The Truth About Cars » vibration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » vibration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: A Tribute to the Mariner’s idle Escape? (PART II) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape-part-ii/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:28:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=778665 We had two updates to a previous Piston Slap this weekend, surprisingly within two hours of each other.  Let’s hear from the OP first: TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes: Sajeev, reporting back: You may be interested in this, if for no other reason than to add to your diagnostic toolbox; my experience certainly can’t be unique: […]

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We had two updates to a previous Piston Slap this weekend, surprisingly within two hours of each other.  Let’s hear from the OP first:

TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes:

Sajeev, reporting back:

You may be interested in this, if for no other reason than to add to your diagnostic toolbox; my experience certainly can’t be unique: Several comments below your post also suggested the motor mount(s) as the problem. I more recently discussed this with a professional wrench acquaintance, who also said that the mounts can be expected to go south after ~80K miles; he suggested using a padded floor jack to lift slightly on the engine during a time when I detected the “rough” idle (the oil pan on this vehicle, and maybe all Duratec engines, is waffled cast aluminum). Bingo! The vibration ceased when I did that.

I have now changed the large mount on the passenger side of the engine compartment, and can report that the vibration is no longer present. But, there is a bonus prize to this story: for the last 25 – 30K miles, I’ve been also chasing a creaking noise which occurred – again more prominently during cold weather than hot – at any acceleration from a stop sign/light. I would have bet serious money that it was coming from the rear suspension, and in fact went so far as to replace 3 of the 4 control arms in the rear (they’re fairly cheap and easy to replace), with no success. Replaced the motor mount::creaking noise vanished like magic!

This vehicle is nothing great by any means – wife drives it 80% of the time and it suits her needs – and I don’t care that much for it, but these nagging issues really made me start to think about dumping it. Whole new attitude now – it will stay around for a while yet! Thanks for your help and thanks for reading this. I enjoy your posts greatly.

Sajeev answers:

Excellent!  Nice to see my initial armchair diagnosis was on the money. All it takes is a fractional difference in mount height from new to cause this problem. Maybe a millimeter, maybe less! No way can you eyeball this and know for sure.

I am totally diggin’ the padded floor jack on the oil pan trick.  Perhaps the pan needs reinforcement to work here, not just the old school sheet metal affairs. But perhaps all it takes is a little lift at one corner (i.e. not the big flat part of the pan) to prove the bad idle is indeed an engine mount vibration. Or put a long board on the jack so the weight is spread across the entire pan, from corner to corner.

No matter, glad to see you are now enjoying your ride much more.  It’s hard not to love it after getting your hands, arms, legs and even your mind “dirty” in a successful diagnosis of a seemingly impossible problem!

Then Rene writes:

Sajeev:

Greetings! I enjoy your fine column and blog very much. Keep up the fine work! With regard to the poor idle that your reader was looking for help with on his 2005 Mariner, I thought I would chime in after much experience with the Ford/Mazda Duratec family of V-6’s, particularly the 2001-2007 Tributes and Escapes. In addition, a 2003 Tribute with 199,000 miles is my daily driver. I have found that the V-6 idle issue, after all the usual culprits have been considered and/or remedied without result, could be these two things—a failed DPFE sensor, or the intake seals are cooked.

These V6 engines have a manifold on top which is bolted to a plenum riser, which in turn is bolted to the engine. There are six seals where each component meets the other, and as one might expect, after 100K the six seals between the plenum and the engine have grown crispy from age and heat (in far worse condition than the six plenum to manifold seals, which might still appear pliable). The lower seals harden and begin to suck air in, and this condition reveals itself the most noticeably by a poor idle and a drop in fuel mileage. I have had excellent results by replacing all the intake seals (a complete intake gasket set is required) as well as all of the smaller vacuum hoses, cleaning the MAF sensor (using MAF sensor cleaner, not carb cleaner) and air flow meter; in most cases, showroom floor idle is restored.

