Ford Ranger Front Suspension Issues Explained(+3 Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the front suspension issues that occur in Ford Ranger and what causes these failures.

The Top 3 Most Common problems with Ford Ranger Air Suspension are:

  • Noisy and Bouncy Front Suspension
  • Front Knocking Noise
  • Front Clunk Noise

Ford Ranger Suspension

The Ford Ranger is a compact and mid-size pickup category produced from 1983 – 2012 and then from 2019 onwards in North America. A Ford Ranger T6 platform based model was developed in Australia in 2011 and has been in production since. The T6 Ranger is into its second generation presently from 2021.

The Ford Ranger Mazda-based (1998–2011) had a Torsion bar spring instead of coil spring in the front suspension for the 4X4 variant and coil springs for the 2WD variant.

The Ford Ranger T6 Front suspension was a Double Wishbone Type with an Upper Control arm, a Lower Control arm and a Coilover Shock Absorber Strut with Anti Roll Bar.

Noisy and Bouncy Front Suspension

  • Front end pops and squeaks over bad roads
  • The Front wheels feel extremely bouncy
  • Going fast over a rough patch it feels as if the front end is losing grip and floating
  • Handling feels vague with a lot of roll
  • Seen commonly in the Mazda-based (1998–2011)

Troubleshooting Noisy and Bouncy Front Suspension

  • The noise could be due to either failed shock mounting bushes or failed shocks themselves or both.
  • Bounciness is related to weak damping due to a failed shock absorber. The shock absorbers are basically unable to dampen bounce.
  • With weak front damping, cornering ability of the vehicle is highly compromised and leads to excessive roll
  • To confirm this, you can do a bounce test.

Bounce Test:

  • At the front of the vehicle, at any one corner, apply your weight vertically downwards in such a way that the suspension starts to bounce at that particular corner. 
  • Push downwards continuously in an oscillating motion till you now, have caused maximum vertical movement of the corner.
  • Now leave the corner and watch how many times it bounces on its own. 
  • If it takes more than one oscillation to settle, then it is confirmed that the shock absorbers have gone weak.
  • The top mount is comprised of 2 donut-shaped rubber bushings tightened against 2 large Cup-washers.
  • The bottom mount is eye-type and is bolted at its axis through 2 bolts to the Lower control arm.

Pro-Tips:

  • When tightening the Shock bottom bolts, make sure that the vehicle is at its normal ride height.
  • If this bush is tightened at any other ride height, the Bush  always rests in a twisted condition at normal ride height and will result in a reduced Bush service life.

Front Knocking Noise

Symptom: 

  • Knocking noise when turning
  • Knocking when going over a rough road
  • The noise is higher during rainy weather and reduces when the weather is dry
  • Seen commonly in the Mazda-based (1998–2011)
  • Handling is poor
  • Steering shake at high speeds

Troubleshooting Front Knocking Noise: Lower Control Arm

  • Front end knocking is most probably due to worn out bushings or ball joints
  • The weather-dependent  nature of the noise points to the fact that Ball-joints are getting corroded and probably even rusted. The rust reduces when it is not raining and therefore causes lesser noise.
  • The worn out bushings and ball-joints allow the suspension arms to move excessively and hit the chassis or nearby components
  • The worn out bushings and ball-joints also allow the wheel alignment to be out of spec when experiencing cornering loads. This causes the handling problems.
  • This can be inspected by using a pry bar to check movement at the bushing joints. If any joint moves freely then it could be that the bushing has failed
  • The lower control arm ball-joint is the lower pivot for the knuckle during steering and hence is the root cause for knocking noise in a majority of known cases.
  • The bushes are not serviceable and have to be procured along with the control arm since the press-fit cannot be done without a specialized hydraulic or pneumatic fixture.

Pro-Tips:

  • The Mazda based suspension has a front Torsion bar that runs through the control arm.
  • Be sure to mark the axial position of the Torsion bar using a paint marker

Troubleshooting Front Knocking Noise: Upper Control Arm

  • Steering wheel shake is generally associated with Upper control arm failure.
  • The knocking problem could be caused by the Upper ball joint and the upper control arm bushes as well, apart from other reasons.
  • The upper ball joint controls the Camber and when this joint has play, it also causes problems in the handling of the truck.

Front Clunk Noise

Symptom: 

  • Clunking noise from the front end when going over even small bumps on the road
  • Front Shocks and Tie Rods are in good condition

Troubleshooting Front Clunk Noise: Anti Roll Bar Mounting Bushes

  • You can do so by trying to shake the Anti Roll bar by hand and observing for noises near to the joints
  • The Chassis attachment bushing which holds the Anti-Roll bar(ARB) to the Chassis is a Cylindrical Rubber piece through which the ARB passes through. 
  • If this Bush wears out then it creates a clearance between the ARB and the Bush and allows the ARB to move around, causing noise.

Pro-Tips;

  • Apply Mounting Grease to the Bushing while mounting it onto the Anti roll bar.
  • You could also think of using a harder Polyurethane bushing from the aftermarket, which is harder and lasts longer

Troubleshooting Front Clunk Noise: Anti Roll Bar End-Links

  • The Anti Roll Bar End-links are anchored with sandwiched donut-shaped rubber bushings at the 2 ends
  • The donut bushings tend to fail over time
  • Once they fail, they allow movement of the end link and cause suspension ‘Clunking’ Noises

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the front suspension issues that occur in Ford Ranger and what causes these failures.

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