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If you start to hear an annoying grinding or whirring sound coming from the front of your vehicle at higher speeds you may need to replace your wheel bearings. Incorrect alignment, rough roads, and heavy use can all contribute to your bearing going bad. I suggest you change both front bearings at the same time. This guide shows a step by step for the front driver's side bearing, but it is nearly identical for the right side.

You will need the following:



1. A front end suspension kit. Available for loan at Advanced Auto Parts or similar auto parts shoppe
2. A socket set. I also suggest you have an extension bar for your set
3. A new wheel bearing - it's my understanding that the right and left bearings are interchangable on all the Gen 3
4. Gloves (optional, it was 40 degrees when I started in the morning)
5. A breaker bar
6. 30mm socket
7. brake parts cleaner
8. Manual for reference


In depth: The front end suspension kit is available for loan at may auto parts shoppes.



What is needed for this job are the two-prong puller and the tie-rod remover. More detail on use follows.

Step 1. To begin, secure the vehicle up on a jack stand and remove the front tire.



Step 2. Using the 3omm socket, remove the wheel hub retaining nut. If it is particularly sticky you may wish to begin loosening the nut with tires still on and the vehicle on the ground.



Step 3. Remove the disc brake caliper assembly. There are two retaining bolts, top and bottom which must be removed. Set the pads to the side, and then remove the assembly bolts to remove the entire structure. Secure the assembly out of the way with wire.









Step 4. Remove the brake disc, and turn your attention to the bearing assembly.





OPTIONAL - Step 5. While not absolutely necessary, I find removing the tie rod makes accessing the bearing's rear bolts much easier. To remove the tie rod, begin by removing the cotter pin at the bottom of the assembly.



Step 6. Remove the tie rod retaining nut.



Step 7. Inspect the tie rod removal tool.



Step 8. Secure the removal tool to the tie rod as shown.



Step 9. Use your socket to push up the tie rod. CAUTION! The tie rod will likely "jump" when sufficient pressure has been applied. Be cautious.



Step 10. Set the tie rod end to the side, being careful not to let it dangle or get hit as your work continues.



Step 11 - Back to the bearing. There are three bearing bolts that need to be removed from the rear of the assembly. Looking at the front, you can see where the bolts appear.



Step 12. Coming around back, the two lower bolts are easily accessible, but the top bolt is a real pain to reach, and your extension bar will come in handy here.





Step 13. Once you have removed the retaining bolts turn your attention to the two-prong puller.



Step 14. Apply the puller as shown.



Step 15. Using your socket, carefully apply pressure to release the bearing.



Step 16. The old bearing will pop off, and you'll be left with the inner suspension arm. Clean it with brake cleaner before installing the new bearing.



Step 17. Compare the old bearing with the replacement.



Step 18. As you can see, the bearing must be installed in a particular orientation. Imagine it as an isosceles triangle.



Step 19. Don't hammer the new bearing on, rather, carefully start the bolts on the rear of the bearing, and slowly tighten each bolt in turn. This will get the new bearing on exactly as needed.



Step 20. Reinstall the tie rod, the bearing retaining nut (and washer) and put your tire back on. Enjoy your new bearings, but be sure to have your vehicle's alignment checked as soon as possible.

New bearing cost me $65.
Loaner tool set was a $100 deposit, which will be refunded when returned. (be sure to save your receipt!)

12mm, 15mm, 17mm and 19mm sockets are needed for this job.
 

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Good writeup! Also after removing old bearing and before installing new one, where he used brake clean, take a wire brush and clean up all the corrosion and stuff in the hole in the knuckle where the bearing goes.
 

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This works great unless you have ABS brakes then it is impossible to remove the top bolt on the bearing. I had to remove the lower ball joint out of the control arm to get the CV shaft out to get at the top bolt. My bearing was seized in so bad that the puller would not move it. I had to chisel between the bearing & knuckle with the puller applying pressure. It was a challenge getting the lower ball joint back into the control arm. I had to use a jack to slightly compress the strut & spring. Good Luck
 

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Thank you for instructions! I bought all the tools needed for this job but I was wondering is a wheel alignment necessary after this repair?
 

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This works great unless you have ABS brakes then it is impossible to remove the top bolt on the bearing. I had to remove the lower ball joint out of the control arm to get the CV shaft out to get at the top bolt. My bearing was seized in so bad that the puller would not move it. I had to chisel between the bearing & knuckle with the puller applying pressure. It was a challenge getting the lower ball joint back into the control arm. I had to use a jack to slightly compress the strut & spring. Good Luck
[/b]
I didn't have that problem.

In a nutshell:
Lightly hammer the half shaft back in as far as you can, turn the wheel the whole way to the left, hammer on the half shaft a bit more, grab a 15mm short socket, roll the socket in from the back side (it'll fit in between the big thing and the half shaft), stick it on the bolt, then insert a long extension shaft into the socket. That'll get it out. Only downside is you need at least 2 15mm sockets, because you wont get that one back out until you get the bolt back in.

