Loose wheel bearings after 6000 miles.

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Dec 10, 2007
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Noticed that my DS wheel bearings were loose by rocking the tire at 6 and 12 o'clock and got the clunk clunk. These were new bearings I put in a year ago when I did my first front axle service. Dug into it today and found the inner spindle nut hand tight if that. Also found that the new spindle washer had a slight groove on it's back side with a corresponding greasy black mark. Looking at the inner race of the outer bearing I can see some slight scoring where it's been rocking or spinning?? This spindle is the same one that I previously had repeatedly loose bearings and has wear at the bottom, so maybe it's time for a new one. Here's a few photos.
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Pulled the hub and outer bearing. The bearing looks good. The spindle has more wear compared to 6000 miles ago so I went ahead and dimpled (staked) the end of the spindle where the outer bearing is located. Didn't have a punch so used a 2 inch #2 Phillips bit and a BFH, figured I couldn't screw it up too bad and may be needing a new spindle soon anyways. Before I did the dimpling the bearing slipped on the spindle by itself would rock at 6 and 12 o'clock but not at 9 and 3, so concentrated the dimpling at the top and bottom. After I was done the bearing fit tighter with no rocking. First photo from underneath looking up and then the top.
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Mike; that could be the case; IIRC when I last touched these I finished up with the fish scale around 12-14 lbs but the readings were all over the place, maybe due to the new Mobil 1 red grease sticking everything together?? When testing using the wheel clunk method at 6 and 12 o'clock a year ago and then about 6 months ago they appeared tight, no clunking. But recently when I checked again they were obviously loose on that side. This was the same spindle that gave me problems before; the bearings were always loosening up. Now wondering if my brake pedal pulsations weren't caused by this also?? I'll know when I get it back together.

I know this has been covered dozens of times, but one more time; to set the preload is the general consensus to tighten inner spindle nut to 43 ft lbs, spin wheel, tighten again to 43 ft lbs, then loosen and hand tighten that nut. Then install lock-tab washer, then torque the outer spindle nut to 47 ft lb? I never understood the part about spinning the washer with a screwdriver as some have suggested to see if it is too tight??
 
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Sure to cause the pulseing. I tighten my bearings tight then back them off and then measure them. NEVER use old washers. Any out of round points on that spindle? It does look rough. MIke
 
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The spindle has the usual wear edge on the bottom. The roughness you see in the photos above is what I just did so the bearing wouldn't sit as loosely on the spindle; read about that trick on Mud but never saw photos of how to do it. Someone discussed an old method that would do a better job, forget what that was called, sort of a pressing or rolling operation that would raise up some metal?? Don't have a new washer, maybe flip that worn one around??
 
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Fixed the washer the old fashioned way, used a couple of flat files to file the back side flat; good as new.
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I'm having this same issue on the passenger side of our 80. People like to jump in and quickly say you did not properly set the preload on the wheel bearings, but the fact is if the spindle is worn you CAN'T avoid them loosening, no matter what method you use. It very well could be a lack of maintainance from the previous owner.
In terms of setting preload, I think the fish scale method is horrible and instead just rely on setting the inner nut to 15ft/lb and 'feeling' that the tension is correct. So far it's working and the passenger side has not worked itself loose. Some mudders go as high as 20ft/lbs, but many vary between 10 and 15 with good results.
Thanks for posting a picture of your dimpling as that is my next step. Ultimately however I think spindle replacement at $240+ is the only real solution.
 
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Tacoma: you said set the inner spindle nut at 15 ft lb? The FAQ says 43 x2 then hand tight, then the outer nut at 45 in lbs??
 
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Tacoma: you said set the inner spindle nut at 15 ft lb? The FAQ says 43 x2 then hand tight, then the outer nut at 45 in lbs??

Yes that's correct. The FSM says 48in/lbs (which is 4ft/lbs) on the inner nut, but many mudders agree that's too loose, especially if your running larger than stock tires.
When I followed the FSM my fish scale readings were very inconsistent. It seemed to pull at 8-12lbs all the way to the inner nut bring torqued to 30+ft/lbs. So I ended up using the recommended 48in/lbs, which worked for ~1000 miles until the passenger front get some play in it. So I searched a lot on here and found what others recommended.
I may have a bad spindle, but the 15ft/lbs is working so far.
Here's my thread on the topic-
https://forum.ih8mud.com/80-series-tech/481545-question-play-wheel-bearings.html
 
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Also, 15ft/lbs isn't really that tight. I found I can hold the 54mm socket with both hands tightly and get my torque wrench to click at 180in/lbs (15ft/lbs). So I guess they are still hand tight, just REALLY hand tight. :)
Also, with the brake caliper and drive flange off, I like to bolt a wheel onto the hub when setting the preload so I can get a good feel for how it spins. They're definitely not overly tight as you can give the wheel a spin and it will easily rotate 6+ times before stopping.

Next time my passenger front gets loose I'll be checking the spindle for wear, measuring to see if its out of round, and dimpleing if nessasary. That or I may steel a spindle off my brothers parts cruiser. Im just not convinced one used spindle is better than another and prefer new...
 
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I just checked the FSM; after installing hub/rotor onto spindle and ensuring it is pushed all the way in:

1) install thrust washer then adjusting (inner) nut
2) torque adjusting (inner) nut to 43 ft lbs
4) turn rotor a few times
5) torque adjusting (inner) nut again to 43 ft lbs
6) back off adjusting (inner) nut until it can be turned by hand then torque it again to 48 in lbs (4 ft lbs) This is where some people torque the adjusting (inner) nut to 10, 15, or 20 ft lbs
7) check preload with fish scale (6.4 to 12.6 lb ft) Many people skip this step as being inaccurate and just go ahead and use the higher torque settings in step 6
8) install tabbed lock washer and lock (outer) nut
9) torque lock (outer) nut to 47 ft lbs.
10) bend lock washer tabs, at least one back onto adjusting nut and one forward onto lock nut

The main deviation seems to be at step 6 using 10, 15, or 20 ft lbs and skipping step 7 (fish scale)
 
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Checked the PS and there was a small clunk so pulled the hub, same; the outer lock nut was tight but the inner nut was totally loose and the spindle and thrust washer both look like the bearings had been spinning some but not as bad as the DS. This is war. I'll tighten the inner adjusting nut to 15 ft lbs like I just did with the DS and forget the fish scale. Might dimple or stake the spindle like the other side even though it's not worn as much. Also found the Moly grease from the knuckle had migrated down the spindle tube and into the bearings so I got enough grease in that knuckle.
 

Cruiserdrew

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Put me in the camp of believing that you need 2 new spindles. I just got 2 new ones when I replaced the axle housing in January and they are sweet. The bearings tightened up perfectly and no slop after 4 months.

No doubt they are expansive, but then you know it's right for another 10 years or so.
 

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