Left front tire locking up and then releasing while in drive...but not in reverse

brakes
tires
repair
wheels

#1

Hi. I have a 2004 Ford Explorer V8 4 wheel drive. Yesterday I was on the way home from a 2 hour drive and was on the expressway at a complete stop on a downhill grade. When I hit the gas, the car started lurching - it would shoot forward, then slow down, then shoot forward, then slow down.

I got the car to the side of the road and called a tow truck. Just to test - while I was waiting for the truck I put the car in neutral and even though I was on a steep downhill grade, it wouldn’t roll at all. When I put it in drive - it wouldn’t go initially until I had to put a decent amount of pressure on the gas pedal. I reminded me a being at a speed bump that you couldn’t idle over and have to give the car some gas to power it up over the bump.

When the tow truck got there - I watched the driver drive the Explorer up onto the bed of the tow truck. What I noticed was this:

The left front tire was completely locked when he was hitting the gas. But when he gave it enough gas, the right tire that was working would push the car forward while the left tire remained locked creating friction on the pavement but the car was still moving forward from the other wheel.

Then after 3 or 4 feet - the left tire would unlock/release and start to rotate - causing the car to suddenly lurch forward. But then after another few few it would lock again. Then release again.

The thing I found odd was that when the driver later reversed the car down off the truck - the left front wheel worked just fine. So the car works perfectly in reverse, but in drive the left wheel locks then releases then locks then releases.

Any advice or assistance on what the problem is would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!


#2

I wonder if a caliper pin/bolt came out and the caliper is cocked.

Yosemite


#3

I believe you have a bad rubber brake hose on your left front wheel. The last time that I had a bad one it did the same thing. Locked going forward but would slightly release in reverse.


#4

Basically have the same problem with my 2006 Dakota 4WD, yesterday it started shimmying and the left rotor singed my finger when I touched it,have to get my crew chief on it seems to happen after the cool weather.Guessing its a sticky caliper ,messed up rubber line or something of the sort-Kevin


#5

The wheel bearing could be have failed, the caliper could be loose and hitting the wheel, the CV joint on that corner could be coming apart. All speculation on our part. It is MUCH easier to diagnose if the wheel is removed and you can take a peek around. It could be cheap, it could be expensive, no way to tell. If the failure is not readily apparent when the wheel comes off, you have just ventured into expensive as it is likely inside the front differential.

Good Luck and let us know what your mechanic says is the problem.


#6

Is this an “AWD” vehicle (it’s in 4wd all the time) or is it “4WD” where the driver can control the 2wd-4wd function…If it’s 4wd, were you driving in the 4WD position??


#7

More than likely a stuck caliper. Pins could just need greasing. This seems to be the biggest cause of calipers sticking. Rubber hose could be bad or the caliper itself.


#8

Caddyman - 4WD where I can switch between 4WD and 2WD. I was in 2WD at the time.


#9

“The left front tire was completely locked when he was hitting the gas. But when he gave it enough gas, the right tire that was working would push the car forward while the left tire remained locked creating friction on the pavement but the car was still moving forward from the other wheel.”

This sounds like it was in 4WD as the R/F tire had power going to it…Hopefully it turns out to be a brake problem… But if it’s a front drive axle problem, things will get expensive…


#10

It looks like a caliper bolt came out and the caliper is swinging forward and locking up into the wheel rim. Same thing happened to me in my Saturn once.


#11

It sounds like Traction Control messing up to me, does your vehicle have it? Are there any warning lights on?


#12

It ended up being one of the bolts that held on the caliper bracket came off. I had my rotors changed about a month ago and it must not have been tightened securely.

A $4 trip to the hardware store and a couple of hours was all it took - working great now. Thanks for all the help!


#13

A broken tulip joint might be the cause.


#14

Super late reply but so happy this post exists. I had the same exact issue and was initially thinking it was a broken wheel bearing. Just went back out and was able to shift my caliper by hand with ease so that’s clearly the issue. Going to go grab a bolt after work and save myself $400.


#15

A seized caliper could be hot enough to melt a hubcap.If this is the case,you will need a new caliper.You could buy a remanufactured caliper at 1/3 the price of the OEM in most autoparts store.