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2004 Explorer binding on turns

Pavesa

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May 10, 2020
Messages
10
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City, State
Canning, NS
Year, Model & Trim Level
2007, XLT
Hi

I have an issue with my 2004 Explorer XLT. When I'm maneuvering at low speed, doing tight turns, say in a supermarket parking lot, I can feel it binding - the wheels not turning at the speed they should and stuttering on the paving. I can also hear the stresses in the drive system - a slight squeal. I had my local expert transmission shop check it out and they said the differential is absolutely fine - no sign of any issue at all. I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on causes? I had the steering rack replaced with a reconditioned one a couple of months ago but it seemed fine afterwards.

It has brand new tires.

Thanks for any suggestions..
 



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RangerX

Elite Ranger
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Elite Explorer
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City, State
Omao, Kauai
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 Ranger XLT 4X4
Stuck in 4wd?
 






J_C

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Florence, KY
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 XLT 4WD 4.0L SOHC
I am wondering why the trans shop didn't drive it and offer their opinion on what the problem is.

Is it 4WD or RWD? Which differential was checked? Front or rear seems to be binding?

If not stuck in 4WD, I'd wonder if you have a CV axle failing and look at the boots on them for rips or grease loss.

When I put new tires on my '98, for a little while, when making turns the chunky side blocks of the tire would catch on the pavement, but that was only a slight sensation, no squealing, and went away.

After the steering rack was replaced, had you made these tight turns and not had the problem yet? Just wondering if you might have air in the system.
 






Pavesa

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City, State
Canning, NS
Year, Model & Trim Level
2007, XLT
They checked the rear diff. It's 4WD. I get the same thing going on if it's in Auto 4WD. Yes, I think they took the narrow choice to check the rear diff rather than try and find the problem! I think I've only become aware of the problem since the steering rack was changed, so maybe air is the cause. It's had a lot going on recently - I had the previous rear diff fail and it was replaced with a used one and then to get through its inspection it needed the steering rack changing. Also needed a new ABS sensor. I don't think it's the new tires, they're winters but not chunky or anything.
 






TechGuru

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Location
Texas
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 XLS 4X4 4.0L FLEX
My fronts squeal like crazy making turns in parking lots. I think the ratio of the fronts is off from each other. Very few alignment shops know how to set this correctly. There is a alignment adjustment for the right side only that sets this.
 






Blind Dog

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City, State
Vancouver Island
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Sport Trac
How familiar are you with these 4x4s? They don't have freewheeling hubs like a Land Rover and the differential is always locked. In other words if you have 4x4 engaged the inner and outer wheels are turning at the same speeds. On a tight turn where there's no slip in the road surface (like a car park), the inner wheel will 'bind' as it tries to keep up with the outer wheel. When turning tight on tarmac, I always switch back to RWD.
 






ah12163

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February 18, 2022
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City, State
Felton, pa
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 explorer Eddie Bauer
I have had the same issue on my 2004 eddie bauer as long as i can recall ( bought in 2014). Never figured it out, never got worse, im thinking its actually better than it was. No one ever figured it out. Exactly as you described, only at very slow speed when wheel is turn all the, either direction.
Still runs great, but frame is rotted away...
 






Mr. Alligator

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Tampa, Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 XLT Explorer
What about the speed sensor(s) on the transfer case? Incorrect readings could cause the binding.

Maybe?
 






medartb2

Member
Joined
April 26, 2022
Messages
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City, State
Bonanza, OR
Year, Model & Trim Level
2005 Ford Explorer XLT
Hi

I have an issue with my 2004 Explorer XLT. When I'm maneuvering at low speed, doing tight turns, say in a supermarket parking lot, I can feel it binding - the wheels not turning at the speed they should and stuttering on the paving. I can also hear the stresses in the drive system - a slight squeal. I had my local expert transmission shop check it out and they said the differential is absolutely fine - no sign of any issue at all. I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on causes? I had the steering rack replaced with a reconditioned one a couple of months ago but it seemed fine afterwards.

It has brand new tires.

