2002 Ford Explorer rear Hub assembly
When my ’02 Explorer rear wheel bearings started grinding I knew this would be an expensive trip to the dealer so I decided to take the task on myself. I read many helpful posts here and last week I successfully replaced the passenger side bearing and coil spring.
Yesterday I took on the driver’s side and snapped a few pictures in hopes of helping others to avoid being ripped off at the dealer. If you have some mechanical background and some tools you can do it.The photos below are of the left rear of my ’02 explorer and your vehicle my differ if it’s from another year.
Some of the tools needed are:
Metric sockets and wrenches
Hub puller (I borrowed one from Advance Auto for free)
Small pry bar
Spray all bolts and nuts and pins with PB Blaster at least one day prior to removing them. This will help loosen the rust.
To get started jack the vehicle up and USE JACK STANDS. Safety first.
First thing I noticed is the broken coil spring. This was broken in two spots. The right side in three.There's a good chance yours are also broken.
Remove the two bolts holding the caliper using a 10mm socket. Pry the top out first with a screw driver or small pry bar. Don't pry on the pads and don't whack it with a hammer. Once removed tie it up to the coil spring or somewhere out of the way. Don't let it dangle by the hose. After removing the caliper pull off the rotor. If the rotor is stuck you may need to use a rubber or hard plastic hammer to pursued it. You can then pull out the emergency brake cable and end from the back plate. This will slide right out. If the E brake shoes are in good condition you can leave them on. I chose to remove mine from the backing plate to clean a little of the rust off.
Next remove the axle nut. This nut is big and on very tight and requires a long handle 1/2 inch drive breaker bar to get it loose. Either put the emergency brake on or have someone press the brake to keep the axle from spinning while loosening. Almost every post tells you to use a 35 or 36mm socket. Who has one of those sitting around? I used a Craftsman 1 3/8 socket and it fit and worked perfectly. Once loose I used my 1/2 drive air gun to remove it. I also reused the same nut when reassembling. There was nothing wrong with it and I wasn't spending $15 to replace it.
Now it's time to tackle the two pinch bolts that hold the upper control arm and the toe link to the knuckle. You will use an 18mm deep well socket to remove the nuts. As mine were rusted in pretty good, the way I got mine out was to insert a chisel into the slot shown to help spread apart the knuckle. Tap lightly and it should come right out. Don't hammer it too hard as you can damage the end of the bolt.
This photo was taken after the job was complete.
Now comes the hardest part of the job which is separating the upper control arm and toe link from the knuckle. These will be rusted in and require force to get them out. Using the same chisel I hammered it back in the slot as far as I could to try and spread the knuckle apart. The toe link should come out easier than the upper arm. Once you have the chisel inserted, carefully start tapping the arms to get them out. I was not successful on the passenger side getting the upper arm off and had to unbolt it from the frame of the vehicle and pull it and the knuckle out as one piece. Then I could get at it better and it popped right out. On the drivers side it came out but with much force. Warning! Stay away from the rubber boots with all pry bars, hammers, etc and do not use any heat. If you tear the boot then you have even bigger problems.
Now remove the bolt holding the lower control arm to the knuckle.
Now it's time to pull the knuckle. This is where the hub puller comes into play. Without one of these you will not be able to pull the knuckle off the axle spline. Note I have not touched the backing plate for the emergency brakes. Every post on this forum is telling you to either cut it in half or remove the three bolts that hold it on. There is absolutely no reason to do this. It can stay attached to the knuckle through the whole process.
Time to install the new parts. I purchased these from AutoPartsDirectToYou.com. One of the forums on here stated the bearings were Timken which is of very good quality and the price was very good at $60 each. The bearings are not Timken and there are no markings on them at all so I'm sure they are a Chinese part. They do come with a lifetime warranty but who wants to do this job again soon. Not Me.
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