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Unusual Vibration


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13 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   TallTom

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 01:08 PM

Well I bought a new Flex Ecoboost and I absolutely love it. Delivered with 209 miles on it and now after 1 week I am at about 1900 miles!!! Much of that was a long drive from Minnesota to Wisconsin and back home to Arkansas.
The Flex handles great, drives quiet but after that many miles I have discover one unusual problem that I am having difficulty trouble shooting. I was driving the interstate system at average speeds of 75-80mph. Both Saturday and Sunday through Missouri I noticed what can best be described as a rolling vibration. Kind of like the waves washing up on the shore. Every 4-5 seconds there would be this silent, strong vibration that I could feel both through the steering wheel and the seat. Then it would fade for a few seconds and then return.
I tried the following tests to see if I could control it:
- I sped up to 100mph twice to see if it would intensify greatly with higher speed (tire related). It did not. But it was more noticeable at 80 than at 75.
- I turned off the climate system to see if it was related to the A/C compression. It did not go away.
- I turned off the cruise control. No change.

I thought it might be related to wind hitting the car and just the right frequency or something but I experienced it both in a crosswind (Driving West with a wind from the North) and a tail wind (driving south with a wind from the North.).
There seemed to be some relief from it when turning along a shallow corner in the freeway.


My guess would be that it has something to do with the drive train or the the anti-sway feature applying the engine management and/or brakes at a certain frequency.

Any guesses, thoughts, additional trouble shooting recommendations before I take it to the dealer. I just know this is going to be one of those difficult to diagnose problems by a dealer, especially in a small town with very few Flex's around. Just trying to increase my odds of finding the problem quickly.

Thanks in advance for any and all input on this. Otherwise the vehicle is an absolute dream to drive and ride in.

#2 OFFLINE   roblectric

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 01:25 PM

Sounds like a wheel bearing.

#3 OFFLINE   TallTom

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 01:49 PM

Sounds like a wheel bearing.


Would a wheel bearing have that kind of recurring vibration frequency. Seems like it would be pretty constant and increase in frequency with speed?

#4 OFFLINE   CJ8Rockcrawler

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 03:05 PM

Could it be the electronic steering assist compensating for the crosswind as designed?

#5 OFFLINE   TallTom

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 03:25 PM

Could it be the electronic steering assist compensating for the crosswind as designed?


That was my guess as a possibility. But for a tailwind? Doesn't seem to make sense.

And I did account for road quality. I forgot to mention that. The roads I-70 was blacktop. US-71 was newer concrete. Both in good condition. I am familiar with vibrations from variable roadways but this had a repeatable rhythm to it. The road surface didn't seem to matter. And it would have changed with speed.

#6 OFFLINE   ACDII

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 06:38 AM

It is a balance problem somewhere. It could be a wheel or tire. At a certain speed you are picking up harmonics, and that is what you are feeling. Have you heard of a Harmonic Dampener? That is the pulley on the front of an engine, that has a rubber insert between the hub that attaches to the shaft and the outer ring. It dampens vibrations at certain RPM's that can set up damaging harmonics in the engine. First thing I would do it swap the front and rear wheels and see if you still get it in the steering wheel. This will be one very difficult one to track down if it is not a wheel or a tire. It could be any moving part in the drive train. One other thing to check. when you get the harmonics going again, keep the cruise set, but down shift a gear and see if it goes away or continues, this will rule out the engine if it doesn't go away, if it goes away, then it is the engine or trans doing it. A wheel could be off just a hair so that its imbalance produces a vibration at a certain speed, not uncommon, but it is kind of rare.

#7 OFFLINE   TallTom

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 12:56 PM

It is a balance problem somewhere. It could be a wheel or tire. At a certain speed you are picking up harmonics, and that is what you are feeling. Have you heard of a Harmonic Dampener? That is the pulley on the front of an engine, that has a rubber insert between the hub that attaches to the shaft and the outer ring. It dampens vibrations at certain RPM's that can set up damaging harmonics in the engine. First thing I would do it swap the front and rear wheels and see if you still get it in the steering wheel. This will be one very difficult one to track down if it is not a wheel or a tire. It could be any moving part in the drive train. One other thing to check. when you get the harmonics going again, keep the cruise set, but down shift a gear and see if it goes away or continues, this will rule out the engine if it doesn't go away, if it goes away, then it is the engine or trans doing it. A wheel could be off just a hair so that its imbalance produces a vibration at a certain speed, not uncommon, but it is kind of rare.


I like the downshift suggestion I will try that.
I did take it for another run on the local freeway today. Here is what I noticed. The "waves" of vibration still occur. As I increase speed the vibrations increase in frequency (rapidity) but not in intensity. As I go slower, they decrease in frequency. But the "wave" (vibration, pause, vibration seems to remain the same).
It also seemed that on left banking freeway turns the vibration went away but on right banking turns it seemed to remain as it would on straight aways. Hard to be 100% certain on this but it seemed that way.
I also think there is a more steady state vibration when reaching 50 (no waves) but I haven't found a smooth stretch of straight road to test this on. The frequency is slower and thus a bit harder to distinguish with the ambient street imperfections. But I can feel it through the wheel, my seat, and the gas pedal.

