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New wheel bearings loosening quickly

ThreeQuarter

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Expatriated Texan in Iowa
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'94 XLT
capecod: What's a D-44 nut?

Well, I replaced the bearings and races again. Then, at the 200-mile mark they needed tightening, so I did. And they needed tightening soon again after that, but I didn't. I've been driving them for the last 3,000 miles w/o tightening and they are the same. They seem to quickly reach a point of loose-ness, and then not progress.

I'm stumped. I wonder if the problem is the spindles themselves. My bearings cones seem to fit the spindle well, but it's hard to say. I can't find anyone here who has ever discussed a worn spindle, so that makes me skeptical, along with the fact that none of the parts stores sell them.

Any new ideas? Ever heard of a worn spindle that would allow the bearing cone(s) to have some play? I can't explain why that would cause the symptoms I'm seeing, I'm just stabbing at stuff now.

Anyone think that a manual hub conversion (with fresh bearings & races) would fix my problem?
 


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Skydiver

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'93 Sport, v6, Auto, 4x4
Wow, sorry to hear about your luck.

Just yesterday I replaced my rotors, pads and bearings. The first thing I did was inspect the outer bearing race or cone, to make certain it is pressed in all the way.

Firstly, I think your spindle(s) are shot but I'd need to be there to see them. Here is some info I can share if they are not.

Your spindle nut should be 16in. lbs. torque. Then turned to the closest key-way. Most do-it-yourselfers forget to do a series of torquing and loosening of the nut to "about" 30ft. lbs. while spinning the rotor in both directions.

Make certain your spindle is tight. There are like 5 or 6 nuts, I forget. It most likely is ok or you would have crashed. Failure is pretty much catastrophic with no middle ground.

As for wear on the spindle's mating surface to the wheel bearings. This is somewhat rare but can happen. It can or will happen when the spindle nut torque is excessive and/or the bearing fails and ceases. Something must allow wheel rotation and it is the bearing's job. If it fails then something else must allow rotation. That would be one of the two races of the bearing. In turn causing wear and failure of the rotor or the spindle.

Clean the spindle well. If you see any discoloration,scorching or scrapes at the bearing mating surfaces replace the spindle.

To check the spindle I would try to find specs that show the diameter where the bearing mates. Then use a micrometer to see what size yours are now.

A machine shop would be of help if you cannot locate the specs. They could get the inside dia. of the bearing and make an educated guess at what the mating area of the spindle ought to be.

I have no clue how much new spindles are. If they are inexpensive then just replace them.

Good luck. Thankfully it is a rather simple repair once the problem is diagnosed.
 




ThreeQuarter

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Skydiver, thanks for the suggestions. The bearings have been installed/adjusted as you described (several times). The spindle is tight--I replaced the inner spindle bearing, so the spindles were removed and replaced into cleaned mating surfaces, and torqued down properly. I still think the slack is showing up in the bearings, as I can make the slack go away by adjusting the nut. But I find no evidence that the nut is backing off, slipping over/past the key, or jumping threads.

The spindle surfaces where the bearing cones rest do look pretty well-used. They are discolored and marked, but I haven't checked the dia. on them. They just look like 200K spindles in my experience--nothing unusual. But my thoughts are the same as yours: go ahead and replace them, depending on cost. Will post what I find. Thanks again.
 




ThreeQuarter

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Verdict: It was the spindles. They were worn on the bottom side (as one would expect) on both sides and under both the inner and outer races. I don't think any one bearing seized to cause the wear; I think the bearings were given freedom to move side-to-side and wore themselves a groove that way. Can't say if this was from neglect, abuse (probably not, judging by the rest of the truck), or if it's just normal for these trucks, because I've only owned it since 192K miles (205K now) and it had been doing this since I bought it.

Thanks everyone for their advice, the wheel bearing slack is fixed. Now I have to find the source of my high-speed shimmy.
 




lonestar

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I'm having same issue... Tighten, drive it , loose, re-tighten, drive it, loose.... Just replaced ball joints and now this problem reveals itself. Like you , both spindles and bearings appear good.

I'm a little confused on the pressed in bearings and 1/4" gap? If I remember back when I repacked bearings, the inner bearing sat in rotor with a seal pressed in behind it. The bearing remained loose behind seal until it was seated onto spindle by torquing the bearing nut.

Did you happen to find a good deal on some spindles and manual hubs?
 