Thanks for any suggestions..
 






medartb2

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City, State
Bonanza, OR
Year, Model & Trim Level
2005 Ford Explorer XLT
You mentioned a recent tire replacement. Was the turning/binding problem B4, or after, that? Some folks go to oversize tires, and notice that after. We live in an area with lots of winter snow, and I did that, and have experienced that problem with my '05 Xploder. Also, the reconditioned steering rack MAY not be up to snuff. I'd take the car to another mechanic for a 2nd opion. Good luck!! Bob
 






Pavesa

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City, State
Canning, NS
Year, Model & Trim Level
2007, XLT
Hi

thanks for the tip. That's a cheap checkout. I'll have them look at it!
 






LMHmedchem

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October 28, 2011
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Explorer XLT v8
If you have air in your PS system then it will likely sequel like it does when the fluid is low. To clear any air, perform the following.

0. Make sure you have proper Mercron V or approved multi-vehicle ATF PS fluid
1. Chock the rear wheels
2. Jack up the front and put it on jack stands
(I jack under the center of the cross member and then put a jack stand on either side of the jack)
3. Unlock the steering column and leave the engine off
4. Remove the cap from the PS reservoir and note the level of fluid
5. Turn the wheel all the way from one side to the other 10 times
6. Check the level of fluid and top it off if necessary (if it needs topping off then you purged some air)
7. Repeat until you can go back and forth 10 times without any fluid level drop
8. Replace the cap, start the engine, and immediately stop the engine (cycle the pump a few turns)
9. Go side to side 10 times again and check the fluid level, top off if necessary
10. Continue until you can cycle the pump a few times and go side to side without needing to add fluid
11. Replace the cap and start the engine, run the engine while going side to side 10 times.
12. Check the level of fluid and top off if necessary
13. Repeat until you can go side to side 10 times with the engine running and not show a fluid level drop

This is much easier and quicker than it sounds. If there is some air then it will mostly come out on the first time going back and forth with the engine off and the first time with the quick pump cycle. 10 cycles is probably excessive as well but it's better to overdo it and make sure. This goes faster with a small vacuum pump hooked up to the reservoir but it really isn't necessary. I think that taking the pump on and off costs you any time you save anyway. If you have a pump, take the excuse to use it but I wouldn't go and get one for this. I have done it several times without it and it works just fine.

When I had a chattering and thumping sound when cornering at low speed it was the front wheel bearings. If you jack it up to purge the PS system, check the wheel bearings by trying to tilt the wheels from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock and from 3 o'clock to 9 o'clock. There shouldn't be any play there at all. Also, spin the wheels and listen for any grinding sounds. The wheel bearings are known to go on this model so that is definitely something to check. Also check that the control arm bushings, sway bar bushings, ball joints, and tie rod ends are tight. Play in any of these can results in noise when turning.

You do need to confirm that you are not stuck in 4WD, even though your dash display says are in 4WD auto. These trucks were not designed to drive in 4WD on dry pavement and that could definitely cause some rough driving and accompanying sounds.

LMHmedchem
 






Steve Forbes

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November 24, 2010
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City, State
Navarre, FL
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 XLT
My 2 cents worth is 1) CV joints failing, 2) defective rack and pinion, 3) tires are too stiff or have bad tread design, 4) 4WD system has a bug and is no letting the outer axle free up properly. One thing to remember is that the third generation system such as yours does NOT completely release the front axles, EVER! On the second generation we had what is known as the "brown wire fix" which when implemented properly, allowed the vehicle to become a true 2WD until we flipped the switch on the dash and it would go into 4WD. That also helped a lot with gas mileage.

It might be worth the investigation to see if WARN makes locking hubs for that model. Those would allow you to disconnect the axles from the system until you really need them. They were available to the Ranger. I know because my Ranger had them. However, your vehicle is later than mine so I don't have any accurate information to offer, just opinions and ideas.
 






Pavesa

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May 10, 2020
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City, State
Canning, NS
Year, Model & Trim Level
2007, XLT
Hi

thanks very much for all the thoughts around this. I have a good independent mechanic so I'll print this off and run it by him and have him look into it.

I'm very grateful for the attention to the problem. The car's otherwise in really great shape!
 






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