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Drivetrain questions

saewoody

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I'm new to the forum. It's great. I've done a lot of looking around trying to solve my issue, but I haven't found anything to completely confirm a diagnosis. I'll give the background as briefly as I can, and then I will list my questions.

97, 4.0 SOHC, 4WD, 5R55E (I believe it is considered All Wheel Drive: Auto, 4 HI, 4 LOW) 175,000 miles

Issue: While making sharp turns (parking lot manuevers, U-turns, etc.) I get a pretty serious grinding noise and a vibration to go with it. It first started last slowly last summer and progressively got worse. Two mechanics told me it was CV joints/front axles. A third said it was probably the clutches in the transfer case sticking. I changed the TC fluid. Problem was solved. Drove like new again. A few months later at about 163,000 miles the transmission went. It was replaced with a used unit (@ 95,000 miles on it). My TC stayed with the vehicle. Everything was good for about 8 or 9,000 miles. This spring, what feels like the original problem came back. I don't think it is the TC binding up again. I changed the front differential fluid. I was conviced it was the CV joints after checking all the other things that seemed to make sense. So a couple weeks ago I changed the front axles (and ball joints too; by the way I eliminated a clunk by tightening up the upper control arm. It had a lot of play in it.) I removed the front driveshaft the other day. It eliminated the problem, but obviously didn't fix it (although my wife is happy that she can park it now without being embarrassed by the noise or having to practically make a K turn to get it into a parking spot!)

Here are my questions:

1. If the problem goes away with the driveshaft out does that eliminate the front differential from being a possible culprit? From the info I have found, that seems to be what people believe, however, my brother suggested that because no power is actually being sent to the differential it is impossible to actually know.

2. I have not changed my rear differential fluid yet. Is it a feasible possibility that some sort of binding in the rear differential could work its way up through the trasfer case and into the front differential?

3. I've read something about some sort of speed sensor that might be sending inaccurate information to the computer. Could this be some sort of computer or electrical issue?

4. I think that is is possible that it could be the front driveshaft. What are the possibilites here? How could I check it? Before I pulled it I didn't check for any play. I know I should have. Other ways to check for problems would be helpful.

5. I've seen different thoughts about driving the vehicle with the driveshaft out. Thoughts on that? Any confirmed problems with having it out?

Any input on any of these questions would be very helpful. Thanks for your time and knowledge.
 



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saewoody

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2003 XLT
Any thoughts? Could I have been blackballed already? lol

I'm hoping a lot of people check the forum from work.

Thanks
 












daffy

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I agree with dman, if you pull your front shaft (you can because you have a 4WD, not an AWD) you'd eliminate the chance that the T-Case is binding up the works, not the front diff. If you still have the problems, then you look at the front diff and CV's.

That, or I think you can pull the electrical plug so it wouldn't shift to 4-high, but if it's already stuck there, it would still be stuck with connector pulled.

If you pull your front shaft, be aware that park will no longer keep you stopped, you'll have to use the E-brake to keep you parked.

Another thing to try is to get on some loose surface (gravel, wet grass, etc) and do those maneuvers, if you don't hear the noises then, I'd really bet you were stuck in 4-High.

It's always a good idea to change the diff fluid, it could not hurt, esp at 175k., could it be causing the sounds? probably not.

Speed sensor problems would most likely throw a CEL, it would see the abnormal readings, and complain, I would think.

Since you have the 4WD, taking out the front driveshaft makes you a 2WD vehicle, no problems there, except as I mentioned above. Oh yeah, I wouldn't go off-roading that way :D

Have fun, and please report back if you get it fixed, so others can learn too!
 






nolimitssjca

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Just to clarify you do not have an All Wheel Drive. The Auto, 4hi 4 low is considered 4wd. You are in 2wd unless your truck detects slipage. AWD is always in 4wd. An AWD does not have this switch and says AWD on the rear hatch.
 






saewoody

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Just to clarify you do not have an All Wheel Drive. The Auto, 4hi 4 low is considered 4wd. You are in 2wd unless your truck detects slipage. AWD is always in 4wd. An AWD does not have this switch and says AWD on the rear hatch.

