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Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 #4114555 06/03/16 08:31 PM
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ryan2022 Offline OP
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Hi folks,

I tried accelerating in 2WD and its smooth and fine. In 4X4 it bucks like it's missing and feels pretty rough. The 4X4 engages smoothly.

Any thoughts to what this is? Why does this truck hate me so much? It's only got 85k on it roughly. It's had its fair share of kinks.


2011 Subaru Impreza Hatchback 5w30 Mobil 1

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited 0w20 Mobil 1 AFE

1995 Nishiki Navajo mountain bike....some kind of chain oil.
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: ryan2022] #4114559 06/03/16 08:36 PM
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Rand Offline
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Maybe someone beat it like a red haired stepson?

You aren't using 4x4 on a paved road right?
If so you are experiencing binding and abusing your vehicle.


2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 2.0T
2020 Hyundai Elantra "Value Edition"
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: Rand] #4114561 06/03/16 08:38 PM
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GravelRoad Offline
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On pavement?


2016 Subaru Outback Premium 2.5. PP 5w30 oem filter
2018 Hyundai Kona 1.6T. Lifetime dealer free oil/filter change
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: ryan2022] #4114574 06/03/16 08:47 PM
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spasm3 Offline
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Are all the tires the same size front and rear? Worn evenly? I would not engage 4WD on pavement unless there is sand, mud , or snow present.


13 elantra 81k 5w30 synpwr
03 chevy avalanche 83k synpwr 5w30
17 mazda cx-5 17000 miles synpwr 5w30
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: spasm3] #4114575 06/03/16 08:51 PM
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ryan2022 Offline OP
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Sorry, this was a gravel road. Really soft for the most part....maybe it wasn't soft enough? If that was the case, It might have been binding, but it seemed pretty loose to me.

The tires are all the same and inflated to within 2 lbs of each other.

This is the first I've seen it happen so maybe it was too firm. I'm not used to Fords 4X4.

I will admit it did flip it on momentarily on pavement to see if it repeated itself.

Last edited by ryan2022; 06/03/16 08:52 PM.

2011 Subaru Impreza Hatchback 5w30 Mobil 1

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited 0w20 Mobil 1 AFE

1995 Nishiki Navajo mountain bike....some kind of chain oil.
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: ryan2022] #4114577 06/03/16 08:53 PM
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horse123 Offline
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Originally Posted By: ryan2022
Sorry, this was a gravel road. Really soft for the most part....maybe it wasn't soft enough? If that was the case, It might have been binding, but it seemed pretty loose to me.

The tires are all the same and inflated to within 2 lbs of each other.

This is the first I've seen it happen so maybe it was too firm. I'm not used to Fords 4X4.

I will admit it did flip it on momentarily on pavement to see if it repeated itself.


Knock that off for one thing. That's like saying I tried neutral drop launch because my transmission exploded when I held the brake pedal...

Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: ryan2022] #4114583 06/03/16 09:03 PM
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demarpaint Offline
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It could be binding up. 4WD needs slippery surfaces, sand, etc. to work properly. I'd try it on sand if it's possible and see what happens.


God Bless Our Troops

Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: demarpaint] #4114590 06/03/16 09:20 PM
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ryan2022 Offline OP
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Thanks guys, maybe even on the gravel road I hit a dirt patch. I'll check the transfer case fluid level tomorrow, but I really hope that's the case. It engages perfectly. No noise and its smooth.


2011 Subaru Impreza Hatchback 5w30 Mobil 1

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited 0w20 Mobil 1 AFE

1995 Nishiki Navajo mountain bike....some kind of chain oil.
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: horse123] #4114591 06/03/16 09:20 PM
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ryan2022 Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: horse123
Originally Posted By: ryan2022
Sorry, this was a gravel road. Really soft for the most part....maybe it wasn't soft enough? If that was the case, It might have been binding, but it seemed pretty loose to me.

The tires are all the same and inflated to within 2 lbs of each other.

This is the first I've seen it happen so maybe it was too firm. I'm not used to Fords 4X4.

I will admit it did flip it on momentarily on pavement to see if it repeated itself.


Knock that off for one thing. That's like saying I tried neutral drop launch because my transmission exploded when I held the brake pedal...


lol. yeah. You got me there. Momentary dumb move.


2011 Subaru Impreza Hatchback 5w30 Mobil 1

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited 0w20 Mobil 1 AFE

1995 Nishiki Navajo mountain bike....some kind of chain oil.
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: ryan2022] #4114592 06/03/16 09:23 PM
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01rangerxl Offline
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What setting? Just 4X4 HIGH? 4X4 HIGH should be fine on a gravel road at reasonable speeds in that truck. 4X4 LOW is not for a gravel road, or really anything called a road.

Your truck has an open front differential that's engaged to the front wheels all the time. Its transfer case is meant to be shifted into 4X4 HIGH while the truck is moving (at lower speeds), and it should be fine on a gravel road.

