Ford Explorer
Vibrations - Exhaust Pipe Replacement - Lower Ball Joints - Outer Front U-Joints - Caliper Slide Pins

Contributed by Rob Brunk

I would like to make a few suggestions for your web site regarding your fix ford explorers. being a owner of a 91 ford explorer four wheel drive with automatic locking hubs, i have a few tips and suggestions that your web site has not addressed but i am sure at some point they will have to be done.


I was driving my explorer on my way to Toronto on the 401 highway when i would feel a vibration that started at 45 miles per hour and would go away at just over 60 miles per hour. it started off at just a slight vibration at first. but as the months progressed it got worse. it got so bad to the point that it felt like the transmission was going to fall out of the vehicle. now before people going thinking that i would need to replace the transmission the fix is quite simple. the solution to the problem is a problem that affects all rear wheel drive vehicles eventually. u-joints. since most newer nineties vehicles do not come factory equipped with grease nipples. the problem was just simply a lack of lubrication causing the u-joint to wear out quickly. as with anything that requires any lubrication be it oil, transmission fluid or just plain old grease. if it runs dry it will eventually wear causing heat and just be a recipe for disaster. so to make a long story short . if your explorer has the shakes. just replace your u-joints with a good quality replacement. make sure your replacement has grease fittings when your replace them. so if you are a good do it your selfer or very mechanically inclined you will find this very straight forward. as just a reminder when taking the u-joints apart do not put the tube part in a vise to take them apart as this is not very strong. any bending of this tube will cause the shaft to be out of balance and after all the hard work you went into changing this will be a waste of time because it will now require you to find a good used drive shaft or have someone to try and rebalance your old unit.

Exhaust Pipe Replacement

most ford explorers with any vehicle that is four years old or more might have \ heard that noise that we all don't want to hear a exhaust that just keeps getting louder. if you ever had to replace to replace any part of the exhaust such as the muffler or tail pipe. you might not wish to part the parts from your local ford dealer as they only sell everything from the converter back. if you have a very well equipped parts store you will find that can get you just about any part that may have rusted through as long the rest of your parts are in good shape one part that will not find in the parts store is the 45 degree elbow just after the muffler and before the last converter. but if you need to replace the converter and are good with a torch you find this quite straight forward. with a little patience. this parts can be replaced. if you find this converter to be a little pricey you can buy a piece of inch and half pipe to put in place of this just measure the old converter and cut the new piece of pipe according and with two muffler clamps and bolt back in place. if you need to replace the pipe just before muffler and after the catalytic converter. make sure that you also buy the gasket that belongs with it. chances are when you go to change it you will end up damaging it in the process.


Lower ball joints - outer front u-joints

if you read the section on replacing your front brakes. you should check the condition of the lower ball joints. as i have had to replace both sides on my four wheel drive. if your vehicle had a tendency to wander to one side of the road or the other when letting go of the steering wheel. the solution may just as simple as checking the tire pressure. if your tire pressure is okay then chances are it has something to do with the front end. the simplest way to check your ball joints for wear is to support your front end . make sure that it supported with either jack stands or very good jack with a piece wood underneath for added support. place a hand at the top of the tire and your other hand at the bottom of the tire. and try move it from top to bottom. if you feel and excessive movement beyond one eight of an inch. you maybe a candidate for a lower ball joint. if your vehicle as never had any of this work done. chances are good that this may be required. refer to the section on taking brakes apart for this step of the procedure. but a lower ball joint may also not be your problem. while you have the vehicle in the air. take off the tire and set to the side out of the way this problem can also mask if self as loose wheel bearings. do the same procedure with your hands but this time grabbing the rotor perform the same test. if you feel any movement. you may have just a loose spindle nut causing your problem. but if the rotor does not move then you need to replace the lower ball joint. at this point if your are comfortable with changing it you may wish to contact your local mechanic or your best buddy who is familiar with this type of front end work. since this requires the taking apart of the spindle from the front axle. a good manual can explain this procedure quite well. try to pick up a manual that has good explanation as well diagrams because a picture is worth a thousand words. now after going through all this hard work to change this part i should warn you there is two different type of axles that ford installed at the plant. a light duty axle and heavier duty axle. when you go to order the part. to tell the difference of what axle is in your explorer you will find a tag attached to middle differential pot that will be facing the front of the vehicle it will be attached to one of the bolts on the carrier all you will need is what axle ratio your vehicle is equipped to get the right ball joint. example 3:55 to one axle ratio or 4:11 to one axle ratio. once the spindle is off the axle it would be good time to check to outer u-joint of the axle it would be a good time to replace if it lacks lubrication since you find that it does not have a grease nipple. and any successful completion to a job is having the right tool for the job. as the say advice is free mistakes are costly. and as with anything do not throw any of the old parts parts of away . the reason for this that to keep the old part to check it against the new one just to make sure that the part you pickup to replace it is the same as the one you are going to replace.

Front Brake Caliper Pins

When doing any front brake work and need to take the calipers off make sure the pins are in good shape. since they have a rubber center they can crack and shrink. causing a chance the may work themselves out from between the caliper and spindle causing the caliper push it self down on top of the rotor. if this happen it will sound like a u-joint starting to seize up or a metal on metal contact thinking that you need to replace the brake pads . so if you are taking tires off for any reason have a quick glance at them and see if they are in place. if they look questionable they should be replaced to correct this problem.




Added August 26, 1998

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