Mine was stuck in to the point where I had to chisel it out as well.
 

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Thank you for instructions! I bought all the tools needed for this job but I was wondering is a wheel alignment necessary after this repair?
[/b]
It's good practice to get an alignment after disconnecting the tie rod. Also the previous alignment was based of the bad bearing which would give the wheel some play in all directions. Depending how bad the bearing was, it could throw your alignment off.
 

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Thank you for instructions! I bought all the tools needed for this job but I was wondering is a wheel alignment necessary after this repair?
[/b]

You do not need an alignment.

edit: unless your car pulled before, or your tires wear unevenly.
 

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Thanks guys,

I started working on this today and I realized that it's not going to be easy. Because I have ABS I have to remove CV joint and lower ball joint too and I realized that this can only be weekend job. So, I will get back to you in a two weeks because I'm in Montreal for a long weekend and I don't want to mess around with this few days before trip.
 

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Tried doing this on Thursday. Got the 3 bolts off with out having to remove the tie-rod. It was tough and took a couple hours of liquid wrench and alot of work but got them off. However When I put the puller on the hub unit, the center bolt (drive shaft?) pushed in and the boot behind the bearing pushes all the way back so you can't use the puller. Any thoughts guys?
Thanks, Dave
 

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I just went through this, here are some lessons learned: (2002)

I was able to replace the passenger side using the above procedure, and did not need to drop the lower ball joint but did disconnect the tie rod end. Note the ABS car has a what looks like a gear around the axel, and that makes it almost impossible to get to that top nut. I used a long extention, and a hinged adapter at the socket. I had no idea how easy it was to disconnect the tie rod with the tool shown, piece of cake. Had I know how easy it was, I would have done it from the start and not wasted so much time trying to be so smart with another solution.

I tried the same approach on the drivers side, not so much joy. I think the drivers side axel must be longer or something because I did not have the clearance to push the axel back enough. Let me share what happened. I pushed the axel back with the puller, and removed the lower two bolts. disconnected the tie rod, and pushed the axel back a bit more and was able to get the socket with extension on the the top bolt and remove it. The bearing was not budging so I tightend the puller a bit more and wham, the bearing seperated leaving the unbolted base in the wheel opening and launching the lug nut section the puller was attached to. It took a chisel to get the base piece out....so now reinstalling, I get the three bolts in, but the axel shaft is not centered in the hole, there is just no more play with the axel, and so I thought I could try and center the axel using the puller and wham, the new bearing explodes. So I just place the axel centered in the base, slide on the piece that exploded and tighten to spec the nut. The car seemed to ride ok, but not wanting to chance it I bought another bearing.

Ok, so this time, I drop the ball joint, again, so easy with the right tool. To seperate the ball joint stud from the lower control arm, I used a pry bar. On my 2002, there is a 3" or so diameter hole in the center of the lower control arm, I inserted the bar there, leveraged the arm down and had the clearance to seperate the stud from the lower arm. With the ball joint and tie rod free, the entire knuckle rotated out and I was able to fully remove the axel, and use a socket on all three bolts. Bolted up the bearing with confidence, slide the shaft in, bolted that in, put the whole thing back together and done.

Gentlemen, I have to tell you, I'm famous for cutting corners and trying to save time, but with this job, I cannot tell you how much quicker and more fun this job is when disconnecting the ball joint and tie rod end. Part of my problem was I never disconnected ball joints before and was fearful. Let me tell you, get the right tool and it is a piece of cake. I used a pitman arm puller on both joints...on the ball joint I had to bend the disc brake shield a bit out of the way to get the clearance to affix the puller.
 

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I did all my wheel bearings in Mid-summer. At 145K miles the front bearing were toast ('97 Sable). I believe the rear bearings may have had some life left as they appeared to be in good shape. I decided to replace them all.

Funny the front axle is 30mm socket and the rear axle is 35mm socket.
 

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Great write-up!

This works great unless you have ABS brakes then it is impossible to remove the top bolt on the bearing. I had to remove the lower ball joint out of the control arm to get the CV shaft out to get at the top bolt.[/b]
Exactly how I did it. Former Ford tech who lives next door did his non-ABS car in less than 1/2 the time it took me (he helped out on my ABS-equipped car).

My bearing was seized in so bad that the puller would not move it. I had to chisel between the bearing & knuckle with the puller applying pressure. It was a challenge getting the lower ball joint back into the control arm. I had to use a jack to slightly compress the strut & spring. Good Luck
[/b]
Same thing here. A few minutes with an air chisel finally broke it loose. I also used a jack to help get the ball joint into position - wow, this was like reading my own post!
 

