Improving the Implementation
For 80,000 miles, I had the same problems described by you and others on your site with the radius arm bushings on my '92 4WD Explorer. I had them replaced once and replaced them myself two more times using procedures similar to those noted. I still had some problems, and still suspected the bushings. I really like the Explorer so I finally got under it and did the detailed root cause analysis I should have done first. I found I could easily slip a piece of notebook paper (.004) between the bushing and the front stop, so I started folding the paper and slipping it in the gap. I finally went to .062 (a sixteenth of an inch) cardboard, which still slipped between the relatively new bushing and the stop.
In my opinion, the bushing design is bad. In my opinion, the bushings, both Ford and aftermarket, are undersize by at least 1/8" (possibly 3/16") in overall thickness from radius arm stop to backup washer. I spent $2 on large washers which fit OVER the stop-shoulder (limits travel of the backup washer) on the radius arm. I believe these were 1" I.D. (inside diameter larger than the radius arm) washers about .100 thick. I placed these INSIDE the Ford washers (which stop against the stop-shoulder) against the rubber bushings. I made sure they were centered (slipping past the stop-shoulder and compressing the bushing rubber). No more shimmy, no more aftershake, no more odd tire wear, no more odd brake wear. I balance my wheels every 7,000 miles with STICK-ON weights. I have tried several clip-weight designs. The stock Ford alloy wheels generally throw the standard clip-on weights of any design within 150 miles regardless of tire design (I've tried Firestone, Goodyear, Toyo, Michelin).
If you just want to eliminate the crazy ride, be sure your bushings are in good shape and then use one washer per side. If you like a tight, controlled ride, use two washers per side (that's what I did).
This is a simple fix that cost $2, takes 20 minutes, and does not require major disassembly. It has been effective for 40,000 miles so far. I had previously spent about $2,500 on both the problem and its secondary damage (excessive bushing wear, brakes, tires, rotors, shocks, broken engine mounts, broken trans mount, and damage to my steering gearbox - all effects of the constant shaking and shimmy).
Contributed by Conyl Horn
I tried the above mentioned method and have been very pleased with the results. I would simply like to offer the following additional information.
In Brad Martin's post he suggests buying large washers (approx. 1" ID) and placing them inside the Ford cupped washers located at the stop shoulders. While this surely works fine, I simply used the old cupped washers and doubled them up with the new ones that come with the new bushing kit. For some reason I could find no local auto parts store that had loose washers of this size. They all wanted to sell me some kit containing these washers (between 7-12 dollars!). This saved me the aggravation and adds no additional cost.
Even the guys at my local alignment shop were impressed and thought this was a great idea.
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