These engines also seem to favor Motorcraft platinum spark plugs; I’ve tried other plugs in a pinch or on sale, but the Motorcrafts produce the smoothest idle and best fuel mileage for me. Of course, if the DPFE sensor hasn’t ever been changed, it’s a good idea. This component is also exposed to a great deal of operating heat. Mine clocked 140,000 miles before it failed, but I’ve seen them go earlier….and later. You never know with those. Finally, my last fleeting thought on the subject: two half inch vacuum tubes tee from the large air intake hose (just after the MAF sensor housing) and each one plugs into a grommet in the rear of each valve cover. These grommets deteriorate from heat and contact with oil and fail with time, resulting in a vacuum leak that starts slowly but soon gets worse. These should also be checked and replaced if they are soft and gummy.

I hope that this info helps someone.

Sajeev concludes:

Thank you for writing! I thought a failed DPFE throw a check engine light (CEL)…as that’s my expereince in my ’95 Mark VIII. And boy, was that a fun sensor to replace on the MN-12 chassis! But I digress…

Rene’s great assessment of the Duratec V6s is something every long-term car owner must consider:  dried up gaskets and rubber vacuum lines that either go brittle or gummy.  And not just the usual suspects you see with a quick look under the hood, there could be gaskets you wouldn’t even consider unless you have the proper service manual and/or information from your model specific forum.  And if you own one of the millions of DOHC V6s shoehorned in a wrong wheel drive platform, well, I promise you that your eyeballs can’t find all the hidden gaskets and rubber bits.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: A Tribute to the Mariner’s idle Escape? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/piston-slap-a-tribute-to-the-mariners-idle-escape/#comments Wed, 05 Mar 2014 13:16:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=761745 TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes: Sajeev, Your post of 2 Mar 2011 was a great explanation regarding the cause of the “T” joint oil leak I’ve been experiencing. No one on any of the normal Ford sites has been able to pinpoint the problem, so I thank you for the information. (I’d discovered the source, but […]

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TTAC Commentator sundvl76 writes:

Sajeev,

Your post of 2 Mar 2011 was a great explanation regarding the cause of the “T” joint oil leak I’ve been experiencing. No one on any of the normal Ford sites has been able to pinpoint the problem, so I thank you for the information. (I’d discovered the source, but didn’t know the cause/fix until your post.) TTAC is now on my Favorites list!

So, I am hoping you might also be able to shed some light on the reason for the poor-quality idle I’m experiencing with the same engine. This does not seem to be a mis-fire, but more of a resonant vibration typical of an engine slightly out of time, and/or at the incorrect idle speed. It occurs primarily in colder weather (below 50F) and does improve once the engine is warmed – IF the ambient temp is above about 40F. When ambient is below that point, the strong vibrations do not disappear. Of course it is most pronounced in Drive/Reverse but noticeable in Park/Neutral as well. Manually increasing the idle speed slightly using the throttle does help. In warm weather the idle may be rough upon first start but improves pretty quickly.

I’ve investigated thoroughly (w/ propane) for a vacuum leak, cleaned the Mass Air Sensor and TB, and have replaced the IAC valve and spark plugs, with no improvement. There are no codes in storage to guide me to the solution, and I’m now thinking the MAS itself may be faulty but am not sure how to test it.

Have you seen this problem with other vehicles?

The vehicle in question is a 2005 Mariner with 114K miles.

Sajeev answers:

Thank you for your note, and Behold The Power of The Internet!!!

I often suspect the hydraulic filled engine mounts in these cases. A similar question was posted recently, and our commentators had suggestions you should consider. So have a read there, too.

sundvl76 replies:

Sajeev,

Thanks for the link; read it all.

To add info to my question:

Engine mounts was one suggestion I’d found on another forum, and I’ve visually inspected them for leakage and also verified the engine does not move (power applied/brake on). Not saying it is impossible, but the symptoms are not the same as the Audi owner’s in the post.

