Front grinding noise and pulling left on 2003 Ford Explorer

The car is a '03 Explorer AWD on 38k. Right after i travel through a rough/jumpy surface there is some grinding noise coming from the front, the car starts pulling to the left with a slight jerky/chugging -like behaviour. This seems to happen at any speed and the problem goes away on its own after about 1 minute. While the problem is there, the gears and revs behave completely normal. 4x4 H and L are working fine, but the same problem has happened in 4x4 H (havent tried with 4x4 L).

by in Miami, FL on December 31, 2008
4 answers 2 comments
ANSWER by on December 31, 2008
Sounds like your left front auto locking hub dosn't disengage right away after being in 4 X 4 H, or do you have manual locking hubs?
COMMENT by on December 31, 2008
The Explorer 03 has no manual hubs for locking/unlocking the differentials, its all electronically controlled. There's 3 settings: 1)4x4 Auto - locks differentials on demand 2) 4x4 Hi - differentials completely locked 3)4x4 Lo - completely locked on a low gear setting.
ANSWER by on December 31, 2008
One of the CV shafts might be binding causing noise and the pull to the left. It may make noise until the front wheels/4wd disengages. I'm not familiar with how the 4wd engages but if the front diff has a solenoid to engage the front wheels, it's possible that is hanging up
ANSWER by on December 30, 2009
hope someone can help i also have a 03 thats doing the same thng it acts like the front hub is trying to engage but the lock out is not working but this type of vehicle doesnt have locking hubs.i recently sold a 05 that started doing the exact same thing.noise is in the left front and it is the same has when the older model auto hubs would try to engage i have checked cv seems ok but it really jerks sometimes like if you were shifting on the fly with the hubs not apinning the same speed its that kind of jerk HELP
ANSWER by on February 11, 2010
I'm having what sounds like a similar issue with my 1999 Explorer. It is making a horrible grinding sound that also feels like it is somewhat preventing the wheel from spinning (pulls really hard to the left and jerks). The sound is present at any speed and speeds up as the wheel rotates faster. However, it will just randomly go away for brief periods while driving for seemingly no reason. Has anyone figured out what this is yet? I'm not sure if I should drive this car to the shop or have it towed! Thanks
COMMENT by on February 18, 2010
I did solve the problem a long time ago. And it was very simple. The grinding from the left side was a shot bearing. Changed it, problem solved. Then, the jerky behaviour was kind of a puzzle, it seemed worse than it was... Turns out the tires were of different sizes (they were the same nominal size) but aparently becuase they were different makes they had up to 2" difference in diameter. Changed all 4 tires, they were due a change anyway. Problem solved. All in all, i solved this with 1x LF bearing and 4x new tires. Hope this helps!