Tbars4

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...The gap I may have been refering to was if you didn't seat the inner bearing all the way on..:scratch:
 




ThreeQuarter

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Any gap I referred to in posts above was to inner the RACES, which usually come already pressed into the rotor. Turns out that wasn't my problem all along, though. My problem was worn spindles. After replacing the spindles, I could've put the auto hubs back on and they would've worked fine for another 200K miles, I'm sure, but I thought it was time for some manuals. Repeat: Manual hubs did not fix my problem.

lonestar: Can you feel any ridges at all on the bottom surface of the spindle? That is where my wear occured, and it doesn't take much to make quite a bit of slack in wheel. If you feel any changes in diameter as you slide your finger along the length of the bottom of the spindle, you need new spindles.

I bought the spindles I linked above from Bronco Graveyard because they were the cheapest I could find and they were sourced straight from Dana just like all the other vendors would have sold me. (FYI: they come with a new axle bearing inside and a seal for that bearing.) I bought the manual Warn hubs and the nut conversion kit from Advance Auto Parts, and paid whatever the list price was.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.
 




lonestar

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Thought my spindles looked good, no signs of wear or scorches. Just noticed the negative camber and loose bearings after replacing ball joints.

Are these them? D35 Spindle

Wow, $120.. Wonder what changed after 92.5?
 




mhatten02

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Hey guys... don't mean to jump in here, but I seem to be having a similar problem. Not sure.. I just bought this Explorer from a friend. He told me there was a "wobble" in the front right wheel at high speeds (65mph). He believed (at least told me) it was a problem with worn out tires. Well, I replaced them and still had the wobble. So, I took it into my girlfriends uncle's garage to check it out. I was thinking it may have been the tie rod ends. Well, after inspecting it, we believe it's the bearings now. Funny thing was, after racking the wheel back and forth to figure out it was the bearing, the wobble stopped. It seemed to be fine until recently (month or so). Would that be similar to what you guys were talking about, as it loosening on it's own? Maybe racking it kinda pressed them back in a bit??? I'm kinda confused. I already bought new bearings and seals, but haven't installed them yet. Any insight???? Thanks in advance!

Matt
 




ThreeQuarter

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lonestar: yes, those are the ones for your Exp. Mine are the same spindles, but with notches for the ABS sensors.

mhatten: Can't say for sure, those aren't the exact symptoms I had, because mine would tighten up with a spindle nut adjustment, but after less than five miles it would be loose again, and not get any looser after 3000 miles. Sounds like the first thing you need to try is simply the bearings (don't forget the outer races, a.k.a. bearing "cups") and see if that helps before spending the money on spindles. Be sure to feel of the bottom of the spindles while you're in there working on the bearings anyway. Good luck!
 




mhatten02

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I just thought it was weird that after racking it back and forth, it stopped shaking. My first thought even then, was that somehow maybe it came loose and my racking it kinda set them back in place. Either way, I'm replacing the bearings anyway. I'll find out then.... Thanks for the insight!
 




ratrod13

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I have the same problem at the passenger side, i just bought this car. At high and low speed there was a shimmy. At first i thought it was the allignment, so went to the shop. After that changed the front tires and it was driving today 10.000 times better (shimmy is almost gone!). But also found out today the're was to much play by the front bearings. Bearings seem to be okay.

Gonna re-tighten it, a bit more than it has to be and will use some locktide just to be sure...i've read this tip at a other topic.
In my case i think it was caused of a wrong allignment, non stock tires (255-55-18") and a really bad wheel.
 




JohnJ

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Ratrod13: Loctite doesn't work if there's any grease on the threads. Assuming your nut can't turn (because of the key) that shouldn't matter anyway. If you clean away enough grease for the loctite to do anything... just tell me you used a medium or lower strength loctite.
 




ratrod13

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Ratrod13: Loctite doesn't work if there's any grease on the threads. Assuming your nut can't turn (because of the key) that shouldn't matter anyway. If you clean away enough grease for the loctite to do anything... just tell me you used a medium or lower strength loctite.

Fixed the prob today...the key was NOT!!!! in there, therefore i did not use any loctite jet, but replaced a new key, and used another slot in the nut (one was a bit worn out)...
 




lonestar

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OK, I'm an idiot, apparently I forgot to torque the upper pinch bolt and camber bushing was twisting.
 




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