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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I have a 1994 Escort wagon. I was given the car and have had it for a few years now and it is a great little car in good shape. I found out however that the right front hub has two different size studs and lug nuts. The longer studs spin when you try and remove them by hand and I want to replace it with a facoroty part. My dad is from the "old school" and in his 60's and will help me do the job...or my cousin who is a tech for a living. My dad purchased a complete hub assembly (which I have not seen) from a junk yard he knows for $25. It is in great shape and has a good bearing in it. What I want to know is how to replace it. What tools, sizes, and equipment will I need to change it? Is the nut that holds the hub on reuseable or must it be replaced? Do you have a diagram or tutorial (like I was given for my timing belt) on how to do the job? Thanks for the help.

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I always have re-used the hub nuts. I think the reason the service manual says to use new nuts each time is because the nuts are 'staked' to keep them from loosening, but its not been a problem for me. I have three 2nd gen. Escort LXs, and have had the hub nuts 'off & back on' each one, & on the 92 LX on 3 occasions. Each time I re-tighten them I use a cold chisel to 'stake' them again (so they wont loosen). Its always in about the same place as the previous 'staking' was. I prefer to use a 6 point socket to loosen or retighten the hub nuts, rather than a 12 point socket. I use a 3/4" drive socket and a 3/4" drive breaker bar, with a pipe slid over the end of the breaker bar for better leverage.

The early 2nd gen. Escorts used smaller diameter brake rotors than did the 94's and later. I think the early/late steering knuckle assemblies therefore have different mounting holes for the calipers. So be sure the old and new knuckles are really the same. The steering knuckle is the Ford name for what the hub and wheel bearing are part of. The parts of the steering knuckle are: The Hub, the snap ring that holds the wheel bearing, the wheel bearing, the sheet metal dust cover, the steering knuckle itself, and the oil seal (which keeps road grime away from the bearing. I will just call it the 'knuckle'. I presume thats what your father got.

You would have already loosened the hub nut before taking the wheel off and jacking up the front so the car is supported safely (I use chunks of 6 x 6 lumber stacked up under the body below the front door hinge area)....

Then to change the 'knuckle':
1. You need to unbolt the brake caliper from the two mounting holes on the knuckle, and hang it from the coil spring using a bent coat hanger or something - because you should never let the weight of the caliper be pulling on the brake hose. (If there are any cracks in the brake house outer cover, it needs to be replaced too!) You should use a C clamp to squeeze the piston back into its bore a little bit, in order to be able to get the caliper with its pads back over the rotor when you re-assemble. There is also a 10mm bolt holding the middle of the hose to the spring - that I always take off so I dont have to twist the hose so much.

2. Now you get the rotor off. It may come right off, or it may fight you. I had one that didnt come off when I hammered on the back of it (protecting the surface of the rotor from damage with a chunk of 1/4" aluminum) nor when I pried as best I could. Finally I put a heavy steel angle iron across in front of the rotor, centered over the end of the axle shaft, and used my largest two C clamps to squeeze the rotor forward toward the steel angle. The axle shaft just slid back into the hub. With both clamps tight enough that the steel angle was beginning to arc a little, I heated the inner part of the rotor (close to the hub) evenly with my acetylene torch - and it finally sprang free. It came off with a clang like a church bell, and landed in the grass several feet away from the hub! (So watch where you have your fingers!) Before I put it back on I filed away the corrosion from the center hole in the rotor, sanded the outer ring on the hub where it mounted, and put a very light coating of grease on it. (Cant use much grease here or it would eventually fling itself onto the rotor braking surface).

3. You need to disconnect the steering arm of the knuckle from the outer tie rod end. This will involve getting the cotter pin out of the castle nut, loosening the nut and running it down to where its flush with the bottom of the threaded rod. Then I put a bottle jack under that threaded rod/nut, and jack it up a couple of inches, so there is 100-200 lbs of upward force on it. Then I strike sideways with a claw hammer on the side of the steering arm where the taper from the tie rod end fits in. After a couple of -hard- strikes the taper should pop free. I didnt use a sledge hammer here because I wanted the hammer to be moving faster.

