By on May 12, 2016


engine mount. shutterstock user rukawajung

Will writes:

Hey Sajeev,

My 2010 Ford Ranger XLT 2.3-liter automatic has been an amazing truck since I bought it new in 2010. Lately, I’ve got a vibration and weird sound coming from the driver’s side when stopped at a red light. It only occurs (or is noticeable) when it’s cold outside.

This sound occurred before and after I replaced the ball joint (driver’s bottom) as I was told by a mechanic at Ford it needed to be replaced.

Here’s some videos of it in action:

I’m wanting to take my wife out for her birthday at the end of the month and don’t want the wheels to fly off, drive into a ditch, or have anything that would leave us stranded. (It is my primary and sole method of transport too, so the sooner I figure this out and fix it the better!)


Sajeev answers:

Since you’ve isolated it to the driver’s side, that rules out the exhaust. My Ford Sierra (the TTAC project car) does this, or did before I ripped out the powertrain. It’s probably a bad engine mount on the driver’s side. Does it also happen when the motor is running in park or neutral?

Will replies:

Looks like only when in drive. I take it back: happens in neutral too!

Sajeev asks:

Is the vibration the same or “better” in neutral?

Will replies:

Better, less noticeable.

Sajeev concludes:

It’s one of the powertrain mounts, and I still reckon it’s the driver’s side engine mount. From the eBay auction photo (below) I found, I bet the rubber between those two metal parts is toast. Whatever took out your driver’s side ball joint has clearly knackered the nearby mount.

The sound on your YouTube video could easily come from those two hunks of metal.


Have a mechanic inspect the mount for play. They usually test it when the motor is throttled/torqued over in gear, foot on the brake, parking brake on, hood open, following obvious safety procedures, to see how much lift is generated on the motor. There shouldn’t be much.

I also suspect the rattle will disappear when doing this. Fingers crossed on that.

[Image: Shutterstock user rukawajung]

Send your queries to [email protected]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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44 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Duratec Ranger’s Mounting Problem?...”

  • avatar

    That sure sounds like one of the motor mounts.

    Get genuine Ford mounts, the knockoffs aren’t worth the boxes they come in.

  • avatar

    It sounds like a distant lawn mover evoking memories of tranquil summer mornings. Keep it as is.

  • avatar

    “My 2010 Ford Ranger XLT 2.3-liter automatic has been an amazing truck since I bought it new in 2010.”

    If a Toyota or Honda vehicle owner had any problem, let alone one such as severe drivetrain/motor vibration at stop lights, they’d preface their question with a 180 degree different characterization of their vehicle.

    Ford is nearly singularly unique in creating reliability or ownership drama for their owners, yet have vehicle owners boast of the inherent goodness of their “Ford vehicles.”

    Ford Stockholm Syndrome.

    • 0 avatar

      My wife’s Odyssey failed one of its expensive active engine mounts at four years of age, does that them mean Hondas are unreliable?

    • 0 avatar

      c mon lets be fair if the guy has owned the truck for 6 years , no idea what the mileage is and says it has been a good truck, you gotta believe him. I would hardly call a bad motor mount a drama. I am not a big Ford fan but even i can say they seem to make very good trucks.

      • 0 avatar

        TOYOTA makes good trucks:

        The Million-Mile 2007 Toyota Tundra

        “With that many miles on a truck bought brand new on May 29, 2007, from Greg LeBlanc Toyota in Houma, Louisiana, one has to wonder what kinds of repairs it has needed.”

        “Basically all I’ve done is oil changes,” Sheppard says. “The only mechanical issue I’ve had with my truck was at 776,000 when the reverse went out. I continued to use it, and thought if I ever got in a bind, I could just push it back.”

        “He eventually got the reverse fixed and is currently on the road to New Orleans from Norfolk, Virginia. Since the odometer stopped working at 999,999 miles, he is now tracking his mileage with the trip odometer. As of this writing, he has 3,300 miles on the trip odometer and counting.”

        • 0 avatar

          “Since the odometer stopped working at 999,999 miles, he is now tracking his mileage with the trip odometer”

          Fricking Toyotas are supposed to be indestructible and the damn odometer quits working right before one million. /s

        • 0 avatar

          A V8 with mostly highway miles? Normal oil changes? A million+ mile V8 is not news, unless it’s European or some crap. Most million+ mile V8s probably go unreported, especially on the commercial end.

          Same as most V8s, my 4.6 V8 would easily go a million+ miles under the same conditions, except since I don’t need it to go that far, I do oil changes at 40K miles, mostly city driving. Used V8s are too cheap for regular oil changes.

