Ford Thunderbird/Cougar 1983-1997 Repair Guide

Front Wheel Bearings


On the 1989-97 models, the front wheel bearings are of an integral hub/bearing design and are pregreased, sealed and require no scheduled maintenance. The bearings are preset and cannot be adjusted. If a bearing replacement is required for any repair, the hub and bearing must be replaced as an assembly. The bearings cannot be disassembled from the hub and serviced separately. No individual service seals, roller or races are available. The hub nut torque of 225-254 ft. lbs. (305-345 Nm), restricts bearing/hub relative movement and maintains axial position of the hub. For more information on this hub assembly removal, refer to Suspension & Steering of this information.


Before handling the bearings, there are a few things that you should remember to do and not to do.

Remember to DO the following:

Remove all outside dirt from the housing before exposing the bearing.
Treat a used bearing as gently as you would a new one.
Work with clean tools in clean surroundings.
Use clean, dry canvas gloves, or at least clean, dry hands.
Clean solvents and flushing fluids are a must.
Use clean paper when laying out the bearings to dry.
Protect disassembled bearings from rust and dirt. Cover them up.
Use clean rags to wipe bearings.
Keep the bearings in oil-proof paper when they are to be stored or are not in use.
Clean the inside of the housing before replacing the bearing.

Do NOT do the following:

Don't work in dirty surroundings.
Don't use dirty, chipped or damaged tools.
Try not to work on wooden work benches or use wooden mallets.
Don't handle bearings with dirty or moist hands.
Do not use gasoline for cleaning; use a safe solvent.
Do not spin-dry bearings with compressed air. They will be damaged.
Do not spin dirty bearings.
Avoid using cotton waste or dirty cloths to wipe bearings.
Try not to scratch or nick bearing surfaces.
Do not allow the bearing to come in contact with dirt or rust at any time.

  1. Raise and support the front end on jackstands.
  3. Remove the wheel cover. Remove the wheel.
  5. Remove the caliper from the disc and wire it to the underbody to prevent damage to the brake hose.
  7. Remove the grease cap from the hub. Then, remove the cotter pin, nut lock, adjusting nut and flat washer from the spindle. Remove the outer bearing assembly from the hub.
  9. Pull the hub and disc assembly off the wheel spindle.
  11. Remove and discard the old grease retainer. Remove the inner bearing cone and roller assembly from the hub.
  13. Clean all grease from the inner and outer bearing cups with solvent. Inspect the cups for pits, scratches, or excessive wear. If the cups are damaged, remove them with a drift.
  15. Clean the inner and outer cone and roller assemblies with solvent and shake them dry. If the cone and roller assemblies show excessive wear or damage, replace them with the bearing cups as a unit.
  17. Clean the spindle and the inside of the hub with solvent to thoroughly remove all old grease.
  19. Covering the spindle with a clean cloth, brush all loose dirt and dust from the brake assembly. Remove the cloth carefully so as to not get dirt on the spindle.
  21. If the inner and/or outer bearing cups were removed, install the replacement cups on the hub. Be sure that the cups seat properly in the hub.
  23. It is imperative that all old grease be removed from the bearings and surrounding surfaces before repacking. The new lithium-based grease is not compatible with the sodium base grease used in the past.
  25. Install the hub and disc on the wheel spindle. To prevent damage to the grease retainer and spindle threads, keep the hub centered on the spindle.
  27. Install the outer bearing cone and roller assembly and the flat washer on the spindle. Install the adjusting nut.
  29. Adjust the wheel bearings by tightening the adjusting nut to 17-25 ft. lbs. (23-34 Nm) with the wheel rotating to seat the bearing. Then back off the adjusting nut 1 / 2 turn. Retighten the adjusting nut to 10-28 inch lbs. (1-3 Nm). Install the locknut so that the castellations are aligned with the cotter pin hole. Install the cotter pin. Bend the ends of the cotter pin around the castellations of the locknut to prevent interference with the radio static collector in the grease cap. Install the grease cap.

New bolts must be used when servicing floating caliper units. The upper bolt must be tightened first.

  1. Install the wheels.
  3. Install the wheel cover.


The front wheels each rotate on a set of opposed, tapered roller bearings. The grease retainer at the inside of the hub prevents lubricant from leaking into the brake drum.

  1. Raise and support the front end on jackstands.
  3. Remove the grease cap and remove excess grease from the end of the spindle.
  5. Remove the cotter pin and nut lock.
  7. Rotate the assembly while tightening the adjusting nut to 17-25 ft. lbs. (23-34 Nm) in order to seat the bearings.
  9. Back off the adjusting nut 1 / 2 , then retighten the adjusting nut to 10-28 inch lbs. (1-3 Nm).
  11. Locate the nut lock on the adjusting nut so that the castellations on the lock are lined up with the cotter pin hole in the spindle.
  13. Install the new cotter pin, bending the ends of the cotter pin around the castellated flange of the nut lock.
  15. Check the wheel for proper rotation, then install the grease cap. If the wheel still does not rotate properly, inspect and clean or replace the wheel bearings and cups.