4. You have to remove the ball joint from the knuckle, but its probably easier to unbolt the ball joint from the lower control arm (17 or 18mm box end wrench needed). The ball joint is held in the knuckle via a pinch-bolt. Once the pinch bolt is removed, you may need to hammer a wedge (a srewdriver blade?) into the slot to force it open, so the ball joint stud can be tapped out. The ball joint should be stiff to twist around, otherwise this might be a good time to put in a new ball joint.

5. The last thing is the two bolts holding the top of the knuckle to the bottom of the strut. These need to be re-torqued when you re-install the replacement knuckle. There is the chance you will change your 'camber' when taking this joint apart, but I have done it where there didnt seem to be any change at all. That is to say, my front tires are still wearing out evenly across the tread, and the car isnt pulling to the left or the right as I drive on level roads.
When the old knuckle is free, you should be able to tap the end of the axle backwards out of the hub, pushing its external splines out of the internal splines in the hub. On one of my cars this required using a gear puller to push the axle shaft loose - due to corrosion on the splines. The other ones just pushed back with no fuss. I scraped the corrosion from the splines and greased them before re-assembly. Unless your lug nuts are in good shape - threadwise- , new lug nuts might be a good idea. Hopefully the studs on the hub will be in good shape too. You said your father got a used hub assembly, which I imagine is the steering knuckle. You can get new studs if the ones on the replacement steering knuckle are bad, but replacing them usually involves a hydraulic press to get the hub out, and the need to put a new bearing in - as the old bearing may be damaged by the removal process.

Make sure there are no rips in the CV joint boot. If so, this is the time to either replace the axle assembly with a rebuilt, or to get a new boot. The boots are a nuisance to change on Escorts, because the outer CV joint wont come apart. You have to work from the other end by dismantling the inner joint instead.

Before putting the rotor back on, make sure the front surface of the hub and the mating surface of the rotor are free of lust rust and scale - otherwise you will have rotor-run-out, and will wear out brake pads fast.

Operate the brake pedal a couple of times to bring the pads back close to the rotor.

After you put the wheel back on the car, and take it for a spin, you should re-check that the lug nuts are still snug.

If you do much of your own work on this car, you will benefit from getting a service manual for it. I have gotten my Ford OEM manuals on ebay for under $40 each. The Haynes and Chilton manuals are better than nothing, but not as good as the thick manual published for Ford Motor Co. Meanwhile here are the torque specs from my Ford manual:

Strut Assembly to Steering Knuckle Bolts/Nuts 69-93 lbs-ft.
Bolts holding Ball Joint strap to lower control arm 69-86 lbs ft.
Ball Joint pinch bolt nut 32-43 lbs ft.
Outer Tie Rod End 'castle' nut 25-33 lbs-ft.
Brake caliper bolts 29-36 lbs-ft.
Main Hub Nut 174-235 lbs-ft.

I didnt actually use a torque wrench to measure how tight I got the main hub nut - I know I weigh 195 lbs, and I stood on the end of a lever more thana 2 feet away from the nut.
Sorry I dont know the size of the hub nut. I have encountered two different sizes. While they are actually metric size, I think I used a 1-3/8" socket on one size. Whenever I need one of those large sized sockets, I go and buy it. I never bought a set, just the sizes I found I needed.

P.S. If the hub nut doesnt want to come off, you may need to drive the car to a tire place, (taking the correct size socket with you) and have them loosen it up for you. I had to do that once.
Most of the other wrench sizes would be 19,18, or 17 mm I think.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for all of the help. I have talked with my dad who is 100 miles away. I will be visiting this weekend. He is an old school mechanic with a jack, jack stands, and SAE tools. He only has upto 17MM in both wrenches and sockets in 3/8 drive. My cousin who is a tech is going to lend me metric tools of the Snap-On variety. I have my Haynes manual as well. My cousin says it will be simple to do but he has a lift and $50K in Snap-On tools, my dad has a garage floor. LOL Thanks you for the help. The CV axle was replaced a year ago as well as both rotors and brake pads.
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