Chevron or Exxon used 90% of the time, Shell occasionally. I also recall that when this first started (2 winters ago), I did an injector cleaning with the BBK kit, but no change in behavior was detected.

A small vacuum leak was also suggested – one which seals up when the engine is warm. Possible, but not sure how that matches up with my experience of the poor idle being dependent on ambient temps; the engine block should still eventually reach the same temp regardless of ambient. Incidentally, I’m in TX, so “cold ambient” is relative. . .

Thanks, I’ll keep watch on Piston Slap for further info.

Sajeev concludes:

If the engine mounts look that fantastic when running or not, consider the totally not impossible chance of clogged EGR passages.  I worked on a 1996 Sable LS (Duratec) that was EGR code free, but the uber-plenty EGR coking was a possible cause to its bad idle.  And while your Duratec V6 is significantly different from a UR-Duratec Sable, my EGR de-coking, fresh vacuum lines, a tune up (which you did) certainly cured the Sable.

And if those fail, perhaps you still need new mounts: perfection to your eyeballs doesn’t mean they are just out of spec enough to cause the funny idle.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Mounting Problems Amid Audi Uncertainty? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-mounting-problems-amid-audi-uncertainty/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-mounting-problems-amid-audi-uncertainty/#comments Wed, 13 Nov 2013 13:16:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=647386 TTAC Commentator jrominski writes: Nice to see you are still at it on TTAC. (Back at it?) So my story is a 2010 Audi A4, Quattro 2.0t Premium. Red, as it should be (No, it should be brown. Duh. – SM). Just turning 60k miles. The engine is an EA888 according to Wikipedia, twin chain driven […]

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TTAC Commentator jrominski writes:

Nice to see you are still at it on TTAC. (Back at it?)

So my story is a 2010 Audi A4, Quattro 2.0t Premium. Red, as it should be (No, it should be brown. Duh. – SM). Just turning 60k miles. The engine is an EA888 according to Wikipedia, twin chain driven counterbalance shafts as is known to work so well on I4s. Production commenced 2008 and its in all US A4 B8s with the 2.0 gas engine. Inside oil cap the gallery is clean as can be, I keep the VW spec Mobil 1 changed with my mityvac. New plugs, NGK of correct part number, air cleaner path is fine. The rest is original unmolested.

The issue is it runs rough. Slightly, as in the car does not shake but I feel it. Worst, dead cold, running at just above idle up a slight incline. A miss. Since 25k. Goes mostly away when warm or when power is asked for. No codes. Sort of feels like a tire flat spot but it did not go away with new tires.

Dealer responses on different occasions from mile 25k through mile 60k (all same dealer.)

  • (15 minutes after drop off, motor still hot) It does not run rough. Our service guys could not replicate the problem. You should be using top tier gas. (I hand him a printout from www.toptiergas.com and suggest generating a handout for the service department to give customers instead of just telling them to go look it up on internet.)
  • It runs rough because you have the old, non-counterbalanced engine. Its a 2010. Buy a new car. The news ones do not do this.
  • It runs rough but does not throw a code. We can’t help. What gas are you using?
  • It does not run rough.
  • It runs rough because of intake sludge. We will fix it for free right after it goes off warranty. Top Tier in the mean tine.
  • You should be using that there top tier gas. Run some Chevron through it. (I buy mine cheap at Costco)

A friend with VAG setup ran a diagnostic and it has no codes, except for a heater flap ran out of limit once. It sat there idling kind of lumpy and no misses were recorded anywhere.

Friend says:

  • All Audis have crap motor mounts. He flexes right mount up on lift with a tire iron, it moves a bit. Its fluid filled, should flex. The mount has a sensor and would throw a code.
  • If it had a miss the O2 sensors would pick it up and if it were serious the Cats would fail. They are fine. Its your imagination. All new cars suck. Freaking Japanese. Buy an old Panther (Obviously, esp in Brown. – SM) or a new Focus.

