Wheel bearings and spindle (rear) shot after brake job. Related? - Focus Fanatics
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:50 PM   #1
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Wheel bearings and spindle (rear) shot after brake job. Related?

Hi Guys,

I have a 2002 Focus with just over 100,000 miles.

2 weeks ago I took it in to have the rear brakes done. After about 50 miles of driving a loud howl appeared. I brought it back to the shop and was told I had defective wheel bearings. They replaced them immediately at no charge. Problem solved for another 50 or so miles of driving... then the noise came back. I brought the car back to the shop and this time they said the rear spindle is causing the wheel bearings to malfunction... and that it should be replaced immediately for $280.

I have never had this problem before and have had the car for over 4 years. Could the spindle have been broken during the brake job? The shop claims it is not related... but I have a hard time believing it when the car was perfectly fine before the brakes were done. What would cause the spindle to go bad?

Thank you very much.


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Old 08-16-2010, 08:59 PM   #2
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They might of took off the spindle bolt and pulled the bearing off the spindle, then when putting it back on, messed it up.

take off the center cap of the tire that's making the noise and look at the spindle.

the spindle has a grove in the center, if that grove looks altered (metal shaving/markings/not round) that means they used a pulley puller to pull it off, and the nut to tighten it back up.


To do read drum breaks, they should have took out the four bolts located on the back side of the break assembly and took off the drum, bearing and spindle as one unit.

Even knowing you got new bearings, there shouldn't be any markings on the center of the spindle.
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Old 08-16-2010, 09:14 PM   #3
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Thanks for the insight Adrian. This sounds probable. I will take a look in the morning.

What would cause a spindle to go bad under normal driving conditions?
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:14 PM   #4
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A spindle shouldn't go bad. odds are they had the wheel bearings off and didn't tighten the nuts and the bearings inner race rotated on the spindle wearing it. Once the spindle is scored and worn wheel bearings would fail rapidly.

Check out the local Better Business Bureau online at www.BBB.org. Check to see if there are any complaints about the company.
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:39 AM   #5
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Yes they should've done some research and found out that the easiest way to remove the drums on these cars is to simply take the 4 hub bolts off which are only torqued to 35 ft-lbs using red thread lock. The hub spindle nut is something more like 90 ft-lbs.

I'd go back in there and raise holy hell with them about why their boy screwed up the hub by tightening the nut down too much. Then I'd tell them about the hub mount bolts and ask if I could seriously expect his boy to use red thread lock on these bolts if he couldn't even use a torque wrench on hub nut?

That being said, unless you really trust these guys, it's time to find another shop IMO. Yes your car was over 100k, so it's no big surprise that any wheel bearing is bad. Regardless, I'm betting that it is directly related to this brake job and incompetence. I'm sure they know that as well.

Another reason why I work on my own stuff.
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Old 08-17-2010, 04:43 AM   #6
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OH, I don't know if there's a massive price difference between here and there, but you you can likely get a hub for less than half what they are charging you. Even if you want a Motorcraft part, we can get those cheaply from a place in Wisconsin. Unfortunately for a DIY, unless you want to replace the drum at the same time, you'll have to remove the hub spindle nut. Even so, you could replace both hubs and drums for $280. Maybe a tad bit more if you have to buy tools or thread lock. Then again, it might be less too, hard to say since I haven't called Steve at Tousley Ford to see what the price of a hub is.
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Old 08-17-2010, 07:32 AM   #7
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Hey Guys, this all makes great sense and is pretty much in line with what I was thinking. Thank you all very much for the detailed information! I'm headed back right now to raise some dust. Will keep you posted....
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Old 08-17-2010, 11:05 AM   #8
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As jjzx2sr explained above.......the problem was likely that the drum/bearing retaining nut was undertorqued (NOT overtightened), allowing the inner race to "spin" and "machine"/wear the spindle shoulder/OD. The bearing inner race seats on the spindle shoulder and is "pinched up" by the high torque on the nut. Why is everbody on this forum it seems scared of the torque spec on this drum retaining nut.......it is nothing out of the ordinary. Most FWD cars have the same drum retaining/bearing nut design whereby this nut is loosened and removed to allow for removal of the drum and any subsequent brake work, such as the lining replacement. If you remove the drum/bearing/spindle as an assembly and you then find that you have to remove the drum from the spindle for any reason.......then you will have trouble holding the spindle solidly enough to loosen the retaining nut. Yes.......the drum may "hangup" on the spindle because of the "zero fit" between the inner race and the spindle OD along with crud/corrosion, but with a little "massaging", the drum will come off. You will in fact find links on the internet (including this forum) for two procedures to remove the drums on these cars.......one where the four spindle retaining nuts are removed allowing the spindle and drum assembly to be removed.......but this is primarily for people that want to install the SVT disc brakes on their car, AND you will also find the "correct" procedure for accomplishing routine brake work on rear drum cars which simply states to remove the brake drum retaining nut and pull the drum off the spindle. For some reason over the years on the internet when people do a search relative to the rear brakes on these cars, they seems to get to the link pertaining to the removal of the whole damn spindle/drum assembly and not the other one. Again, loosen and remove the drum retaining nut and the drum WILL come off......and it's a helluva lot easier than removing the whole spindle. Just make sure that you torque it to spec when installing the drum.
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Old 08-15-2011, 03:51 PM   #9
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wonder how big a job it is to change the spindles?
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:28 PM   #10
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You can damage the spindle especially if part of the bearing comes apart and remains behind on the spindle when you try to pull the drum off. You really have to be careful who works on these cars because they have some design features that the common mechanic may not know how to work on properly.
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