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Vibration like "washboard road" between 62-67mph

Does your 2011-2018 Explorer vibrate at 62-67mph?

  • Yes, feels like an unbalanced tire or "washboard" road.

    Votes: 9 64.3%
  • No, car rides smooth as silk, never had this problem.

    Votes: 5 35.7%
  • Had this problem but now it's fixed.

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    14

Larry Jordan

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There is an older thread on this forum titled "vibration-at-highway-speeds" that addresses some of what my 2013 XLT is doing, but not many recent posts in reply, so looking for fresh answers and insight.

We bought our 2013 XLT w/40K miles in December 2015 from a Ford dealer. The car was a cream-puff recently returned to the dealer at the end of a 36-month lease. We've had no issues with the car in 2 years and 15K miles, except a vexing vibration. One year ago (at 48K miles) we replaced the OEM tires with a new set of Goodyear TripleTred, with expectation that the "out-of-balance" vibration we'd felt between 62-67mph would disappear with a brand-new set of professionally-balanced tires.

The Goodyear dealer re-balanced and rotated the new tires three times in the past year. He says that the problem may reside in the drive-train, and have nothing to do with wheels and/or tires. He is willing to trade-out the Goodyear TripleTred for full credit towards a set of Michelin Latitude, but based on what I've read, I think he's right -- it isn't the tires causing the vibration.

We don't feel the "washboard-like" vibration at higher speeds (e.g. in cruise at 75mph on long Interstate hwy trips). We don't feel it at 55mph on county roads. But, it feels like a "washboard" or an unbalanced wheel between 62-67mph (which is a very desirable cruise speed on many roads, so this is a real problem, one we're not willing to live with long-term). The smoother the road surface, like fresh asphalt, the more noticeable it is. Also, there's a perceptible, almost subsonic low-frequency noise, not unlike the "beating" noise that one sometimes gets when a rear-window is lowered part-way, that goes hand-in-hand with the vibration.

The vibration is not felt in the steering wheel. It isn't easy to determine if it's front or rear, left or right. We've noticed it less when the vehicle is fully loaded (four passengers and lot of luggage), but it's still present. We've tried various tire pressure settings, rotating tires, etc., and nothing makes much (if any) difference. Based on earlier posts, this problem may be endemic to the vehicle, in which case I'm dismayed at Ford. Anyone have an answer or advice?
 



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asull85

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My first guess would be a failing wheel bearing. Has the vibration been there since you bought the truck? Another idea could be a bad CV joint.
 






Ironworker40

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My buddy just had a similar issue with a 2015 fusion with 22,000 miles on it. His was a bad strut. Strut leaked oil to the point were it left a puddle on the ground. Look and touch the struts, to see if they are wet and oily. Ford fixed his under warranty.
 






peterk9

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Welcome to the Forum Larry.:wave:
With an older vehicle there are several things that could cause vibrations due to wear on parts. It seems in you case that the tires have been eliminated as a source.
The above posts are a couple places to check out. A driveline issue could also be a possibility. Have you had the dealer take a look at it? The powertrain warranty is 5 years, 60k miles.

Peter
 






cwescapexlt4x4

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My previous 2013 XLT 4x4 did this some what, not so much that I felt it but could see the passenger seat headrest shimmy but also would see "ripples" in the water bottle in the cup holder. I do not have this issue on my 16 Limited.
 






SHUMAX

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If you are certain it's not an out of round/balanced tire, I would have them put it on the lift and drive it to that speed and see what's shaking. If nothing, I put $ on a wheel bearing.

