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Discussion Starter #1
My 03 F250 has developed a thumping noise that comes on with while driving straight or to the right. If I turn left it goes away. I pulled the hubs off and drove without them and the noise is still there. I am sure someone else has had a problem like this that can point me in the right direction. Thanks in advance.
 

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Check you balljoints, get one front wheel off the ground at a time, grab the top and bottom of the tire and yank on it. If there's any play the lower balljoint is shot.

Unit bearings can also go bad on these trucks. If its really bad it will show like the balljoints are bad when doing the balljoint test noted above, but if it fails that test, do the same thing from underneath the vehicle. If the balljoints don't move then the unit bearing is the problem. The unit bearings usually make noise as they start to go bad, but often you can't hear this on a Diesel.

Tie rod ends are another possibility. They usually last the longest of any front end part because they are usually greaseable, but everything has a service life. These heavy trucks are hard on front end stuff, likely the result of 1,000 lbs. on engine being right over top of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
TKO, I will try what you mentioned. I had the whole front end up with tires off and had no play in the tie rods. So they are off the list. In the past I have tried pushing up on tire lifted off ground with a spud bar and have no idea if there is play. I guess I am a bad judge on ball joints. I replaced the ball joints at 60k with moog greaseable and have greased them a few times. Truck has 110k on it now. When you refer to the unit bearing are you talking about the hub assembly bearings? Or maybe the spindle bearings?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
BTW, the noise is very strange...it reminds me of the thumping you feel when stepping on brakes with a warped rotor. In my case, breaking makes the feeling go away. And I don't feel any pulsing while braking.
 

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I would (urge) you to look at the passenger side tie rod end again. Does the truck shake like a tire badly out of balance or out of round? Start the truck w/ it on the ground and have someone move the steering wheel in short left and right motions and look for excessive play.
 

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Yes, these newer trucks do not have tapered roller bearings like the older trucks did, where you had to set bearing preload when changing rotors. Now, they use unit bearings, a whole wheel hub assembly with non-replaceable bearings. When one of these things gets totally wasted the truck acts like it has a bad balljoint. Check them though. If they spin true and without noise they are good.

With greaseable ball joints you should get 50-100k from them. I used NAPA lifetime balljoints when I did mine and they lasted almost 100k, whereas the stock ones were done at 25k. I'd check them just to be sure, but my guess is they are still good if you've kept them greased.

I'd look at the tie rods again too.
 

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I must ask: You checked the lug nuts right? Also I'm thinking the left wheel bearing is the culprit. When you’re making a left, more front end weight moves to the right wheel taking some of the load off that bearing.

Noisy right Turn=left side wheel bearing
 

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Possible, but usually if the bearing is that wasted you'll get thumps when the suspension cycles too. The bearings on these things can go bad, but they are pretty stout. Explorers that's the first thing you check whenever there's a noise. The bearings in every year and model are failure prone. My brother's already done his fronts in his '07 and the rears are starting to go too.

One thing that doesn't do those bearings any favors is a hard curb hit. It can actually egg one of the rollers from the impact, and then it just destroys the races and the rollers actually start to fall out. I've seen some really bad ones.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Unfortunately, I am in the middle of moving this week. I am only moving 10 miles away and going to have to wait it out till next week. I will keep you guys posted when I figure it out. I did have the tires rotated and balanced and noise still exists. Most noises make sense, this one is baffling! I think you guys may be onto something with the tie rods, but I have not had a 4 wheel drive before this truck and this is new to me.
 

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How do the tires look? If you previously had bad ball joints that caused one tire to wear funny, and have been good about rotating them, perhaps it's made the trip back to the front again.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My tires just got there first rotation at 6k after then noise started. It ruled out balance and tire issues. Got moved over the weekend and have not driven it since Sunday. Hope to take a look at it later in the week. Have to get old house on the market to sell......lots of painting going on!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, I finally got to take a look again. I raised the front end up and tugged and pulled on the wheels. The driver's side wheel was pretty sloppy up and down and the ball joint did not move at all. I am guessing it is the wheel bearing. What do you guys think?
 

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Yes, if you're getting movement back and forth on a wheel held at 12 and 6 o'clock and the ball joints aren't moving its definitely the unit bearing. Good news is you found it, bad news is they are pretty pricey.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
TKO, that's for sure. 325 for a moog hub assy. Changed it out and the vibration/noise is gone. Thanks for the info guys!
 

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The noise stopping when you put the brakes on was a dead give away for a wheel bearing. I have seen it before. Sorry I didn't check in sooner. Glad you got it fixed.
 

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BTW, the noise is very strange...it reminds me of the thumping you feel when stepping on brakes with a warped rotor. In my case, breaking makes the feeling go away. And I don't feel any pulsing while braking.
Did you every find out what was causing this? I have a 99 with the same issue.
 

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