          It’s an ’04 F-150 STX, S/C 4X4 (still looks sharp/clean) and could sell it with a blown engine, no problem for $4,000 and walk away ahead. For my last 2 “oil changes” and from now on, I’m only changing the *filter*. Full synthetic though.

          • 0 avatar

            Read the article – It’s a 3.0 Liter V6 Tundra.

          • 0 avatar

            If a V6 can do it… But obviously straight
            “highway miles”. 100,000+ a year??

          • 0 avatar
            formula m

            Denvermike is out smarting his car by not changing the oil. If this engine is so great, why don’t you change the oil when it recommends you do it. I know oil can last that long, but why find out needlessly. It’s about as smart as buying a used Ford in the first place. I have sold Ford Mo Co products

        • 0 avatar

          that’s ONE TRUCK.

          • 0 avatar

            So your saying you change ignition coils more often than you change your oil?
            Don’t know what it is about the 4.6 but everyone I’ve owned or worked on has eaten multiple coils. Some real quality components.

            Mostly city driving and no oil changes? Your either a brave soul or have a plethora of spare engines sitting out back. I have done extended intervals for many years but we are also in the country and short of running to a nearby friend/family members home drive 30+ highway miles each way pretty much wherever we go. Pretty ideal for an engine.

            By contrast, city driving is stop n go, often don’t get up to temp to evaporate condensation and trace amounts of fuel which translates to higher acid levels and quicker depletion of TBN. Even cheap conventional oil can typically go well beyond the recommended service intervals but it sounds like your stretching it quite a bit.

            Sounds like a good experiment though!

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            I used to know a guy who did that “filter only and top-up” on his Cadillac. He would tell everybody about it, like he was outsmarting the whole planet. Then his engine blew.

            Turns-out the few hundred bucks he’d saved on oil didn’t nearly cover an engine swap.

            Just one data point, I know.

          • 0 avatar

            Brave? It’s a darn Ford, not a Lamboghini, so what’s there to fear. Wasting money needlessly, frightens me though. I don’t recommend it for every engine or situation, but worst case, used engines aren’t exactly hard to find for this, likely maintained by the book too, overkill if you ask me. And why would I change the coil packs when they’re working perfectly? Same with spark plugs. This isn’t 1965.

            Despite lots of city miles/idling, I give a good spanking now and then, getting good and hot. It’s factory million+ mile engine, depending maintenance. For me, there’s no point in trying to go that far.

          • 0 avatar

            For “abuse” like this, full synthetics are a must, same as checking the oil level every 5,000 miles or so.

            But I’m amazed by ‘oil changes’ done religiously to $800 craigslist beaters. Crazy if ask me. Just top off and drive it ’til it dies.

          • 0 avatar

            The 4.6 isn’t exactly an engine to neglect oil changes on either, but to each his own. The longevity of the VCT is dependant on clean oil, and the cafe driven 5w20 has additive packs that are quicker to shear out of grade than thicker oils. I’ve got two 4.6’s, one I run a 5w30 in and the other gets a 0w40. Actually quietened those noisy cam phasers down on both. CAFE can kiss it.

          • 0 avatar

            There’s no such thing as a factory spec’d gasoline powered million mile engine. Anywhere. The parts required for such an engine would probably add another 15-20% to the cost of a vehicle. Even HD diesel engines in class 8 trucks aren’t designed for a million miles, but they are engineered substantially enough that some do make it before an overhaul is needed.

          • 0 avatar

            A motor mount went bad! Fords suck!

            (I mean, I mock this as someone who *owns a Ford that ate its engine*.

            And will be looking a lot closer at a Chevy than a Ford when replacement time comes, despite being down on GM in general.

            But DW’s argument here is *ludicrous*.

            And per comments above, as someone who now has a *fresh Jasper 5.4* in his SuperDuty, the very idea of skimping on oil changes in a Ford v8 with cam phasers makes me twitchy.

            Oil is cheap, labor alone on a new engine isn’t.)

          • 0 avatar

            Jacka$$ behaviour? For the total miles I need out of it, the 4.6 is overbuilt as far as I can see and heard. If I’m wrong, no big deal.

            But I’ve been abusing/torturing gas V8s for decades and haven’t killed one yet. Not even a head gasket. I’m already way ahead anyway.

        • 0 avatar

          People who have extremely high mileage cars tend to leave out the parts they had to replace because they’re ones you’re “supposed to” replace when the car wears out.

          Besides the obvious spark plugs, struts, hoses, exhaust, and consumable parts…

          Fuel pump
          Water pump
          Wheel bearings
          Head gasket
          Interior parts
          Windows and doors

          All conveniently forgotten when they claim they’ve never had any trouble.

