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Old 02-04-2012, 07:03 PM
Vetteman Vetteman is offline
Vetteman
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
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Default Noisy shaking in the drive train of 2003 Ranger with 35,000 miles

I have a 4-liter engine, four-wheel drive 2003 Ford Ranger with an extended cab. It has just over 35,000 miles. Over a year ago, a strange noise started and it felt like the front brakes were grabbing. It has ABS. It was mainly a rattling noise at 60 mph or over. But at 20 or 30 mph, it was a thumping noise that shook the whole front of the truck. It was intermittent and I could drive it 20 miles and the problem wouldnít show up at all. The next day, I could drive 10 miles and it would make the noise. Sometimes, the shaking was so bad that I had to pull off the road. Sometimes pulling off the road and parking would clear up the problem. I took it to a trusted mechanic who has been servicing our vehicles for decades and of course, the truck didnít act up. He offered no guesses as to what might be causing the problem.

At slower speeds, the noise sounds almost like a carpenters hammer hitting a solid chunk of metal. Going through a residential area, the noise is loud enough to draw the attention of people in their yards.

The truck had been in an accident in which the previous owner had fallen asleep at the wheel. The truck left the road and hit an embankment head on. The driver sustained a broken back. This was in 2005, and the insurance company spent $17,000 on repairs. Much of that was for airbag replacement, painting, glass replacement, etc. I believe the engine and drive train were not damaged. I donít know if any damage was done to the frame. My guess is that the truck wasnít going fast when it hit the embankment.

Last spring, I talked to another mechanic, and he said it might be the brake calipers. So, being a halfway decent backyard mechanic, I replaced the front calipers and the problem went away for 700 miles. When it came back a few days ago, I did some research on the web and one source said warped brake rotors could cause the brakes to grab. I reasoned that the rotors might have been warped slightly by the impact of the wreck. I have owned the truck since mid 2008 and this problem first occurred in late 2010. I seldom use the four-wheel drive but did use it during two 14-inch snow storms in Virginia in late 2009 and early 2010. I have never used the four-wheel drive on bare pavement, and I doubt the previous owner did.

So I replaced the rotors, and just 22 miles later, the problem returned just like as before. It also did something that it hadnít done in a long time. It made a very pronounced thumping noise while moving in reverse. I got my daughter to back the truck up repeatedly and I listened closely for the noise. It seemed to be coming from either the transmission or somewhere near the drive shaft. Would anyone have any advice, tips or suggestions?
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2003 4X4 4 liter Ford Ranger with ext. cab and auto transmission.
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