I recently bought a new truck, well new to me. It’s a 2005 Ford Ranger, extended cab, 4×4, 6 cylinder, with 115000 miles on it. It was a one owner but I found out after buying it that the first owner was a construction company in a Seattle suburb.
When I was trying out the truck I noticed there was a bumping feeling when taking off and occasionally when stopping. If you took off fast it didn’t do it but taking off with a light foot got from one to 4 bump feelings.
I took the truck to the airport so my friend Darrin could look it over for me, he was a mechanic in the army and seems to be pretty good at it. He said the bumping was probably loose shackles that hold the rear end to the springs and wasn’t anything to worry about. His advice, if I bought it, was to take it to a frame and axle garage here in town for a simple fix which I did.
After looking it over the mechanic said the shackles were OK and it was moving because the transmission mount was worn out. He also said the rubber boot on the left tie rod was ripped and dirt would slowly get into the joint and wear it out. The part is made so you can’t replace the rubber boot but have to replace the whole tie rod. So almost $700 later it was ready to go.
As I drove away from the garage the bumping was exactly as before and now the front end was screaming with each pothole or turning a corner. I drove around the block and went back into the shop. Again checking it over they said the noise was from the inner tie rod that was worn out and was making noise because replacing the outer one tightened up the system. They had to order the new inner tie rod so they said while waiting for it to come in they would be doing research to find out why there was the bumping feeling.
After another bill putting the total over $1000 there wasn’t any screeching in the front end but the bumping I had originally taken it in for was unchanged. The mechanic now told me it was probably the torque converter and that these specific trucks had a history of problems with it.
I did my own research and learned the torque converter sometimes jerked when it was locking up above 40mph, not on a easy start from a stop. A visit to a transmission shop, the owner driving my truck, got me another diagnosis. He said the clutch pack in the limited slip differential was causing the bumpy, jerking feeling.
Again my own research found that most of the people who had problems with the torque converter and with the clutch pack cured it by flushing the transmission and/or the rear end and putting in new fluid. So another $500 for this service including a special additive to the rear end to make the clutches smoother and the bumping was still there, unchanged.
About a week later I was leaning on the back of my truck talking to someone when I noticed it seemed to move more than most vehicles when in park. I grabbed the tailgate and pushing and pulling while leaning to look underneath showed the rear axle twisting so much it looked as if the drive train at the universal joint would bind. Also the springs were oval shaped at each end but flat in the middle. The first owner had likely hauled heavy loads in the back of the truck and the weakness in the worn out springs was allowing the whole rear end to twist much more than usual. Thinking I had found the problem with the bumping I took it to another garage that was recommended by a friend as the “best in town” and they agreed the springs needed to be replaced.
Just over another $1000 and I went to pick up my fixed truck. I made it less than a block away before I turned around and went back, it was still doing the same bumping as always. I ask the owner of the garage to take a ride with me and as I stopped and started over and over he said, “I don’t have any idea what is causing that”.
We went back to the garage and he went into the back of the shop asking me to “hang on for a minute”. He came out followed by an old man with the worst case of ‘bed head’ in his long hair I’ve ever seen. He looked scarecrow like in a set of coveralls that were much too big for his skinny frame, greasy and soiled with fluids best not ask about. His beard was a match to his hair, neither appearing to have been groomed or having felt a comb in years.
“Take this guy for a ride”, the owner said. So after he laid a rag slightly less greasy than his clothes on the seat to set on we went out and I did the stop and start that made the bumping feeling.
“It’s your drive shaft”, he said after a couple demonstrations.
I looked at him to see if he as joking, “The drive shaft is solid metal and has metal splines on the end that fit into the back of the transmission. If it was slipping there would be grinding and more shaking than I’m getting”.
He shook his head, “It’s not slipping in the round part, the reason it is made that way is so it can slip in and out as the rear suspension moves. It keeps it all from binding. The grease on the spline gears gets old and sticky so when you take off it tries to move in and out a little and it sticks and then lets go with a small bump. Your problem is sticky grease.”
Again I looked to see if he was joking but he seemed completely serious. We went back to the garage and he told the owner what it was, “Your joking!”. The owner seemed as incredulous as I was.
“Yep, and I can fix it in about 30 minutes. Just have to unbolt the back of the shaft, pull it out of the transmission, clean off the old grease and put on some new”.
So about 30 minutes later the problem was solved, the problem I had already paid almost $3000 to have fixed was taken care of for labor cost of $50. So now all I can say is watch out for that ‘sticky grease’.
- March 2017
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