    • 0 avatar

      “If a Toyota or Honda vehicle owner had any problem, let alone one such as severe…”

      I greatly disagree with you there. Toyota and Honda (especially Honda) people are just as ridiculous about downplaying issues. Same as with Tesla, FCA, Jaguar, Saab, Volvo, diesel, GM, Nissan, Suzuki, Mercedes, VW (but especially VW!!), Kia, Maserati, AMC, REO, International Harvester, Husdon, and basically I can’t think of any brand ownership group that does not show this phenomenon.

      This is why I generally assume it is bullcrap when anyone comments “I owned ‘X’ vehicle and it was great the whole time and went 215K with only annual oil changes and one set of brake pads.”

      • 0 avatar

        if you dig, then you find “oh, well there was that head gasket once, and I think I had to have all of the ball joints replaced. Oh, and… and…”

        the simple fact is that as long as a flaw doesn’t prevent the car from getting you where you’re going, or run up a huge repair bill, *most* owners won’t really think too hard about them.

        • 0 avatar

          I was thinking the same thing, so you never changed the shocks eh?

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            I’m often amazed by what some people will put-up with, either to save money or because they don’t know any better. Worn-out shocks, grinding brakes, shaking wheels, leaking exhaust, bald tires.

            As far as they are concerned, their car is just fine.

      • 0 avatar

        Also, this reminds me, “all those Hondas that ate transmissions in the early 2000s”.

        Hondas in general are good, reliable cars. But some of them weren’t.

        (I’ve had great luck with Toyotas. Some people don’t.

        I hope my XC70 won’t be a disaster in five or ten years – at least that’s the advantage of a “really old design”; they worked out how to not make a bad center diff around 2002.)

    • 0 avatar


      I do like my 2008 Fusion SE better than my 2009 Camry SE.

      Have I had problems with the Ford? Yes. But I just like it – it fits me better, and has a bit more “personality”.

      Oh and how many recalls has my Ford had? 0
      How many has the Camry had? At least 4:

      Accelerator Pedal
      Possible fire from power window switch
      Melting dash
      Excessive oil consumption

      Yet everyone buys them.

    • 0 avatar

      My family has had many early 2000s Fords, and I have to say that they have been adequately reliable, but not impressive. Part of that is likely how various people have maintained them, and some are in the 150k-170k mile range, so I can’t knock Ford for them. But we’ve also had some serious issues with a couple Rangers while they still had ~60k mi.

      I don’t doubt that the OP had no issues with his truck over the last 6 yrs, but I’m not surprised that he had a ball joint / motor mount problem. I’m perfectly fine being in the middle of the road on this one.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve got a 2004 F150 Heritage model – the one where they were using the last of the 1996-2003 model bits to screw together some nostalgia after they had already started building the next generation model. (4.6 ltr V8, 4 speed auto)

        It now has almost 120,000 miles and I have owned it since 2006. Before I list the things that have gone wrong I will preface it by saying that the first two years of its life the history is largely unknown to me and that in those two short years it racked up 68,000 miles. (My only clue to the history is the insurance paperwork found in the glove box listing the owner as a resident of Sun City, AZ.)

        Battery died the first winter I had it found out the original owner had mistakenly put the battery for a V6 model in it. Alternator and idler arm pulley were found to be bad at that time as well.

        AC became inoperable in 2012 and required some leaks repaired and a recharge.

        Did tire replacement and alignment during the summer of 2015, was told that the ball joints were shot.

        Other than tires, gas, and oil changes – that’s it. I’m perfectly satisfied and would buy another Ford no problem.

        Now my 1997 Escort needed a transmission rebuild but that was largely due to my own stupidity.

    • 0 avatar

      I disagree. I cannot tell you many people I’ve talked to who have been turned off to the brand because of the 2012 Escape. And I don’t blame them one bit.

      I have family members that were burned by that lemon.

    • 0 avatar

      “Ford is nearly singularly unique in creating reliability or ownership drama for their owners, yet have vehicle owners boast of the inherent goodness of their “Ford vehicles.””

      feh. I’d say BMW has more of those people.

    • 0 avatar

      Read the threads at ToyotaNation and TacomaWorld about the 2016 Tacoma with the 3.5l 2GR-FKS engine, and the weird vibration issues owners are seeing, in some cases causing drivers’ hands to go numb. They’re pissed.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry but Hondas are way more likely to need a new motor mount or 3 and they are way more expensive that most brands. Also note that most of the are not a simple rubber mount to disguise their vibrations.

