Front Hub Bearing Replacement: Ford Explorer 4×4

Vehicles Affected: 1995-2002 Ford Explorer Wheel Hub Bearing
This set of instructions may also be used for 2002-2007 Ford Explorer vehicles, however small variances may be noticed.

Here is a great set of instructions for the do-it-yourselfers out their. These work for 1995-2002 Ford Explorers. We found these while surfing the web. Someone else actually created these and deserves the credit. We simply found them and decided to post them here, where many interested do-it yourselfers may be. So thanks whoever you are. We are ASE Certified Auto Technicians with over 15 years experience in the Auto repair industry. Feel free to email us any technical questions you have. We will do our best to answer them as quickly as possible.

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Purchase this hub assembly brand new from $89.99 (50% lower than most parts stores):

Ford Explorer Parts at

Ford Explorer Parts at on eBay

Replacing a Bearing on a Ford Explorer

Some signs you need a new bearing:

-Low growling, humming, or whirring type sound heard best at speeds around 30-45 MPH. This noise may go away and come back if you slightly turn the steering wheel back and forth while driving down a straight road.

-ABS light is on

-Loud screeching noise (people taking notice as you drive by) coming from the front tire area in addition to a grinding noise.

-You can also check the bearing by first, lifting the front tires off the ground. Facing the tire, grab it at 12 and 6 o’clock, then move the entire tire in and out by pressing in at the 6 o’clock position and pulling out at the 12 o’clock position, simultaneously. If there is a lot of play when doing this, chances are the bearing is hosed.

-Lastly, Having a shop inspect and verify what is wrong is usually worth it if you are not completely sure.

Estimated Time: 1-3hrs (Most of the time is spent getting the rusted 14 mm bolts loose)

Tools: – Can of PB blaster to loosen the bolts

– 1/2 in drive breaker bar (or called a flex head handle)

– 32 mm hub socket (for 1995 Explorer with ABS) (you can borrow this from Autozone or Advance Auto Parts or buy it from: on eBay, Visit our website or our eBay store:

Auto Parts Direct To You eBay Store

Ford Parts Website on eBay

– Bungee cord or piece of rope

– 3/8 and 1/2 drive socket sets (English/metric)

– 1/2 in-to-3/8-in drive converter (or called an adapter). A universal will also do

– Slide hammer **May Not Be Necessary**(you can borrow this from Autozone or Advance Auto Parts if needed)

– 1/2″ drive torque wrench (you can borrow this from Autozone or purchase on eBay)

Before starting the job, spray all bolts with PB blaster to help loosen them. Before elevating the truck, you need to loosen the hub nut (32 mm) and the lug nuts (19 mm). It is best to do this with a 1/2 inch breaker bar. Then lift the truck and pull off the tire.

You now need to remove the brake assembly. There are two short bolts behind the caliper. Remove these and pull the caliper off.

The caliper comes off best when the rotor is flush with the bearing hub assembly. You can force the rotor to be flush by using one of the 19 mm lug nuts. Tighten the lug nut on the stud opposite the caliper. This will keep the rotor in one place. Once the caliper is off, you should suspend it to the frame someplace with a bungee cord. Do not suspend it by the pressurized brake line.

The pads simply pull out from the caliper support frame. Then you need to remove the caliper support frame. This is attached via 2-14 mm bolts (that are usually rusted pretty good). Once the caliper support has been removed, the rotor simply slides out. Also, it might be a good idea to remove the “rotor shield” on the right side of the hub assembly. Once the rotor is off, the bolts for the shield are exposed. The shield is held in place by three small bolts. A 1/4 inch drive and metric socket can easily remove these.

Now it’s time to remove the 3-14 mm bolts that hold the bearing hub. A 14 mm 1/2 inch drive socket will do the trick.

However, a 1/2 inch breaker bar (or ratchet head) is too large to fit in the space, as is. This is because the CV boot is in the way (for all 3 bolts). I found that if I use a 1/2-drive to 3/8-drive adapter with a 3/8 inch breaker bar, I can fit the socket in the space. If I had a universal adapter, I could probably use the 1/2 breaker bar. The only problem is, there is not enough leverage (using the 3/8 breaker bar) to loosen the bolts. I can make the 3/8-drive breaker bar longer with a short piece of pipe.

Once the 3-14 mm bolts are off, you need to pull the bearing off the spline. This can be done using a “slide hammer” or many times it will come right off without much work and without the puller. We rarely ever have to use a puller to remove these in our shop!!

Mount the slide hammer plate to the bearing hub studs. Then simply pull the bearing straight out and off the spline. In this photo you can see the spline for the CV joint as well as the old bearing on the floor with the ABS cable still attached. Also you can see the 2 holes for the caliper support bracket and 2 (of the 3) small holes for the rotor shield, which is on the floor to the right.

