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Popping/grinding in steering when turning

BlueOval24

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Hey guys, I know there are quite of bit of popping/clicking/grinding steering threads already out there, however a lot of them have been consolidated to one thread, even though they have different causes of the problem, which makes it a bit of a mess.

Anyway, lately at slow speeds and turning, there seems to be popping sounds somewhere in the steering system. I took the wheels off and supported the front end and while turning the wheels left and right, I can feel the popping/grinding happening by the inner tie-rod, right as it goes in to the rack housing (see pic). It does not happen every time, but mostly happens as I am turning right.

Has anyone else had this issue? If so, what was the cause. I do not think this is related to the TSB regarding the "clicking" that happens at the CV joint. Personally, I would just replace the whole tie rod assembly (inner, shaft, and outer tie rod end) myself no questions asked, however I noticed there was a recall associated with the steering rack so thought it would be best to let the dealer take a look at it first in case it does happen to be a chewed up rack gear (or pinion).

I have an appointment at the dealer for Monday morning, but would love some insight on some of your experiences. Thanks to all.


https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_7wxSR8TOSpc0NBUVFRYlpwZXc
 
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13TuxedoSport

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Hello - there is a TSB on this issue. I had it performed on my 2015 Explorer Sport and it still kind of does it every once in a while. Furthermore, my transmission started leaking after the TSB.... my explorer has 14k miles on it... shouldn't be happening.
 

BlueOval24

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Hello - there is a TSB on this issue. I had it performed on my 2015 Explorer Sport and it still kind of does it every once in a while. Furthermore, my transmission started leaking after the TSB.... my explorer has 14k miles on it... shouldn't be happening.
Thanks for the info, However after checking the CV axle while rotating, there were no issues there. So I do not think it has to do with the CV end play TSB. The POP is definitely coming from the tie-rod going into the steering rack, but there is no play in the tie rod itself.

I dropped off the truck at the dealer this morning and replicated the sound for the service advisor. Well just got a call from him saying that he cannot replicate the problem...? Basically I had to repeat everything I mentioned to him this morning and he is going to call me back to see if the tech can replicate the problem.

Before dropping the car off, I drove it for 2 days to make sure the wife wasn't going crazy and sure enough, the problem is there. So far, not off to a good start :(
 

RSNovi

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Could it be the top bearings on the struts? I had to have ours replaced because it sounded like they were binding up and then popping. This is also a very common issue with these cars.
 

BlueOval24

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RSNovi, thanks for the suggestion, however after looking at the strut tower bearings many times and observing movement of both struts while turning the wheel, I was able to eliminate those from being the problem.

Sorry for the lack of replying, but its be pretty busy the last few months. I did end up finding what was causing the metal popping sound though and so far the ride has been great.

After isolating the popping the the passenger side inner tie rod area, I figured it would be a good idea just to replace the tie rod assembly as some preventive maintenance. The truck has around 130k on her so some things will need to be looked at eventually. Anyway, I pulled out the tie rod and saw a metal ring that was around the rack gear. Looking at the ring, it was obviously deformed from catching on the rack gear from time to time but luckily it is a softer metal than the gear itself. Check out some pics:

Metal ring inside of housing:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_7wxSR8TOSpdU9QUFdmU2ViMDQ

Removing metal ring from housing:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_7wxSR8TOSpR2o4VG9LNDRVMUU

After taking out the ring and replacing the inner and outer tie rod assembly, there has been no popping whatsoever. Its been about a month now so safe to say the issue has been resolved.
Looking at the metal ring itself, it appears to be part of the outer rack housing and is supposed to sit about 1 in from the end of the rack housing itself. From what I can tell, it was designed as a secondary dust guard (small rubber bonded to the back of the ring) to prevent build up in the rack gear travel length. Luckily, we have EPAS, so there is little concern with any leaking from the rack itself. All in all, I would say we got lucky that there was no complete binding that occurred due to this ring. Just as a safe guard, Ill be replacing the driver side tie-rod assembly to check the condition of the ring on that side. Hopefully this information is helpful to someone. I know I was driving myself crazy checking everything else out until I isolated the sound.
If I get some time, Ill put together a how to for the tie rod replacement as I took lots of pictures. Did the plugs this weekend, flushed and filled transmission fluid over the last few weekends, and only thing left to do is replace the SCCM (intermittent wiper issues and steering wheel switch) but I need to check if my IDS is up to date.
 

esw2005

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2013 Explorer XLT with 96,000 miles just had the strut bearing replaced and the rack and pinion/ gearbox replaced. Went in for a clunking noise when moving the steering wheel back and forth. First noticed when making u-turns. Easily reproduced when aggressively moving steering wheel left to right. The strut bearing just happened to be the first thing they looked at since it was making a clunking noise when driving over bumps. COVERED UNDER THE PREMIUM CARE EXTENDED WARRANTY!
 

