How to Replace a Ford Focus Wheel Bearingby John RoseUpdated August 16, 2023
What is a Wheel Bearing?
The car wheel bearing is an essential part of the vehicle wheel assembly as it allows the wheels to rotate freely and smoothly while transferring the weight of the vehicle. It is a set of steel balls or tapered rollers connected together by a metal ring called a raceway. They help reduce friction when the wheel spins.The most important components of a car wheel bearing are:
- Inner ring(race): This is the innermost circular part of the bearing that is in direct contact with the shaft or shaft on which the bearing runs. The inner ring usually has a small groove in which the bearings are housed.
- Outer race(ring): The outer race is the outer circular part usually attached to the component housing in which the bearing slides. It could be the hub of a car wheel. The outer ring also has a groove that houses the bearings.
- Bearings (balls or rollers): Bearings are small, hard spheres (ball bearings) or cylinders (roller bearings) that sit between the inner and outer races. In fact, they carry the load and reduce friction. They roll along the grooves of the inner and outer races, allowing the races to move with minimal friction.
- Cage: A cage, also called a cage, is a component that separates the balls or rollers of a bearing.This distributes the load evenly across the bearings and prevents them from colliding with each other.
- Seals or baffles: Seals or baffles are used to prevent contaminants from entering the bearing and to keep the lubricant inside. The seals are in close contact and offer better protection, but cause more friction than washers that do not contact the inner ring.
- Lubricant: To further reduce friction and protect against wear, a lubricant (usually some type of lubricant) is used. Forms a protective barrier that reduces direct contact between the bearings and the raceway and helps protect against rust and other forms of corrosion.
It is very important to maintain your car's wheel bearings and replace them when they are worn or damaged as they play a key role in your vehicle's safety and performance. Symptoms of a worn wheel bearing include rumbling or whirring wheels, uneven tire wear, or a loose steering wheel.
Typically, the total cost to replace a bearing wheel is between $150 to $650 including parts and labor. Mechanics charge an hourly rate between $50 to $200 depending on experience and the complexity of the job.
How long will wheel bearing replacement take?
Wheel bearing replacement can take anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours.
The replacement time varies due to:
- Vehicle Design
- Whether associated components are being replaced at the same time (e.g. water pump)
- These are estimated costs and actual costs may vary.
- Always seek out a trusted professional for a specific quote based on your specific vehicle and situation.
- The cost of replacing a timing belt can vary widely depending on:
- The vehicle make and model
- The specific complexity of the task
- Where you live.
How Long Does a Wheel Bearing Last?
Wheel bearings can last anywhere from 85,000 to 100,000 miles. However, this can more or less depend on the quality of the bearings, the conditions they are exposed to, the frequency of driving and the maintenance of the vehicle. Some bearings even last the life of the vehicle.
Factors that can affect wheel bearing life include:
- Driving conditions: Rough roads, off-road driving or collisions can damage the wheel bearings and shorten their life.
- Maintenance: Good maintenance is essential.For example, if a mechanic damages a wheel bearing while repairing a brake, this can reduce the life of the bearing.
- Bearing Quality: Not all bearings are the same. Some vehicles come factory fitted with higher quality bearings that may last longer than average.
- Ambient conditions: Bearings can deteriorate faster under difficult environmental conditions. Moisture, extremely cold or hot temperatures, and road salt can shorten the life of a wheel bearing.
Remember that it is important to replace wheel bearings at the first sign of failure to avoid further damage to the vehicle. Signs of a damaged bearing can include a buzzing or squeaking noise from the steering wheel, a loose feeling in the steering wheel, or uneven tire wear. If you suspect a problem with the wheel bearing, always consult a professional.
What are the Symptoms of a Bad Wheel Bearing?
Failed wheel bearings can have various signs and it is important to be aware of them because neglecting to repair a worn or damaged wheel bearing can lead to serious problems including losing a wheel while driving. Here are some typical symptoms of a bad wheel bearing:
- Noise: A common symptom is a loud buzzing or growling noise that gets louder the faster you drive. This noise is usually heard from the affected wheel. It can feel like metal rubbing against metal.This noise can easily be confused with tire noise. Therefore, it is important to properly diagnose the problem.
- Loose steering: If the steering feels loose or wobbles from side to side, there may be a problem with the wheel bearings. This is often more noticeable at higher speeds.
- Uneven tire wear: Defective wheel bearings can lead to uneven tire wear. Although there are many reasons why tires wear unevenly, it's worth checking the wheel bearings if you notice this problem.
- Steering wheel vibration: A defective wheel bearing can lead to noticeable vibrations in the steering wheel. As speed increases, these vibrations often get stronger.
- ABS warning light illuminates: Some vehicles have a wheel speed sensor integrated into the wheel bearing hub assembly. If a bearing fails, it can cause the ABS (anti-lock braking system) light to illuminate on the dash.
