2003 Ford Escape Wheel Bearings

Can anyone help out in the following situation?

I have a 2003 Ford Escape front wheel drive with 185.000km or about 115,000 miles and I’ve had to replace the front left bearing twice in the past year. The first time it lasted about 9 months and the second time about 3 months, both at the same shop.

This time I want to do it myself so I can see what is going on. What should I be looking for once I have everything apart? I’m wondering if it’s a problem with the way the bearing is seated. Could there be a problem with it not being held in securely?

Also my brakes have been shuddering since before I replaced the first bearing and I’m wondering if my laziness to replace the pads and rotors has contributed to this situation.

I’d be grateful for any help or advice people have to offer.


I don’t think the brakes have anything at all to do with the failure of the bearing. I haven’t changed a front wheel bearing in a while but I do know that front wheel drive bearings are different. I would buy Timken bearings as I believe the shop is using “made in China” bearings since they are failing so often. They are probably installing them wrong as well. Find a good, independent mechanic and get the job done right.

The biggest problem that I’ve found with folks installing front wheel drive bearings is that they are usually not properly torqued. Most people just believe that big nut needs to be TIGHT. So they use an impact gun and tight’s good enough for them. I had one Corolla that came in for four wheel bearings in one year before they gave it to me to fix. The same tech installed the first three. Just for grins I used my digital torque wrench to see how much force it would take to bust the nut loose. Almost 400 foot pounds! Overtorquing crushes the bearings which drastically shortens the life of the bearing. Yours should be 214 foot pounds by the way.

The shuddering of your brakes may have something to do with either with the pads or rotors.

Thanks for the comments everyone.

I will make sure I get Timken bearings and make sure everything is torqued properly.

If that doesn’t work I’ll have to find a shop who really knows what they’re doing!

Pay careful attention to both the hub and the bore in which the bearing seats. Before you take the hub out, measure to see if it is bent. If the previous mechanic bent the hub when removing it or pressing it back in, that may be causing your brake shudder AND your bearing failure. You may just want to replace the hub while you are doing the job, they are usually not very expensive. If he buggered up the bore that is less likely to create a shudder but might damage the new bearing if bad enough.

Thanks Mustangman.

You made me think of 2 questions:

  1. How do I measure the hub to see if it is bent?

  2. How do I know if the bore is damaged?

dial indicator

@Supershine What db4690 said, or you can use a wire clamped to the knuckle to just touch the hub flange. Rotate it and see if a gap appears or if it drags. Find the high and low spots. There should be virtually NO wobble. If you see a little, the larger distance of the rotor will make it double or triple that causing a pulsation.

  1. As for the bearing bore, if it is buggered up badly enough to damage the bearing I think you will know. It will look gouged and maybe a bit bent up like the bearing was really forced in there with a really big press.