Halwg

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Wow, you people sure have a lot of miles on 3 and 4 year old cars. How do you drive that many miles?
 

Funkywinker2002

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2013 Explorer XLT with 96,000 miles just had the strut bearing replaced and the rack and pinion/ gearbox replaced. Went in for a clunking noise when moving the steering wheel back and forth. First noticed when making u-turns. Easily reproduced when aggressively moving steering wheel left to right. The strut bearing just happened to be the first thing they looked at since it was making a clunking noise when driving over bumps. COVERED UNDER THE PREMIUM CARE EXTENDED WARRANTY!
I know this post was a very long time ago, but I am intrigued by the possibility it raises. My 2013 Explorer Limited with 70k miles exhibits the exact symptoms you reference in your comment. I recall having a 90's Pontiac Bonneville which made the same sounds. Turns out the problem was rusty strut bearings. I had an out of state shop check the Explorer a few months back and they suggested a bad rack, and said the sound seemed to be internal. I wonder if they overlooked this other possibility. Thanks for making the post!!
 

jmeiers

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I just wanted to post this for others that will likely have this same issue and a public THANK YOU to BlueOval24...

I was having a similar long term issue with hearing this intermittent popping on my 2015 Explorer Sport. I also isolated it to the passenger side. It only seemed to happen at very low speeds when turning right, like when leaving a stop sign or maneuvering really slow in a parking lot. I could even sometimes recreate the sound just turning the wheel to the right while sitting idle in the driveway. The noise was intermittent in nature and would come and go randomly. Sometimes, I could go many miles with no noise at all. Then some days it would do it all day long on every right turn. No rhyme or reason for it. On to my fix...

I took the passenger wheel off allowing direct access to the inner tie rod boot connected to the steering rack. As I slid the inner tie rod boot off the steering rack, some chunks of rubber starting falling out onto the ground. I look inside the rack opening and I see 2 metal rings just dangling on the steering rack gear and loose. The outer ring was wavy and deformed looking. The inner ring, that had rubber bonded to it, was not in much better shape and was the cause of the rubber chunks hitting the ground. I surmise that when turning the steering wheel, the rack gear would catch on one or both of these rings and cause the popping noise as the inner gear winded thru the steering wheel turn. I simply used a dremel and cut both rings out and cleaned the area up and put the inner tie rod boot back on to the steering rack. The popping noise is now gone.

Again want to publicly thank BlueOval24 for posting the fix and saving me a $1000 + my labor time swapping in a new rack.
 

Mekks082

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Just bought a 2nd hand 16 limited. It had a major clunk/pop so I brought it back and they replaced struts/top hats. Felt better for a week but now I have the same issue you guys describe. Popping that comes and goes on the pass side while turning right at low speeds. Sold my jack awhile back... might need to go buy a new one and look into this.
 

Flying68

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I think what you guys are hearing is actually coming from the EPAS itself. I heard similar noise and could even feel it in the steering wheel. At one point it got super loud. The EPAS wasn't tripping any codes and steering function was still fine. Eventually the noise went away but it has recently started to show back up. One way to check is to jack the front end up and pull and push on the tire through the turning range and listen for the popping or clicking noise. I am not sure what is causing it, debris or wear or what, but as long as it still functions I am not going to worry about it. If you have less than 150k miles (unlike me) the unit is still covered by the warranty it it trips a EPAS code when it fails.
 

blwnsmoke

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I think what you guys are hearing is actually coming from the EPAS itself. I heard similar noise and could even feel it in the steering wheel. At one point it got super loud. The EPAS wasn't tripping any codes and steering function was still fine. Eventually the noise went away but it has recently started to show back up. One way to check is to jack the front end up and pull and push on the tire through the turning range and listen for the popping or clicking noise. I am not sure what is causing it, debris or wear or what, but as long as it still functions I am not going to worry about it. If you have less than 150k miles (unlike me) the unit is still covered by the warranty it it trips a EPAS code when it fails.
Pretty sure that is only for 2011s and 2012s within a certain date range till Ford found the manufacturing issue with the racks.
 