- Pull to one side when braking: If the car pulls to one side when braking, it could be a bad bearing.This attraction will usually be quite subtle.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important that you have your vehicle checked by a professional as soon as possible. Bad wheel bearings are a serious problem and if left unchecked, the wheel can fall off the vehicle while driving.
Urgency of Wheel Bearing Replacement
TThe urgent need to replace a failed wheel bearing is quite high due to the crucial role it plays in the safety and operation of the vehicle. While you don't have to stop driving at the first sign of a potential problem, you should have it checked out as soon as possible.
Here are some reasons:
- Safety: A badly damaged wheel bearing can cause the wheel to come off while driving, posing a major risk to your safety and that of other road users.
- Damage to other parts: The longer a failed bearing is left unchecked, the more it can damage adjacent parts like the hub, wheel, and even the axle, resulting in more costly repairs.
- Driveability: Poor wheel bearings can affect the vehicle's handling, steering and braking, making the vehicle less responsive and harder to control.
- Comfort: A failed wheel bearing can produce loud and persistent noises such as hums or growls that can make driving uncomfortable.
In short, while you can drive a short distance with a damaged wheel bearing, it is not advisable to continue driving your vehicle for any length of time without repairs. This is an important security issue that requires immediate attention. Therefore, schedule an inspection and repair as soon as possible. Don't forget that preventive maintenance is often less expensive than major repairs or troubleshooting.
How to Replace Wheel Bearing?
1. Park on a Flat Surface
Park the car on a level surface and place the wheel chocks behind the rear wheels. Loosen the center nut on the wheel axle using a socket and ratchet, but do not remove it yet.
2. Loosen the Center Nut on Strut Shaft within Engine Compartment
Open the engine compartment and loosen the center nut on the strut shaft. Back it off about 5 turns. Now jack up the car using the automobile jack.
3. Position and Raise Jack Stand Near Frame for Optimal Support
Place a jack stand under the frame near the jacking point and raise the jack stand as close as possible to the frame of the car. Remove the wheel using the lug wrench.
4. Remove the Hub Retainer and Brake Caliper
Remove the hub retainer nut by twisting it off the axle by hand, then remove the brake caliper using a ratchet and the proper size socket. The caliper guide pins come out from the backside of the caliper. Secure the caliper to the strut to keep it from hanging loosely.
5. Remove the Nuts and Detach the Tie-rod End
Disconnect the tie-rod end and lower ball joint by pulling out the cotter pins using the pliers, then using a socket and ratchet to remove the nuts.
6. Separate the Wheel Hub and Half Shaft
Separate the wheel hub from the half shaft using the puller. Remove the pinch bolt from the knuckle using a socket and ratchet.
7. Free the Wheel Knuckle and Remove Hub and Outer Bearing with Bearing Puller
Release the wheel knuckle using the pry bar to free it, then remove the wheel hub and outer bearing race using the bearing puller. Pull the bearing inner ring with the bearing puller.
8. Remove the Snap Ring from Knuckle with Pliers
Remove the snap ring from the knuckle using the pliers. Remove the bearing outer ring from the wheel knuckle.
9. Insert New Bearing into Wheel Knuckle
Press the new bearing into the wheel knuckle using a press tool and then reinstall the snap ring.
10. Press the Wheel Bearing and Hub together
Press the hub into the wheel bearing using the press tool. Draw the stub shaft into the wheel hub using the half shaft installer tool.
11. Reinstall the Steering Knuckle and Tighten the Pinch Bolt
Reinstall the steering knuckle and tighten the pinch bolt to 66 ft pounds using the torque wrench.
12. Reattach the Lower Ball Joint and Tie-Rod End with Specific Torque Specifications
Reinstall the lower ball joint and tighten the pinch bolt to 37 ft pounds, then reconnect the tie-rod end and tighten the nut to 35 ft pounds.
13. Reassemble the Brake Caliper and Securing Hub Nut on Shaft with Socket and Ratchet
Reattach the brake caliper using a socket and ratchet, then screw the hub nut on the shaft. Tighten it with the torque wrench to 232 ft pounds.
14. Secure Wheel to Car and Remove Jack Stand
Reattach the wheel to the car and remove the jack stand. Lower the car to the ground.
15. Final Step: Secure Center Strut Nut in Engine Compartment to Specified Torque"
Tighten the center strut nut inside the engine compartment using the torque wrench and tighten it to 35 ft pounds.
- Wear safety glasses to prevent injury to your eyes when working on your vehicle.
Things You'll Need
- Automobile jack
- Lug wrench
- Wheel chocks
- Pry bar
- Press tool
- Half shaft installer
- Gear puller
- Torque wrench
- Bearing puller
- Metric socket set
- Metric wrench set
- You can remove and reuse the hub retaining nut 4 times. Anymore than that and you have to replace it with a new one.
John Rose has been writing professionally since 1981. Now contributing to various online publications, he specializes in auto repair, home maintenance and similar topics. Rose studied English at Frostburg State University.