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How to Replace Front Wheel Bearings in a Ford Pickup

by Don Bowman; Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench or air gun and socket

  • Set of 3/8-inch drive sockets

  • Ratchet

  • Common screwdriver

  • Hammer

  • Chisel at least 6 inches long

  • Crescent wrench

  • Pair of dikes or wire cutters

  • Tub of wheel bearing grease

  • Jack and jack stands

As part of a preventive maintenance program, the front bearings in a Ford pickup should be greased every 30,000 miles to extend their longevity and prevent possible damage to the spindle. Worn out wheel bearings can be recognized by either a grinding noise from the front of the vehicle while in motion or by freeplay felt in a lateral and vertical movement of the tire and wheel assembly when jacked up.

Jack the front of the vehicle up and support with jack stands. Remove the front tires and the front brake calipers. Hang the calipers up or support them so they are not hanging by the brake hose, which could damage the hose.

Remove the caliper support, then remove the center bearing cover using the hammer and chisel. Tap it out easily so as not to bend it. Remove the cotter pin in the spindle.

Remove the large bearing retaining nut and grab the rotor with your hand and rock it forward just enough for the front bearing to fall out.

Put the large bearing retaining nut back on, but do not turn more than four or five threads. Grab the rotor with both hands at the 3 o’clock and the 9 o’clock position and pushing down slightly, pull the rotor off swiftly. This will remove the rear bearing and seal at the same time. The retaining nut will knock the bearing and seal out as you pull the rotor off. Remove the retaining nut.

Remove the inner races for the bearings using the hammer and chisel. Put the chisel on the top of the bearing race and hammer it down toward the floor and then turn the rotor over and do the other side the same way.

Install the new bearing races using the old races as a buffer or an installing tool. Lay the new race in the rotor and line it up to the recession and lay the old race upside down on the new one. Hit the old bearing with the hammer to drive the new bearing into the recess. Make sure you drive the new bearing all the way into its recess. Do the same for the other side.

Fill the palm of your hand with grease and push one bearing at a time into the grease and drag it across the hand so that the bearings get a full packing of grease. Install the large bearing first by dropping the bearing into it’s race and then installing the seal with the hammer.

Install the rotor back onto spindle and hold it in place. While holding the rotor on the spindle with one hand install the front small wheel bearing followed by the large washer and the retaining nut. Tighten the retaining nut (use the crescent wrench) just enough so that there is no play felt. Tighten the nut another 90 degrees with the wrench and then rotate the rotor a couple of times. Back the nut off until it is loose then tighten just until you feel the friction of it tightening up again and stop right there. The bearing must be tight enough that there is no freeplay, but not so tight that the bearings will seize up when they heat up and expand.

Install the cotter pin and the bearing cup. Install the caliper support and the caliper. Do the other side the same way then install the tires.

About the Author

Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).

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