Be damn sure it's not a balance issue. I am fanatical about tire balance. So much that I purchased a used Hunter Roadforce balancer for my garage at home and had the Hunter Rep tune it up to be sure it was in spec. Yes, I know, it's over the top. Guess what? I no longer have any issues with it. I know what to look for. Balancing tires is an art. Consider this: If you don't center the rim/tire on the balancer, it will NEVER balance. The machine has a function to check to be sure it's centered. NO shop does that because it takes too much time. Ask them to do it. They will if you push - ask them to PERFORM A CENTERING CHECK on EACH assembly. From there, tires have to be hot, warm at least. Otherwise, flat spots are going to appear. Flat spots produce false poor roadforce (the amount of up and down "slap" that occurs as the tire hits the road surface as it spins) figures. Drive the car 15-20min., pull it in the shop and up on the lift. Get the tires off and lay them on the side. Roadforce figures above 10lbs on passenger tires will be felt if you are picky; 15lbs on our vehicles and 20lbs on trucks. I demand a shop to work with me when I buy new tires - produce those results, or I won't buy them. I tip them, too, but they will work with you if you are nice and flexible about the time of day you do it - when they are not busy. From there, be sure they put the balancer in "fine" mode. Most use Smart Weight, which rounds the weight. So, if it's off .25oz, it rounds and says forget it - close enough. Say it's off on the static and residual plane and they didn't center it well? That all stacks and leads to issues that the machine says are fine, but the user "feels" on the road. So, turn Smart Weight off, have warm tires and demand Road Force figures be within those guidelines. Some shops will laugh at you. Chuckle and walk away. Good shops will embrace what you are talking about. You might pay more, but if they embrace it, they are worth more. You won't be back because they didn't do it right - what's your time worth? If you are in Central Ohio, I am happy to help you. I've gotten to be very good at producing smooth results.

So, if the above checks out, move to the wheel bearing. Put the car on the lift and put it in drive. Have them drive to that speed range. Anything shaking in the drivetrain? If not, money is on a rear wheel bearing since you said you can't feel it in the steering.

Shumax
 






Larry Jordan

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My first guess would be a failing wheel bearing. Has the vibration been there since you bought the truck? Another idea could be a bad CV joint.
Yes, vibration has been present at 62-67mph for the 2 years we've owned it. I just made an appointment with the local Ford dealer for Thursday 12/14 and gave him a printed copy of every response on this forum, and one other similar forum, as possible ideas to explore on the Explorer.

Thanks for your response. -- Larry
 






Larry Jordan

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My buddy just had a similar issue with a 2015 fusion with 22,000 miles on it. His was a bad strut. Strut leaked oil to the point were it left a puddle on the ground. Look and touch the struts, to see if they are wet and oily. Ford fixed his under warranty.
I just made an appointment with the local Ford dealer for Thursday 12/14 and gave him a printed copy of every response on this forum, and one other similar forum, as possible ideas to explore on the Explorer. We're almost at the end of 5-year 60,000 mile warranty coverage, so it's important to get the dealer working on this right away.

Thanks for your response. -- Larry
 






Larry Jordan

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If you are certain it's not an out of round/balanced tire, I would have them put it on the lift and drive it to that speed and see what's shaking. If nothing, I put $ on a wheel bearing.

Be damn sure it's not a balance issue. I am fanatical about tire balance. So much that I purchased a used Hunter Roadforce balancer for my garage at home and had the Hunter Rep tune it up to be sure it was in spec. Yes, I know, it's over the top. Guess what? I no longer have any issues with it. I know what to look for. Balancing tires is an art. Consider this: If you don't center the rim/tire on the balancer, it will NEVER balance. The machine has a function to check to be sure it's centered. NO shop does that because it takes too much time. Ask them to do it. They will if you push - ask them to PERFORM A CENTERING CHECK on EACH assembly. From there, tires have to be hot, warm at least. Otherwise, flat spots are going to appear. Flat spots produce false poor roadforce (the amount of up and down "slap" that occurs as the tire hits the road surface as it spins) figures. Drive the car 15-20min., pull it in the shop and up on the lift. Get the tires off and lay them on the side. Roadforce figures above 10lbs on passenger tires will be felt if you are picky; 15lbs on our vehicles and 20lbs on trucks. I demand a shop to work with me when I buy new tires - produce those results, or I won't buy them. I tip them, too, but they will work with you if you are nice and flexible about the time of day you do it - when they are not busy. From there, be sure they put the balancer in "fine" mode. Most use Smart Weight, which rounds the weight. So, if it's off .25oz, it rounds and says forget it - close enough. Say it's off on the static and residual plane and they didn't center it well? That all stacks and leads to issues that the machine says are fine, but the user "feels" on the road. So, turn Smart Weight off, have warm tires and demand Road Force figures be within those guidelines. Some shops will laugh at you. Chuckle and walk away. Good shops will embrace what you are talking about. You might pay more, but if they embrace it, they are worth more. You won't be back because they didn't do it right - what's your time worth? If you are in Central Ohio, I am happy to help you. I've gotten to be very good at producing smooth results.

