fighting with the 3 bearing bolts I realized I could turn the steering wheel and make it MUCH easier.

I hope to get a new hub this friday and replace mine. Bought it on Ebay. SKF brand.
I found out the cheap ones at AutoZone are Chinese made.

Me? On a lark, I called the stealership, and found that I could get a Ford part for around twenty bucks difference. I *think* I paid $170 here in Roane County.


Well I received my hub from the guy on Ebay and installed it.
Turns out the bearings said Timken on it.

Wow how much quieter this is now!

After looking at the old one it is possible to replace the bearings only and not the whole hub. Just need to look at how to remove the bad bearings now.
Most auto parts stores sell just the bearings I noticed.

I'm new to Fords but this is identical to the GM from hubs. I've done two GM hubs with only hand tools. It's not that bad of a job. Anyone thinking of doing this themselves shouldn't be scared off by this thread. The thread is great in giving you the tool list and procedure. Thanks to High Order!

As for the "Doodad that can press the halfshaft out" I think you're referring to a 3 jaw puller. Makes life very easy. Jaws go around the hub with the screw centered on the splined shaft and slowly turn with a long handled breaker bar.

My next question is anyone done the rear. I hear its a little different

Hub seal

Did you have a hub seal on the old assembly and if so, did you re install it on your new bearing or disgard it? I have an 02 explorer XLT and the old bearing has a seal on the inside part that attaches onto the hub assembly up against the CV joint.

Is the axle (halfshaft) nut a 30mm?

High Order, Got some good chuckles on your experience with the front bearing. I replaced mine and discovered I'm not as young as I used to be. Those three hub bolts were a muther....I strained my out of shape forearm muscles turning those bears one little bit at a time with lots of colorful language included. For the next couple of days I was reminded of the fun I had every time I lifted anything, even something as lightweight as a cup of coffee......

As you get older you have to work smarter. I found that a high quality combination wrench and a brass hammer are better than brute strength. Place the box end of the wrench on the bolt with the open end angle towards you, then tap the open end with the brass hammer. Poor man's impact wrench!

I just wanted to refresh this thread. I just changed my front left hub/bearing assembly on my 03 4X4 and this guide did help me.

I wanted to mention that by far, THE HARDEST part was removing the 3 bolts on the backside of the spindle that hold the hub assembly on.

I found that the best tool to use to remove them and reach them is a 15mm deep offset 12pt box end Craftsman wrench (13mm on one side, 15mm on the other). It was the correct thickness on the walls of the box end to get in there. This is what it looks like:


I went through about every set of sockets/ratchets that you could imagine. I also have air tools, everything from 1/4" to 3/4" and could not get in there on the bolts with it. You have to use pure strength to do it. The tapered end of the axle where it comes in from the backside of the spindle, created an awkward area that you cannot get a socket into at you can only get to them from the side. They are too recessed to get a regular combination open end wrench in on.

A tip I will also add, is to simply turn the wheels to get to the bolts easier....I found that I didn't have to hunch over very much to get in on them (once I used the correct wrench on them). Ford puts a yellow thread locker on the bolts, which is VERY HARD TO REMOVE....I had to wrap a towel around the wrench and with all of my might loosen them. So much that they were "popping" as they were coming out, I was just waiting for the head to shear off. I guess that's what 126k miles will do on the drive components! (I'm a 250lb guy who can bench over 300lbs....just to give you a clue of how much strength it took!)

I ordered a Ford OEM complete front hub/bearing kit....part # 4L2Z 1104 AA which included 5 new bolts (3 for the hub and 2 for the caliper) already with that yellow threadlock applied. The new bolts went in very easy, 75% of the way by hand. Hope to never have to remove this again!

I can confirm that the axle nut is 30mm, I was able to pull mine off with an air impact wrench. I would recommend getting a jaw puller to get the hub off the axle splines, I did not have one but was able to tap it free while keeping the axle from over-extending.

FINAL RESULT: The grinding is gone in the left front. My problem was simple that in turns you could feel/hear the grind at just about any speed. The noise reduction and quality of driving now is much better.

I found this hub unit on eBay brand new for $100 shipped, for an OEM Ford kit....they are $180+tax from my local Ford dealer. It is worth getting the Ford kit just because it comes with the new bolts, there is no way I would have re-used the bolts I took out of there, after putting easily over 200lbs of force on each head to pull it off....they were pretty marked up.

