Guide: Replacing a 1997 - 2003 Ford F-150 Wheel Bearing & Hub

by Max Johnston - Gearhead


  • Wheel bearings handle the forces created as you steer, accelerate, and brake your F-150. They need to be replaced every 85,000 to 100,000 miles on F-150s built from 1997-2003.
  • For this job, you’ll need a jack and jack stands, a lug wrench or impact wrench, a socket set and ratchet, a torque wrench, a brake caliper hanger or bungee cord, a hammer, a cloth, pliers, a prybar, grease and anti-seize, and a new wheel bearing and hub assembly matching your truck’s model year.
  • The steps you’ll need to follow, in order, are: jacking up your truck and removing the wheel, removing the brakes, removing the hub assembly, installing the new bearing, putting the hub assembly back on, replacing the ABS sensor and brakes, replacing the wheel, and lowering the truck back down to the ground. Read on for details on each step and see a video walkthrough.

The late 90s weren’t just memorable for their music and fashion. Those years also saw the dawn of the legendary fifth generation Ford F-150. This was one tough-as-hell truck—as long as you replaced wear components like wheel bearings on schedule.

Replacing Your 1997-2003 Ford F-150 Wheel Bearing & Hub? This is the part you need!

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Getting aftermarket F-150 wheel bearings you can trust for your truck is easy with our help—and now, with this guide, you can install your new bearings all by yourself! Below, we take you step-by-step through the process so you can keep your fifth-gen F-150 driving just like it did back when “Break Stuff” was released.

Why Do You Have to Replace Wheel Bearings?

Great question! Wheel bearings absorb force and friction as you drive so that your wheels can continue turning smoothly and evenly. When your wheel bearings start to wear out, you might experience problems accelerating, steering, and braking—which can eventually become a safety hazard in addition to making your driving experience significantly less comfortable.

The fifth-generation F-150s that hit the market from 1997 to 2003 all had sealed bearings—which is good, since this type lasts longer than older tapered roller bearings. But you’ll still need to replace them every 85,000 to 100,000 miles for best results (or sooner if you notice any of these common signs that your wheel bearings are failing).

What You’ll Need to Start

Here’s what you’ll need to replace the wheel bearing and hub on your 1997-2003 Ford F-150 by yourself:

  • A jack and jack stands
  • Lug wrench or impact wrench
  • Socket set and ratchet
  • Torque wrench
  • Brake caliper hanger or wire
  • Hammer
  • A cloth
  • Pliers
  • A prybar
  • Grease and anti-seize
  • New wheel bearing and hub assembly

Step 1: Jack Up Your Truck & Remove the Wheel

Loosen each of the lug nuts by ¾ of a turn to keep the wheel from spinning when you take it off. Then use the jack stand to raise your truck and support it with the jack stands. Finish removing the lug nuts, and remove the tire (tap it gently from the rear with a hammer if this proves difficult).

Axle nut visible for 1997 Ford F-150

Straighten out and remove the cotter pin on the axle nut, then use a 35mm socket to remove it.

Step 2: Remove the Brakes

Remove the brake caliper by using an 18mm socket to take off the bolts holding it in place. Unlike the generation of F-150s that came next, trucks from 1997-2003 only had two bolts for this purpose, so this step should go fairly quickly. Use a bungee cord or strap to hang the caliper, bracket, and brake pads out of the way until it’s time to put them back on again. Then slide the rotor off.

Step 3: Remove the Hub Assembly

There are three 15mm bolts on the rear of the hub assembly. Remove them with a 15mm socket. Applying a little heat can help these come off more easily, but don’t worry about this step unless you happen to have a torch on hand and are confident about using it.

When the three bolts have been removed, you should be able to remove the hub by tapping the back of the flange with a hammer wrapped in cloth.

Step 4: Install the New Bearing & Hub Assembly

Apply a little bit of grease to the splines on the axle shaft so that the new hub is easier to slide on. Take this opportunity to clean out any dirt that’s accumulated here as well. Then apply the new hub, along with a little anti-seize compound to help the bolts come out easily if you need to remove them again in the future.

Start each bolt, then torque them in a criss-cross pattern. Torque specs for this generation of F-150 range from 110 lb-ft to 148 lb-ft—consult your owner’s manual to find the exact specs for your model year).

Step 5: Reinstall the Axle Nut

Reinstall the axle nut using a 35mm socket. The torque spec range for this is 188-254 lb-ft (somewhere in the middle should be safe). Then put the cap back on, and slide the cotter pin in, using pliers to bend it back to a secure position once it’s installed.

Pro tip: you can place the lug nuts on the bolts in the hub assembly and thread a pry bar between them to secure the hub while you’re working with the axle nut. This is a great trick to use when removing or replacing this nut.

Reattaching brake calliper for 1997 Ford F-150

Via chris4365 on YouTube.

Step 6: Put the Brakes Back On

Slide the rotor back on, then replace the caliper and torque each of the two bolts that hold it in place back to spec (use an 18mm socket and torque them to 136 lb-ft each).

Step 7: Replace the Wheel

Replace your tire and tighten the lug nuts in a criss-cross pattern with a 19mm socket, torquing them to between 83-112 lb-ft. Then lower the truck back to the ground, start the engine, and pump the brakes a few times to make sure everything feels right. That’s it—you’re done!

Video Walkthrough

Want to see the steps above in action? Check out this video we found that shows you the whole process for replacing the wheel bearing and hub assembly on a 1997-2003 Ford F-150:

Keep on Rollin’ in Your F-150

Using the steps outlined above, the included video, and our high-quality aftermarket wheel bearings, you should have everything you need to tackle this job on your own. Learn more about the parts we sell and have your questions answered by reaching out to our team here.