So, if the above checks out, move to the wheel bearing. Put the car on the lift and put it in drive. Have them drive to that speed range. Anything shaking in the drivetrain? If not, money is on a rear wheel bearing since you said you can't feel it in the steering.

Shumax
Great information! Thanks! I'll make sure that the service manager at Waconia Ford has a hard-copy of your advice. The car goes to them on Thursday this week. -- Larry
 






Larry Jordan

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My previous 2013 XLT 4x4 did this some what, not so much that I felt it but could see the passenger seat headrest shimmy but also would see "ripples" in the water bottle in the cup holder. I do not have this issue on my 16 Limited.
You've given me the idea to do a "water bottle" test -- thanks. Several forum members have contributed great ideas. The car goes to the Ford dealer on Thursday. I'm printing the forum responses and leaving a copy with the dealer, for ideas during the 'diagnosis' phase of needed repair. -- Larry
 






peterk9

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You've given me the idea to do a "water bottle" test -- thanks. Several forum members have contributed great ideas. The car goes to the Ford dealer on Thursday. I'm printing the forum responses and leaving a copy with the dealer, for ideas during the 'diagnosis' phase of needed repair. -- Larry
I would think that see ripples is a water bottle would be a natural thing since there are always some kind of road vibrations present. Good luck.

Peter
 






Larry Jordan

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Welcome to the Forum Larry.:wave:
With an older vehicle there are several things that could cause vibrations due to wear on parts. It seems in you case that the tires have been eliminated as a source.
The above posts are a couple places to check out. A driveline issue could also be a possibility. Have you had the dealer take a look at it? The powertrain warranty is 5 years, 60k miles.

Peter
Thanks, Peter. The dealer will attempt to diagnose and address the problem on Thursday this week. We're still under warranty, but just barely (59,740 miles, original in-service date 1/24/2013). They've assured me that the drive-train warranty for this problem will not expire until it is fixed correctly. I'll leet everyone here know the result. I'm guessing that it won't be easy, as several forum responses at the older forum that I mentioned indicated that they've had exactly, or pretty-near exactly the same problem. My luck is that I have issues that stump the experts, often. Hopefully, it's an easy fix. We'll see.

-- Larry
 






KayGee

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This issue has been going on for nearly 2 years with 2 different sets of tires and multiple rebalance attempts?

Was the car ever in an accident? Has it had an inspection or alignment performed during those 2 years to confirm there aren't any suspension issues?

Anytime I get a vibration like described, I almost immediately set up an appt. to get my tires looked at and rebalanced.

I've spent some money on tools, and I have 4-6 cars at any given time plus I do work on vehicles for several relatives, but I can't fathom dropping $3K on a tire balancer for my garage that would get used maybe a few times a year. I get lifetime balancing in my area for $10-12/tire.

As fas as printing off forum threads to take to a service shop, my experience with dealer service personnel in my area over the years has been that they usually don't take kindly to "advice from the internetz", but YMMV...
 






peterk9

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There are approximately 19 variations for YMMV with the most popular being Your Mileage May Vary. Another is You Make Me Vomit and Your Method May Vary. ;)
Members, please keep in mind that not everyone is 'Acronym' savvy.

Peter
 






Larry Jordan

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This issue has been going on for nearly 2 years with 2 different sets of tires and multiple rebalance attempts?

Was the car ever in an accident? Has it had an inspection or alignment performed during those 2 years to confirm there aren't any suspension issues?

Anytime I get a vibration like described, I almost immediately set up an appt. to get my tires looked at and rebalanced.

I've spent some money on tools, and I have 4-6 cars at any given time plus I do work on vehicles for several relatives, but I can't fathom dropping $3K on a tire balancer for my garage that would get used maybe a few times a year. I get lifetime balancing in my area for $10-12/tire.

As fas as printing off forum threads to take to a service shop, my experience with dealer service personnel in my area over the years has been that they usually don't take kindly to "advice from the internetz", but YMMV...

No, according to CarFax and original dealer who leased the car 1/24/2013 to a private party, a woman in Eden Prairie, MN, the car has never been in an accident of any sort. Goodyear dealer balanced the new tires more than once, in attempt to solve the issue. Alignment isn't an issue, car tracks straight, steering is tight, and tires wear evenly and imperceptibly. No reason to suspect the suspension (no leaking struts, etc.). I have an appointment at the local Ford dealer on Thursday this week. They're prepared to road-test, do their own "road-force" balance, re-test on the road, and take it from there when (I'm expecting) the wheels/tires are ruled-out as the cause. It is under warranty.

