Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2002   by Rich Diegle

Dakota Wheel Bearing Noise

How many times have you technicians had a nice weekend planned to go camping, fishing, attend some racing event, or just hang around the house, with no intent on fixing anyone's "whatever", not even y...

How many times have you technicians had a nice weekend planned to go camping, fishing, attend some racing event, or just hang around the house, with no intent on fixing anyone’s “whatever”, not even your own? Invariably, sometime Friday evening you get the phone call from some desperate soul that absolutely has to have their vehicle fixed before Sunday.

It’s always a matter of life or death. Not because they need to make it to church on time mind you – they can drive the “other vehicle” for that – it’s because they need to pick up that new lawn tractor/ mower they bought two weeks ago and procrastinated until this weekend to get. Do I sound perturbed? Sorry about that, I’m tired. Let me tell you how this story unfolded. Maybe you can relate.

Around 7:05 Friday night the phone rings. “Hello…Oh, hi Dad. How are you? How’s mom doing? What’s that? She’s afraid to ride in the truck because the front end is making a loud squeaking noise and the brake pedal is pulsating – and you have to pick up the new lawn tractor you ordered…before Sunday afternoon’s bridge party at your house. Well okay, I’ll take the truck to my shop tomorrow and see what’s wrong. Love you too, bye.”

So Saturday morning I drove their 1998 Dodge Dakota 2WD truck to the shop. Mom was right, I could hear a loud squeak from the front wheel area at low speeds and the brake pedal was pulsating. I took the wheels off and inspected the brakes. They looked fine so I went to my ALLDATA automotive information system and checked for a technical service bulletin that could shed some light on this problem.

I did find a factory technical service bulletin, which said that 1997 through 1999 Dodge Dakota and 1999 Durango (2WD only) trucks had a problem with the front wheel hub/bearing assemblies. Described below are the diagnostic and repair procedures.


1. Raise the vehicle on a hoist.

2. Remove both front wheel and tire assemblies.

3. Remove the spindle nut cotter pin and washer.

4. Check the spindle nut retaining torque. The nut should be tightened to 185 ft. lbs. (271 N.m). NOTE: If the nut is tightened to less than 40 ft. lbs. (54 N.m), perform the repair procedure.

5. Inspect the steering knuckle brake caliper/pad support rail for wear in the location where the brake shoes rest on the rail (Figure 1). If the wear is greater than 1.5 mm (0.060 in.) deep from the original surface, the steering knuckle must be replaced.

6. Clean master cylinder reservoir and filler caps.

7. Remove the reservoir filler cap and remove approximately 1/4 of the fluid from the reservoir. Use a clean suction gun or similar device to remove the brake fluid.

8. Bottom the caliper pistons in the caliper bores using a large C-clamp. Position the C-clamp frame on the rear of the caliper and clamp the screw on the outboard brake shoe.

9. Remove the caliper slide pins.

10. Remove the caliper from the steering knuckle. CAUTION: Do not allow the caliper to hang by the brake hose. Use a hanger to support the caliper.

11. Secure a dial indicator to the steering knuckle Position the tip of the dial indicator onto the hub/bearing assembly wheel-mounting surface just outside of the wheel stud circumference (Figure 2).

12. Zero the dial indicator. Then, slowly rotate the hub/bearing assembly while recording the run-out measurement.

13. If the run-out measurement exceeds 0.1 mm (0.004 in.), perform the following Repair Procedure. If the run-out measurement is less than 0.1 mm (0.004 in.), further diagnosis is required.

13. NOTE: The diagnosis should be performed to both right and left sides of the vehicle. Only perform the repair procedure to hub/bearing assemblies that exceed 0.004 in. (0.1 mm) run-out.


AR 52009528 Hub/Bearing Assembly – With Rear Wheel Anti-lock Brakes

AR 52009406 Hub/Bearing Assembly – With Four Wheel Antilock Brakes

AR 06504007 Nut, Spindle – All


1. Remove the hub/bearing assembly and install a new hub/bearing assembly and spindle nut. (Spindle nut is not reusable, always replace with new one – p/n 06504007.)

2. Torque spindle nut to specifications.

The steering knuckle brake caliper/pad support rails were fine, but sure enough, the right wheel hub run-out measured 0.025 and the left was at 0.002. Luckily the local Dodge dealer’s parts department was open on Saturday and I bought the new hub/bearing assembly and two new spindle nuts. I installed the new right hub/bearing assembly and tightened the new spindle nut to specifications and had the truck back to my parent’s house by late afternoon. Mom had a great “thank you dinner” waiting for me. First thing Sunday morning, they went and picked up their new tractor/mower and all was well.

On Friday evening, three weeks later, I got a call. “Hello…Oh hi Dad. How are you? How’s mom doing? She says that she and her friends were riding around on the tractor/mower when it made a loud banging noise and quit? That’s strange. Hey dad, I have to go, something’s burning on the stove…Can I call you back Monday?”

ALLDATA is a registered trademark of ALLDATA LLC

Written by ALLDATA Technical Editor, Rich Diegle. Rich is an Advanced Engine Performance Certified, ASE Master Technician with an AA Degree in automotive technology and 22 years of dealership and independent shop experience.


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