Replaced Control Arms, now this..

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Chris TosteJr

Mar 28, 2013
Reaction score
San Antonio, Texas
What engine do you have?
V6 engine
What year is your Sport Trac?
What Generation is your Sport Trac?
1st Gen Owner
So with the help of a retired navy mechanic, I have been working on getting my somewhat neglected sport trac back to daily driver safe status. over the last 4 months we have replaced on the front end:

Upper & lower control arms
Outer Tie Rods
Front sway bar bushings & links
Wheel hub assemblies (moog from rockauto)
front rotors/calipers/pads

When turning left, and only left there is a rubbing sound (low grumble/rumble type) coming from the front passenger wheel area. We have rocked the wheel to see if is a hub issue, and there is no movement that we can induce.
However there is a smooth spot on the sway bar, yet we can not figure out the why this is. I even went so far as taking it a shop, firestone auto care (it's the closest thing to me) who also said it seems the sway bar is hitting the tire, but can not see why.

The wheel size is stock, running some Falken wildpeak a/t for the last few years. I was thinking that maybe the axel nut is not tight enough to cause the wheel to move once the 4500lbs of truck starts shifting. While he was a mechanic in the navy, he is very much a typical home mechanic and did not have a torque wrench. The "thats tight, aint going nowhere" is a very common phrase from him. I'm not much for the mechanical side of things, so he runs the repair show.

So what are the spec for the axel nut, and could this be from being just a bit loose or tight? Or could this be the CV axel starting to go? Of course, any other ideas/suggestions are appreciated as this is the only thing holding me back from selling my current car (chevy volt) and running with the sport trac daily.
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I took the trac out for a drive the other day, and the grumble is now constant from the front passenger. I also now have a light vibration felt in the gas pedal. When trying to park it, there was a shudder now in observed when turning the wheel left or right. This occurred moving slowly, and stationary in drive and neutral. (i realize this is more now a drivetrain issue than suspension, but I couldn't figure out how to close this one or move it).

I am leaning more and more towards replacing the CV axels as its the only thing left really of the front end that hasn't been replaced. Any thoughts?


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Steering wheel shudder can happen when the power steering system fluid (Mercon V ATF) is aerated. Usually occurs when working on the front suspension or steering and is caused by turning the steering wheel or hubs when the engine is OFF. Check P/S fluid level first. Purge air from the P/S system by starting the engine and turning the steering wheel lock to lock repeatedly until the steering shake subsides, then check P/S fluid level again. To prevent stress to the P/S system do not hold the wheel on the steering stops for long periods of time. If you're concerned about tire wear do it on smooth concrete, off pavement, or on grass. Another method is find an empty parking lot and do very slow figure eights. Cheapest "fix" EVER. Keep us posted and GL.
Your observation of the rub mark on the sway bar is a key point.
Check the sway bar bushings. If they are shot, they will allow the bar to shift side to side.

Now that you have the rubbing noise in each direction makes me think they have let go a bit more now. The only other things that could cause the tire to hit the sway bar would be a very very bad wheel bearing, or an alignment waayyyyy out of spec. Both of which would have other symptoms
^ Especially the rubber boot.
Looks like it’s just over greased. I would think when they checked the wheel bearings it would have shown itself if the outer was bad.

I did miss that y’all replaced the sway bar bushings.. Which bushings did you go back with? Just confirming they are the correct size. Also, I’m not tooo familiar with the 1st gen, but the second gen has a raised section of the bar so that the bushing/bar stays in one spot.

Also, a lot of those parts look like mevotech… and I’ve seen a LOT of odd failures from their stuff.
Just got back from an x-mas break:

@Blown09 - Yes, much of the parts this time are mevotech (upper & lower control arms and sway bar links, all from rock auto)
The previous ones were Moog but they went to crap in just a few years. For the sway bar bushings, I do not know as those were done by Firestone auto shop when they were doing the alignment.

@Len Jorgenson - Yes, just the outer tie rods were replaced, bought them from advance auto. Not sure why we didn't do the inner.

@swshawaii - excellent advice. played dodge a lamp post in a home depot parking lot and that did finally get rid of the shudder.

Took it to two separate shops over the last 3 weeks, but nothing has come up. Both places say alignment is good, nothing is obvious and all the suspension parts we did seem tight and right. Its frustrationg knowing something is amiss, but not able to resolve it. I'm just going to hope that whatever it is, when it does finally fail/break that becomes apparent what it was all along and is nothing catastrophic.

Thanks to all for commenting and the advice.
I have the same issue. I hear a similar noise when I only turn left , like a bearing going out. Its been doing that since Ive owned it, a few years.
I have replaced shocks,lower control arms, inner/outer wheel bearings, outer tie rods, sway bar bushings, sway bar end links/bushings, and tires. Still the same issue. So I am not sure. My truck is also a 2003 model
Could it be your ball joints? If this issue is occur while turning, I could imagine one or more of the ball joints are weak. Other than something being bent that shouldn’t be, based on the things you have replaced, ball joints are all I can come up with.
^ @kent Gorham

OP @Chris TosteJr mentioned replacing upper and lower control arms in the first post.

Ball joints are included in UCA and LCA assemblies. Also failed to mention the brand. If they were Dorman, Detroit Axle, or other lower tier replacements early failures would NOT surprise me.
It appears to be a common issue. My 2004 makes the same sound when turning left. Hopefully someone sorts it out. Until then, I'll only turn right. :)
I had a similar issue after replacing the hubs. The bearing wasn't fully seated. Yer thought about over greasing could do it. Anyhow, reseated the bearing and was fine.
didn't properly torque the axle nut. or bad moog hub or axle bearing.