Best of luck to anyone who does this....once I had all of my tools, it was about a 3 hour job for me. Air tools are pretty much useless on this job with the exception of taking off the wheels and axle won't be able to get anything other than a deep offset wrench on those bolts! Get makes the job very possible!

I just wanted to add a few pictures of mine....specifically the ones where you can see the deep offset 15mm wrench on the bolts holding the hub...and you can see how they are recessed so that you pretty much can't get anything else on them, because the axle is in the way.

Caliper tied off to coathanger, offset wrench on one of the hub bolts:

Backside of the spindle, bolts holding the hub's a tight squeeze, too tight for ratchets/sockets, and definitely not any air me, I tried!

Another one of the hub bolts, this is the top center one....I had to alternate the wrench from one side of the spindle to the other, halfway get it out the rest of the way:

Just another shot of the old hub assembly:

Showing how I wrapped the coat hanger around the upper control arm to hold the caliper out of the way, without bending the brake hose beyond its limit. Upper ball joints are this weekend's

Thanks again to the OP for posting this thread, it really helped me out! I will be doing the other hub next week, will hopefully be able to run through it quickly and with much more confidence!

Wanted to give this a bump...there seems to be some forum activity of people needing to do front bearings. Also wanted to update that I did my other front hub/bearing assembly last weekend, the bolts on that side were (again) very hard to remove. The deep offset wrench is an absolute must here, I do not know how you would even be able to put a socket on it for more than a couple of your CV axle housing gives hardly any room!

Also, I used genuine Ford OEM front hub/bearing assemblies. Found them for $100/ea brand new in the box, from a guy who is going to the Ford dealerships closing and buying up their parts inventory. If anyone is looking for this complete assembly, I can refer you to him....he is a reputable seller with more than excellent feedback through eBay and Paypal. The biggest difference in buying the OEM part and buying the cheap chinese junk on eBay or the parts from AutoZone or the like, is that the OEM part comes with NEW installation bolts (with thread lock on them) for not only the hub, but also the calipers. If I showed you a picture of what my old bolts on the hub looked like after they came would be thankful that I put new bolts in!

Or you can go buy the hub assembly from your local Ford dealer for about $180 + tax....

My approach to hub replacement

I'm only on this board occasionally but I've also struggled with front hub replacement, doing both last year on my 02. As most have commented, the real difficulty is removing the three bolts that hold the hub to the knuckle.

I took a bit different approach for the removal. I used my hand-held grinder to cut into the ears that the bolts thread into. My 4 1/2" grinder did not allow me to cut all of the way through before it bottomed out. But I was able to cut away enough so that the bolts snapped when turned. A few minutes with the grinder and a quick turn on each bolt and the hub was free. I found this to be a fair bit easier and quicker than trying to back the bolts out with a wrench one flat at a time.

A word of caution is appropriate here. Make sure you only cut into the old hub. Cutting into other parts like the knuckle will be more expensive and probably make you unhappy.


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I'm only on this board occasionally but I've also struggled with front hub replacement, doing both last year on my 02. As most have commented, the real difficulty is removing the three bolts that hold the hub to the knuckle.

I took a bit different approach for the removal. I used my hand-held grinder to cut into the ears that the bolts thread into. My 4 1/2" grinder did not allow me to cut all of the way through before it bottomed out. But I was able to cut away enough so that the bolts snapped when turned. A few minutes with the grinder and a quick turn on each bolt and the hub was free. I found this to be a fair bit easier and quicker than trying to back the bolts out with a wrench one flat at a time.

A word of caution is appropriate here. Make sure you only cut into the old hub. Cutting into other parts like the knuckle will be more expensive and probably make you unhappy.


Great tip!

I was on a similar thinking path when I was taking the bolts out...I was able to jiggle the hub just slightly as all 3 bolts were about 1/2 inch out (maybe 5 turns) and could see the bolts between the hub and knuckle. This is when I started soaking them in liquid wrench (which may have helped the rest of the way out)....but I was very tempted to take my air cutting tool to them, and just get in that gap and slice them in half....but just decided to turn them all the way out. :cool: