FX4 manual trans/manual T/C - shake, rattle and roll - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


Drivetrain Tech General discussion of drivetrain for the Ford Ranger.

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Old 11-09-2004
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I have a 2003 FX4 Level II - a great package overall but poor in some respects. I was wondering about other owners' experiences and possible fixes for these models specifically:
  • 2002 FX4 Off-Road manual/manual; and
  • 2003 FX4 Level II manual/manual
My gripes:
  • Excessive visible and tactile trans shifter vibration in 1st, 3rd and 5th gears (contrasted with a slight buzz in 2nd and 4th that I would consider normal and acceptable);
  • Trans shifter vibration causes a ringing in 3rd gear 2500~3500 RPM;
  • Constant whirring noise from the transfer case when moving in 2H. Worse when hot. All but disappears in 4H;
  • Tire imbalance from 68 mph-up. This has been improved from the previous 45-up. I have had one tire replaced twice in 9000 miles to get it this good.... The dealer was kind enough to explain that i should expect these kinds of problems with AT tires (they are the factory installed BFG KOs).
After the dealer gave up, a Ford rep spent 4 hours with my truck swapping tires and, reportedly, performing vibration measurements on it. According to the dealer, the rep said all of the above is acceptable.

He did agree with me that I had excessive driveshaft frequency vibration with a 70 MPH onset. Minor victory or so I thought. The dealer ordered and installed a replacement driveshaft. The onset moved way up to about 74 MPH. I plan to try reindexing the driveshaft to see if I can improve on that.

Yes, one should expect the drivetrain presence to be somewhat higher in a 4x4 but this thing shakes and buzzes like a high mileage farm truck. When the rep got involved and inspected my truck, it had about 9000 miles on it and was about 14 months into the warranty period. Bear in mind that the closest thing to offroad that my truck had endured up to that point had been on some unpaved county roads.

Overall, I like the truck but I'm frustrated with the details. Comments?
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Old 11-09-2004
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Yes, you have described a Ranger with a manual transmission and transfer case.

I don't really know where to begin, I have stacks of repair paperwork on my truck. I have been battling the shifter issues since the 3rd day of ownership. Since my warranty is up at the end of this month, I have decided to just live with them until someone builds something else I want.
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Old 11-09-2004
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Well, you've all heard my story! I have pretty much the same deal as you except for a few details. And I don't have quite the same drive-train and tire vibration issues. I have some small vibes, but nothing worth complaining about. I've had the vehicle all the way up to the limiter and it's about as solid and stable as I'd imagine it should be. However I've definitely got the gear noises. The interior is noisy as can be at speed! I should also add that my gear noise is most prevalent in 2nd and 4th, not 1st, 3rd and 5th as you report..
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Old 11-09-2004
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Bob i told you I'll still buy it!
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Old 11-09-2004
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This is way Ford pulled the manual shifter. Its a manual shifter and is going to make noise period. So let it be. I'm sorry but if you wanted car like sounds adn nosies you should've got a car.

I'd much rather have a manual shifter with some noise than some dumb electric shifter (that I hope works when I need it to) and no noise.

Sorry if I come off as rude, not trying to. But it is a manual and the only thing between the nice chrome shifter and the transmission is a rubber boot. Ride in something that has a hurst shifter, you get shorted shift throws but gain gear noise. A trade off.

And A/T's are smooth tires.
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Old 11-09-2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperSonicFX4
This is way Ford pulled the manual shifter. Its a manual shifter and is going to make noise period. So let it be. I'm sorry but if you wanted car like sounds adn nosies you should've got a car.

I'd much rather have a manual shifter with some noise than some dumb electric shifter (that I hope works when I need it to) and no noise.
You have a point, but it has a limit too! There's reasonable noise and then there's way too farkin' much noise! I think that's what some of us are complaining about. I've been in countless full-size and import mini-pickups w/ manual tcases that don't make ANY of the noises my truck does. Also it seems odd that some of the noises are far more prevalant in certian gears than in others, leading me to think that maybe it's an adjustment thing or a part made not-quite within tolerance.

I've been to my friendly Ford stealer several times about this. I've told them I think the truck is far too noisy in the cab from gear/shifter noise. They disagree. They claim that all the noises are normal. Then I read TSBs about issues w/ the linkages etc and hear Dave and his reports of having these issues addressed by his dealer and I start to think that mine's giving me the run-around. So that's why I consult forums like this: so I can find other end users that may or may not have had similar problems and try to get a concensus of how bad things really are..

Quite frankly I think for twenty-something grand the truck should be near-perfect! Maybe your instance of the vehicle is perfect, maybe you're just more tollerant of such problems than some of the rest of us. Maybe some of us really do expect to much. At the very least this thread gives us a chance to share our experiences and get a sense of what's normal and what's a more serious problem.

That being said, if the cabin noise were the ONLY problem I had w/ the truck then I'd gladly accept it. Sadly this is not the case for me. .. If memory serves it is not the case w/ you either!
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  #7  
Old 11-09-2004
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i can't cont4ribute to this thread, but wanted to say:

nice use of bulleting in the main post, here:)

haha
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Old 11-09-2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperSonicFX4
I'd much rather have a manual shifter with some noise than some dumb electric shifter (that I hope works when I need it to) and no noise.
I totally agree. However, I reject the notion that Ford is incapable of building a quiet 4x4 w/manual T/C or one with a reliable electric one. Instead of fixing the noisy manual case, they just dropped its availablity after 2 years. Just like when they wouldn't (not couldn't) build reliable locking hubs, Ford decided that we could do without them completely!

Besides, looking at the whole vehicle, there isn't just one issue here but several. Believe me, I REALLY like the concept of the Level II and 90% of its execution. But Ford has tarnished my ownership experience by delivering an inadequately developed top-of-the-line vehicle with so many 'unrepairable' faults.
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Old 11-09-2004
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Agreed..
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Old 11-09-2004
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Originally Posted by Redneckstone
Bob i told you I'll still buy it!
I was seriously considering it until I saw those abusive flexing shots of your truck. Besides, you'd just put a Flareside box on it and I can't let that happen!!
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  #11  
Old 11-10-2004
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My father was the person that pointed out the noises. I took him for a ride in it the first weekend I got it. I guess in the delight of having my first new car in 10 years I overlooked it. The reason why it is a big deal if my dad notices a noise is because he has Menieres disease, an inner ear problem that makes it hard for him to hear the details of sounds. If he can hear it and tell where it is coming from, it's loud.

One ride with the service manager at my dealership and they replaced the transfer case and transmission trying to fix the problem. Of course it didn't make a difference. All they knew was if they took the lever off it was quiet. They tried putting plastic bushings behind the shifter mount brakets and eventually gave up and told me a QSF (quicker service fix) was issued. That meant it was a priority issue to be resolved at the plant during the production run. I was satisfied that my dealer had done everything they could to acknowledge and attempt to fix the problem so I waited. Later on, that QSF turned into a TSB and I had that TSB performed about two weeks ago. It made no difference, Ford's fix doesn't work. They admitted the problem and created a fix for it that doesn't work. I'm just so disappointed and so tired of it that I just put up with it.

Next time I go to buy a truck, I'm going to do something I have never done before. I am going to test drive trucks from manufacturers other than Ford, even though I get A-plan pricing and work in a Ford building on a Ford Contract.
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Old 11-10-2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave and Julie
Later on, that QSF turned into a TSB and I had that TSB performed about two weeks ago. It made no difference, Ford's fix doesn't work. They admitted the problem and created a fix for it that doesn't work. I'm just so disappointed and so tired of it that I just put up with it.
I noticed the noises and tire vibration right away and complained to the selling dealer. The lead tech took it for a ride and pronounced the shifter normal. This was after the dealer had admitted that they had never even seen a Level II with a manual transfer case before mine. They did agree that the tire balance was off due to excessive road force and replaced one tire.

The noises and vibrations are a blemish on what I would otherwise consider a very nice package. They continued to grate on me until colder lube in the winter would mask some of the racket on the short trips I was making at the time. The truck was in storage from February until April when I started using it again.

After I found out about that TSB, I went down to the dealer and bought the replacement D-bushing and installed it myself rather than have the dealer use an axe and a rattle wrench on my newish truck. I, too, thought this must surely be the fix since Ford issued a bulletin on it. I agree - it does absolutely nothing. I have since had the linkage all apart again and tried shimming it - again, no help.

As delivered, the T/C lever "isolator" was up against the plastic surround and rubbed a couple of pinholes through the T/C boot during the shift to 4L. This was after having been shifted into low range only about a dozen times!!! I realigned and biased everything to generate a little clearance on that side. To stop it from wearing a larger hole in the T/C boot, I finally had to bend the lower lever slightly toward the passenger's side. After doing that bit of butchery, it no longer grates on the inside of the boot during the shift to 4L.

In desparation, I finally took it to another dealer closer to home. About the only thing they have been able to improve in any significant way is the wheel balance, although it is still substandard.
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Old 11-10-2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwenzing
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneckstone
Bob i told you I'll still buy it!
I was seriously considering it until I saw those abusive flexing shots of your truck. Besides, you'd just put a Flareside box on it and I can't let that happen!!
MY TRUCK abused i dont think so!!!! i treat mine better then your truck. and no i wouldnt put a flareside on, you got the bedliner already in the bed so why do it twice hahaha. plus its got to match this truck to it has to have the fleetside!
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Old 11-10-2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneckstone
Quote:
Originally Posted by rwenzing
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redneckstone
Bob i told you I'll still buy it!
I was seriously considering it until I saw those abusive flexing shots of your truck. Besides, you'd just put a Flareside box on it and I can't let that happen!!
MY TRUCK abused i dont think so!!!! i treat mine better then your truck.
Yes you do and I think you should start treating mine better, Zach. Come on over and detail it and show me what I'm doing wrong.
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  #15  
Old 11-10-2004
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Here's my whole story, summurized for those that care:


My dealer too had never seen the LII package, even though I know they sell at least a few a year. My saleswoman remarked at the package when I picked it up. She said that she had to pull the vehicle around from where they finished preping it and said something to the effect of "Wow, I didn't know we made anything like that!"

Later on my first service visit (free state inspection) the service people all huddled around it to ooh and awe at the pretty chrome shifters and black interior.

Later still when I brought it in the FIRST time for the noise issues, I got a call from the service advisor where he started to tell me that they would not cover or fix the issue because of my aftermarket shifters! I quite nearly blew a gasket on the guy. He got the point and went back to the drawing board. I too have had NOTHING susbantial come from my complaints. They claim it is all normal.

Approximately one year ago I had problems where the dash indicator light would not correctly display which position my t-case was in. It would frequently indicate 4Hi when I was in fact in 2Hi. At first this was just a nusance. Later it became a bigger issue because it would sometimes show 4Lo in either 4Hi or 2Hi. This would effect the speedometer as the computer seems to recompute for the change in gearing. It took me 3-4 dealer visits to finally prove it to them. The problem was that this problem would only show when the vehicle was cold. My dealer is a good 30 min ride from here, so by the time I got there the tranny would be warm and working properly. Finally they 'found' the problem when they had the truck overnight for another issue.

Last winter I had a very prononced squeek in the clutch action, especially when slipping it starting out in 1st on a steep hill. At first they told me there was no noise and I was imagining it. I had to get a tech to go for a ride to prove it to them. 10 feet out of the parking lot he agreed that there was an abnormal noise. Being a software engineer, not a mechanic my question was "Isn't this a problem, isn't this indicative of some potenitally more susbantial problem?!" His answer was pretty much a "Yeah, maybe." Two weeks later I had the clutch slave cylender and clutch plates replaced under warranty w/ something like ~12k miles on the clock. My service advisor told me that they had a new clutch part number in the system. He claimed to have one of the old clutches in stock, but it would be a several week delay to get the 'new' part in. That's what I finally had installed. At this point they 'discovered' the t-case indicator problem and fixed it.

Very shortly after this I reached for 4Hi one cold snowy morning. To my surprise the t-case lever was jammed in 2Hi! I could not select any other position. At this point I had been having so many problems w/ the truck that I'd taken the time to scour the Internet and learn as much as I could about the drivetrain on this truck. I knew that the issue had to be he linkages to the t-case and was fairly certian there was a TSB out about it. What bothered me is that I'd been to the dealer 6-8 times at this point, for issues revolving around the t-case and this TSB had not been addressed. Anyhow, back the truck went. A few weeks later they had the parts and repaired my t-case linkages. At this point, for the first time since I've owned the truck, the t-case lever shifted smoothly and properly.

It was shortly after this that I noticed that the front of the t-case boot was no longer attached to the chrome painted plastic base! On closer inspection I discovered that one of the plastic retainers had been broken off the boot and in 4Hi or 4Lo it would seperate from the base exposing the linkages underneath. Shortly after I discovered this the shifter boot started seperating from the base as well. After a week it would not stay seated no mater what I tried. I had this issue addressed just last week..

And that's about it. My whole history w/ the t-case/tranny shifters. I still have what I feel is excessive noise. I too am going to live w/ it until I find something better I feel I can afford. A damned shame too as I thought this to be my 'dream' truck and intended to keep it for 8-10 years minimum. I am quite disapointed and this will likely be my LAST Ranger, possibly my last Ford..
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  #16  
Old 11-10-2004
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Ha! 1.25 years into ownership and I've started to really abuse my truck already. At least cosmetically. The interior hasn't been cleaned in months. The exterior hasn't beel cleaned since Cetnralia! Last weekend I put a pair of pretty good dents in that cow-catcher I have on the front of it. And just last night I discovered two very deep scratches in the tailgate. I've yet to figure out quite where those came from..