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Hey it's me again. I have a good news and a bad news. Good news first :)

Thanks to Harvey's and jmoschetti45's instructions i decided to go ahead and change front left bearing assembly as I was suspecting that grinding noise is coming from there. This is what I had done.

I removed all wheel nuts and axle nut. Then I removed brakes, pads and disk. This was all easy. You only need 30mm socket for axle nut and breaker bar, just as Harvey described. Then I tried to remove hub assembly bolts but since I have ABS it was impossible to insert 15mm socket on the bolt because ABS gear is there. Then, I decided to remove tie rod but some small metal safety pin that is used to secure tier rod nut broke and I was not able to remove it. So, I decided to use jmoschetti45's method from there.

I started hammering axle in order to push her inside so I can insert socket on the bolt but I was not able to do that. Then I turned steering wheel all the way to the left (I was working on the left wheel) and hammered the axle again. This time axle went almost 15cm inside. I was able to put socket easily on all 3 bolts and to remove them. You can use puller to move axle inside as much as possible so you can work easier. Finally, all 3 bolts were removed. I was super happy, but... When I tried to remove hub he was stuck. Hub was rusted and I spent 1 hour hammering and at the end I managed to pull whole assembly out. I cleaned inside of the hub socket and installed hub without any problem.

Now a bad news.

After test drive grinding sound was still there :angry: so I bought another hub assembly and last weekend changed right hub. Procedure was exactly the same. And finally, after test drive :banana: sound was again there :rofl2:

Soooooooo, then in desperation :angryfire: I decided to swap front and rear tires and grinding sound was gone :chili: , or to be more precise, grinding sound moved to back of the car. So all this time I had a problem with tire or rim, not with hubs :tcca_small: I was sure that sound like that one can't come from tire and that was a reason why I decided to change hubs before trying to swap front and back wheels.

Now, I must locate which tire is bad and buy at least 2 new tires.

Oh, I almost forgot. I bought wobble extension bar which helped a LOT when removing top hub nut. I strongly suggest buying this.

I want to thank you all once more for your comments and advices!
 

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WOW!!! WOW!!!! WHAT A THREAD!!!! THIS THREAD NEEDS TO BE PINNED!!!

Last year I purchased new front wheel bearings for my 99 Taurus with no ABS. This week, I purchased new ceramic pads along with new rotors because the car wobbled badly when applying the brakes. Soooo, heck, while I have the front wheels apart, why not go a step further and change the bearings with the new ones I purchased last year.

I struggled with the 15mm top bolt holding the hub, I got to be able to back it out about a 1/4" but that was all. I used a drill with a wire bush to clean the threads along with a lubricant but still could not get the top bolt out. I looked at how tightly the hub sat into the knuckle, almost looked as if it was sealed with an adhesive. STOP! Enough guessing and I went to my Ford CD for intructions. Ford claimed I needed to remove the knuckle along with the lower ball joint in order to remove the bearing. Well, I am not sure if the bearing noise I hear is from the front or the rear.....bad hearing. So I gave up on it.

This thread sure makes it clear what needs to be done to change the bearings although I do have some questions still.

I noticed from the pictures the bearing was freed from the knuckle using a puller. But others had trouilbe doing this because it pushed the CV shaft in. Can the CV shaft safely withstand the pressure needed to remove the bearing?

My next course of action is to determine where my noise is coming from before I attempt to make part changes. I do have the new front bearings so eventually they will get installed.

THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE POSTED IN THIS THREAD!!!!



Foggy
 

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My hub assembly was so badly stuck inside that I'm 100% sure puller would damage CS shaft, because of the pressure, if I tried to pull it out that way. I used chisel to remove bearing assembly and that was the only way I was comfortable with.
 

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I guess I got lucky. I didn't have to disconnect or remove anyting but the tire and brakes. I have an 01 Sable with ABS Loosen the lug nuts and 30mm shaft nut. Jacked both sides of the front tires to relieve pressure for turning the steering wheel. Once 30mm nut was off I simply tapped the shaft back into the hub. It works best to move it a half inch, rotate steering wheel full left and tap again, then full right and tap again. You don't have to start the car, just turn the ignition on. Just tap the shaft in far enough to get the bolts all the way free. :mj_banana: (I used an old short jack handle over my socket wrench as my breaker bar and to ease the job, these bolts are strong!) Just turn your steering wheel left and right to get the best angle for your socket wrench set up for each of the 3 bolts. I never needed a a swivel either for the top bolt. The bearing actually eased out while loonening the bolts evenly without even using a puller, I expected an all day job but had it done in less that 2 hours. Again, I got lucky!
 

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Great post and excellent pics.
I have that noise but its only on a right turn. Still possibly bearings?
You had better pics than my manual and autozone.com
I think i will try the tire switcheroo 1st. :dunno:
 

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IN the autozone another way is shown. They remove the half-shaft, and have the third top bolt easiely accessable.
 
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