Flying68

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Pretty sure that is only for 2011s and 2012s within a certain date range till Ford found the manufacturing issue with the racks.
I know that was an electric issue with the control board, but this is more of a mechanical issue. Your right though the extended warranty may only apply to those early models like mine, I never bothered to check the effectivity.

As a side note there are so many things that can cause popping, grinding, clicking, and clunking noise in the front end that if you do hear something the only real way to figure it out is to go through with a stethoscope to try to isolate where the noise is coming from. If you don't have a way to do this yourself it is best to take it to a shop to get it diagnosed rather than than randomly chasing parts.

At home you can get one wheel at a time in the air to pull and tug on the tire to see if there is play in the tie rods and joints and check for loose fasteners. On the ground turn lock to lock to check strut mounts (spring clunk). That is in addition to what I posted earlier to check for steering rack function.
 

dpaul

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RSNovi, thanks for the suggestion, however after looking at the strut tower bearings many times and observing movement of both struts while turning the wheel, I was able to eliminate those from being the problem.

Sorry for the lack of replying, but its be pretty busy the last few months. I did end up finding what was causing the metal popping sound though and so far the ride has been great.

After isolating the popping the the passenger side inner tie rod area, I figured it would be a good idea just to replace the tie rod assembly as some preventive maintenance. The truck has around 130k on her so some things will need to be looked at eventually. Anyway, I pulled out the tie rod and saw a metal ring that was around the rack gear. Looking at the ring, it was obviously deformed from catching on the rack gear from time to time but luckily it is a softer metal than the gear itself. Check out some pics:

Metal ring inside of housing:
inside+housing.jpg

Removing metal ring from housing:
Metal+Ring.jpg

After taking out the ring and replacing the inner and outer tie rod assembly, there has been no popping whatsoever. Its been about a month now so safe to say the issue has been resolved.
Looking at the metal ring itself, it appears to be part of the outer rack housing and is supposed to sit about 1 in from the end of the rack housing itself. From what I can tell, it was designed as a secondary dust guard (small rubber bonded to the back of the ring) to prevent build up in the rack gear travel length. Luckily, we have EPAS, so there is little concern with any leaking from the rack itself. All in all, I would say we got lucky that there was no complete binding that occurred due to this ring. Just as a safe guard, Ill be replacing the driver side tie-rod assembly to check the condition of the ring on that side. Hopefully this information is helpful to someone. I know I was driving myself crazy checking everything else out until I isolated the sound.
If I get some time, Ill put together a how to for the tie rod replacement as I took lots of pictures. Did the plugs this weekend, flushed and filled transmission fluid over the last few weekends, and only thing left to do is replace the SCCM (intermittent wiper issues and steering wheel switch) but I need to check if my IDS is up to date.
I know it's years later but this post helped me tremendously. Had very similar symptoms, opened up the steering rack boot on the passenger side and discovered the same trashed steel ring and rubber debris. Removing that junk eliminated the disturbing clunk or boing when turning to the right. I did not take off the tie rod end, just broke the Oetiker clamp with a pliers and pulled back the boot. After cutting the steel ring out with a Dremel, I restored the boot and used a zip tie to secure it at the rack end.
 
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peterk9

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Welcome to the Forum.:wave:

Peter
 

Maxud

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Thank you BlueOval24, I found your post while searching for a similar issue that happened to my friends car. It is 2016 Ford Exlorer 3.5
I decided to register here and provide more details about this problem.
First, I confirmed hearing the noise from steering rack, while doing slow turns in a parking lot. It was hard to pinpoint the side responsible, but
I started with passenger side.
Sure enough, I found beat up concaved washer and remains of rubber, but I also found another washer behind the mess.
The last washer has raised outer edges, like a bowl.
Those washers are very thick, but instead of disconnecting the tie rod, I just used a hacksaw blade to remove them.
Then I repeated the procedure on the other side, finding only slighly less beat up washer there.
After putting it back together I thought I was done, but here comes a continuation and realization.

In few days friend told me that the car was making squealing noises, which turned out to be from tires rubbing on fender liner.
This is when it dawned on me what those washers are for.

