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Rumble strip sound

Hello, I just bought a E250 with a friend of mine to do some light traveling in. It’s a 1995 e250.
When I bought the van everything seemed good, but after a couple days it started to make a rumble strip sound between 45-55 mph. It alternates and increases with speed (rumble-silent-rumble-silent-etc). After 55 mph it seems to be constant but so low that it really isn’t really noticeable. When I let off the gas it does the same thing as the car slows down. Any idea what it could be? Does it need to be addressed ASAP?

Also, my friend drove with the e-brake on for about 15 min at 65mph… and the brakes thump as you press on them and slow down. Are those just the brake pads or could it be the drum that needs to be replaced? Or something deeper?

Thank you for the help in advance!

My guess would be tires and/or bearings. Beyond that, it’s impossible to guess from here.

Your friend warped the drums and/or discs.
Prevention suggestion: don’t loan your cars to your friends anymore.

I agree that it is impossible to guess in an accurate manner via cyberspace, but at the same time, I think that a malfunctioning torque converter lockup mechanism is a more likely cause of this problem than either tires or bearings. (The specific speed range noted by the OP is a good clue, although it is hardly conclusive…)

The bottom line is that the OP needs to have a competent mechanic drive and examine the vehicle.
Please note that “competent” does NOT include the guys at Pep Boys, Midas, Meineke, Monro, or–God forbid–AAMCO.

The OP should also avoid tire shops for this type of diagnosis and repair. I recommend that the OP seek recommendations from friends, neighbors, and co-workers for a well-reputed independent mechanic in his neck of the woods.

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Can you also feel a vibration in the seat of your pants, so to speak?

I go with rear wheel bearing, a good mechanic for a good diagnosis, unless you plan on doing it yourself…

To check if it’s the torque converter lockup causing the noise/vibration, get the vehicle up to speed where noise/vibration occurs, and slightly step on the brake pedal. This will disengage the lockup converter.

If the noise/vibration stops, the problem is with the lockup converter.


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Hmm . . . that would make me think your tires are not to blame, unless they’re ancient and hard as a rock

The steering wheel is not shaking when this problem occurs, is it?

It could be driveline induced, perhaps related to the driveshaft. The u-joints may be bad, or perhaps the driveshaft itself is imbalanced. A dent could cause this, as well as a balancing weight which has been lost

This vibration you feel . . . may I assume it’s not present at low speed, such as 15mph?

And the rumble, you can feel it in the seat of your pants, more than you can hear it?

It’s more something you can feel, versus something you can hear?

Are you pretty handy?

Good assortment of hand tools?

Anywhere you can park the van for a few days?

As for the brakes, if you hit the brakes at freeway speeds . . . let’s say 65-75mph . . . does the brake pedal kick back violently? And does the whole van seem to shake when you do this, and you can feel it in the seat of your pants?

If it’s only the pedal kicking and no shaking, it might only be the front rotors warped

If it’s a combination of both, the problem is more likely the rear drums, as that’s where the parking brake shoes are, and your friend probably caused the drums to go out-of-round

You can feel the vibration in the seat of your pants at 45-55mph, regardless of if you’re stepping on the brakes or not?

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Have someone check if the drive shaft hanger bearing is causing the problem.,1995,e-250,4.9l+l6,1414112,drivetrain,drive+shaft+center+support,12743


Sounds like typical u-joint or driveshaft problem.

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Just an FYI: When I was calling on Ford in the late 1980’s, there was a problem with E250’s where the lockup converter would amplify a 4th harmonic of tire rotation - and any part of the vehicle that was a multiple of 4 (8 cylinder engine, 4.10 gear, and in my case a strong tire 4th harmonic.) It was the large flat(ish) body panels that resonated in sympathy to the driveline - and it sounded just like the OP’s description. It was so strong that it didn’t take too long before it would be too intense to drive.

I doubt that Ford effectively fixed this problem because of its nature - except to say they may have used more sound insulation to reduce it to a tolerable level. We reduced the tire source, but that was about all that could be done.

This reminds me of a problem with a Ford truck in the shop a few months back

There was a vibration which you could feel in the seat of your pants at freeway speeds. You could just barely hear a whine, it was more of a vibration

Anyways, the cause was driveshaft imbalance

If that is the case here, OP could bring the driveshaft to a shop to be balanced, and replace the u-joints, while they have it