97 Taurus Wheel Bearing Diagnosis

My 97 GL wagon has developed a bad rumbling/howl that is road speed realted, and is road speed related. My mechanic has me convinced that it is a bad front wheel bearing. Any way to diagnose which one it is? It SOUNDS
like its the left front, but I 'm not sure. Any way to tell for sure with the car on a lift W/O tearing into the hub assembly? I'd hate to pick the wrong one, since Ford, in its apparent crusade to make simple repairs insanely expensive, specs a bearing/hub sleeve repair part that runs big bucks. Is it possible to replace just the bearing in the existing hub sleeve assembly? I'm thinking it will be hard to find the bad bearing by spinning the wheels on a lift since the bearing will be unloaded and because of the FWD.
Chris Bowne Stonington CT
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If you turn left and it makes noise it is the right. It is opposite.

is
SOUNDS
because
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It could be just your tires. Inspect the side treads for rough and uneven wear. If you see any, rotate the tires to see if the noise moves. If the noise moves it's tires. Time for tires a complete suspension check then alignment. If the wheel bearing is bad, with the weight off the wheel, you should find play in it and noise.
Front wheel bearings that need replacing may be indicated by a noise that occurs only when turning. To diagnose the front wheel bearings:
Road test the vehicle on a smooth road. Make sharp turns to the right and left.
If the vehicle makes noises on right turns, the left front wheel bearing may need to be replaced. If the vehicle makes noises on the left turns, the right front wheel bearing may need to be replaced. Raise the front of the vehicle and check for loose front wheel bearings by rocking the tires at top and bottom.
Spin the tire quickly by hand and make sure the tire turns smoothly without noise from the front wheel bearings.
Remove the wheel and disc brake caliper.
Position Dial Indicator With Bracketry against the wheel hub, then push and pull the wheel hub. Measure the end play of the wheel hub assembly. If end play is present, replace the wheel hubs.

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there was a person on ebay selling new 96-99 taurus front steering knuckles for $100/pair.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=dirtcheap5
that would give you two new wheel bearings. and also two new balljoints.
while you've got everything apart, you should also replace the front struts & bearing plates if they're still original.
Chris Bowne wrote:

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