First of all, from the factory it is a single part. It looks like a sandwich of two washers and a rubber donut in between.
Its purpose is not a dust seal, but a steering stop. Once the backside of inner tie rod touches the outer washer, it stops steering
wheel going any further.

This leads to the cause of the problem. Even though the washer is made of very thick steel, every time you turn your steering wheel and hit
that washer, it mangles a bit. With enough miles on the car, the inner tie rod completely deforms the washer and it eventually catches on the
steering arm and rips from the rubber donut. Then its just floating inside the steering tube and causing aforementioned snapping and popping noise.
Another note, the passenger side would naturally be more susceptible to the noises because of its design. The entire shaft coming out of the rack
is almost like a thread, which can catch the washer easily from every angle. The driver side shaft looks distinctly different only having the thread on
one flat side of the shaft.

Unfortunately I got rid of the parts I removed, and don't know combined thickness of steering stoppers. What I am going to try to do, is install
Ford steering stops from Mustang and hope the thickness and size matches up.

Once I get it done, I will post part numbers that worked for me.

Finally, it seems to me that its a shitty Ford design that is really a time bomb on every Ford explorer rack. I looked at Ford diagrams and stopped
at the dealer. Those steering stop assemblies are not available individually, you have to buy a whole new rack. That is nothing short of insanity.
Also, these stops are not pressed into the rack. They seem to just float in place where the rack seal would ordinarily be.
It required very little effort to fish the old parts out.


RSNovi, thanks for the suggestion, however after looking at the strut tower bearings many times and observing movement of both struts while turning the wheel, I was able to eliminate those from being the problem.

Sorry for the lack of replying, but its be pretty busy the last few months. I did end up finding what was causing the metal popping sound though and so far the ride has been great.

After isolating the popping the the passenger side inner tie rod area, I figured it would be a good idea just to replace the tie rod assembly as some preventive maintenance. The truck has around 130k on her so some things will need to be looked at eventually. Anyway, I pulled out the tie rod and saw a metal ring that was around the rack gear. Looking at the ring, it was obviously deformed from catching on the rack gear from time to time but luckily it is a softer metal than the gear itself. Check out some pics:

Metal ring inside of housing:
inside+housing.jpg

Removing metal ring from housing:
Metal+Ring.jpg

After taking out the ring and replacing the inner and outer tie rod assembly, there has been no popping whatsoever. Its been about a month now so safe to say the issue has been resolved.
Looking at the metal ring itself, it appears to be part of the outer rack housing and is supposed to sit about 1 in from the end of the rack housing itself. From what I can tell, it was designed as a secondary dust guard (small rubber bonded to the back of the ring) to prevent build up in the rack gear travel length. Luckily, we have EPAS, so there is little concern with any leaking from the rack itself. All in all, I would say we got lucky that there was no complete binding that occurred due to this ring. Just as a safe guard, Ill be replacing the driver side tie-rod assembly to check the condition of the ring on that side. Hopefully this information is helpful to someone. I know I was driving myself crazy checking everything else out until I isolated the sound.
 
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Maxud

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Below are cut off washers with remnants of rubber donut.

rack1.JPG




Passenger side steering exposed, beat up washer just hanging on the threads

rack2.JPG



Close up on the washer

rack4.JPG



Driver side steering exposed

rack5.JPG
 

peterk9

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Welcome to the Forum Maxud.:wave:

Peter
 

k2dub125

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Came here with the same symptoms and same year and trim as Maxud. Preparing to take a look at my Explorer but may instead check extended warranty paperwork for coverage if the solution is likely a whole to rack for something so simple.

Maxud: thanks for the details and pictures.
 
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dont slow down

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I too am here because of the same symptoms, narrowed down to passenger inner tie rod area. Even went as far as to start sourcing new inner tie rods and preparing to order them. I see this has been found to be the steering stops inside the rack. And it seems absurd that these stops are designed they way they are. I am currently on my second rack from ford. First one was replaced around 30k miles, now I’m at 106k miles. I hope Maxud would be kind enough to share if the mustang stops fit or work in this rack. I don’t feel comfortable removing them completely, I feel this may extend the rack beyond its limits and cause damage to the rack. I will start looking for other options and alternatives to this part, hopefully we will be able to find something to replace this part with instead of replacing the entire rack. Maxud, can you give any estimated dimensions of this stop? Inner and outer diameter, possible thickness? Thanks so much for sharing the information you found!
 

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