94 Explorer steering wheel wobble

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Old 01-29-08, 08:38 AM
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94 Explorer steering wheel wobble

My explorer recently started to exhibit a front end wobble at low speed and it varies at higher speeds. If I stay at about 50 mph it's minimal and gets more severe at above 60mph.
It also exhibits a slight pull to the left during driving. The tires still have plenty of life left on them but I know that it could be a bad tire. Iíve inflated to manufactureís specification. I got my inspection sticker back in May and the front end components were all tight. I also checked it myself prior to the inspection. Iíve had (within the last 5 years) the upper and lower ball joints, bearings , shocks, and brakes replaced although in all likelihood the auto garage used cheap rotors because they are warped. This is my work vehicle and I do not want to sink too much into it and have changed the front brake pads but not the rotors a little over a year ago. Unfortunately my back is out and Iím limited on what I can do at this time. I was thinking about swapping out one tire at a time with my spare.
I know that just because the front end wobbles it still could be a rear tire (if itís a tire problem at all). Has anyone had a similar problem and if it were a bad tire would it likely be on the drivers side? Font or back?

I would appreciate any assistance.

Thanks,
 
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Old 01-29-08, 12:37 PM
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Have you had the front end checked for proper alignment?
Could be out and causing the pulling to one side.
A out of balance tire will cause the "wobble" also.
A broke belt in a tire can cause that problem too.
The most likely time to feel a brake wobble is under braking and then you can feel it in the rotor/s if they are out of round mostly from heat and can, not all the time, show it in the brake pedal as a pulsation.
 

Last edited by the_tow_guy; 01-30-08 at 08:03 AM. Reason: Not necessary to quote entire post.
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Old 01-29-08, 05:02 PM
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Thanks for responding.

Considering it been a long time since I've had the tires balanced and I can't remember when I had an alignment on this truck i'll give it a shot. I'll have the tires rebalanced and rotated first and see how that goes; If no improvenent I can get the alignment checked as a second option.

thanks,
 
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Old 01-29-08, 06:21 PM
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I doubt your tires are unbalanced, but it wouldn't hurt to get them checked.

I suspect you need a front end alignment like Spinner stated, or you have a tie rod going out. You do not want to prolong getting it fixed either. A busted tie rod can send you off the road.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 06:30 AM
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Thanks,

I'll stop driving it; tie rod problem scares me.

I plan to take it in on Saturday and hope for the best.
 
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Old 01-30-08, 08:06 AM
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Ball joint, too, or possibly a tire tread separating, although that is generally noticeable at high speeds as well as low. Tie rod would certainly be a prime candidate. It's ugly when I have to go fetch one that separated (but not as ugly as when a ball joint lets go).
 
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Old 01-30-08, 10:21 AM
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I do feel it at low speeds as well as high speeds. It peaks at around 65mph.
With my back out I'm limited on what i can do right now but I was going to try and jack it up to fell for any movement in the front end components. How do you check for worn tie rods? I usually jack it up and move the tire from right to left and then up and down.


Thanks,
 
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Old 01-30-08, 10:32 AM
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with the truck jacked up in the front, grasp the tire fore and aft and try to turn left and then right as if you are trying to wiggle it free. looseness or movement will be felt as free play, but you may need someone else to watch the linkage to determine where the looseness is. there are inner and outer tie rods and a center link as well as the pitman and idler arms. side to side wiggling isolates the steering linkage.

wiggling from top and bottom determines wheel bearing free play, there should be very little to no movement doing this procedure.

if your wheel oscillates back and forth while driving (we call it nibble), it's most likely a tire transferring movement up thru the steering linkage to the steering wheel. try moving the front tire to the back and vice versa (or using your spare is fine provided that your spare is in good condition). it's very unlikely that a rear tire is causing the condition you describe.
 
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Old 01-31-08, 04:57 AM
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Thanks,

Since Saturday will be a good day here in the Northeast (I don't have a garage) I will try what you said before I take it in.

Thanks again,
 
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Old 01-31-08, 09:01 AM
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When checking for movement, make sure the steering wheel is locked.
That way if you have movement, you know it's not just the steering wheel moving on you.
 
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Old 02-04-08, 06:31 AM
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Smile

Hi guys,

It turns out that is was a bad front passenger tire. I checked all front end components and everything was tight. You could see that when you rotated the front tires that one was slightly out of round and that turned out to be the problem.

Thanks to all who responded and helped.

Frank
 
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