Rear Wheel Bearings?? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Rear Wheel Bearings??


New Member
November 17, 2011
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Year, Model & Trim Level
1999 Ford Explorer
I've been frequenting this site for a while now- lots of good info here!!

I've had a '99 Explorer XLT 2WD for about 3 years now. Bought it with 76k & it now has just over 120k. It's been one of the most reliable vehicles I've ever owned (haha, knock on wood).

Anyway, I live on a curvy country road and for the past few months I've noticed a growling noise when turning slight right. It is the worst when I'm going about 30-40 mph and taking a slight right curve. I can still hear it when going left, but not nearly as bad. I thought for sure it was the wheel bearings so I took it to the shop- they did the left front bearing- noise still there. So they did the right front bearing. Noise still there. Shop tells me they can't find anything else wrong with it and that it's probably tire noise. I'm not satisfied with that explanation!!! Is it possible that it is one of the back bearings and I'm just hearing it in the front? I really don't care to have my wheel fall off one day while driving my 3 kids down a curvy road with a river on one side- KWIM?

[A little more info- not sure if this matters or not. A while ago I had them check the back brakes and found that the brakes were fine but the pads on the parking brake were shot. They removed the pads for now (I know I need to get that fixed). I can't remember when they were removed relative to when I started hearing the noise. I still think it is probably a bearing, but thought I'd include this info since it pertains to the left rear wheel.]

First swap the tires front-back just to see if that is an issue. Tires would make noise all the time IMO, but it's an easy test to do.

Check rear bearings!

1. Raise rear wheels off the ground, supporting directly under the suspension points (spring mount).

2. Running vehicle in Drive at about 20 mph, have someone do that for you, LISTEN at each rear wheel using a stethoscope type device, 2 or 3 foot rubber hose about 1/2" works well, so does a long screwdriver with handle end pressing your ear flap shut. Hose end or screwdriver blade is pressed against the bearing area of the rear axle tube- BE CAREFUL OF THE ROTATING TIRE!

If there is bearing noise originating there, this test will pinpoint it. imp