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How to Diagnose Bad Wheel Hub Front End Suspension Problem Ford F-150

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  1. step : Diagnosing the Cause of Worn Tire Tread (0:19)
    • Rotate the tire and check the wheels for kicking in and out
    • If the ball joints are loose when tapping the tire back and forth, it is the ball joint
    • Check the pitman arm for play
    • Check the inner and outer tie rod for play

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All right, so what we have here is a 1998 Ford F-150. This is an XLT with four wheel drive and a 5.4 liter engine. This vehicle has 35 inch tires. It also has a lift kit.

What we're having here is an abnormal road noise. It might be a wheel baring and/or tires causing the problem. But the tires themselves are pretty scalloped, which means that the tread pattern itself is no longer smooth; it has a cupping effect, which is causing a slapping of the rubber on the ground. We found the worn tire pattern is being caused by worn suspension components. So let's go ahead and go through. We're just going to do a quick diagnosis on what to look for on your vehicle. In this case here, diagnosing by rotating the tire, checking the wheels from a 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock, pulling this up and down, we can see that this definitely has a wheel hub issue with the wheel kicking in and out like this. So that is a big problem.

So we want to try and see if the side to side play on the tire is caused by a wheel hub or a ball joint. Now, you can grab the tire and go in and out. You can see the tire moving, but this ball joint right here is tight. If you look at the upper ball joint here when I move this, it is also tight. So that's telling me that the wheel hub itself is the problem. So what we're looking at right here, we have the outer tire rod end, we have an adjuster sleeve right here, followed by the inner tire rod end.

And we're going to track to the center here. We have a center link right here. And we'll go on over here. It repeats itself. We have an inner tire rod, adjuster sleeve, and an outer tire rod. Now, if we got back to the front center, we have what we call a pitman arm right here. This attaches to your steering gear box and also attaches right here to the center link. And over here, we have an idler arm, and the idler arm also attaches to the center link and it keeps it centered.

All right, now all these have pivoting points on it, and let's go back over here. This is what we found when we grabbed the tire on the front. Okay, and we wiggled it back and forth. What we're looking at right here, if you can see that excessive amount of play right there— that is your inner tire rod that has worn. So that's going to be a major concern.

This is what's happening when you're driving the vehicle and your tire is going to start to wear in that pattern, because it's not tracking straight, so the vehicle is pulling left and right. So we're going to look at some of these here. Your pitman arm also has a ball joint that can wear out. This isn't as bad, but it is a little bit sloppy, that should be pretty firm. At this point here this vehicles obviously up on the lift, you can do this at home with a jack and jack stands. You jack it up, support it by the front section of the frame area, and you can actually put a pipe underneath the tire if you want to, but you can see this here just has some excessive wear, where we have to get into this here and start doing some repairs.

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