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sudden dramatic wheel shake

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by JB3, October 9, 2014.

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  1. JB3

    JB3 Member

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    New issue i am trying to identify.

    Driving down the highway, everything normal. Hit a bump and the truck starts shaking like a bastard, bad enough that it feels like the wheel is about to fall off.

    Pulled over and had it towed.

    The shake was so bad that it seemed like something was physically broken, but i cant find any smoking gun. No looseness on front tires, everything looks good and feels tight.

    Aso no wheel weights fell off, and this shake was way more violent than an imbalanced wheel (have had that happen)

    Any ideas?
    I was reading about air bubbles in power steering, but could such a thing produce such a violent reaction?
     
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  3. Dan Whitaker

    Dan Whitaker One fast putty tat Elite Explorer

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    Possibly a failed CV joint or u-joint. 20+ years ago I had a Bronco II. I hit a pot hole then had a violent shake. It took out a u-joint on the rear drive shaft.
     
  4. Flash

    Flash Well-Known Member

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    Start with the obvious - lug nuts, wheel weights, then check the tyre for belt failure.
    Any bulges in the sidewalls or is the tread out of round?

    Jack up what you think might be the offending wheel and spin it it looking for any out of roundness.

    While it's jacked check the tie rods and other steering and suspension components for looseness.
     
  5. swshawaii

    swshawaii Elite Explorer

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    Ditto. Unload the front suspension by lifting the front tires off the ground and check for ANYTHING loose. Unless you have a
    power steering fluid leak, or turned the wheels with the engine off, it's unlikely air in the power steering system. Lift safely,
    use the forward facing "hooks" on the lower control arms supported with jack stands. NO cinder blocks, they are dangerous.
     
  6. jremington59

    jremington59 Well-Known Member

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    Did you have the vehicle turned off and crank the steering wheel at all? Air can produce a violent shake.
     
  7. my98nnj

    my98nnj Well-Known Member

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    And is very common in our trucks.

    With the engine running, turn the steering lock to lock several time while crawling. You may have to repeat this a few times and keep an eye on the power steering fluid level.

    That will tighten it back up again.
     
  8. JB3

    JB3 Member

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    The truck was in the shop the last two weeks, definitely possible they turned the wheel with it off. I called and mentioned that to the shop owner. He says they put something like 50 miles on it right before we picked it up driving it around clearing codes. This incident happened less than 5 miles from leaving their shop and they immediately sent a tow truck to collect the explorer.

    I unloaded it back at their lot and shook everything looking for something on both sides of the front that could have been a smoking gun. Everything was tight, but i also was doing this in the dark with a pen light and its definitely possible i missed something obvious and was not able to lift it off the ground very far due to limited time.

    Had to leave it as this happened at the worst possible time bringing the wife back from a medical appointment and she needed to go home and lie down. So im waiting to hear what they discovered.

    Havent heard anything today, but hopefully ill have answers tomorrow. Usually i do my own maintenance and repair, but this truck keeps catching me with my pants down when i cant play with it.
     
  9. JB3

    JB3 Member

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    Also mentioned the cv joint to the guy, lots of good pointers on this thread. First 4x4 for me, so wouldnt have occured to me
     
  10. jremington59

    jremington59 Well-Known Member

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    What was it in the shop for?
     
  11. JB3

    JB3 Member

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    Stubborn MIL codes, ultimately a fuel pump and intake gaskets. Original reason was to get an inspection sticker.

    They didnt do anything with the front end, last person to pull the tires off was me when i did brakes all around and some wheel studs. That was about a month ago. Everything was very tight then
     
  12. JB3

    JB3 Member

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    Wow weird update.

    Shop called me and had put the truck up in the air and hadnt found looseness, but were able to recreate the violent shake driving around.

    They put it up in the air again, and ultimately found that the sway bar was barely held in. However, both i and he missed this and it even passed state inspection.

    The reason is evidently someone went to a great deal of trouble to HIDE damaged links and bushings, which i wouldnt believe is possible or worth the time. The guy is talking about replacement boots filed with axle grease over damaged fittings and filled with axle grease and grease packed around bad bushings.

    He says he will show me in person, but they do say with new sway bar links they havent been able to recreate the shake.
     
  13. jremington59

    jremington59 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe when they had it in the air doing the inspection they rotated the wheel with it off to check the front end? I've yet to see broken sway bars create a violent shake. And ask them how they missed a broken link when they are supposed to grab them and shake them? What boots are they going to fill with grease?
     
  14. JB3

    JB3 Member

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    Same questions i have.
    This diagnosis simply does not make sense to me, but maybe when i see it in person ill understand.

    Something about boots being put over the ends and greased and ziptied, and the bushings to the frame gone but greased and tied down somehow. His opinion was this was a short term thing to sell the truck without noise being noticable, and it quickly fell out.

    I dont know how that causes this shake. Ive driven plenty of vehicles with busted sway bar links that never acted like this one did

    Right now im figuring it was a power steering air bubble, but they found this weirdness which certainly doesnt contribute positively.
     
  15. jremington59

    jremington59 Well-Known Member

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    I'd get it back and post some pics for us to look at. The only thing I can think they are talking about is the CV boot.

    My guess is they drove it to load the computer, then put it in the air and turned the wheel back and forth to check the CV's and other things for the inspection. And when you drove it you got the old "air in the line shake". Let me guess, the steering wheel shook to, lol? When it happened to me the first time I thought the front end was going to fall off.
     
  16. Flash

    Flash Well-Known Member

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    It's not the saw bar. A sway bar won't cause shaking like that, in fact you can drive without it and off road supply companies sell a quick release kit for sway bar pins so that you can disconnect them for better wheel articulation when wheeling.
     
  17. BustedKnuckles24

    BustedKnuckles24 Member

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    It is most likely the ball joints. I had the same problem with my truck. New tires and and alignment did not fix it. I had replaced the sway bar links and bushings a year earlier with poly-urethane. I wound up replacing all four ball joints, both outer tie rod ends and the shocks took care of it. I figured, at 14 years and 250,000 miles, might as well do it all if I take it apart.
     
  18. JB3

    JB3 Member

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    Well i got it back and im convinced more than ever the issue was a power steering air bubble. From everything ive read on here and similar comments elsewhere, just makes the most sense.

    I dont buy the sway bar story, but he did show me greased worn out bushings, so it was worth doing anyway. I needed front shocks, and the sway bar links and bushings seemed to be original, so what the hell. I didnt mind paying for stuff the truck actually needed anyway, even though i doubt it was the cause.

    When i picked the truck up i did 5 or 6 lock to lock running power steering turns, and its been fine since.
     
  19. JohnCase3

    JohnCase3 New Member

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    Thanks for this thread. Same thing happened to me. Long story short. Air bubble in the power steering. The oscillation was so bad, I had to brake to make it stop. After purge, next day, same route and speed, no issue.
     

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