I am doubtful motor mounts are what it is. This guy makes his living doing off-warranty work for Porsche Audi dealers all around Boston, engine controls and sensors. The dealer warranty payment from Audi is low enough that they will not ever perform any real diagnostics under warranty: no code then OK let’s back it out of the shop!

 

Sajeev answers:

OMG SON! I mean…

  1. Even with my corporate full-time gig, the eldest TTAC scribe’s been reliably posting to the Piston Slap series twice a week, but there’s still a question that I’m not a regular contributor?
  2. Your last paragraph, the section I entered in bold face:  an Audi specialist tested the engine mount, it CLEARLY failed no matter what the sensor reports, and you don’t believe him?

More to the point:

Look, I understand your lack of Audi knowledge (of which I’m guilty too) and our country’s general mistrust of any mechanic (ditto)…but…

I had a similar problem after my (then 13-year-old) Lincoln Mark VIII had a bizarre vibration/miss around idle.  I gave up and went to my trusty mechanic. He fired it up, opened the hood, put his foot on the brake, put it in gear and pressed the gas: the motor lifted up like the nose of an Airbus on takeoff. Granted a Ford liquid-filled mount lasting 13-ish years and 150-ish thousand miles is a little different than your situation, but if your mechanic friend says that Audis have “crap motor mounts” you go right ahead and believe him!

Fact is, just a millimeter (or less) of variance in any powertrain mount is a concern. The sensor hasn’t been tripped yet, but that’s irrelevant.

Case in point: once again, my Mark VIII. The fairly complex aluminum differential/IRS setup had an annoying vibration above 80 MPH. On a whim, I replaced the four rubber mounts because one looked somewhat smushed (technical term) compared to the others. Considering my driving style in a modified, Hot Rod Lincoln, perhaps that fraction of a millimeter meant something.  Lo and behold, it did.

Take it from me and your Audi-wrenching friend: GET NEW ENGINE MOUNTS!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: To Love, To Hate Aftermarket Rimz (Part II) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-to-love-to-hate-aftermarket-rimz-part-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-to-love-to-hate-aftermarket-rimz-part-ii/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:11:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=647754 Sajeev writes: In our last installment of this particular ‘slap, a reader had a question about aftermarket wheels.  The solution was rather simple, the wheels discussed were not hub-centric.  But I also mentioned a horrible “death wobble” problem with my aftermarket reproduction SVT Cobra wheels on my Fox Cougar, solution TBD.  It was a big […]

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Sajeev writes:

In our last installment of this particular ‘slap, a reader had a question about aftermarket wheels.  The solution was rather simple, the wheels discussed were not hub-centric.  But I also mentioned a horrible “death wobble” problem with my aftermarket reproduction SVT Cobra wheels on my Fox Cougar, solution TBD.  It was a big problem until…

photo 1I switched out the junky/unsafe lug nuts (bottom) that came with my aftermarket wheels for some OEM (top) units! Unsafe how? While the bevel that seats the lug nut into the wheel was identical, they were both a thin casting AND completely hollow. More to the point, that chrome end is actually a PLASTIC CAP giving the appearance of a solid casting!

NOTE: sadly, out of blind rage that I risked my life with horrible lug nuts, I threw away the actual problem units. These higher quality aftermarket lug nuts are for photography purposes: imagine a snap-in chrome center on this skinny+hollow design and you get the full picture.  

photoAnd the only reason this happened? My Ranger (pictured here after running a RallyCross) received a healthy wheel upgrade, requiring chrome lug nuts to complete the look. After installing “good” aftermarket chrome lug nuts and these Alcoa forged alloys (shaving 40-50lbs of unsprung weight) the original FoMoCo lug nuts went on the Cougar’s 1993 Cobra wheels and presto…no more death wobble.

Last week I finally drove the Cougar on a notoriously “wobble inducing” stretch of Houston highway and sure enough, the problem is 99% gone. Hence the update you are now reading.

Moral of the story: check the basic components of any system, even if they are “new” and seem to be high quality. Because, odds are, it’s something simple causing the problem.