F'it, it's a pickup truck! (w/ NH plates no less..) ;-)
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Old 11-10-2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHBubba
Later still when I brought it in the FIRST time for the noise issues, I got a call from the service advisor where he started to tell me that they would not cover or fix the issue because of my aftermarket shifters! I quite nearly blew a gasket on the guy. He got the point and went back to the drawing board.
When I went to the dealer, one of the service writers said they would not consider warrantying my wheel balance because of my "aftermarket wheels, tires and lift kit!" (My truck has the standard Alcoa wheels and BFG KOs and NO lift kit. The T-bars aren't even cranked!). After I spanked the dullard by showing him the truck in one of their brochures, he relented and wrote it up. This has worked to my advantage in a way because they have never questioned my steering wheel controls, EATC, overhead console or any of the other mods. Apparently they just think it's some more freak Level II equipment. "Wow, I didn't know they made Rangers with all this stuff!!" Duh.
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Old 11-10-2004
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Yeah, duh is about right. I was impressed at how lazy the guy was to not walk accross the room to the sales guys and ask if it was standard equipment. I'd think you'd NEVER want to have a customer humiliate you like that.. I don't think a customer of ours would be a customer for long if they caught our support crew saying something like "We sell that!?"

Well, I reiterate, I don't think I'll buy a special package like this ever again. I think my life would have been easier if I had just bought the plain-jane Edge 4x4 or regular FX4 instead and moded it to my liking later. Lesson learned..
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Old 11-10-2004
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Originally Posted by NHBubba
Yeah, duh is about right. I was impressed at how lazy the guy was to not walk accross the room to the sales guys and ask if it was standard equipment. I'd think you'd NEVER want to have a customer humiliate you like that..
My impression is that it is not possible to humiliate a car salesman or a service writer. Skin's as thick as a rhino's because of the nature of the job. They just change the subject, move on to some different BS and ignore their own ignorance.
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Old 11-10-2004
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I had the same reactions from my dealer people, they thought I put aftermarket shifters in too. And they thought I put the tires on. The service manager knew better and kept his people in line and always made it so that I got the best service he could provide. Too bad he retired a year ago. If it wasn't for him, I would have taken the buy back I was offered and I would have bought something else.

My boot used to pop off the t-case too, and I used to have to the 4wd light issues. I brought it to the dealer at least two times for it, maybe three. They finally replaced the switches that tell it where the lever is, but I haven't really tested it. I am sure the next time it rains it will act up again. Mine seemed to be dependent on humidity. It always malfunctioned when I went camping. Sometimes for many miles at a time I would get no speedometer at all.

I wonder if there is someone I can talk to around here so our complaints will at least be looked at. It's better than just bitching about it in the dark like we are. I wonder how many other people out there need to join the manual transfer case lever support group. I must say though, the shifters look so nice and are placed so well (gear shifter at least) they almost make up for all the trouble they cause. Almost.
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Old 11-10-2004
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Originally Posted by NHBubba
......Well, I reiterate, I don't think I'll buy a special package like this ever again. I think my life would have been easier if I had just bought the plain-jane Edge 4x4 or regular FX4 instead and moded it to my liking later. Lesson learned..
I havent learned my lesson i want Bobs truck haha!!!
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Old 11-10-2004
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Originally Posted by Dave and Julie
I wonder if there is someone I can talk to around here so our complaints will at least be looked at. It's better than just bitching about it in the dark like we are. I wonder how many other people out there need to join the manual transfer case lever support group.
I wonder if it's as simple as droping someone an email and saying "Hey, read this forum/post sometime if you get the chance." Were I an engineer at Ford I'd eat it up. Although I'm sure there's very little they can do about the products in the field already. And as we can see from the '04+ models, their 'solution' seems to be to just pull the manual t-case altogether.

I'm actually surprised that we don't have more Ford or aftermarket design/support people lurking around in these forums. The photo forum I frequent is often posted to by people from some of the large distributors.
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Old 11-10-2004
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With the lead time required on vehicle development, I think the effort to get this right was over before it started. By the time they realized they had a problem and then found out there was no easy fix on this small part of the model mix, it was easier to just axe it than to start development over again. Still pisses me off though.
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Old 11-10-2004
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No doubt. Our conversation at dinner in Centralia was interesting for me. As I said before, it is both somewhat comforting and somewhat disturbing to hear that a large company like Ford Motor Co can be as utterly f'ed up when it comes to product development as this little 30-man outfit I work for! Some of your stories of middle and upper managers rushing things through the development stages just go earn a new, bigger bonus or just plain not catch hell.. well that all sounds quite familiar to this lowly inganeer!
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Old 11-10-2004
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Originally Posted by NHBubba
As I said before, it is both somewhat comforting and somewhat disturbing to hear that a large company like Ford Motor Co can be as utterly f'ed up when it comes to product development as this little 30-man outfit I work for!
The saddest part is that Ford has a very rigorous and detailed self-imposed development cycle timetable and strict acceptance criteria that were put into place to prevent exactly this kind of problem. These are based on 100 years of hard won experience in the automotive business but they can fly out the window in 10 seconds when management wants to rush a new idea to market or someone comes up with an ill-conceived 25-cent cost save.

Dilbert vs. the Pointy-Haired Boss
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