What happens when front wheel bearing go bad - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What happens when front wheel bearing go bad

I had someone tell me that when the bearings suddenly went bad in one of his front hubs that it stripped the lugs and he almost lost the wheel. I had my wheel come off going down the road and can't figure out why. I'd just changed over rims (to summer tires) and I always use a torque wrench to 140 lbs to make sure I do it right. I didn't lose any lugs, just had the wheel fly off. I'm having a new hub assembly (complete with new lugs and bearings) installed. I had 240,000 miles on the truck and as far as I know they were the original bearings. Could this have been my problem, and should I go ahead an replace the other hub assembly or can just the bearings be replaced? Early '99.
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Old 04-21-2011, 02:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It is pretty hard to get over 150k miles out of the original bearings 4x4 hub assemblies - so I doubt they are original.

Of the hub goes bad - you will get squeeking and grinding and when you lift it up in the air - the wheel assembly will feel loose (you can move the whole thing in and out at the top and bottom). In this case, you need to verify if it is the bearing of ball joints.

It should cause the bolts to break, etc. unless it is so bad your wheel is flexing (would have to be pretty bad).

The problem your friend may have had is that he had the wrong wheel on - they need to be factory or comparable HUB CENTRIC wheels. If you have lug centric (Acorn nuts) then you are asking for trouble. The studs on this truck are not designed to carry the weight of the vehicle - but hold the wheel on and the actual hub supports the vehicle.

Finally, make sure you torque to 150-165 ft-lbs - as that is the revised specification IIRC and make sure to use the hub caps as these grip the bolts and can keep them from turning.

Summary -

Check for bad bearings with wheel in the air
Listen for squealing / grinding - especially when turning
Use hub centric wheels
Torque to 150ft-lbs
Use hub caps

I am interested what type of wheels were on there. If the hub ever got really bad - I suppose it could break - but it would still be partly attached to the wheel.
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Last edited by Flywheel; 04-21-2011 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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He had the wheels on it that originally came with the truck, so I'd imagine they were hub centric. He did hear a slight grinding when he turned the wheel and that's when he checked and saw the problem.

I had my truck up on the jack 2 days before the wheel came off. I'd grabbed the top and bottom and tried to wiggle it back and forth, then grabbed both sides (9 and 3) and tried to wiggle it that way. No movement, but I didn't try any other directions.

I need to up my torque wrench from 140 to 150.
I had my hub cap on. Of course it came off when the wheel came off. I found the cap and it still had two of the lug nuts clamped inside.

Any recommendations in replacing the hub assembly on the other wheel as a preventative measure? Or do most people just wait until there's a problem and then deal with it? Thanks.
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow -

I would spin the other side with the wheel off - if it sounds like dry bearings then investigate further. Typically these are "replace when they go bad" parts as you will typically have time from the first time you notice it going bad to get a chance to replace it. But with such a catastrophic experience, it might be wise to err on the side of caution.

What about your winter wheels that you just took off - were they hub centric?

It is easy to tell since the nuts are either tapered or flat...
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Isspro A-Pillar Gauges, Isspro TTM, Ford AIS, Magnaflow 3.5" DP - 4" Exhaust, Garrett GTP38R Turbo, Turbo-Master, High Flow Outlet, Non EBV Pedestal, IH Up-Pipes, DS 203 degree Stat, OA, BTS Tranny, 6.0L Tranny cooler, DP-Tuner F6, FRX, Cass Stage 1s, T500 HPOP, DieselSite HPX

99 F-250 CC SB 4x4 7.3 White
Ranch Truck, Ranch Hand brush Guard, Original Cup Thrower, DP-TUner F6, 4" Turbo Back Magnaflow, AIS Intake, 6.0 Tranny Cooler, Ford 4R100HD, CM Flatbed

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Old 04-21-2011, 09:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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From what I can tell, the winter rims are hub centric. When I put the winter (steel) rims on the truck, I can tell when they are "set" in place (centered) before I put on the lug nuts. The winter rims also have holes for the lugs that are not tapered. The same lug nuts are used for the winter and the summer rims. The lug nuts are flat.
I've been told that even though the lug holes in the rim that came off (fell off) the truck have become a little larger since they worked their way off the lugs that the rim could still be used since it is hub centric. I hesitate (a lot) to re-use that rim. Wise to get another rim and toss the one that came off?
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