Just thought I'd share my thoughts on a persistent issue with my van that has reached a favorable resolution. I often turn to this forum for van advice, among other things, so I thought I'd share this experience in hopes that it could be informative to someone. Also, as much as this issue had bothered me, I learned from it and want to put it all down on paper.
I am not too confident in my mechanical background, but I believe that I'm (usually) sharp enough to understand and think things through, and seek wiser voices for guidance. I generally leave the hands-on part to the pros, or whoever I think might fit that bill. Any parts replacements/upgrades to address this specific issue were hopefully wear and tear items, even if I jumped the gun on them. Perhaps to more capable and experienced van owners some of what I share may seem obvious, but it wasn’t so to me.
Van is 2009 E150 passenger with Weldtec 4” kit, Fox shocks, aftermarket wheels and tires. The issue with my van was a vibration. It felt like an out of balance tire. The vibration became noticeable at freeway speeds and, to me, was nearly unbearable anywhere north of 70 mph. My timeline is fuzzy, but it first occurred over two years ago and I've been gradually trying to remedy it since. Here is a list of attempted fixes (I think in order, but might’ve left a couple tire shop visits out):
1. Rebalance and then rotated tires… tried two times at my local tire shop… Free
2. Added Weldtec Steering Dampener… vibration persisted… Cost of parts and install labor
3. Mechanic/Buddy… Inspection of suspension and driveline components, measured driveline angles… Suspected out of balance driveshaft… Driveshaft was balanced, U-joints replaced (why not at that point)... Vibration persisted… Had tires balanced at different tire shop after.. Vibration persisted… Paid cost of U-joint replacement and driveshaft balance, Mechanic labor was free (because we wagered that was the fix and he lost.. hehe)
4. Suspension/Alignment Shop A.. went in for an alignment and they recommended replacing radius arm bushings and drag link but declined ...Cost of alignment
5. Visited Suspension/Alignment shop B for second opinion… ended up replacing radius arm bushings… Vibration persisted but seriously dampened/masked… Cost of labor and parts
6. Rebalanced and rotated tires at local tire shop… Vibration persisted… Free
7. Replaced tires at local tire shop… BFG KO2 to Toyo Open Country… probably could have gotten another ten thousand miles out of them… Vibration persisted… Cost of tires
8. Back to Suspension/Alignment shop B for inspection… They had no answers but suggested that adding a stock front sway bar and drop pitman arm were worth consideration… Free
9. Visited Weldtec… Suspension inspection was all good.. Free. Following test drive, they suspected out of balance tires. We rebalanced then test drove again… Vibration persisted… Cost of an hour’s labor (I was actually there for nearly three). They suggested throwing on stock wheels and tires for troubleshooting, but didn’t have any on hand. Overall, very nice folks over there.
10. Visited Agile… I had a wild hunch that custom tuning the shocks could help. Thought maybe tires were skipping down the road. They inspected and then threw on a set of stock wheels and tires. It was smooth! Then they put my wheels and tires back on. Likely an out of balance wheel or two…Cost of labor
11. Rebalanced tires at Discount… I requested Road Force balance plus Ride Match balance. It was smooth!
Four days later, a small piece of rebar jams itself in right rear tire… Bummer!
12. Tire replaced under warranty at local tire shop
13. Brought that tire and wheel (not yet mounted on van) to same Discount Tire for Road Force and Ride Match balancing… $20.
14. Mounted wheel/tire on van at home… test drive… Vibration is back!
15. Back to Discount… I asked to adjust that tire, but described vibration issue to tech. We miscommunicated somehow. They adjusted the balance on front two tires instead. WTF ...Vibration persists!
16. Located a local shop that balances wheels/tires while still on the vehicle upon a suggestion from mechanic family friend... They balanced three outta four and it is now smooth! ... Cost of labor
17. Driving happily