Originally Posted by ArtNJr
I don't know how much difference there is between your "light duty" '96 model & my "heavy duty" (8800 lb. gvw) '98 model, but I will tell you something I learned when changing front wheel bearings. When mine started "singing" on the left front I called the dealer real quick just to get an idea on wheel bearing price / availability & was told oh no, you can't buy just the bearings, the 4x4 front hubs are a "sealed" unit & you have to buy the whole thing -- for $850 !! Well, I might have been born @ night but it wasn't last night, just 4 bolts hold the hub assembly together & if you can bolt it together you can take it apart, so I took it apart.
Once I got the inner & outer bearings out & wiped 'em clean I called a Bearings, Inc. type place with the numbers stamped on the bearings to see if they had 'em -- yep, 3 of one which cost $13 in stock & 5 of the other which cost $15 in stock. Now I did have to buy a special impact socket for the king nut on the spindle & I also had to buy a big 3-jaw puller to take the assembly apart, but all-in-all I spent the better part of a day & around $100 to replace front wheel bearings -- instead of $850 per side for just the parts !!! Neither Dodge nor anybody else makes their own bearings, they use commonly available ones which a Bearings, Inc. type business should have all the time & don't cost very much, so don't let a dealer parts counter guy fool you with the "it's a sealed, non-serviceable unit" story !!
Not much a difference. My light duty is just basically a HD 1500 with 8 lug axles. Same axle and frame you'll find under a 1500. My hubs only require 3 bolts, the HD 2500's are 4. There is a very well known wheel bearing company. You're right about the dealer being expensive but I had replace the whole hub assembly on the pass side for $400 with a warranty. Company is call Timken, they also make bearings for rigs and the railroad. Only thing that's a pain in the ass is pounding out all 8 studs to remove the rotor and wheel hub/bearing assembly.
When I did work on the front end, the drivers side wheel hub bearing actually looked original and I know it isn't going to last long with the roads being the way they are around here.