Replaced front axle shaft & wheel bearing - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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Old 09-12-2010, 02:32 PM
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Replaced front axle shaft & wheel bearing

I'll try not to make this too long winded but I wanted to describe a repair I just made to my early 99 psd long bed 4x4 6 speed with manual warn hubs. Original problem crept up about 9 months ago when we would be driving along a smooth piece of pavement and would hit a small bump like a joint between sections of concrete or a manhole cover and something in the front end would begin humming or buzzing like the sound a tire makes if you run over the grooves they cut into the side of the highway to alert you that you are driving out of the lane. This sound was pretty loud and the only way to make it stop was to either slow down or hit another small bump. After some troubleshooting I discovered that the problem was in the right front corner somewhere because if you locked the right front hub in, the noise would not happen. So a week ago I tore into the front end and found the the left front hub was clean inside and greased with normal looking/smelling axle grease. The right front hub however had about a half cup of rusty water inside when removed and everything was a nasty reddish rust color and covered with a thick watery rusty grease. Looking to the back side of the spindle there were pieces of rubber hanging where the inner and outer axle seals used to be. So I disassembled the whole right front corner and found that the vacuum seal on the outer axle shaft had completely fallen apart letting water, dirt, etc. into the outer axle and bearing and then into the hub through the vacuum passages. then I discovered the main problem, the small needle bearing that rides on the inside of the wheel bearing between it and the axle shaft was completely rusted and destroyed and had eaten a groove into the axle shaft allowing it to sit at an angle inside the wheel bearing and bind up the inner parts of the hub.
So I took all said parts to my buddies at Reliance 4x4 in Denver and they were able to find me a new early 99 specific wheel bearing with the inner needle bearing, and went online to Venture truck parts and bought a new axle shaft, vacuum seal, and u-joint. I then had a driveline specialty shop press the axle shaft and u-joint together, and used the old wheel bearing to drive on the new vacuum seal. Assembling everything was pretty straight forward, just remembering the order everything came apart and the sequence of the washers and shims. The one challenging part was driving the vacuum seal the final 1/4" into the spindle, and since I don't have a proper seal install tool, a 7.3 oil filter and soft hammer worked perfectly
The repair was very straight forward and the truck drives great now. There is no more noise and the hubs lock and unlock just like they are supposed to. I also removed and capped the vacuum lines to the spindles while I was underneath as I have heard that it can wear out the vacuum pump and cause problems in the HVAC system if there are leaks. Hope this helps someone and please feel free to send me a message if you have any questions. Ryan
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Replaced front axle shaft & wheel bearing-dscf9718.jpg   Replaced front axle shaft & wheel bearing-dscf9719.jpg  

Last edited by Rowe80013; 09-12-2010 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 09-26-2010, 06:55 AM
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im having this problem too it seemed to start right after i put some new warn hubs on. did yours happen for every bump that you hit or just every once and a while. i believe that i have the same problem as you.
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:55 AM
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Lock your hubs in, and drive around. If the noise disappears with the hubs locked then the problem is the needle bearings (unlock and drive around some more to verify)

They're cheap and not difficult to change.

Welcome to guzzle's 4x4 Needle Bearing Maintenance Web Page
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:44 AM
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No need to replace the entire wheel bearing unit, just replace the needle bearing.
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:32 AM
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so if the problem stops when my hubs are locked then it is the needle bearings but if it keeps on then is the wheel bearing the problem?
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:55 PM
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Hey I'm glad to see that I wasn't the only one who has had this problem. It shouldn't happen with every bump, just once in a while for us and would NEVER happen when the right front or both hubs were locked in. In our case we had to change the needle bearing and the stub shaft outward of the u-joint simply because the needle bearing was so rusted and destroyed that it had eaten a grove into the shaft where the needle bearing used to ride. While I had it all apart I decided to go ahead and replace the wheel bearing since it was sounding bad and lurching while you turned it by hand. The bearings are relatively cheap and readily available unless you have an early 99 like me :-) a little tougher to come by in that case. I will attribute the failure of all our front hub components to the vacuum seal that rides between the axle stub and the spindle. It was completely destroyed and our hub was full of water when I disassembled it. Hope that helps and good luck. Ryan
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Old 09-28-2010, 05:34 PM
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well i ended up pulling my axle shaft out because the seals were shot and i dont want mud getting in my axle tube. i am replacing the hub assembly and i was wondering if any of yall knew what the ford part number was for those four studs that hold it on because i cant get them out. liquid wrench and a torch was no match.
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Old 09-28-2010, 06:38 PM
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I know where you're at, I used BG In-Force for a week on both sides of the studs before I attempted to remove them and apparently it worked because I was able to take them out using a small pipe wrench. I tried to double-nut them and that wasn't enough but the pipe wrench worked great. I don't know the part number but I know they're available because the shop I got my wheel bearing from told me I'd probably need to order them because they are a B!tc# to get out haha. As far as the axle is concerned, most of the people I talked to actually recommended that I leave the inner axle seal off the inner shaft as it tends to trap water, mud, etc. in the tube rather than keeping it out but I could see both sides of the argument. Keep posting on how your repair comes out, I couldn't be happier with our truck since we did the work. Ryan
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