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Replaced my front bearings today


Well-Known Member
February 11, 2007
Reaction score
City, State
Strongsville, OH
Year, Model & Trim Level
03 Limited
Ever since I got my 03 Limited (with 54,000 miles on it, now about 57,000) I've had a howl on the front end. At first I figured it was the tires - but after a rotate & balance, I started suspecting bearings. I could feel it in the steering, but when the steering was right on center, it would go away (the feel of it, not the noise). Also, when in right-hand turns, it would get louder.

When I first got the truck, the noise would start at about 40-50 mph, and go away at around 65 mph. I figured, left front bearing. Lifting the truck up, I thought I could feel a bit of crunchiness when turning that wheel. I ordered two new front bearings. I got these aftermarket bearing hub assemblies, for $140 apiece. They have quality Timken bearings inside them, and a lifetime warranty.

I also bought two new hub nuts from Fast Parts Network - search their Ford catalog for part number W706540S900 and it comes up, for $10 each. Ford recommends you replace this nut when you replace the hub assemblies, and given the condition of my old ones, this was a good idea.

On each wheel, I started by removing the wheel, brake caliper (hanging it from the suspension using a bent coat hanger) and brake rotor. To get the three bolts out of the back of the knuckle holding the bearing hub in place, I turned the steering to expose the bolt I was working on, put a socket on the bolt, and used a wobble extension on my ratchet driver. It was not too hard, just a bit of work - but not the nightmare others have reported here. Having the right tools makes a world of difference.

I should mention that I used substantial amounts of PB Blaster on the three hub assembly retaining bolts as well as the on the hub nut the night before, let it sit overnight, and then soaked them again before I started this morning.

To get the hub nut off, I used a 30mm driveshaft socket that I bought at NAPA and my impact wrench. The impact wrench broke it free immediately, and made short work of removing the nut.

I unplugged the ABS wire in the engine compartment and removed the old wire from the brake line clamps, to let it hang free.

I had purchased this hub puller from Amazon for $30, and mounted it on the old hub. I put my impact wrench on its drive bolt and it pulled the hub off the wheel and the splined outer CV shaft in a matter of seconds.

I greased the splined shaft and fit the new hub in place. I started each of the three retaining bolts by hand, and started the new hub nut on as well - I put it in the 30mm socket, and started it on by hand, to make sure I didn't cross-thread it. Once it was started, I wound it on with the impact wrench until it got close to being tight. I tightened the three retaining bolts to 83 ft-lbs (although getting the torque wrench in on one of them was a bit tight). I replaced the brake rotor and caliper, tightening its bolts to 83 ft-lbs as well.

I wound the hub nut on the rest of the way using a socket wrench, while my wife sat in the truck holding the brakes on to hold the wheel from turning. My torque wrench only goes to 150 ft-lbs, and the hub nut spec is 184 ft-lbs, so I got it to 150 ft-lbs, then gave it an extra "goose" to what I guessed would be about another 30 ft-lbs or so.

Lastly, I threaded the ABS cable along the brake cable, fastening it into place, and reconnected it. Sort of.

Each wheel took about 45 minutes to do. Having the right tools (something I'm a really big fan of) made a HUGE difference.

OK, so I lied - each wheel took 45 minutes to do, except for the very last step - plugging the ABS wires back into their connectors. Here's why:

The aftermarket bearing hub assemblies are very good - they're lifetime guaranteed, they've got Timken bearings inside...however...

They each come with three replacement retaining bolts. However, in one of the two packages, two of the three bolts were the wrong bolts - they were brake caliper retaining bolts instead. Same thread size and pitch, but different length and different head size, so they wouldn't fit. I used the old ones, along with some high-temperature Loctite instead.

On one of the hubs, the wiring for the ABS sensor had the rubber bushings in the wrong place, so they didn't fasten properly on the brake line. Not the end of the world, I was able to get around it.

But the big one: The ABS male connectors on the new hubs were slightly too large. They did NOT fit into the female connectors in the engine bay. After too much time forcing and swearing, I gave up, cut the old connectors off the old hubs, cut the new connectors off the new hubs, and soldered the old connectors onto the new wires. I insulated it all up, covered them up with the new rubber boots, and they fit (and worked) perfectly.

Wasting the time with the electrical connectors doubled the time this job took - with setup and cleanup, I could have done this in two hours. Instead it took me three and a half.

So while I would still probably recommend the aftermarket Timken bearings over the Ford OEM Motorcraft replace-every-50,000 mile bearings, beware of the ABS connectors.

As for the old bearings I took off? The right front bearing was smooth and fine. However, the left front bearing was scary - crunchy, you could feel bearings binding up inside, and at times the whole thing would seize briefly until you forced it some more. It was only a (very short) time before this bearing failed entirely.

Overall: I'd recommend anyone to do this job, as long as you take the time and money to buy the correct tools first. Hearing stories of people bashing the CV outer end out of the hub with a sledgehammer just makes me wince. Instead of spending an extra 4 hours trying to do it without the correct tools, spend the $30, get the puller. Get the 30mm socket. Most of all...get an impact wrench. :)


I wasn't holding a camera while I did it - I was more interested in getting my truck fixed. This is all the pictures I used to do it.

nice post might have to do the same to my ex!