SUV seems to float or become unstable

ford
explorer

#1

My SUV seems to ‘float/slip’ when on somewhat slick surfaces. YES, I know, sometimes that’s to be expected, but I’m positive this is not normal.



When going down the highway, whenever I hit a more slick patch of road due to snow,ice, or rain, the hind end of the suv always wants to go to the right and the nose end then ends up going towards the center line. I feel like the car is going to go into a spin counterclockwise, starting from the right rear; or I’m going to float into oncoming traffic. Some say it feels like it’s ‘dog tracking’.



I have driven in snow/ice conditions for almost 30 years so I know how to drive for the conditions. Also, I drive other vehicles on occasion, sometimes on the same day, and do not have the same problem. My friend can feel when the car slips and says it feels scary in the passenger seat; not any fun in the driver seat either! When I hit the slippery surface it feels as if I am IMMEDIATELY floating or in a full slide (like trying to drive on an ice rink). The car also feels like it is fishtailing even though I haven’t touched the brakes or accelerator. It has gotten so bad that I am not wanting to drive the vehicle unless the roads are totally bare. Also, I notice that other vehicles are not having handling issues while driving on the same roads at the same time.



I had a front end alignment done late November, they said it would have shown if something was off in the back end (but then, who’s to say they did it right) Brakes have been done, tires are 1 year old (it also did this the prior winter with the previous set of tires of a different make).



I have heard it called ‘the car feels nervous’ and that’s exactly what it feels like. Kinda all over nervy whenever it hits something without total traction. When I try to use 4 wheel drive to help make it handle better when I am on more slippery surfaces, it does not seem to do anything to help the rear wanting to slide to the right. Almost like I have no control over the rear tires, which is what’s driving the car.



I’ve had the car since it was new, it didn’t do this except for the last 2 years. I am not by any major cities, the 2 car places around here have not been of any help.



Any suggestions of what I can have the mechanics inspect or check? Can a 4 wheel alignment be done on this year/make and is there any benefit?


#2

A “seasoned” front end man should be able to determine the cause of the problem.


#3

I’ve had this happen before on cars that need an alignment. Depending on where you got yours done, they may or may not have done it properly.


#4

I would first make sure that all four tires are correctly inflated, have good tread and no signs of uneven tread-wear. I bet they are fine, but check that first.

Otherwise, what I think is happening is your car needs front and rear shocks or struts. Your tires feel like they are floating because they are: when you hit any kind of bump, the coil springs absorb the impact and return the energy upward. The shock absorbers are there to absorb that returned energy. When the shocks (or struts) fail, the car loses full contact with road because the car is in effect bouncing. Right now, you feel this when the conditions are slippery, but eventually the SUV will feel like this in any conditions, especially at higher speed.


#5

I agree with all the above. You have an issue of some kind with the suspension, due to mis-alignment, wear, or lack of proper maintenance. You need to get it looked at.


#6

Ford2002 did you ever figure out what was going on? My 2001 Tahoe does the same exact thing.


#7

Sounds similar to an issue I had on a previous vehicle. If half the vehicle was on something that may be slightly slippery the whole thing felt like it was on ice. I believe it turned out to be the mount that holds the struts being worn out. Sorry I don’t recall their names.