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Former Owner of 2001 DHG1557
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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking for some advice on a problem I am having with my 1996 Explorer, 5L, All wheel drive. It has about 114,000 miles on it. On a recent 130 mile drive, when I got home and stopped off at the gas station, I noticed that when turning very short it seemed as though the front wheels were binding, as in the differential wasn't working properly. If I take it for short drives, doesn't seem to do this. I was thinking bearings, or differential.

The first local mechanic I took it to, thought it was the transfer case, I think he said there were plates in there to allow the neccessary slippage front to back and they get worn/bad and don't allow it to work properly. He said he has seen it happen on quite a few Explorer/Mountaineers and Grand Cherokees all with the All wheel drive. After that opinion, I talked to Ford (they didn't drive it) and the gentleman I talked to there said that it could be the rear differential limited slip binding and transferring it to the front through the transfer case. He said the front axle has standard differential gears (one wheel wonder up front) and didn't think that was the cause. He was shying away from the transfer case, where as the local mechanic was almost positive that is what it was even though it didn't do it when we took it for a test drive.

Any opinions from Ford mechanics out there (or other) as to the most likely cause? I did dump the fluid out of the transfer case and put in a higher quality synthetic to replace the Mercon ATF.

I would appreciate any help or opinions you may have.

Thanks.

Lee
 

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Quite honestly I didn't think Explorer ever had an all wheel drive model. I know they are rear wheel and switchable to 4wheel drive. Can you turn this all wheel drive off? If you can, once doing so, drive in reverse for about 12 feet. That usually unlocks the hubs. That was my instruction for the 95 Bronco I had. If I didn't then on turns the thing would crawl and sound like things were breaking on dry pavement.
 

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I just checked and there are no all wheel drive explorers.....

I think you may be running this thing in 4x4 full time and on dry pavement you will get what you describe...

Turn off the 4x4 and reverse it for about 12 feet in a straight line to unlock the hubs, then drive forward and do your turn, should be fine after that.

Hope that helps!
 

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Former Owner of 2001 DHG1557
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840 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
It is all wheel drive all the time. No knobs to touch. Came out in 1996 when they first offered the 5.0 L V-8. Even has the V-8 badge with "All Wheel Drive" stuck below it on the rear tail gate. I had a older 1985 Ranger that when you unlocked the hubs for summer the U-joints driving the front wheels (they didn't use CV joints on those) would get rusty or whatever from lack of use and it would steer and act funny. I would just lock them in from time to time and put it in 4 by 4 and it loosened them up just fine and then it drove OK.

Unfortunately this is a whole different beast, the front wheels are engaged all the time and I don't know if the symptoms I described would be the transfer case or the rear end limited slip transfering through the transfer case to the front. The rear end seems less likely to me, just feels like the front wheels bind up when turning short. I just don't want to get screwed if I decide to have somebody fix it for me.

Thanks guys.

Lee
 

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Ya you're right! I researched it further and found a site that seems to know what they talk about. (unlike me :redface:)

That's what I like about this site of ours, you learn new things trying to help others.

Check out this site (not that you need to, cause you already know about your vehicle) But I thought it was interesting.

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/ford-explorer3.htm

You might want to try this forum as well, you can post your questions and they have experts replying back on 4x4 problems.

http://www.2carpros.com/topics/4wd.htm
 

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When this system was new, I had to replace a transfer case and front drive shaft due to a wierd vibration. The original had a double cardan (twin u-joint assembly) on the shaft to help ease the angle, but the new transfer case came with a driveshaft that had a CV joint instead. Can't remember if it was an Explorer or a Mountaineer, but it was back in the summer of 1996. The Mountaineer would have been brand new then as they came out for 1997 and only with the 5.0L. The transfer case swap was actually a field fix and we sent the old one back to Ford engineering for study.

One of my co-workers has an AWD Explorer and it has a little shudder/groan out of the front end on low speed turns. You especially feel it in parking lots. We haven't dove into the problem yet, but now that I have my tools at my house, we may. I'd be interested to hear more about this problem.
 

