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Hub Bearings

03Explo20

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City, State
Jonestown, Pa.
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Explorer XLT
Just a question. If one of the front hub bearings goes bad, will the computer throw a code for it? I have a 2003 XLT that may have a drivers side bearing going bad. I'm having some whining noises but checked and do not have any codes stored.
 



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If you have a 4x4 you may or may not get the following:

ABS and AdvanceTrac idiot lights on plus the CHECK ADVTRAC message comes on and the 4x4 HIGH idiot light blinks on and off but not a CEL code. One way or another, if you haven't replaced your front hubs, then they probably are overdue.
 






Just a question. If one of the front hub bearings goes bad, will the computer throw a code for it? I have a 2003 XLT that may have a drivers side bearing going bad. I'm having some whining noises but checked and do not have any codes stored.
@03Explo20
In one word, no. With the reservation that if the bearing is so bad the whole hub is wobbling with respect to it's mounting, then, possibly, as the wheel speed sensor may have been damaged, as clearances to the tone wheel are close.

Confirm a front wheel bearing making noise by driving about 40 mph and turning the steering wheel to one side or the other. Do this on a deserted road, smooth and flat, obviously. This "throws" additional weight on the front wheel on the outside of the turn. That is, bearing noise caused by the right front wheel will present itself, or increase, when the car is steered to the left suddenly, throwing added load onto the right front bearing. Left side, vice versa. I have my 2nd. one doing it right now. Test confirmed it both times.

Here's the outer race of the bad bearing, the galled area over which the rollers were riding clearly visible. Factory OEM bearing, about 150K miles. It took several thousand miles after I first noticed the noise, till I finally decided it was time. Now at 156K, it's the other side.....imp




wheel_10.jpg
 






Jack the front up and grab each tire at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions and wiggle side-to-side and also grab at the 6 and 12 o'clock positions and wiggle. It'll likely be obvious that the wheel bearing(s) are shot if they have play in them. Maybe one, maybe both, maybe the opposite of the one you thought you heard making noises. Either way if one is gone then the other isn't too far behind. Replace the entire hub assembly and use a quality bearing like Timken or SKF, National, etc.
 






When these hubs start to fail, you won't find any noticeable play. Not until they are about to fall apart. The tolerances are too tight.
 






Bad bearings will not store a code. They are bearings, not sensors.
You can not check for a bad bearing by wiggling the tire, unless it's about to come apart. Then it would be VERY noticeable while rolling.
You can pull the wheel and wiggle the hub. Attach a dial indicator and check it, but if it's making enough noise to be audible, you should be able to see movement in the hub. I had approx. 1/32" of movement, which isn't much, but very visible.
Expect about an hour per side if you have experience, a little longer if not, on a 4x4. The axle nut has to be removed and replace it with a new one, they are inexpensive and considered a consumable product.
 






When these hubs start to fail, you won't find any noticeable play. Not until they are about to fall apart. The tolerances are too tight.
@Number4
True. Grasping a tire and attempting to determine looseness has it's merits and disadvantages both. Bad: play may be felt, but it could be ball joints, control arm bushings, rod ends, shock mounts, or wheel bearings. Also bad, it's difficult to see back there what's providing the "play". Last, with car weight off of wheel, the spring places force on one ball joint not present when the wheel sits on the ground. The good: if something is really loose, it will be obvious. Remember the forces placed on those movable joints in operation is far higher than what a guy can apply with his hands. Just my thoughts. imp
 






HERE ya go...it's the first step. You can clearly get some play before it's about to fall apart. It's all a matter of how far gone it is. If you are hearing noises then likely this test will give you a clue as to which side is the problem side but it's not a 100% guarantee. I've definitely read enough accounts of owners thinking it was one particular side based on hearing what they thought only to find out it was the other side but only after changing out the wrong hub.
 






I recall reading at one time that the tolerance for a hub to be good, would be movement of less than .07". At that, you won't see movement without a tool to measure and a crow bar to move the knuckle with the tire off.

Grabbing your tires will cause more than that as the rubber flexes. So check with tires off. Any visible movement at all and it's obviously bad.

Also, local Ford dealer didn't have the axle nuts in stock, whats that tell you? Dealer must be re-using them.
 






I recall reading at one time that the tolerance for a hub to be good, would be movement of less than .07". At that, you won't see movement without a tool to measure and a crow bar to move the knuckle with the tire off.

Grabbing your tires will cause more than that as the rubber flexes. So check with tires off. Any visible movement at all and it's obviously bad.

Also, local Ford dealer didn't have the axle nuts in stock, whats that tell you? Dealer must be re-using them.
@Number4
Did you mean 0.070 inch or 0.007 inch? .07 is roughly 1/16 of an inch. If they are talking about hub bearing run-out measured on the lug bolt flange, .07 would be absolutely too much. If they are talking about total accumulation of play found, which includes all the suspension points I mentioned, then, yes, .07" would be a good high-side figure. A bit of play in a ball joint or rod-end is unlikely to cause the road-noise experience found here. Galled hub bearing, yes.

Ignoring noise for very long, if it's a bearing, invites a pretty dramatic experience. A bad bearing generates excess heat, which accelerates destruction of it. imp
 






@Number4
Did you mean 0.070 inch or 0.007 inch? .07 is roughly 1/16 of an inch. If they are talking about hub bearing run-out measured on the lug bolt flange, .07 would be absolutely too much. If they are talking about total accumulation of play found, which includes all the suspension points I mentioned, then, yes, .07" would be a good high-side figure. A bit of play in a ball joint or rod-end is unlikely to cause the road-noise experience found here. Galled hub bearing, yes.

Ignoring noise for very long, if it's a bearing, invites a pretty dramatic experience. A bad bearing generates excess heat, which accelerates destruction of it. imp

I'd have to find the document again. The play is hub only, no allowances for other components. It mentioned the movement wouldn't be obtained by hand, unless it's obviously bad of course. I don't recall if it was a Ford document or SKF.
 






I'd have to find the document again. The play is hub only, no allowances for other components. It mentioned the movement wouldn't be obtained by hand, unless it's obviously bad of course. I don't recall if it was a Ford document or SKF.
@Number4
My thinking is that those two back-to-back roller bearings are incorporated within the hub to provide a significant amount of bearing preload. I say that because I just received my replacement hub, Timken, in a Timken-emblazoned box, and I held the hub mount in one hand and tried to turn the flange with the wheel lugs with the other. It turned, but damned tight. Given such bearing preload, absolutely NO play in the bearing could be expected. imp
 






I'd have to find the document again. The play is hub only, no allowances for other components. It mentioned the movement wouldn't be obtained by hand, unless it's obviously bad of course. I don't recall if it was a Ford document or SKF.
@Number4
My thinking is that those two back-to-back roller bearings are incorporated within the hub to provide a significant amount of bearing preload. I say that because I just received my replacement hub, Timken, in a Timken-emblazoned box, and I held the hub mount in one hand and tried to turn the flange with the wheel lugs with the other. It turned, but damned tight. Given such bearing preload, absolutely NO play in the bearing could be expected. imp
 






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