Ford Explorer Dying...any Car Voodoo Advice?

Hey Guys,
Got a question and its kind of a doozy, so here I go. Have a 2000 Ford Explorer XLT thats in fairly decent shape considering its been thru 4 family members now. For awhile now the battery has been kind of weak(sometimes a slow start, jumpy idleing at stop sign etc…). The cables and terminals were always coming loose but I replaced those. This morning though, the final blow. Turned the key and nothing, jiggled the terminals and even though the dash lights come on, I turn the key and POOF, dead again. Tried several more times and nothing.

So my father in law comes over to jump off the battery. I crank the wheel hard right to get it in position, push the thing backwards maybe 10 feet, he tightens the terminals, lets it charge, and BAM…starts up, no worries.

Driving maybe 1/2 a mile down the road the car starts shaking BAD, not a vibration or a little shudder. It’s like the hand of God is trying to rip off the front end! It goes off and on like that the whole 30 min to work. Mainly when I hit rough road or a little bump and at all speeds. And now i just tried to start it to go home and same problem, battery flops the same as this morning.

So, I’ve been going crazy trying to figure it out all morning. I’m not a complete mechanical idiot, but I cant lock it down to save my life. Is it just a battery/alternator combo prob? Did I whack out my alignment an/or tire rods from pushing it in neutral? My brake lights are on and my ABS light is as well but would that make my car go crazy like that? Everyone gives me a hard time for driving my beloved Ford “Exploder”, but I’m not ready to give up on it yet!

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

The first thing that needs to be done is test the battery condition and the charging system.

Do you know anyone who owns a digital multimeter?


Not anyone personally but I know a few mechanics from church who might own one, I’ll def ask them. Thanks for your reply though, its appreciated!

The brake lights on is probably killing the battery, now your battery is toast. Fix the brake lights on issue, then replace the battery, my best guess. Our 03 windstar had an intermittent brake light on issue killing the battery, shot the most unusual switch on top of the brake pedal full of wd 40 and it took care of the sticking brake light problem. Clean and check all batteery connections also, Just to clarify is this the dash indicator or the bulbs in the back of the car?

Many auto parts stores can test the battery, alternator output and starter draw with a simple clamp-on tester. This can take a lot of the guess work out of it. Offhand, however, at least the battery sounds like it’s toast. But the test can check your alternator, too.

Thanks to all ideas and suggestions but would a battery/alternator/starter issue cause the car to shake so violently? I thought for sure something in the steering/suspension had finally gone kaput.


When the computer loses the proper voltage, things start to shut down. Ignition/fuel system.

It’s not like where the voltage is suddenly lost and everything shuts off immediately. But where the voltage slowly drops off, and the engine goes spastic.


Sounds to me like your battery terminal post may have broken loose inside the battery. This is not an unheard of problem. Seen it on more than one occasion.

Ok, I’ll try with the battery and go from there. Again, my thanks for all the input from everyone!

Make sure connections are clean before hooking up the new battery.

I think you are somehow Smooshing Two different issues together somehow. The batt problem is a batt / charging issue.

The violent shaking for 30 min to work???!!! It should have been violent shaking for 30 SECONDS before you pulled over to look things over.

Obviously you need to check the charging system and battery… then you need to find the Hand of God apparently


Ok, changed the battery, battery cables, terminals and she started right up so thats all taken care of. Had the guy at Autozone test the whole charging system including alternator and starter and they’re good to go as well. But driving it from work back home yesterday I noticed the front end and steering wheel shaking AGAIN periodically. Not that extreme rip-you-outta-the-seat-shaking but still pretty bad.

Seems to be happening when I hit a rough patch of hwy and/or a speed bump. It’s not pulling to the left or right when I let the wheel go but there seems to be a more back n forth play in it the usual. Any ideas?

Start by inspecting the suspension, ball joints, tie rod ends, shocks, and wheel bearings. I would not drive it until you find the source of the problem. Having a steering/suspension component fail while driving can easily cause a crash. If you are not sure how to inspect the components it might be worth paying a good shop for a diagnosis.

@SteveC76 wrote If you are not sure how to inspect the components it might be worth paying a good shop for a diagnosis..

He’s wrong. The situation is very dangerous. You really MUST have the front end checked out before a catastrophic failure sends you out of control and injuring or killing others. If you are willing to die rather than check out your car, fine, but I am not willing to die with you.

If you want to find “The Hand of God” . . . you need to head over to Argentina

Diego Maradona seems to be in possession of it

I remember a soccer game a few decades ago, where he BLATANTLY touched the ball with his hand, and the referee(s) conveniently didn’t see a problem. And the press used the term “Hand of God” after that

Have you checked the steering fluid?
Our trusty old Explorer shakes if fluid is low, which has happened once in 19 years. I’ll bet your power steering fluid has never been replaced, although it should have been done by now (we have ours done every 30,000 miles). Old fluid is subject to moisture and particle contaminants, and these can kill your steering components, among other things. One old racing driver (I think it was Ken Miles) said he’d rather drive a car with no brakes than one with no steering.

Speaking of which, have you checked the brake fluid? This, too, should be periodically checked and replaced (Ford suggests every couple of years or 30,000 miles, which seems a little too frequently but that’s what the owner’s manual says).

Most suspension components, fluid levels/condition, and brakes are fairly easy for an experienced person to assess in a brief time although shock life depends on mileage these days. If you got along well with the folks at Autozone they may just check things as a customer courtesy if you bring it in quickly, especially if you have children who ride in the car.

If the hand of god does not work, maybe the buddhist palm, from Kung Fu Hustle, fun if you like kung fu movies.

I wouldn’t be driving a car that shakes this bad. I may nurse it at 5mph a few miles to a shop that can inspect it, but that’s the fastest I’d go.

I’d suspect that you have a steering component about to fail catastrophically.

You may not want to rid yourself of this Exploder, but it’s not fair to take some unsuspecting family out while you force this thing back out onto the road.
Get it checked ASAP before you take yourself or others out in a crash.