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Ford Explorer Rear Wheel Bearings

I recently had my 2002 4WD Explorer in to the dealer's shop for OLF and tire rotation. It had 72500 miles on it at the time. Anyways, the service manager called to say that my rear wheel bearings needed to be replaced. The estimate was $1300!! I asked him how bad it was and he said that the technician was surprised I hadn't been complaining about the noise. Problem is, I don't hear any noise! It seems to be fine. Any other symptoms I should be experiencing if they are really shot? Also, does the $1300 price tag sound reasonable? I'm going to get other opinions, but would appreciate having a ball park price that I should be paying. Thanks in advance.


  • edited July 2007
    If the wheel bearings were really worn, you would hear them screeching as they ground around. You may even feel a slight wheel wobble/vibration.

    The pitch of the sound would likely change when braking too.

    $ to repair I couldn't say.
  • edited July 2007
    My mechanic replaced the sealed front wheel bearings on my 2000 Blazer at 65k miles, the cost was ~$350 per bearing with labor the total cost was $800. I think the dealer price per bearing was between $450 and 500. My bearings went bad after I replaced the tires, for a while I thought the bearing noise was caused by the new tires. My mechanic picked up on it on the next oil change. One way to tell is if the noise changes pitch as the steering wheel is turned off-center (i.e. changing lanes).

    You may consider getting a second opinion from a local/independent mechanic.

    Good luck,

    Ed B.
  • edited July 2007
    Unless Ford has changed their rear-end design, the rear bearings and seals cost around $50 per side with about one hour labor per side to change them. That's $300 to replace them. But they almost NEVER need to be replaced. They operate at low speed and are well lubricated. You can check them yourself by jacking the wheel off the ground and try to move the wheel and the axle it's bolted to. The axle may move in and out a LITTLE, but there should be no up, down, side to side play..
  • edited July 2007
    But they almost NEVER need to be replaced.

    I concur....Take this to another shop for another opinion. The rear bearings should last the life of the vehicle.
  • edited July 2007
    This is only true for the older solid rear axle design.

    The newer explorers have IRS, so they will have the more expensive sealed bearing similar to the front.

    I just don't know what year they switch over.
  • edited July 2007
    just had my right front wheel bearing replace on 1999 Ford Explorer. Had it done at Les Schwab for $298.
  • edited July 2007
    I just did a rear bearing on my 2002 Explorer. This is a press in bearing and a good shop around price for just the baring is about $140. Because this bearing is sealed and compact, the amount of internal grease is minimal. This can lead to failures much earlier than other wheel bearings. I just bought this vehicle with 90K and the rear wheel bearing had been replaced about 5K earlier. Improper installation caused the bearing to fail again. This car had a catastrophic bearing failure that destroyed the rear half axle, brake caliper, and E brake backing plate. You should be able to hear it before there is a real problem. Cost seems normal for dealer markup, but likely $500 cheaper at an indy.
  • edited July 2007
    My 02 explorer began making a grinding noise in the rear while on vacation. I just happened to be near a Goodyear repair shop. I took it there because I knew if the bearing went the tire could fly off at high way speeds. The total cost was just over $400.00. I called my mechanic near home and he said the repair bill is accurate. $1300 seems really high. If you haven't repaired this yet don't wait too long.
  • edited July 2007
    They are an expensive proposition as the entire bearing/assembly must be replaced. An independent shop could do this job for less I'm sure using aftermarket parts.

    The high price does not mean you're being ripped off. The dealer labor rate is usually higher (out of necessity) and the dealer cost on the Genuine Ford OEM parts is usually pretty high. Tack on the dealer markup and the price at the dealer could be in line.

    Usually bad bearings will either growl, rumble, and in some cases they may be quiet but the bearing/hub assembly has excessive play (looseness) in it. There usually is no adjustment on these and replacement is recommended if the play it outside the factory specs.

    I would get another opinion, or two, with attention paid to bearing sideplay.
    (For what it's worth, one of my daughter's cars (Mitsubishi) has the same type of bearing/hub unit and has excessive play in both rear hubs with no noise. How long it's been like that no one knows, but it's going to get repaired in the near future. At this point, no problem). Hope that helps. :-)
  • edited July 2007
    Excuse the careless typos.
    The first paragraph should be bearing/HUB assembly and later on; it = is. :-(

    Many car makers are going to sealed bearing/hub assemblies and yes, they're pricy.
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