Now you just need to install the new bearing over the spline. You can draw the spline through the bearing by using the hub nut. Do not over tighten the hub nut just yet. First, you should install the 3-14 mm bolts that hold the new hub in place.

These should be torqued to about 74-96 lb-ft. Then the entire re-assembly is done in reverse order. The hub nut should be fully tighten last (to about 175 lb-ft) with the truck tire on and truck off the jack. It is extremely important that this nut is not overtightened. Using an impact wrench to tighten this nut is the main cause of pre-mature bearing failure. It is strongly recommended that you tighten this with a calibrated torque wrench!!!!!!

Torque Specs:

Axle Nut   157-212 Ft Lbs.      Ideal: 170

Hub to Knuckle Bolts       70-96 Ft Lbs.



About Josh

I help manage the site here at Auto Repair Instructions. If you are having problems, then I am the one to contact.

Posted on June 1, 2007, in Ford, Wheel Hub Bearing Replacement. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. You have two confilcting torque specifications for the Hub to Knuckle bolts. Whihc is correct 125 or (70-80). This is a big difference!!!!!


  3. Thanks, A lound clanking sound could unfortunately be many different things. The front end has several items including the hub bearing that can go bad and creat that sound. The best thing to do is either inspect it yourself, or go to a shop and have them do an inspection for you. A shop may do it free or may charge $20 to check it but atleast you are getting a professional opinion about what is wrong. If you would like to diagnose it yourself, then first try to listen for the noise to try and pinpoint where it is coming form. You can then jack up the front end and check for play in all of the front end parts. It is best to have a partner helping you, one person grabs the wheel at the 12 oclock and 6 oclock position and shalkes while the other person looks closely. Then switch and grab the wheel at the 3 oclock and 9 oclock positions. Look closely at the ball joints, tie rods, control arm bushings and the bearings. Their should be zero play at all locations. Hope this helps and you can also call us for tech support at 1-866-770-2771. We have ASE techs on staff that can help you. Thanks and Happy New Year!!

  4. Thanks for the great advise. I am confident I can do it myself as soon as my part arrives.

  5. The 3 bearing to knuckle bolts, and the 2 brake caliper bracket bolts are 15mm, not 14mm. There are only 2 bolts that are 14mm, and they are the ones connecting the brake caliper to the brake caliper bracket. Also, a 1-1/4″ socket is acceptable for the hub nut, since it is only a few thousands of an inch larger than 32mm. It is an absolute requirement that you use a new hub nut and torqued to the required spec. It draws the axle shaft to the bearing at the correct torque. Anything more or less will result in a damaged bearing, and you will be sucking up the cost of a new hub assembly after a few miles. The nut itself is about $25. Yep, $25 for a nut, but without it you may as well be back on foot. If you have front ABS brakes, the new hub will have the sensor and wire lead already installed. Make sure you use the new sensor as installed in the new hub. DO NOT use the old sensor. It is simply a plug in connector right behind the front bumper, easily accesable from within the wheel well, and 1 small screw attaching the wire lead to the steering knuckle. Make sure you have the lead in such a way that it doesnt get pinched between any moving parts. The hardest part to this relatively easy repair is the brake rotor can at times be rusted to the hub you are replacing. Penetrating oil around the center hole in rotor where the hub goes through and a good size brass hammer or similar SOFT faced hammer on the studs will do the trick. Dont be a hero and use your daddy’s steel claw hammer. You will make a mess of yourself and really have a repair if you accidently hit the rotor. An ironic twist to the cost of a new hub assembly and hub nut, is that at Autozone, it was $377 for the hub, and $276 at the Ford dealer. Plus the $25 for the nut. This is one of those few times you may save yourself a chunk of change by ordering at the dealer. Its an overnight order, so by morning you will be back on the road.
    My ride:
    2003 Ranger Xtra Cab FX4 model
    4.0 Liter
    5 speed

  6. What are the variances for the 03 explorer?

  7. Thanks Jack, we greatly appreciate it. We are watching the twin 125’2 or 150’s or whatever they are called now. Thansk again

  8. I just replaced the front hub assembly on my 2002 Ford Explorer 2WD. I asked the “man behind the counter” if there were any differences between 2WD and 4WD/AWD assemblies. His response: the splines were different between the two. Well, after the fact, of course, there are no differences since on a 2WD model, there are no spindles nor axles for the spline to mount on. The only things holding the assembly on are the 3 x 15mm bolts. So the moral of the story is a 4WD/AWD front hub assembly will work on a 2WD model. I could have saved some money by buying off EBay instead of paying 200.00 at the dealer.