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Piston Slap: To Love, To Hate Aftermarket Rimz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/piston-slap-to-love-to-hate-aftermarket-rimz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/piston-slap-to-love-to-hate-aftermarket-rimz/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 15:24:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=482628 Lance writes: Hey Sajeev, A long time (since roughtly 2006ish) TTAC reader, I thought you might be able to help me out a bit, or point me in the right direction. My car (2007 Honda Civic Si Sedan, 17300 miles when bought used off lease, now currently around 39000 miles) vibrates terribly at highway speed. […]

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Lance writes:

Hey Sajeev,

A long time (since roughtly 2006ish) TTAC reader, I thought you might be able to help me out a bit, or point me in the right direction. My car (2007 Honda Civic Si Sedan, 17300 miles when bought used off lease, now currently around 39000 miles) vibrates terribly at highway speed. Starts around 55mph, continues to increase until about 80-85 where it begins to smooth out again.

Oddly, the vibration seemed (at the time, about a year ago or so) to have cropped up “overnight” (I don’t drive on the highway often, maybe once or twice a month) and at the time I hadn’t had the car up to those speeds in quite some time, probably about 3 weeks or so. I certainly didn’t recall any vibration the previous trip I took with any highway speeds, but there sure was one obvious then, and it’s gotten a little bit worse since I first noticed it. I’ve been living with it ever since, but I’m getting fed up.

The vibration is not felt in the steering wheel (aside from the steering wheel being a part of the interior of the car, the wheel dosn’t shake side to side or anything like that), it is felt throughout the entire interior of the car as if the vehicle is sitting in a giant paint shaker. Riding in the car at highway speeds feels as if the car was built with the purpose of being a mobile massage chair. As I can’t really drive everywhere at speeds in excess of 80mph, I’d like to find the cause.

The car was aligned and the wheels balanced shortly after I first detected the issue. Of course, the honda guys told me they couldn’t guarantee a balance on aftermarket wheels (which came with the car when I got it, cheapie 18″ ICW racing wheels shod with brand new cheapie Fierce tires if it helps to know the makes/models). They did get the alignment right, the car did and still does track straight down the road as long as the road is smooth and flat and the steering wheel isn’t doing it’s tick/pulse thing (more on that below). I thought the balance would be the problem, but after that didn’t correct the issue I began inspecting the tires for wear patterns and was flabbergasted by what I found.

The wear pattern doesn’t look like any normal sort of wear that I’ve ever seen. It certainly doesn’t look like anything listed in the following image. The closest thing it resembles is an order of cupping, maybe with a side of camber wear… but it’s on both inside and outside edges, and the worn spots extend for about 6 to 8 inches or so, and do not always match up with a worn spot on the opposite side of the tire. If anything, they’re offset from each other a little, side to side. All 4 tires are worn in this manner to some degree. I don’t currently have any photos, the wear is hard to see in person because it’s spread out over a large area. The only way to tell is to notice that some of the shallower grooves in the tread disappear for a few inches before reappearing. Can’t really feel it by running my hand over the tire either. Very, very weird.

The car drives straight, handles fine. Nothing about the handling or alignment causes me concern from a driving-the-car perspective, but the weird tire wear must be caused by something.

That bit about the steering “tick”: The steering wheel has a little bit of a pulse, or tick to the right every so often at highway speed, but that is unrelated to the vibration, and it doesn’t always seem to be present. Minor annoyance, sometimes I don’t even notice it.

The only other thing of note: My family lives in the country, and visiting them means about 15 miles of unpaved road driving at the end of a 4 hour drive. When I first had the car I took that section pretty slow, but even 35-40ish mph was still a pretty hard hit on the tires in a couple places (an embedded chunk of rock I couldnt see which I hit with the tires on the passenger side, and an entrance onto a bridge that all 4 tires hit, which was VERY rough, enough to make me concerned that I might have damaged tires, wheels, even suspension parts, but the honda guys said everything looked ship-shape aside from the alignment. My dad thinks I may have shifted belts in the tires since they’re pretty cheap things and who knows how well they’re really made. My research online tells me this probably isn’t much of an issue but that’s why I’m writing to you!