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Former Owner of 2001 DHG1557
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840 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Bullitthead Ag said:
One of my co-workers has an AWD Explorer and it has a little shudder/groan out of the front end on low speed turns. You especially feel it in parking lots. We haven't dove into the problem yet, but now that I have my tools at my house, we may. I'd be interested to hear more about this problem.
Chris,

If and when I figure it out or decide to fix it, I will let you know what I find out. It doesn't do it on shorter drives, only longer drives and yesterday on a shorter drive when I pulled a trailer with about 2000 lbs total behind. It evidently needs to warm up some before it starts to bother. I need to research it I guess to see if I can drop it out and fix the internals. I have a lot of tools, but these things always seem to need an expensive tool to remove or do something that I don't have in my tool arsenal. I don't drive the vehicle a lot, so if it keeps working on the short drives locally and will pull my trailer a short ride once a week during the summer, then I may just keep driving it until it gets worse and does it all the time.

Lee
 

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I have the same system in my 97 explorer with the all wheel drive. Although even though they call it all wheel drive it only kicks in when the system senses that the rear wheels are slipping and then it automatically engages the four wheel drive to assist you in driving. I am sure you have felt it when the road is icy and you do not have the 4 wheel drive engaged you will feel the front end pull a little different than normal.

Never the less could it be a faulty switch that is causing the problem and perhaps not the transfer case. I now have 168k on my explorer and have not had this issue to date. It sounds more like an electrical issue than the actual transfer case.

My transfer case was replaced at 154k not because it had a problem but I was getting some tranny work done, an e-ring broke inside the tranny and was causing a serious issue when the vehicle would slow down. It was not a good sound. Never the less when they went to drop the tranny they did not have the transfer case supported properly and dropped the transfer case to the shop floor. Need less to say I wound up with a brand new transfer case for free, not a rebuilt one but a brand new one.
 

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ball joints maybe?? exploders love to eat them, and I have seen front end binding before due to ball joints. Do you get any poping?
 

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Former Owner of 2001 DHG1557
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840 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Black4592 said:
ball joints maybe?? exploders love to eat them, and I have seen front end binding before due to ball joints. Do you get any poping?
Really don't think it is ball joints, it tends to happen after long drives or as in what happen Thursday, pulling the trailer with a load. Whatever happens to cause the binding feeling doesn't happen until what ever component (transfer case or rear differential) gets warmer with use. Besides I replaced ball joints a little while back.

Today I drove about 15 miles to a friends house, parked it for a while, then came back home, no binding problem when I turned short in a parking lot. Still scratching my head on this one, hopefully it don't leave me stranded some day. I need to get the Ford shop manuals for the transfer case to see how big a job it is to pull it out and tear apart and repair. But before I do that I need to make sure that is what the cause is.

Lee
 

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Former Owner of 2001 DHG1557
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Discussion Starter #11
Since I keep getting a message that says I haven't posted in a while on the top of the IMBOC page, thought I would update my 96 Explorer problem for those of you that may have one and have symptoms like these (96 Explorer AWD, 5L V-8). I first changed the Transfer case oil and the rear end oil to see if that would solve the problem of the binding when turning short after longer trips or pulling the trailer on shorter trips. It did not have any effect on the problem. I did notice that the rear end Synthetic oil did have a burnt smell to it. I guess I should have changed it sooner, still used to the gear lube that lasts for ever on one wheel wonders. I kept driving for a month or so longer and the problem got worse, starting binding up under shorter driving distances when turning short. Did some research and decided to replace the transfer case. Found a place on-line that rebuilds them called Transfer Case Express and bought one from them for about $730 after getting back core charge and the cost to UPS the old one back to them. Found a local guy to install for about $225 with sythetic fluid so for under $1000, it is back on the road. It has worked flawlessly so far, have both driven long miles and pulled my trailer with no binding at all. The Transfer Case has a 12,000 mile or 1 year warranty. Hope it gets me a few more years down the road, I don't put many miles on it, it still looks brand new inside, outside it is in good shape yet and it fills the purpose it needs to for me right now.

OK, now let's see if that pesky message at the top of the IMBOC page goes away. "smile:
 
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