I've got a drop off appointment scheduled for Monday at the local dealership. We'll see what happens.

Thanks again for the input.

#8 OFFLINE   Waldo

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 04:00 PM

You can get these "waves" of vibration as wheels go in and out of phase with each other. No tire has the exact same diameter, so they all spin at slightly different speeds. So at one instant a point on one wheel will match with a point on another wheel, but then after a few rotations those points will be out of alignment. Over time, those points will re-align momentarily and you get the vibration again. This phasing will be altered as you go around curves, since the inside will always spin slower than the outside on a corner.
The cause is most likely wheel/tire, so I agree that rotating the tires is the best first step, but anything in the driveline could be a cause as well.

Edited by Waldo, 30 March 2010 - 04:01 PM.


#9 OFFLINE   ACDII

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 10:33 AM

Yep, the more information you give helps, and your last one does seem to point to a bad tire. .

#10 OFFLINE   TallTom

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Posted 04 April 2010 - 02:30 PM

Yep, the more information you give helps, and your last one does seem to point to a bad tire. .


After a couple more freeway drives I am starting to buy into it being a tire issue. Yesterday we did a family junket. Before we left I inflated the tires from 35/36 to 38 PSI. On the freeway portion the vibration seemed just a little higher frequency and more constant. I could feel less through the seat and floor but still through the steering.
I also tried the downshift idea and that didn't seem to have an affect which would tend to eliminate and engine/transaxle problem.
Today I was the on the freeway again and it felt as though the waves of vibration were back. But again seemed more through the steering wheel than the seat. Also had a repeat of a right freeway bend maintaining the vibration and a left bend eliminating it.
This all leads me to believe its the left front tire.
Hopefully I'll know by tomorrow when it's looked at by the dealership.
I'll be sure to update here when I find out.

#11 OFFLINE   TallTom

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 05:59 AM

You can get these "waves" of vibration as wheels go in and out of phase with each other. No tire has the exact same diameter, so they all spin at slightly different speeds. So at one instant a point on one wheel will match with a point on another wheel, but then after a few rotations those points will be out of alignment. Over time, those points will re-align momentarily and you get the vibration again. This phasing will be altered as you go around curves, since the inside will always spin slower than the outside on a corner.
The cause is most likely wheel/tire, so I agree that rotating the tires is the best first step, but anything in the driveline could be a cause as well.


Well I believe Waldo wins the prize. The front two tires were a little out of balance. No issue when they road force tested them however. But after the balance, all seems to be working as it should. I haven't had the opportunity to take it on an extended freeway drive but the short segments have been fine.

Again thank you all for the ideas.

Tom

#12 OFFLINE   ACDII

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 12:58 PM

Well I believe Waldo wins the prize. The front two tires were a little out of balance. No issue when they road force tested them however. But after the balance, all seems to be working as it should. I haven't had the opportunity to take it on an extended freeway drive but the short segments have been fine.

Again thank you all for the ideas.

Tom



Ahem

It is a balance problem somewhere. It could be a wheel or tire.


I said that before Waldo chimed in! <_< Glad you got it fixed though.

#13 OFFLINE   TallTom

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 01:05 PM

Ahem



I said that before Waldo chimed in! <_< Glad you got it fixed though.


Sigh...
I tried. Too many balls juggling. Sorry I dropped yours. Didn't go back and reread all the posts.
I'll do better next time.

#14 OFFLINE   rlehwald

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 10:43 AM

I have a 2010 Flex SEL and am experiencing the same thing. I thought at first that it was those crappy Goodyear tires that were original to the car so I put a brand new set of Michelin's on it. Waves of vibration still there. Mine occur between 60 and 70 mph...maybe above, but I rarely go faster. So, I left it with the local Ford dealership. They balanced the tires, checked wheel bearings, short shafts, etc. and could find nothing. They said it "magically went away". I found it interesting that the dealership is interested in magic to fix my car, but whatever. If it went away, then fine, I'll take my car home. Well, it did not go away, magically or otherwise. So, I finally have the time to take it back in a month later and took the service writer guy for a ride. I even let him drive. I can feel it the whole time, but this fella can't feel it at all. Well, what now. I tell them to please just find someone else to drive it and fix it. He proceeds to tell me that if they can't find anything wrong with the car, then I have to pay for the rental car they are going to let me drive while they have it. That's nice. They think I'm crazy. I'm pissed because I spent a good chunk of dough on this car that is slowly driving me crazy. And now I have to explain to a mechanic what periodic vibration is. Sometimes I think it would be easier to crash the thing into a pole and start over.






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