2004 Ford Explorer Hub replaced but still loud noise

Tiny
BSHOT5350
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 FORD EXPLORER
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 211,000 MILES
2004 Explorer with 211000. I had a loud rumble/hum from the front left. Hub assem has been replaced and now the noise is getting worse. When I make a right turn on the hiway at speed the noise is loud and there is a slight vibration. When I take the weight off the front left and make a left turn at speed (70mph'ish) the noise immediately goes away. The second I put weight back on the front left the rumble and noise is back. It is starting to do it at all speeds. At very low speed it just sounds like I have big tires and road hum. At 30-75 mph the sound and rumble is awful and only is on the front left. Again, the entire front left hub assembly has been replaced but the problem is still there.
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Saturday, September 4th, 2010 AT 4:40 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Honestly, I can tell you know how to check for a bad bearing. Based on what you have described, I think you got a bad one. Are you sure the noise is coming from the front? Are the tires cupped or have any shifted belts?
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Saturday, September 4th, 2010 AT 9:42 PM
Tiny
BSHOT5350
  • MEMBER
I went back within 4K miles and had them replace the hub assembly again because I thought I could of had a bad, new one. The one they put on was fine but they replaced it with a 2nd new one just in case and the noise never changed. The tires are wearing ok and have been rotated. I do have a "clicking" from the front left at very slow speed. Half shaft? CV? There is slight back and forth "play" with the half shaft but nothing horrible and no leaking around the FL rubber. The front right has leaking and same "play" as the FL but no noise from the FR. Is there anything in the diff that would cause it?
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Sunday, September 5th, 2010 AT 5:45 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Hi guys. Excuse me for butting into your conversation, but if you have the hub and bearing assembly, rather than the pressed-in bearing older Fords, Chryslers, and Hondas used, you absolutely can not tell which side is noisy by driving the vehicle. I ran into this problem many times.

With the pressed-in bearings, it was common to identify the noisy bearing, as you did, by turning slightly while driving. With the hub and bearing assembly, you can make the noise louder by turning right, swear the noise is coming from the left side, and it will be the right bearing. The good news is you do not have to destroy the assembly to remove it, as you did with the pressed-in style, so you can put the removed assembly on the other side.

The only way I found to identify the noisy bearing is to run the vehicle on a hoist and listen next to it with a stethoscope. You will hear a little rumbling from the suspect bearing, but then you'll hear a much louder buzzing noise from the bad one. You won't hear it without the stethoscope because there is no weight on it.

Another way to find the noisy bearing is through use of a "Chassis Ear". That is a set of six microphones, a switch box, and a pair of head phones. You clip the microphones to various suspect points, then switch between them and listen while driving. In this case, clip one to each spindle near the wheel bearings, and clip one to the differential. Newer models of this tool have four wireless microphones and two with wires. They are all wired on the older model. Most dealerships have this tool but many mechanics have never seen it or heard of it. It is also available from the tool truck guys like Mac, Matco, Snapon, and Cornwell.

Caradiodoc
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Sunday, September 5th, 2010 AT 6:20 PM
Tiny
BSHOT5350
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the info. Everything under the sun makes me think it is on the left front but I am willing to try anything. Question. The left front half shaft is bone dry with no signs of cracks. The right front half shaft is covered with oil/grease but the boots look good. At least what I can see while trying to slide under my truck. Is the bearing grease thick like grease or fluid like oil? Would the grease on the shaft be a sign of the bearing blowing out?

I am going to a local shop that is open tomorrow and having them put it on a lift and get their feelings on the whole thing. This Explorer is my life line and I drive about 4K/month and I need to get another 75K out of it so I have to find the problem.
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Sunday, September 5th, 2010 AT 6:52 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The grease is very thick. The bearing is sealed and that grease rarely leaks out. Even when it does, it doesn't spray around very much, and that isn't enough to cause a noise. When I've looked at the bearing races from the pressed-in ones that fall apart when removed, I've never seen any obvious cause for the noise.

The single worst thing you or I could do to MAKE a bearing noisy is to not have the axle nut torqued to specs when the vehicle's weight is supported on that bearing. The nut holds the assembly together. You don't even have to drive it with the nut loose. Just lowering it off the jack can do it, at least that has been my observation with GM front-wheel-drive cars. A local body shop replaced both bearings on a car they were repairing for crash damage. When they found out it would be a week before body panels arrived, they pushed the car outside, (without the engine, transmission, half shafts, and axle nuts in the car). Later, when I aligned it and test drove it, both bearings were noisy and had to be replaced again. Since then I've seen similar things happen to other people with various brands of cars.

Besides that loose or missing nut, I don't know what causes the noise to develop. It is very common on almost any car or truck today. It might be related to the fact they use ball bearings but I don't know that for a fact. We rarely had noisy bearings when they used tapered roller bearings.

Caradiodoc
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Sunday, September 5th, 2010 AT 7:29 PM

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