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Intelligent Four Wheel Drive. Yeah right...

I just got home from a ride with a good friend. I took the Explorer on a well graded gravel road, placed the mode selector in "Trail" and let it rip. I put my foot to the floor and got up to about 65. It worked like a charm the first time, digging in and pulling without any issues.

Then I came to a stop and tried it again from a dead stop. Again, the Explorer bit in and accelerated hard up to 60+, but this time just as I got to the 60s, the Explorer began fishtailing BAD. Road conditions were the same, there was not a patch that was more slippery than any other. It was still well graded and smooth. As soon as I felt the fishtailing, I slowly let off the throttle so as not to upset the chassis, but that did no good, it was still whipping side to side. It got to the point, where it pulled me off the trail causing me to run over creosote bushes and other small plants. No damage to the Explorer, but it was an eye opener for sure.

My guess is that the Intelligent 4wd system began using the brakes at individual wheels to "help" with control. If that's what happened, it applied the brakes WAY to hard causing the Explorer to veer out of control. This really makes me sad because I was hoping that this Explorer would be able to travel high speeds on roads like that without issue. Now I would be afraid to push it again :(

First thought in my head was I sure hope that the new Broncos don't f' up like that when pushing them hard on a graded gravel road.
 



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joney

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Are you referring to the 2020 Explorer ST? I'd never thought of going 60+ on a gravel road but likely others have. It does sound like your Ex isn't helping! Is there a mode to select that would cover high speeds on gravel roads?
 






Rick

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Are you referring to the 2020 Explorer ST? I'd never thought of going 60+ on a gravel road but likely others have. It does sound like your Ex isn't helping! Is there a mode to select that would cover high speeds on gravel roads?

Yes, this was in an ST.

"Slippery - For better handling on surfaces covered with ice, water, grass or gravel, this mode adjusts the pedal response and traction control."

"Trail - Adjusts the transmission shift schedule, pedal progression, traction control and driveline configuration for better handling on muddy, rutted, soft or uneven terrain."

There lies the rub, the gravel was soft. It was a relatively thick base which led to super soft ride, and the reason I had no issue with doing 60+ on it.

In any event, the vehicle was applying the brakes too hard, and began the series of side to side undulations which were not brought on by driver input. I am an experienced offroad vehicle driver, having driven high speeds, and ultra low speed rock crawling. When we go out to So Cal to play we drive in what we call "Baja Mode" through the wash on the way to the trail. Hammer down, pitching around curves, etc. Never have our 1st or 2nd gen Explorers without any type of traction control begun to move like that... even with our sway bars disconnected.

I was literally at the mercy of the car. Holding the wheel steady didn't help because as it applied the brakes on one wheel, or one side, it would pull hard in that direction. It pulled me right off the trail. When I realized I was going off trail I gave some sharp input to ensure we would be aiming for the smallest bushes.

The guy I was with is an old racer. His father owned a dirt oval track, he has been into racing all of his life. He couldn't believe how quickly the Explorer went out of control. He said he was watching my hands at the wheel and I wasn't "Rowing" it trying to save it, I was barely moving my hands in an attempt to get it to settle out, as I as decelerating with my foot off the gas, allowing it to coast down.

Want to hear the funniest, or perhaps most ironic part? We were literally within eye sight of Ford's desert proving grounds when this happened. No more than 1/4 mile away.

:rolleyes:
 






peterk9

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I haven't actually checked but are you able to turn traction control OFF? I don't know if that would help or make it worse.

Peter
 






Rick

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I haven't actually checked but are you able to turn traction control OFF? I don't know if that would help or make it worse.

Peter

Yes you can turn the Advancetrac system off. Maybe it would make the steering more predictable, or maybe not. :dunno: Up until it decided to do it's own thing, It was running straight and smooth which is what makes it scary. The best way to describe the feeling is that it was like hard trailer sway instantly kicked in.

After reading through some literature it seems that Advancetrac would have been controlling wheel braking, not the 4wd system. I want to clarify now that I know that.

It's not something I want to experiment with at speed.
 






BKennedy

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I will stick with good old manual hand and feet controls, thank you very much. Glad there was no damage. Maybe the computer became self aware for a moment and tried to kill you?? Sky Net is here..
 












Rick

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I think I should move this thread to the Whoops! forum. :thumbsup:
 






Xlrick1969

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I just got home from a ride with a good friend. I took the Explorer on a well graded gravel road, placed the mode selector in "Trail" and let it rip. I put my foot to the floor and got up to about 65. It worked like a charm the first time, digging in and pulling without any issues.

Then I came to a stop and tried it again from a dead stop. Again, the Explorer bit in and accelerated hard up to 60+, but this time just as I got to the 60s, the Explorer began fishtailing BAD. Road conditions were the same, there was not a patch that was more slippery than any other. It was still well graded and smooth. As soon as I felt the fishtailing, I slowly let off the throttle so as not to upset the chassis, but that did no good, it was still whipping side to side. It got to the point, where it pulled me off the trail causing me to run over creosote bushes and other small plants. No damage to the Explorer, but it was an eye opener for sure.

My guess is that the Intelligent 4wd system began using the brakes at individual wheels to "help" with control. If that's what happened, it applied the brakes WAY to hard causing the Explorer to veer out of control. This really makes me sad because I was hoping that this Explorer would be able to travel high speeds on roads like that without issue. Now I would be afraid to push it again :(

First thought in my head was I sure hope that the new Broncos don't f' up like that when pushing them hard on a graded gravel road.
What year is your Gen 5? I have a 2014 and although I have never gone 4-wheeling with it (I think it sits too low) when I had it at the dealer for a servicing they reprogrammed/updated the 4wd sequencer. I know a lot about cars but I really don't know what that is but it was under warranty at the time so I didn't question it although I should have. I don't know if this relates to your issue but it's worth a gander, I think.
 






Xlrick1969

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I haven't actually checked but are you able to turn traction control OFF? I don't know if that would help or make it worse.

Peter
I believe you can shut it off in the menu. Then a dash light comes on with a traction icon striked out.
 






Rick

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What year is your Gen 5? I have a 2014 and although I have never gone 4-wheeling with it (I think it sits too low) when I had it at the dealer for a servicing they reprogrammed/updated the 4wd sequencer. I know a lot about cars but I really don't know what that is but it was under warranty at the time so I didn't question it although I should have. I don't know if this relates to your issue but it's worth a gander, I think.

it's a 2020 Gen 6.
 






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