hub bearing vs. spindle strength? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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hub bearing vs. spindle strength?

Doubt Incarnate

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2005
Reaction score
City, State
"Franktucky", Ohio
Year, Model & Trim Level
'99 Eddie Bauer
I've got a bigger badder 4x4 truck for the winter so i'm thinking of dropping the 4x4 parts from my X to save gas since it wouldn't be pulling snow duty. also there's a clunk up front i cant find, so maybe if the parts are out the noise will go with them.

as the title states, i want to know if i remove the axles from the front that the 4wd wheel bearings are strong enough to hold up on their own. it sounds like a stupid thought but if they are, why wouldnt ford have just used the 4x4 type of knuckle, bearing, rotor, ABS setup on all the 2 and 4x4's? instead of having to manufacture several different types of parts.

does the splined portion of the axle offer any rigidity or strength to the load bearing assembly? if i was to drop the 4x4 parts, would i have to switch to the 2wd front knuckle/spindles/etc or will it be fine with the original parts in place?

thanks in advance!

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The axle shaft and clamping load applied by the axle retaining nut is CRITICAL for keeping the front wheel bearings from exploding. You have 2 options:

1.) Cut a cv axle, so that you still have the outer stub to bolt to the hub.
2.) Replace the spindles w/ 2wd spindles, from a junkyard.

cool thanks, that exactly the info i wanted.

maybe a little more info... anyone happen to know off hand what size socket is needed to remove the rotors from the front spindles? going to the local pull&pay to round up some spindles, and if the rotors are crap then i'm not going to pay for them. so i'll need to get them off to leave them behind.

Just did it last night. I think I used a 1" and it had a tiny bit of slack, so it might really be a 25mm. There will be a cotter pin and castle nut cover over the axle nut, a big washer and then the outer bearing. Inner bearing is held in the back of the hub by a grease seal. Talking about the 2WD spindles.

thanks bob, off to to grab the right tools then down to the job.

knocked this out thursday, most of it anyways. turns out the wheel bearing nuts on the only 2wd explorer there was 27mm, good thing i had a big ole cresent wrench. most of the noise is gone, but some is still there, if its still there after the shocks are replaced then i'm going to chock it up to worn out bushings. the better mpg is a bonus.