If you have any ideas what might be the problem, I’d be glad to hear it. I’m thinking of putting lighter rims and new tires on shortly just to have a reprieve from driving a giant red massage chair on wheels. I’d hate to put new stuff on just to wear them out and be shakin’ shakin’ in 6 months or so though.

Help me Sajeev, you might be my only hope!

Sajeev answers:

I could be your only hope?  No pressure there! Anyway, I think one (or more) of your wheels is out-of-round. It sounds like you hit enough bumps/potholes/sinkholes to do two things:

  1. Damage the suspension enough to cause a wear item to prematurely wear and eat up the tire tread in that funny manner.
  2. Bend your crappy, cheapie wheel.

Aftermarket wheels are such a hit or miss, but you often get what you pay for.  The photo above is my Fox Body 1988 Mercury Cougar XR-7.  I shelved my factory 15×7″ turbine wheels (same as the Mustang GT of the era) because they were impossible to clean, needed refinishing, and are so outdated that I could no longer buy a decent summer tire for it.  And the way I drive, I want summer tires!

So I upgraded to 1993 Cobra style wheel, reproductions (probably) from China.  At 17×8.5″ these Rimz are a huge upgrade from stock but with a factory look: they get compliments all the time , even if people regularly say that I need to “modernize” to a different wheel.  I wanted a period correct restomod upgrade, and I got it.  Case closed? Not. These Rimz are stupid heavy, I don’t even want to know the increase in unsprung weight.  Even worse, they occasionally wobble on certain wavy roads and certain speeds…immediately after I did the wheel swap.

So my Cougar has the same problem as your Civic! Wheel balance? Nope. High quality, brand name summer tires?  Not helping. Numerous suspension checks with plenty of new parts?  No dice.

I gave up.  The Cougar looks awesome (to me) and I love the extra grip, and I’m not super concerned with the occasional wobble, because I know exactly where its coming from.  If this was a track car, I’d either get new Rimz or have a wheel shop professionally machine them to perfection.  If that’s even possible!  Is it possible?

Well, now that I’ve thoroughly confused myself, off to you Best and Brightest.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

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Super Piston Slap: NVH = Killing You With Kindness? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/super-piston-slap-nvh-killing-you-with-kindness/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/super-piston-slap-nvh-killing-you-with-kindness/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 19:20:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=469097 While Noise, Vibration, Harshness (NVH) control built into a modern machine is normally your friend, it often kills you with kindness.  That’s when NVH hides things that should never be hidden.  Shameful. Cowardly. Pathetic. And while I wasn’t expecting this level of deceit when merely replacing the shift knob on the otherwise stock transmission in […]

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While Noise, Vibration, Harshness (NVH) control built into a modern machine is normally your friend, it often kills you with kindness.  That’s when NVH hides things that should never be hidden.  Shameful. Cowardly. Pathetic. And while I wasn’t expecting this level of deceit when merely replacing the shift knob on the otherwise stock transmission in my 2011 Ford Ranger…well it was thrust upon me.  And it can happen to you, too.

There was a time when you could simply unscrew the factory shift knob on any basic machine (cough, 2011 Ford Ranger) and replace it with whatever the heck you liked.  Something with a little more style than stock. Or something with more heft, giving a nicer quality feel in your hands. I had a solid 8-ball shifter remaining from the T-56 swap in my Fox Cougar, and I certainly thought it would look choice on the truck. So I began pulling the factory part off. Oh man, what a mistake THAT was…

So apparently the shift knob isn’t a normal “twist and spin-off the threads” type of deal. The forums mentioned a way to pull really, really hard to pop it off the threads, and I’ve seen that done elsewhere on other vehicles…so I gave it a shot. While those scratches weren’t from my teeth, they sure felt like it. No dice.

