Front end noise - not the bearings | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Front end noise - not the bearings


February 19, 2009
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
2001 Explorer Limited
I have had quite a few weeks with my 2001 Explorer. Basically it started making the noise indicating the wheel bearings were bad, so I changed both, still had the noise. The car vibrates a little at speed, and very much when braking. I'm wondering what else to try.

Here is what I have done.

Replaced both wheel bearings - twice (Replacement under warranty from autozone)

New rotors and pads (To try to fix the vibrating)

New left CV shaft (according to the manual it seemed bad, better safe than sorry)

I am still getting alot of noise from the fron and am not sure what else to do. Tomorrow I am going over to my dad's house, he has a heated barnm, and I was going to jack all four wheels up and run the truck, and listen to the diff and transfer case.

The truck is the 5.0L AWD, with 90k miles. I love the truck, up until now, I owned a 2000 sport and never had these kinds of problems.

Lastly, if it is the diff, can I just rebuild it with a rebuild kit? They are about 90-110 bucks, with all the bearings and seals. Would that be better than going to the boneyard for one with possibly questionable heritage?

Thanks in advance,

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I am not a professional, and doing this is inherently dangerous. You can be seriously injured if you screw up. I am not liable for your actions.

That being said I just did this myself a few days ago. I put all four wheels off the ground securely on jackstands. This was on a firm level surface.

Got a mechanic's stethoscope to listen to the differentials and the transfer case. Had an assistant running the car in the opposite direction of the side I was under. So if it came off the jack stands for any reason it would roll away from me and not over me. Had them apply the brake and a little bit of gas as well to simulate road forces. Never let the rpms get much above idle speed.

Discovered that either my rear wheel bearings, or the parking brake hardware has gone bad. It sounds like your transfer case might need some attention.

I'll check it out - from doing some other reading, looks like I should check the CV on the front drive shaft too. read through about the BW 4404 and will check to see if I have any noises coming from there, at least I know it can be rebuilt.


Couple of questions:

What condition are your tires in? Are you positive they are balanced? When was the last time it was aligned?

Well, I spent a lot of time under the car. Didn't find much, unfortunately. Checked the CV and U-joints in both drive shafts, took off the left CV shaft and actually took it in to autozone to compare to a new one since it seemed a little odd. The new ones were the same, or maybe a little worse.

I rotated the tires while it was up. I'll know if the noise is back on my way into work on Monday I guess.

As far as tires go, I will take it in and have them re-balanced. Probably not a bad idea I guess.

I'm honestly at a loss. The transfer case fluid level was good, the front diff was a little low, but not much. nothing much else to check on the truck.

The noise definitely seems more road/ wheel speed related, rather than one of the drive shafts / transfer case, only due to the back I think the noise would be much faster if it was the shafts.

Any other ideas? I'm not sure what else to test on the thing honestly.


Let us know what happens. I have some noise too and it isn't the front bearings or the CV shaft. I switched my CV over from my 96 which was known silent and it still made the wobble roaring noise. I'm doing the rear bearings and diff clean up soon so I can eliminate that after.

Tires can make all the difference.

And test the front differential thoroughly. The v8/AWD has it always under load so it's a lot more stressed and wear is increased over a part time system.

Mine's so loud I can't hear myself think, it's about to be replaced.

Tires can make all the difference.

And test the front differential thoroughly. The v8/AWD has it always under load so it's a lot more stressed and wear is increased over a part time system.

Mine's so loud I can't hear myself think, it's about to be replaced.

What do I do to test it? I listened to it while the truck was running on the stands, even used a electronic stethoscope but only heard what sounded linke normal noise to me.

Is there some kind of way to check it out? Short of dropping it from the truck?

Thanks in advance,

If you didn't hear it then it has to be tires if you didn't actually hear any noises while the tires were off the ground, if your bearings are okay.

My road noise and vibration changed when I went from 31's to 33's.. same tire.. BFG A/T.

Wear on tires can do some odd things, If it's the tires anyways..

Weights on the tyres

Hey there,
might be something might be nothing... did you check to make sure that the weights on the wheel... the actual wheels themselves, have the correct weights on the rims??
if you have changes the tyre then the weights may be incorrect.
Just a shot in the dark!
Hope this helps
Fastwalker out...!
P.s i miss my Jeep...

I have a '98 Mountaineer with AWD. Well, used to be AWD.;)

Anyway, it makes a noise very similar to what was described (bad bearing, etc.) when it is even the slightest out of alignment. If the toe is out of adjustment ever so slightly on just one wheel, it makes a lot of noise, especially at speeds above 40mph. I've seen it make a difference with just one or two turns of the tie rod arm.

One way to check it, if it is just one wheel, is to drive down a road that has both right and left hand curves. If the sound seems to go away going around certain curves, you can usually pinpoint which side is making the noise. For instance, if you are going around a left hand curve and the sound goes away, then it is coming from your left side.