Ford Ranger Rear Suspension Issues Explained(+3 Tips)

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

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

  • Noisy and Bouncy Rear Suspension
  • Squeaky Rear Suspension
  • Sagging Rear End

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 rear suspension consists of a leaf spring with 2 stages. The last leaf is a helper spring that increases the rear suspension rate when the payload is increased. 

Noisy and Bouncy Rear Suspension

  • Rear end pops and squeaks over bad roads
  • The Rear 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)

Root Cause:

  • The Bounciness is due to the fact that there is insufficient damping in the rear suspension probably due to a failed shock absorber
  • The noise could be due to either 
    • shock mounting bushes or 
    • failed shocks themselves or 
    • both

Troubleshooting Noisy and Bouncy Rear Suspension: Shock absorber

  • 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 and bottom mounts are eye-type with Rubber cushions and are bolted to the frame and axle bracket.
  • Along with shock absorber failure, the mounting bushes fail as well, causing knocking noises.

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.

Squeaky Rear Suspension

  • Rear end squeaks during normal driving
  • Squeaking increases when the truck is unloaded as compared to when it is loaded

Root Cause:

  • The Squeak could be due to:
    • Interleaf friction
    • Failed front Hinge Bushing

Troubleshooting Squeaky Rear Suspension

  • The leaf spring pack works together to provide the required suspension stiffness
  • In this process, the leafs contact and cause friction and noise
  • The manufacturer provides rubber spacers to reduce noise, but these wear out over time
  • One solution would be to replace the rubber spacer pads
  • The other would be to regularly apply grease to the interleaf contact surfaces
  • Check also the condition of the leaf front hinge/hanger Rubber bushing. This consists of a steel bearing tube with 2 conical rubber bushings fitted around the tube

Pro-Tips:

  • If the bushing does not come out easily, you may need to use a Press-kit with an appropriate size collar
  • If the press-kit is not working, then you could you could use a torch and heat up the eye of the leaf spring just enough to melt the rubber and push it out
  • Make sure not to heat the metal of the leaf spring till Red-hot temperature, which could potentially damage the leaf spring
  • To fit new bushings, you could also create a Press-kit using a long bolt and some select Socket-heads that match your leaf spring eye dimension

Sagging Rear End

Symptom: 

  • The rear suspension sits at a lower height than normal without payload
  • On loading the rear suspension sags even further
  • One side sits lower than the other

Root Cause:

Ther rear end sag could be due to

  • Leaf pack would have reached the end of its life
  • Broken leaf within the pack on the side that sits lower
  • Broken leaf spring shackle on one side

Troubleshooting Sagging Rear End: Leaf spring

  • Inspect the leaf pack to check for any broken leaf within the pack. If so then you could replace the replace the broken leaf alone
  • A broken leaf  means that you have effectively lost the spring effect of one leaf and that the effective spring rate of the broken side has reduced. Due to the reduced rate, the side will sag more for the same load  on a broken leaf spring side compared to a good leaf spring side.
  • If there is no leaf breakage on either side of the suspension it would be a case of sagging due to fatigue; meaning the leafsping material has lost its basic “Springy” quality and needs to be replaced.

Troubleshooting Sagging Rear End: Shackle

  • Trucks that are used in the snow belt are susceptible to salt from the road and corrode faster than trucks that are not exposed to salty conditions.
  • The shackle, when rusted beyond a certain point, tends to break and sometimes even fall off the truck.
  • The leaf spring shackle holds the rear end of the leaf spring at a certain distance from the chassis. Once this is broken, the leaf spring sits on the chassis itself and therefore the chassis height on that side gets reduced.

Conclusion

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

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