I wound up ripping off the rubber knob skin with my Leatherman tool, then attacking the hard plastic covering with a ball-peen hammer.  I was left with this metal hunk, and the remnants of the plastic covering wedged between the shift lever and the shift knob.  How many vibration quelling layers are there to this thing? 

Back to the top photo. I wised up and did what others suggested: remove the shifter assembly.  Which is another multi-layer, sleeved, affair with NVH reducing content. But with one bolt, I made it all go away.  But was I gonna try to remove the factory knob on my workbench?  I already mangled the damn thing up pretty badly, and the scratches could be present when I install the 8-ball knob. So I punted on 4th down. I called in my kicker, eBay motors, and got what I really wanted instead. Sure it cost me a few too many dollars, but…well…

BAM SON!  What you see here is the chrome lever from the Ranger FX4 Level II, the aforementioned 8-ball knob, and the faux-leather boot from a 1991 Mustang LX 5.0 Notchback. (Yes, I had to add the Notchback part, as that makes it cooler).  All this stuff together makes for a far superior design, deserving to be standard issue on ALL Rangers of the U-shift-it variety. Aside from the slick chrome plating (mixed feelings with all this black plastic) and the unbelievably better ergonomics of the FX4 lever, this part has very little NVH interference. To wit:

  • Huge, thick, air tight(ish) noise quelling rubber boot? Gone.
  • Multi-layer Knob sporting chintzy plastic and rubber covers?  Nope.
  • Sleeved shift lever with some rubbery stuff sandwiched between them?  History.

Now remember I said that the stock stuff can kill you with kindness? That doesn’t mean you want to be physically abused: word has it that the Hurst replacement is a bit over the top for most folks, even if the price is nice.  So the Ranger FX4 part has the right look and feel, and it’s a fantastic piece of OEM engineering. I can now shift without my elbow ever leaving the armrest.  The notchy engagement is now faster, and you can feel the notches instead of just wondering WTF is wrong with the gearbox. Vibrations through the shift knob are minimal, but present. Hammer the throttle in first gear and the lever emits a gearbox whine that–with my modified air filter housing and 2010 Mustang GT muffler–gives the DOHC Duratec Ranger a Pre War British sports car’s demeanor.

You can’t help but smile a little as you twist up the little Duratec Ranger through redline in the first three gears.  OR A LOT. This is just so frickin’ cool. And it’s so damn hard to find this anywhere in the world of new vehicles sold in North America.

My point? Just about any vehicle can be de-wronged, fixed to your liking. Don’t be killed by kindness, you need not be a victim any longer!

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Piston Slap: I’m Pickin’ Up Good Vibrations Pt. II http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/piston-slap-im-pickin-up-good-vibrations-pt-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/piston-slap-im-pickin-up-good-vibrations-pt-ii/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2009 15:28:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=338664 Chris writes: Thank you all for your input on my question. I took the truck to my mechanic and he gave it a good go over and could not find anything wrong. He was said it might be the heat shield on the exhaust system vibrating at that RPM however he could not find anything […]

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Not digging the vibes?

Chris writes:

Thank you all for your input on my question. I took the truck to my mechanic and he gave it a good go over and could not find anything wrong. He was said it might be the heat shield on the exhaust system vibrating at that RPM however he could not find anything loose. I did get the transmission fluid changed and everything looked good there. Thanks to you and the readers of Piston Slap for all the good advice.

Sajeev replies:

Loose heat shields make tinny, obnoxious rattles. They can’t cause what you’re feeling. I am a little concerned your mechanic isn’t looking at your specific problem.

The big concerns raised by the Best and Brightest (torque converter, engine mounts and driveshaft U-joints) are hard to diagnose with the truck on a lift.  If the mechanic didn’t drive it on the highway, gun the motor while looking at it, etc. you should take it back.  Or find another mechanic. Because time is money, and you probably wasted a fair bit of both right now.

That’s my $0.02.  Best and Brightest, am I wrong?

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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