Dealer seemed OK with forum stuff that I gave him -- they'll do their thing, regardless, but what I was able to demonstrate is that several other Explorer owners have experieced exactly the same issue (vibration at 62-67mph). I suspect it's in the drive-train and is caused by a specific resonant frequency at certain vehicle speeds. If you've ever seen the classic 9th-grade physics experiment where two tuning forks are in proximity to each other, one is struck, and the other also vibrates, even though it was never struck, you know what I mean about "specific resonant frequencies." My guess is that it's in the PTU (Power Takeoff Unit) that connects to the rear-wheels. In other words, a drive-shaft component. We'll see. I'll update this post with the dealer's determination.
 






KayGee

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If you've ruled out all tires and suspension, that's good.

I personally doubt the PTU would cause it, but I can see an out of balance or damaged/defective rear prop shaft causing bad vibrations.

If your dealer has the right test equipment, they should be able to identify the frequency of the vibration and determine pretty easily if it is the prop shaft. I believe the frequency of a prop shaft vibration should be higher than for a tire issue.
 






SHUMAX

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Another thought is the front control arm bushings. On my 2011 Limited, the rear compliance bushing on the FRONT lower control arm got worn at 65k. It was so soft that it would "give" enough to create a wobble at 45mph and 60mph. This is what put me into my mission to learn more about tire balance, road force, etc. as I was convinced it was a balance/force issue. While that was part of it, finding that worn bushing was what really took care of it. I couldn't tell on mine until they were apart. At that time, it was very clear - they were hallowed out and loose.

Something to consider...

Shumax
 






Larry Jordan

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A big thank you to all who have responded to my original post and follow-ups. I just heard from the Ford dealer. They drove the car and experienced the vibration problem. Then, they did a 4-wheel road-force balance and improved the tire-balance that had been done previously by the Goodyear dealer. However, afterwards when road-testing the mechanic still felt the vibration problem at 62-67 mph. The dealer got Ford to authorize a replacement drive-shaft, which they ordered from Ford. It will be installed next week (under warranty).

I asked whether the drive-shaft is the definite cause of the vibration, or if this is simply their "best guess" as to the cause. The service manager said that they can't be sure of the cause but that they are reasonably confident. He stated that even if the new drive-shaft doesn't fix it, they'll keep going until it is fixed, all still covered under warranty. That's good, because the factory 5-Year/60K would be up soon -- this morning the odometer read 59762 and the 'in-service date' of the vehicle is January 24, 2013 (4 years, 11 months ago).

I mentioned several of the excellent ideas that you've all shared with me. The service manager is open-minded and knows that many of you are skilled, experienced mechanics, so if the replacement drive-shaft doesn't solve things, he may consider all that you've contributed when planning the next action. Again, thanks everyone! Still open to any and all good ideas.
 






Indy2017Sport

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I was recently having a vibration between 50-60mph on my 2017 Sport with only 5700 miles on it. Dealer found one tire unable to be balanced when checked. They replaced the tire and the vibration is now gone.
 



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kcblakely

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I know this is an old thread, but I thought I would add a bit to the knowledge base....

03 RWD Explorer LTD with 4L V6. I started noticing a shimmy in the passenger front prolly 40K miles ago. It wasn't constant - only started feeling it at about 55MPH, and it would rhythmically fade in and out. Tolerated it. Figured it was a ball joint, as all my past experience had associated such rhythmic-come-&-go shimmy with bad ball joints.

Finally decided to fix it and while I'm at it, do an entire front end rebuild. Replaced all ball joints, inner&outer tie rods, sway bar links, struts, upper control arm with bushings. Only thing *not* replaced was lower control arm bushings.

Got it aligned - shimmy still there. Rotated tires (twice); shimmy still there. Working on the Sherlock Holmes process of deduction ("when you have eliminated all other possibilities, whatever remains - no matter how improbable - must be the answer"), decided it *must* be the lower control arm bushings. Sure enough, the forward bushing looked like this:

The crushing on the side of the bushing was much less noticeable when it was still in the control arm, TBH....

Bush1.JPG


Bush2.JPG


Bush3.JPG
 






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