If this is happening in 4X4 HIGH, I think the truck has a problem, probably in the transfer case. If you are trying to use 4X4 LOW on a gravel road, the truck will buck and feel pretty rough. That's for mud and crawling over stuff, not going down the road.


2002 Ford Ranger XLT | 3.0 V6 Auto 2WD | 236K miles
1994 Ford Ranger STX | 4.0 V6 Manual 4X4 | 202K miles
1994 Ford Explorer XLT | 4.0 V6 Auto 4X4 | 254K miles
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: 01rangerxl] #4114601 06/03/16 09:33 PM
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ryan2022 Offline OP
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Originally Posted By: 01rangerxl
What setting? Just 4X4 HIGH? 4X4 HIGH should be fine on a gravel road at reasonable speeds in that truck. 4X4 LOW is not for a gravel road, or really anything called a road.

Your truck has an open front differential that's engaged to the front wheels all the time. Its transfer case is meant to be shifted into 4X4 HIGH while the truck is moving (at lower speeds), and it should be fine on a gravel road.

If this is happening in 4X4 HIGH, I think the truck has a problem, probably in the transfer case. If you are trying to use 4X4 LOW on a gravel road, the truck will buck and feel pretty rough. That's for mud and crawling over stuff, not going down the road.


That's what I was thinking. it was soft enough that it should have been fine. I'm going to check the level in the transfer case.


2011 Subaru Impreza Hatchback 5w30 Mobil 1

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited 0w20 Mobil 1 AFE

1995 Nishiki Navajo mountain bike....some kind of chain oil.
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: ryan2022] #4114606 06/03/16 09:43 PM
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ryan2022 Offline OP
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4Hi

Last edited by ryan2022; 06/03/16 09:45 PM.

2011 Subaru Impreza Hatchback 5w30 Mobil 1

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited 0w20 Mobil 1 AFE

1995 Nishiki Navajo mountain bike....some kind of chain oil.
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: ryan2022] #4114666 06/04/16 12:21 AM
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I have a zillion miles off road in a Ranger 4x4. Did trail condition surveys for the Park System for decades. Inflating tires to the same pressure is not the key in 4x4's. Rolling diameter is the key.

If the truck has an empty bed, the rear tires are effectively taller than the fronts because of no load. I had a camper shell and a bed full of survey tools and get unstuck stuff like extra jacks and a come-along in the back, so mine was much better balanced. Even then I had to run different tire pressures front to back.

Set your front tires for best wear pattern. Maybe 32 psi... Take a tape measure and measure from a hard flat surface like a parking lot, from the ground to the top rim lip on the fronts. Now adjust your rears to that same height. Does not matter what the pressure is. Unladen it'll be like 24 psi or something. But all four wheels will now be rolling the same height. Bucking will be gone.

Put a load in the bed and you'll need to air up to keep the rolling height the same... 4x4 needs attention from the operator. This is not AWD with a viscous center coupling. This is a locked mechanical system. It will fight any difference in rolling diameter except on dry fluffy beach sand or snow ...

Last edited by BrocLuno; 06/04/16 12:23 AM.

Formerly in marine engineering. In an earlier life I owned my own petroleum tank truck, and hauled for the majors and independent's.
Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: ryan2022] #4114813 06/04/16 07:01 AM
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eljefino Offline
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Maybe you have a crummy u-joint in the front drivetrain. It doesn't show up unloaded but somehow a load changes things.

Re: Ford Ranger bucking under acceleration in 4X4 [Re: BrocLuno] #4114876 06/04/16 08:10 AM
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ryan2022 Offline OP
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Thanks BrocLuno, You've given me hope! That could very well be it. I've never pushed a Ranger in 4x4 before. I'll give it a shot next time I'm out.

Originally Posted By: BrocLuno
I have a zillion miles off road in a Ranger 4x4. Did trail condition surveys for the Park System for decades. Inflating tires to the same pressure is not the key in 4x4's. Rolling diameter is the key.

If the truck has an empty bed, the rear tires are effectively taller than the fronts because of no load. I had a camper shell and a bed full of survey tools and get unstuck stuff like extra jacks and a come-along in the back, so mine was much better balanced. Even then I had to run different tire pressures front to back.

Set your front tires for best wear pattern. Maybe 32 psi... Take a tape measure and measure from a hard flat surface like a parking lot, from the ground to the top rim lip on the fronts. Now adjust your rears to that same height. Does not matter what the pressure is. Unladen it'll be like 24 psi or something. But all four wheels will now be rolling the same height. Bucking will be gone.

Put a load in the bed and you'll need to air up to keep the rolling height the same... 4x4 needs attention from the operator. This is not AWD with a viscous center coupling. This is a locked mechanical system. It will fight any difference in rolling diameter except on dry fluffy beach sand or snow ...


2011 Subaru Impreza Hatchback 5w30 Mobil 1

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited 0w20 Mobil 1 AFE

1995 Nishiki Navajo mountain bike....some kind of chain oil.
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