Thanks for the clarification between the two.
 






saewoody

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I agree with dman, if you pull your front shaft (you can because you have a 4WD, not an AWD) you'd eliminate the chance that the T-Case is binding up the works, not the front diff. If you still have the problems, then you look at the front diff and CV's.

:)I pulled the driveshaft. It did eliminate the problem.

That, or I think you can pull the electrical plug so it wouldn't shift to 4-high, but if it's already stuck there, it would still be stuck with connector pulled.

If you pull your front shaft, be aware that park will no longer keep you stopped, you'll have to use the E-brake to keep you parked.

Another thing to try is to get on some loose surface (gravel, wet grass, etc) and do those maneuvers, if you don't hear the noises then, I'd really bet you were stuck in 4-High.

:) I'm going to put the front driveshaft back in ASAP. Then I'll pull the electrical plug to see what happens. Then I'll try driving on a loose surface.

It's always a good idea to change the diff fluid, it could not hurt, esp at 175k., could it be causing the sounds? probably not.

:(Changing the fluid didn't seem to make much of a difference.

Speed sensor problems would most likely throw a CEL, it would see the abnormal readings, and complain, I would think.

:(No dummy lights yet. I sort of wish there was one.

Since you have the 4WD, taking out the front driveshaft makes you a 2WD vehicle, no problems there, except as I mentioned above. Oh yeah, I wouldn't go off-roading that way :D

:)Good Advice

Have fun, and please report back if you get it fixed, so others can learn too!


Thanks for the help so far, everyone.

 






dynamite196

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I had a very similar problem recently and I also tried the pulling the front driveshaft solution which 'fixed' the problem. Try this next, put the front driveshaft back in and disconnect the main harness to the t-case and let us know if the problem continues. This will pinpoint whether it's mechanical or electrical. BTW, are you getting the 4 hi and 4low flashing lights on the dash?
 






saewoody

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I had a very similar problem recently and I also tried the pulling the front driveshaft solution which 'fixed' the problem. Try this next, put the front driveshaft back in and disconnect the main harness to the t-case and let us know if the problem continues. This will pinpoint whether it's mechanical or electrical. BTW, are you getting the 4 hi and 4low flashing lights on the dash?

Dynamite, I have seen one of your posts and noticed we had a similar problem. I have been keeping an eye on your thread. The next plan of action is to do just what you are saying. I have not gotten any lights flashing. By the way, I'm in Newington. If you ever need any help locally, let me know. I'd be happy to help.

I'm hoping to get to this by Wednesday. I'll let everyone know what I discover.

Are there any thoughts out there that this could possibly be related to the driveshaft itself. Probably a long shot, but worth asking at least.
 






MountaineerGreen

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It sounds like your on the right path, you explained your symptoms well.

A few things I'd suggest-

Search for "brown wire mod" if your auto 4x4 is engaging falsely, this could cure your problem.

Check your driveshaft- is it a CV joint style or double cardan ( meaning double U joints at the t case end ) ? At your mileage, a bad front driveshaft is likely.
 






saewoody

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It sounds like your on the right path, you explained your symptoms well.

A few things I'd suggest-

Search for "brown wire mod" if your auto 4x4 is engaging falsely, this could cure your problem.

Check your driveshaft- is it a CV joint style or double cardan ( meaning double U joints at the t case end ) ? At your mileage, a bad front driveshaft is likely.

Thanks for the input. I've seen references to the brown wire mods in my reading of the forum; I'll look into it.

The driveshaft is the CV joint where it meets the transfer case. With the driveshaft out of the truck, if I pivot the CV joint as far as I can, it sticks. I have never dealt with a CV joint before. Is that out of the ordinary? Maybe I'll go to the parts store and ask to look at one.
 






MountaineerGreen

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I can't really say for the CV end of the driveshaft- I ditched that setup as fast as possible, and my driveshaft was in good shape when I removed it.