      So no the biggest bunch of people who have selective memory when it comes to just how good their vehicle is are not Ford owners they are Honda owners followed closely by Toyota owners.

    • 0 avatar

      Both Sajeev & Sanjeev are likely wrong, anyways.

      Google “2.3 liter Duratec vibration at stop” (restrict it to 2007 to 2011 MY) and 3 common issues come up repeatedly, non of which have anything to do with motor mounts.

  • avatar

    The way TTAC members extrapolate their experience with one or two vehicles from an automaker to the automaker’s quality/reliability as a whole reminds me of the old medical lecture joke:

    “In my experience” = “I’ve seen one case”
    “In my series” = “I’ve seen two cases”
    “Over, and over, and over again” = “I’ve seen three cases”

  • avatar

    Damn, Son, you’re getting good. Specific diagnosis and fix. Am I not paying attention or is the Sierra looming over Casa Sajeev like a crack in the middle of Coulee Dam? Or have you elected to be the first Pro-Modified Euro-Ford with a Coyote? I would crew at my own expense on that project.

  • avatar

    Sorry but I don’t think it is a motor mount. If it was a motor mount, particularly the driver’s side you would get a good clunk when you put it in drive and the engine feels that load and torques to the side.

  • avatar

    Looking at TSB’s:
    There were no suitable TSB’s for the 2010 MY.
    However, there was one for the 2007-2009 Ranger. Sajeev may be on to something. There may be a fatiguing scenario in the exhaust / mounts that whatever fix Ford implemented, or a process variation (something done during the ball joint replacement) may undo. Now as to whether you have the latest PCM calibration, I wish I could access that info but that is best done with a dealer and a VIN.


    This article supersedes TSB 9-18-5 to update the Service Procedure.

    Some 2007-2009 Ranger vehicles equipped with a 2.3L engine and automatic transmission may exhibit an engine drone/moan/vibration at idle in the cab.

    Follow the Service Procedure steps to correct the condition.


    Remove the three (3) rear pushpins and position the right inner fender splash shield aside.
    Loosen the two (2) right hand (RH) and two (2) left hand (LH) engine support insulator upper nuts to allow 1/4″ (6 mm) to 1/2″ (12 mm) clearance between nut and mount plate.
    Install exhaust damper following instructions included in the damper installation kit.
    Loosen the two (2) exhaust downpipe-to-exhaust manifold nuts. Allow 1/4″ (6 mm) to 1/2″ (12 mm) clearance of nut surface.
    Loosen the joint clamp at the muffler inlet pipe.
    Loosen the two (2) transmission mount bolts and two (2) isolator-to-transmission bolts and allow 1/4″ (6 mm) to 1/2″ (12 mm) clearance.
    From passenger side of engine, grab and shake the engine assembly to allow the engine mounts to seek a neutral position.
    From the driver side of engine, grab and shake the engine assembly to allow the engine mounts to seek a neutral position.
    Install the two (2) LH and two (2) RH engine support insulator-to-engine support bracket nuts. Tighten to 75 lb-ft (102 N-m).
    Position the right inner fender splash shield and install the three (3) rear pushpins.
    Shake the exhaust system until it seeks a neutral position.
    Tighten the transmission mount and the isolator-to-transmission bolts. Tighten to 66 lb-ft (90 N-m).
    Tighten the upper exhaust downpipe-to-exhaust manifold nut until partially tight. Tighten the lower manifold nut until completely tight. Complete the tightening process on the upper manifold nut to the specified torque. Tighten both nuts to 30 lb-ft (40 N-m).
    Tighten the joint clamp at the muffler inlet pipe. Tighten to 30 lb-ft (40 N-m).
    Start the engine and check the exhaust system for leaks.
    Reprogram the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) to the latest calibration using Integrated Diagnostic System (IDS) release 64.06 and higher. This new calibration is not included in the VCM 2009.11 DVD. Clear all diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) after programming. For DTCs generated after reprogramming, follow normal diagnostic procedures.

    Part number installed: 8L5Z-5246-B Exhaust Damper Kit

    Maybe you’re missing the exhaust damper kit – the tech removed it and didn’t re-install? Maybe over time the kit becomes ineffective? Maybe the engine mounts need repositioned from your service action, or they need replaced?

    Or it could be your AC compressor of something on the serpentine belt that is going bad.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have heard of a restaurant owner near where I live that got 200k out of a 78 Cadillac DeVille without any oil changes. The car was finally junked but the big block V-8 went into a tow truck, but with regular oil changes. I myself would never take a chance on not doing regular oil changes but I have heard of it being done. I think that the Cadillac had mostly highway miles. Highway mileage is much easier on a vehicle than stop and go traffic.

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