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1994 Ford Explorer XLT

Wheel Bearing Assembly

©2009 dmietze@hotmail.com

Hi all – this is the home mechanics guide to removing and

replacing the front wheel bearings to a 1994 Ford
Explorer 4x4 XLT.

First of all, the disclaimers. This is not guaranteed to

work for everybody. The most prudent thing is to go to a
mechanic to have it done. This is not a guaranteed fix to
your problems, nor do we in anyway guarantee that this
will work for you. We do not accept liability to anyone
that follows this guide. You are on your own cannot use a
mechanic. We are on disability and the mechanics wanted
an arm and a leg for the work, so we had no choice but to
do it ourselves since we are on a small fixed income. But
we consulted a mechanics shop for diagnosis.

What was happening is that the car would swim all over
the road every time it would hit a bump. The two main
problems they said it was, was the gear box, which had
way too much play, the wheel bearings, the front end
alignment, tires and possibly new bushings on the front
end. Well we replaced the gearbox and the steering
assembly and we still had the same problem. It wasn’t as
bad though. So the next step was to replace the bearings
in the front wheels. The way we checked to see if it was
the wheel bearings was to jack the car up so the front
wheel were off the ground and checked the back and
forth play from top to bottom, not side to side. We found
that the wheel had a substantial amount of play in it and
decided from there that we should do the wheel bearings.
What follows is a pictorial and written essay of what we

First of all jack the front of the car up. The SUV is very
heavy so it is important that you have the side up off the
ground that you want to work on first and then support it
frame with a jack-stand.

Pull the tires off and the center spindle as if you were
going to change the brakes. As a note – It might be best
to also change the brakes while you are doing this since
the brake assembly has to come off as well. This is a
picture of the first basic components to come off. It
shows the rotor and the brakes.
On the spindle you will find a c-clamp, a small washer, a
washer fit to the spindle and then a big washer and finally
the cam assy. Remove those and document their order,
so you can put it all back together properly – the following
are pics of these 5 items that you have to remove.
c-clamp Thin Washer Spindle Washer Big

Cam assy

The cam Assembly should slip right off

There is a large locking screw around the spindle that
should be hand loose. In the notch on the spindle – there
is a locking pin between that and the locking nut.
Remove that pin (shown further on down) with a small
item such as a large-eyed hand-sewing needle, and put
away in a safe place. Screw the locking nut off. Don’t
loose this small cotter pin – be real careful! Once you
remove the pin you can unscrew the locknut and the rotor
should the slip right off. If the brake assembly is in the
way, then you have to remove the brake assembly
according to Ford specs (which should not be hard to get).
This is how it looks after the rotor is off and the brake

assembly is still on.

Next you’ll have to remove the brakes from the assembly
in order to get the rotor back on and change the brake
pads. The brake assembly is held in by two large cotter
pins that need to be hammered out.
Brake removal at this point is housekeeping, so you don’t
have to that at a later point after you have the bearings
in and want to put the rotor back on.

This is what the wheel assembly looks like after the rotor
removal and the brake assembly removal:
Once you have the rotor out there will be two sets of
identical bearings, one in the front and one in the back,
they should fall right out. The hard part is now removing
the sleeve out of the inside of the rotor. You do that by
taking a hammer and a screwdriver or a chisel to the
edge of the sleeve from the inside of the rotor and start
hammering the sleeve out. Do this in a torque fashion so
the sleeve doesn’t get jammed up in there. By that I
mean do a few hammer knocks on the sleeve on one
side, then do the opposite sides then at 90’ from that side
and then 180’ from that side until you hammer it out
evenly all around. Be patient. This may take several
Now hammer out the bearing in the same fashion from
the other side.

Once you have the sleeves out – you are ready to put in
your new bearings!!! When you buy the wheel bearings
they come with the sleeves. You also have to buy these
locking sleeves that fit over the back bearing to keep it in
place. I, like an idiot, did not remember the part name,
but when you take your bearing assembly apart on the
back, clean the packing grease off the sleeve and take it
down to the parts store with you and they would be able
to help you get the right part.

Place the sleeve evenly in the rotor and hammer the

sleeve in with the same torque technique that you used
getting the sleeve out. Note: If you hammer one side in
too far it will get stuck and you will have hell to pay the
captain. So do this carefully and hammer in the sleeve as
far as it will go. There is a lip inside the rotor that will
prevent the sleeve from going in further than it’s
supposed to so make sure the sleeve is in evenly right up
against the inside lip.
Now that you have the sleeves in – it’s time to put the
bearings in. Make sure that they are packed heavily in
bearing packing grease. Get a can of the good stuff here
– NO SKIMPING! The bearings take a lot of heat and you
need a good bearing grease to withstand the temps and
the pressure.

The following is a picture of a well grease bearing placed

inside of the rotor and the sleeve that hold the bearing in
that faces the inside of the car.
Place the locking sleeve over the inside bearing and
hammer it in place using the same torque technique.
This is how it should look in the back of the rotor with the
bearing sleeve, bearing and locking sleeve in place. I
can’t stress enough – put plenty of packing grease in!

Place the rotor back on the spindle.

Heavily pack the outside bearing in grease and place it
over the spindle into the rotor.

Clean off the excess grease so that you can see what you
are doing!
In the picture below, you can see the locking nut on the
spindle and the notch at the top of the spindle where the
pin (that I cautioned you about earlier) goes in.
Sometimes you have to tighten the locking nut very
gently so that the locking pin goes in. If the big locking
nut is not on properly, the pin won’t go in all the way. DO
NOT OVER TIGHTEN THIS NUT! I don’t know why, but this
nut was hand loose when we took the assemblies off on
both wheels. Ford must have done this for a reason. I
ain’t gonna question it. We just put stuff back the way we
found it (with a little common sense sprinkled in).
This picture is a depiction of the pin placed properly
between in spindle and the big locking nut in the slot
Place the cam assembly on the spindle. There is a notch
in the cam assembly that aligns with notch in the spindle
assembly. Line the notch and the groove up and the cam
assembly should slip right on.

Put the washers back in the opposite order as you took

them off once the cam assembly is in.
Last but not least – place the c-clamp over the spindly
Put the brake shoes in the brake assembly and place the
brake assembly over the rotor. This can be a little tricky
but once you get it aligned, place the cotter pins back
into the brake assembly.

Brake assembly Cotter pins

Hammer in the cotter pins after the brake shoes are in.
You are done!!!! Put the wheel back on and make sure to
tighten down those lug nuts! Bleed the brakes and make
sure you have good braking power.

I hope this helps for all of you household mechanics out

there. We had to do this without a manual and by trial
and error.