I'd take a look at a new one if you can find it, and see how it looks compared to yours.
 






dynamite196

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I'm in glastonbury, guess it is a small world after all.... some sticking is normal when you put a cv joint at an extreme angle. You should be more concerned about having too much 'play'. Easiest way to check that is with all 4 wheels on the ground try pulling on it or pushing it back and forth. It should have zero, or very little play. BTW, after rereading your first post I noticed that a fluid change solved the problem. This along with the fact that you don't have the flashing dash lights suggests that the sensor isn't bad. HOWEVER, you very well may have dirty speed sensors as they are magnetic and pick up all the metal filings out of the oil. I'm putting my money on if you clean the sensors your problem will be solved.
 






saewoody

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Well, I didn't get to the auto parts store to look at a new driveshaft. However, I think the good news is that I didn't need to. :thumbsup:

I greased up the CV joint real good as well as the U joint up front. I put that driveshaft back in. There was no play. That was good to know. I took it for a test drive. Same old problem.:thumbdwn:

But five minutes later, after disconnecting the wiring harness to the transfer case, the truck drove like new again. At least it feels like new with the way it has been driving lately.

I haven't gotten any "dummy lights", but I figured I plug in the scanner just to see if anything popped up. Nothing was in the computer. So based on what I've been reading on the forum, the next step seems to be to find and clean the sensors.

Dynamite, I was glad to see your post when I came in from outside. It means that there is still some hope that the dirty sensors are the culprit.

Now, I haven't had a chance to get a look at where these sensors are, or look in my Haynes manual, but what kind of hassle am I in for. Are they between the floor pan and the transfer case? Or is this relatively easy?

As always, all thoughts and suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for the help.

Thanks so far for everybody's input. :chug:
 






gijoecam

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Everyone's been on the right path here (for once). :)

To clarify, with the front d/s removed, your vehicle will stay in place when in park. It's the AWD transfer cases that will creep in park. The A4WD t-cases are a direct-drive to the rear output shaft, so park will hold them on a hill just fine. (But you probably know that already)

Indeed, if unplugging the t-case stops the problem, then odds are it's an electronics issue. Starting with the t-case output shaft speed sensors isn't a bad idea since they're the most common cause, but without hooking it up to an NGS tester and watching the GEM PIDs, it's a guessing game at best.

Start there and let us know what happens! :)
 






saewoody

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Here is the latest. I haven't had a chance to look for the sensors, however, while my wife was driving the truck today she said that the "4WD 4WD Low" light flickered. She was driving straight. She couldn't pinpoint anything specific she was doing other than just driving straight, seemingly as a constant speed. She confirmed that it was a couple flickers, not blinking. This happened two times.

I had left the wiring harness disconnected (I covered the ends up in electrical tape to make sure nothing go in there.) So I'm guessing this had something to do with the lights flickering. I plugged in the code reader when I got home, but there were no codes.

Any thoughts? Also, can someone give me a heads up on where to find these sensors?

Any other info also appreciated, as always.

Thanks
 






dynamite196

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What kind of scanner are you using? I'm guessing you're not scanning the GEM. You need a NGS scan tool to get the tranny and transfer case codes and those are $$$. The lights flashing mean you have a code but you won't get it without the right scan tool. It would be much cheaper to have a shop get the codes for you (it'll cost somewhere around $40). However, the first step would be cleaning the sensors. It's fairly straightforward and they're easy to get to. You're probably looking at 45 min tops. They're on the backside of the transfer case above the rear drive shaft. You should be able to see one (they're round and have one screw holding them in) right away and to get to the second one you need to remove the three screws holding the shift motor in. You'll see the second one as soon as you pull the shift motor off. To get the sensors out, loosen the bolt holding them in and then take a small thin screw driver and pry along the edge. There's an o ring on the sensor body that sticks so be gentle and go slow. After you get them out you'll most likely see the sensor is black (it's supposed to be white on the front). Wipe it down and you should be all set.
 






saewoody

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I was using an OBD II scanner. I drove the truck tonight and every several minutes the same lights (4WD and 4WD Low) would blink 6 times. It was not the flickering that my wife was talking about. I'm thinking this is only happening because I left the wiring harness to the trasfer case unplugged,

Thanks for the info about the sensors and getting the codes read, Dynamite. I probably won't be able to get to the sensors until Friday, but I will keep you guys posted.

Thanks:chug: :chug:
 






gijoecam

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Indeed, the 6 blinks are due to the t-case being unplugged. It's probably got codes stored for both speed sensors, but as mentioned earlier, you need an NGS tester to read those codes.

-Joe
 



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