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2005 Ford Explorer wheel bearings

I’d like to know if anyone has had trouble with Ford Explorer front ends. I had what I considered to be a ton of work done on my 2005 Explorer back in October 2009 when it had about 60,000 miles on it. The bill listed these parts: hub assembly, bearing, axle rebuild kit, front diff seal and some other seal. The paperwork doesn’t say, but I am pretty sure it was the left front wheel bearings that were bad. Now, at 83,000 the left front wheel is noisy again. A mechanic drove it today and told me he thinks it is the wheel bearings. What the heck are wheel bearings and why am I replacing them again in the same wheel after only 23,000 miles? I think Ford Explorer front ends are junk. Not that I know much about cars, but, really…this is ridiculous. It is 4-wheel drive, of course.

Not a common problem here in the Gallup NM Ford dealer. And this is the four corners reservation area, pickup & SUV country for sure.
You can NOT stereotype all Explorer front ends as trouble. I have fleet customers with dozens of Explorers each with 300k + miles on them.
My sales history of 4L2Z-1104-AA hub/bearing shows 8 all last year with 4 showing so far this year.

I didn’t mean to say ALL Explorer front ends. I’m thinking maybe just 2005 or maybe just my particular Explorer. I am leary of buying another Ford, though. How long should the wheel bearing last? Should I need to be replacing it again after 18 months/23,000 miles? I had planned on driving this vehicle for at least 10 years, but I’m beginning to think that’s not going to happen.

If the truck is home, on an even surface, block the rear tires and jack up the passenger side enough that the passenger side tire is off of the ground. Support the frame with blocks or a jack, and see if you can move the passenger tire and wheel side-to-side as well as top to bottom. If the wheel bearing is shot, the tire and wheel will move mostly side to side as well as a little top to bottom (generally).
The truck will have also been making some kind of noise while driving, usually a wah-wah sound at first that gets progressively louder.

If the wheel is loose, you really should not drive the truck to the dealer or garage, but have it towed and get the wheel bearing replaced as well as the hub. Maybe you had the bearing replaced without a hub replacement last time. More likely the replacement was never done if you have no record.
This at least is a fairly easy and inexpensive repair. This is not a drive wheel. Costs should be at most $500 parts and labor, but should be less than that.

There are different qualities for replacement parts available. If you need repair parts find a mechanic that gives you the options. Cheap parts could be the problem.

I believe 23k is too little also. Someone is mis-installing with perhaps too much torque on the axle nut.
– Are they using Ford OE parts ?—

Native Resource Development has a fleet of 20 Explorers for non emergency medical transportation for patients and family to get to the IHS hospitals here in the Navajo reservation. They have their own shop but yet have purchased just ONE in the last three years ( OE Ford from us ). These are the trucks with 300k+ miles on all of them. The 522,000 mile one threw our speedometer people for a loop with the odometer being un-progamable by them.

Of the other customers in our shop, the LOW mileage winner for their first hub/bearing replacement was 96,532 miles. Over the counter sales don’t have mileage documented but five others in our shop over the last two years show 144k, 129,666, 116,661, 157,166 and 265,853 miles for their first bearing.

Thanks for all the info. It sounds like it is unusual for the wheel bearing to go so early. So, if it isn’t misintallation or low quality parts, is there anything else that could be causing the problem?

Just a few other things with this vehicle: rear struts had to be replaced before 60,000. I have replaced a few tie rod ends, brakes had to be done, a couple of u-joints, and last year I had to replace all of my tires earlier than I should have due to severe uneven wear. Now, the tires were partially (or, possibly, mostly) my fault because I didn’t rotate them for…10,000 or 15,000 miles. But…what would happen if by chance the frame of this vehicle is messed up? Don’t laugh at me. I said I know nothing about cars, but I like to learn and I like to try to figure out what’s causing a problem.

On second thought, I didn’t have any problems with this SUV for the first 4 years I drove it. All the major repairs started in January 2009, so something wrong with the frame would have showed up before then, I would think. I haven’t been in any accidents. I bought this vehicle with 8,000 miles on it in October 2005. It had been a “fleet” vehicle, which I took to mean rental car. I do drive on some pretty bad roads. There’s a dirt road I use every day which becomes a washboard in the spring and there’s a 5 mile stretch of road I use 2-3 times a week which is laden with terrible frost heaves in spring and which never quite goes back to normal. I really hope it gets paved this year, but I’m not holding my breath.

I re-read your question and the wheel bearing repair was done, as part of the replacement of the hub assembly. This repair is two years old and is no longer covered by a repair warranty, but check to see if the part is covered. If nothing else you can negotiate for some kind of accomodation, especially if you had the replacement performed by a Ford dealer using Ford parts. Such a replacement should not have failed after only two years.
I think in this case, you would have a very good case for replacement at no cost to you.

But if you had the part replaced at a local garage using OEM parts, that ship has sailed.

The ship definitely sailed. The dealership is way far away from here and the local garage is only 5 miles away. Even at that distance, it’s tough to arrange time to drop the Explorer off. With kids in car seats, it requires a second vehicle with car seats and then I still have to get the Explorer back before my next work day.

What are OEM parts? Sounds like it means not Ford parts. I’d guess they are not Ford parts since it was the local garage. I’m switching to a different garage (still way closer than dealership) because I’m losing confidence in the current group. Lots of little things adding up to me wanting to try out a new place.