Rear axle bearing cage disintegrated

Tiny
MILTONADAMS
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 FORD F-150
  • 5.4L
  • V8
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 200,000 MILES
Three months ago I put in new axle bearings and seals on both sides. And a new axle on the passenger side.

Yesterday, I noticed a leak on the passenger side. Differential oil was very low so popped off the bearing seal. There was a small pile metal flecks (see pictures). When I pulled the axle, the bearings dropped down.

The bearing cage was completely gone on both the driver and passenger side.

Any ideas as to what caused the cage to get pulverized into flecks?
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Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 AT 7:10 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
MILTONADAMS
  • MEMBER
Additional information: Limited slip calls for 75-140 synthetic which I used (but without friction modifier). I drove the truck with some chattering in the limited-slip differential before adding four ounces of friction modifier. Could this have caused the the bearing to get hot and/or the bearing cages to disintegrate?
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Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 AT 6:00 AM
Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
No one of the things could have been bad bearings to begin with like not hardened like they should be. That is why you spend more money and get name brand ones. Also, did you put any lube on them at all after install? Was differential filled after install or did you drive? Since you replaced one axle was the other one scored or damaged and you put it in. The flecks you talk about are where the bearings and cage destroyed. Look at bearing surface as those look more like chrome than a cage make sure you get as much of that stuff out prior to putting new parts in.
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Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 AT 6:59 AM
Tiny
MILTONADAMS
  • MEMBER
Thanks for everyone's help. Still do not know for sure (likely low lubrication) what caused the bearings to come apart. I had used a China made $20/each bearings from Napa (did not know there were premium bearings).

Had used Valvoline 75-140 synthetic gear oil. Added friction modifier about 100 miles later when there was some chattering which eliminated the chattering. Valvoline did not include friction modifier.

Before installing new parts - I had to clean out a bunch of metal flecks which came from the disintegrated bearing cages and outer bearing race. So use a round toilet cleaning brush with an extension attached to it to scrub the axle housing while blowing in aerosolized diesel using a air-compressor attached that has a port to siphon in a liquid, in my case diesel. It took about 30 minutes of scrubbing on each side before no more metal flecks were coming out. Then clean the differential gears and housing and used a magnet to collect anything in the bottom of the housing.

What I did this time - I used a Napa premium bearing, $70/each, has USA made stamped into the side of the bearing. The bearing has 13 bearings and no cage. I also bought bearings from the Ford dealership just to compare them. Ford's bearing were made by the same company as Napa's premium bearing, but they looked different. Ford's bearing had a cage and fewer actual bearing (I think there were 11). Asked Napa for the supplier tech line and learned that the Ford bearing was an older OEM part and Napa bearing was the newer OEM part. Just seems to me that 13 bearing without a cage (Napa) is better then 11 with a cage (Ford) since both were USA made by the same company.

This time I used Mobile 1 75-140 synthetic gear oil which had friction modifier included. Called for 5.5 pints. Put in 6 pints and it is still about a 1/4 below the differential fill hole. Will keep a close eye on this since low lubrication is what several people suggesting was the problem.

Pre-oiled the bearings and even added a touch of bearing grease and greased the axle surface as well as the bearing seal.

All seem to have gone back together well. Again, thanks for all your help. I really appreciate it.
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Friday, May 26th, 2017 AT 9:56 AM
Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
When checking diff fluid make sure truck is level not with diff up in air as it can give a false reading.
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Friday, May 26th, 2017 AT 12:03 PM

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