4 wheel drive problems (go figure huh) | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

4 wheel drive problems (go figure huh)


Well-Known Member
April 22, 2008
Reaction score
City, State
Ashburn, Virginia
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Explorer Limited
Well the other day I noticed that when I turn left (in 2 wheel drive) I hear a popping from the front end. When I engage 4Lo and take my foot off the brake to go idle speed, it moves some then a thud happens. I took it to Cottman transmission thinking my transfer case was bad but they told me that my front passenger axle is bad.
When I replaced my wheel bearing/hub on that side, i pushed the axle in some so i could get the bolts holding the hub on the knuckle off, could this cause a problem like the popping and thud noise thats happening? My front differential is an open differential i believe. So how hard would it be to see if the axle is really whats causing it? Also, if I did by chance push the axle too far, would i have to get a new axle or just re-align it?

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Pushing in the axle shaft should not cause problem you stated. I suspect it could be a link of some sort. Inspect your front end carefully and look for any rotted bushings. Also take a look at the struts plates. If all is fine I would look at axle shaft (CV joint).

I am willing to bet it has to be a CV Joint. I took it to Cottman transmissions yesterday but going to AAMCO tuesday n see what they say.
I know one time I was driving to a friends house thats up in the mountains (lots of winding roads) and i heard a pop noise (first time i heard any front suspension noise) and thought it was a lug nut breaking. None of my lug nuts broke so I just thought maybe i ran over something. I also have a small leak coming from somewhere up front. (just realized this tonight) Its light brown in color and not overly greasy. that wouldnt be differential fluid would it?

Where does the "spray pattern" of the grease land? That should give you an indicator if it"s CV or axle. Also check the axle fluid level. Let us know what you found and your fix.

the puddle seems to be from under the front diff but the front diff is dry. I noticed that around where the crankshaft is at on the front of the block, it looks like there is oil. Thought it may be the crankshaft seal but how would that explain the oil above the crankshaft? so I have no clue where its leaking from. Guess I will take it somewhere that can put it on a lift and have them give it a glance.
Seems like my explorer is breaking faster than I can make money lol

I own a 1998 Explorer with about 170,000 miles on it. My problems began with a high speed whine. The noise occurred when above 40 mph and your foot was removed from the accelerator.

Stegall's Transmission Shop in Greenville, SC rebuilt the transfer case. They did a great job and answered tons of questions about it and my other 4WD. The problem was a bad shift motor which damaged the range hub.

Well, after the transfer case was rebuilt, the Explorer began to make a popping type of noise when climbing a hill (under load). The noise has not occurred except for climbing a hill. The majority of the time, the noise occurs when you lift off the gas then get back into the gas hard … like climbing a hill with a curve (in the throttle, out for a sharp curve, and back into the throttle and POP). Sometimes, the noise occurs when you are in the throttle the entire time on a hill. I have never heard the noise while driving downhill or on flat terrain.

The Transmission Shop (Stegall's) completely rebuilt the transfer case (replaced all of the guts at no charge to me), but the noise still occurs. Then they replaced the transfer case with another rebuilt transfer case to rule it out the transfer case as the problem (again at no charge to me).

The rear diff was checked satisfactory with no issues, the front drive shaft was pulled and the mechanic thought that the front diff was the problem…well, $450 later, the popping noise is still occurring…

Any thoughts?