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Popping and clicking noise in front end

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05 Expedition EB 4x4 109,000 miles Alway drive in 2WD mode We are second owner and have owned the car ...

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Old 07-11-2012, 01:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Popping and clicking noise in front end

05 Expedition EB
109,000 miles
Alway drive in 2WD mode

We are second owner and have owned the car since 7/11 when we purchased it with 91K miles on it.

Popping and clicking started around 96K miles. Noise is coming from the drivers side it seems. First started after allowing it to rest awhile and only when backing up out of garage on a level surface with wheels slightly turned. Just barely got the car rolling and a loud pop/click would sound. Over the last 12K miles the noise has gotten worse and it pops and clicks backing up, turning the wheels and accelerating forward. Same noise now over small bumps at lower speeds driving straight or turning. Basically hear it all the time except at high speeds.

Noise is usually one loud pop followed by lots of smaller clicks kind of like bad CV joint(s).

Self diagnosis:

Checked the vacuum lines heading to the front wheels which powers the 4x4. They are fine.

CV boots are fine and rotate with wheels turned and make no noticable noise.

No overly large amount of play in wheel when wiggled up/down. Left/right seems to have a little play but it seems normal - like steering assembly play.

Tested A4WD, 4Hi and 4Lo and issue is present under all settings (key on, motor off). 4Lo works as it should. Suspect 4Hi does too.

Watched and listened for noise as wife backed vehicle up (vehicle is in 2H). Noticed:

- CV joints did not rotate (logic says this is good)
- Loud pop noise (unidentifiable location - somewhere between front center and drivers side wheel)
- CV joints and drive shafts started spinning while backing up within first 5 feet of moving the vehicle and continued to remain on backing down the driveway and pulling back up. (Seems like hubs should be unlocked and wheels free spinning in 2H)
- Usual popping and clicking continued while pulling up driveway and backing back down repeatedly.

Jacked up front end and manually rotated tires while in 2WD mode. Hubs remained locked unless key is on and then they unlock.

Pop noise almost sounds like something is loose like a suspension component. Click noise sounds like it's in the 4x4.

What is the issue(s)? Can anyone tell me how to isolate them?

Last edited by jeepfix; 07-11-2012 at 03:03 PM.
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Old 07-11-2012, 03:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Check your swaybar endlinks. Common problem on the 2nd gens, but that only clunks while hitting bumps. Another thing to check is brake pads. My truck clunks once when i first hit the brakes, because the pads move a little in the caliper.

These are just things that I have had or seen. My old man's 04 has had the sway bar end link problem. Hope this helps eliminate some things.

1997 XLT 5.4L
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I get the clunk/pop when hitting bumps now so I checked them and they seem tight with no boot wear.

I purchased the Ford Service manual CD and was reading through it last night under the 4x4 section. They had some troubleshooting ideas, so I decided to jack it completely off the ground and test the 4x4 system with the engine running. (FYI to anybody doing this - it's extremely dangerous and you want someone in the drivers seat and someone outside doing the checking. And do it in a big open area in case it falls off the axle stands, jacks, etc.) The 4x4 settings work as they should. Everything toggles fine. I did replicate the clicking noise and it appears to be located somewhere in the hub assembly. The CV joints sounded fine. The popping noise did not occur and everything appears to be tight and in great shape. Ford will do a diagnostic for $50 and I'm just taking it there to see what they find. Will update the post after I take it there next week.
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Just took the car to the dealer, and after a $100 diagnostic fee, they could not find what is causing the noises. They checked all the usual culprits, looked over the 4x4 system, suspension, drivetrain and fluids. They put it up on the rack and drove it. Plus, the drove it in the parking lot with someone listening but could not figure it out. I talked extensively to the tech and they felt like it was fine and safe to drive. They recommened to keep driving it and wait for the issue to get worse so it would be easier to listen for and diagnose the noise. The tech went through and tighted all the bolts just to be sure something wasn't loose. At this point, I'm just going to keep driving it like they said until the issue gets worse. Not sure what else to do.
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