  9. I bought the hub from this website and installed it myself. It was excellent quality and with these instructions, I had it done on both sides in a little over an hour:

  10. thanks for the great info. My dad told me it would be too big of job for me to try now after reading this I know I can fix it myself. I’m not just a lip gloss girl 🙂

  11. Just an FYI for anyone doing this yourself, when using the breaker bar to remove the hub nut, it will really be in your best interest to also get yourself a piece of pipe about 1″x48″ to use as an extention for extra leverage.Just slide it over the breaker bar arm to extend your leverage. Trust me your back and arms will thank you for it.

  12. good article 4 heads up took mine to tire kingdom they gave me estimate of $440 lol lol lol hahaha found online with shipping $70

  13. Thank you so much! this helped alot, i switched out my hub in under an hour!

  14. when using an 3/4 inch air impact wrench, to remove the pulley boltt off the harmonic balancer, what are the minimum requirements for the air comnpressor and the hose connnection ? removing the pulley bolt off a honda civic is a known problem ! I have the 50 mm hex adapter in place now, locked into position.. the pulley bolt has been heated, soaked/sprayed with wd 40,; used an 3/4 inch electric impact wrench with 450 ft libs, and 3 ft extendion, no luck so far ! what is the best method now ?

  15. One Little trick I have learned from doing this and you may find helpful is to break the axel nut loose first before removing the brake caliper but just loosen it don’t remove it. Just have someone put there foot on the brake and hold it on for you!

  16. Anyone have any ideas for hubs that wont come out? I have slide hammerd on it enough to ruin 3 lug-nuts and it still won’t budge. I also tried heating it up with a propane torch to no avail. Is there a penitrating oil I can spray in there that will break the bond between the aluminum and the steel? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  17. To Jim K… I also had problems getting mine off, even with the slide hammer. Im my case, it was really a combination of a few things: 1) Corrosion (mostly around the perimeter, not the face). 2) Some blueing on the OD of the bearing, so I suspect some swelling. 3) A rubber gasket, seal material that was in between.

    I think that the majority issue was the corrosion on the perimater. Only thing is spraying liquid wrench from the front won’t get it. Mine was DRY once I took it out, even after using a ton of liquid wrench. Might be able to get to it from the BACK though, and spray around the inside perimeter. Otherwise, just do what I did. TIGHTEN the slide hammer really good to the hub, and just pound away. I probably banged it a hundred times or more. It eventually inched out.

  18. craig williamson

    I drive an 03 Lincoln Avaitor and as with Rob, iI had the rubber gasket material on my hub bearing. After an hour of pounding with the slide hammer it still had not moved. The redneck engineer in me took hold and I grabbed a 45 lb weight off of my bench press and slid it over the slide hammer. 20 min later it finally came off.
    The corrosion is called bi-metal corrosion. It happenes when two metals of different nature are pared up. Over time the metals react with other and corrode themselves together. Anybody that has done maintenance on any type of military vehicles has delt with this.
    Also the hub nut was 30mm not 32mm like on the Ford Explorer. As stated in the directions the three bolts that hold the hub bearing on were a real MF to get off. My advice to everybody doing this is to use a longer cheater bar, and if the hammer that you are using is not working, get a bigger one!

  19. Just did both hubs on my “02” 4wd explorer this weekend. I found that heating up the 3 hub mounting bolts with MAPP gas made things 100% easier. I actually had someone applying heat to the exposed threads as I backed them out.

  20. Doing this job this week. I have an impact wrench for the job but have 2 questions: 1) I can’t find the hub nut at any of the online dealers. Anyone got a part number? 2) Does the hub nut HAVE TO be replaced? Just a question. Thanks, guys!

  21. I replaced the front left wheel hub assembly on my 03 Explorer this week. Twice. Because it roars louder than the bad OE one did. Still doing it. I’m lost why. HELP please OMG help.

  22. j-Buzz wonderer

    g-Buzz, where did you buy the hub assembly for your 03 Explorer. I have replaced so many of these, and have found where you get the parts sometimes matters. I have been tracking part complaints and am compiling a list of good suppliers and not so good suppliers.
    j-Buzz wonderer

  23. Is there a seal require with the new bearing? I see the original has a seal, but the replacement i bough doesn’t have one. Any help?

  24. Just like others, I’m having problems trying to find the PNs for the hub nut and also the (3) hub bolts. I replaced my FL last year, and now I have to do the FR. So, I’m looking for the bolts/nut again. I bought the bolts at the Ford dealer last time. But, the idiots gave me the wrong nut, which I didn’t notice until 6 mos later. So, I don’t want to take the effort to visit the dealer again.

    Any ideas on the PNs for the (3) bolts and (1) hub nut?


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