Common Ford F150 4×4 Actuator Problems And Solutions

Are you wondering about some typical Ford F150 4×4 actuator problems?

You are probably curious about some issues that an otherwise reliable vehicle has, specifically with the actuator. This is why in this post, we will cover this topic and discuss potential solutions that you can try.

Keep reading to learn more!

ford f150 4x4 actuator problems

Causes Of Ford F150 4×4 Actuator Problems

First, let us talk about the causes of these actuator problems with the Ford F150 4×4.

1. 4WD failure to engage

The Ford F150 has been known to have issues with the 4WD system. There are various components that impact this problem such as the solenoid and the actuator. When these parts malfunction, you may have issues with the four wheel drive engaging properly. 

Now, there are symptoms you can observe that pinpoint this problem. These include a grinding noise as you drive, jerking front axle, and noise that resembles metal being scraped, which originate from your front axle.

For the most part, having a faulty actuator can cause this problem with 4WD failure. Your actuator connects your wheel hub right to your axle shaft each time you select the 4WD mode. Then, it disconnects your axle and hub when you do not have the 4WD engaged. This helps to reduce the driveline loss, which often results from spinning the non-rotating axle.

But when you are in the 2WD function, your actuator will usually have a vacuum that is through your solenoid. Then the vacuum goes into the integrated wheel end system, followed by the actuator disengaging, and this exits the 4WD mode.

If you want to determine if the actuator is in good condition, you need to locate this component after elevating the front portion of your vehicle. Disengage the vacuum linked from your actuator and attach an external vacuum pump.

Afterwards, use the pump to give and release this vacuum. If you notice that the movement of the actuator’s teeth assembly goes outward while the incoming vacuum is moving inside, this means that you have a properly working actuator. 

But if the actuator’s movement seems restricted, it means there are problems. The only way to fix this is by getting a replacement actuator. For the most part, the cost may be about $50 to as much as $100 for a brand new actuator for your Ford F150.

Another thing you can check is the vacuum hose. Aside from the actuator, you need to check if your vacuum hoses are still in good condition. Perhaps there are wears and cracks on it, so you need to begin by locating your solenoid. You should be able to find this part in your engine compartment, often beside the battery on the vehicle’s passenger side.

When testing vacuum hoses, you can do this simply without having to use high-end tools. Simply separate your solenoid from the vacuum hoses. 

As for the Ford F150, you can find that these vacuum hoses have a plastic housing that holds them together. There is a permanent vacuum on one of these lines when your engine is running. Then, the second hose must have only the vacuum as you have your 4WD mode engaged.

When it comes to testing for vacuum, take the hose from your check-valve connection and then place it in your second hose – the one that feeds pressure onto your IWE system. This will provide a permanent vacuum as you have your engine running. Moreover, it allows the diaphragm from your IWE to return while the wheels can rotate freely.

Jack your F150’s front portion up to ensure a closer inspection of the component. Check the front wheels if they still spin freely without any obstruction. In case you notice a lag in the spin, there may be a crack or a leak in your vacuum hose. You may need to get a replacement vacuum hose, which should set you back by around $75 to as much as $100.

2. Grinding Noise

Another faulty actuator-related concern with the Ford F150 is a grinding noise originating from the front portion of your vehicle. This is typical with vehicles that have over 100,000 miles. It is usually linked with an issue in the IWE system. These parts to look into include the front wheel hubs, IWE solenoid, IWE vacuum line, and the IWE actuators.

Thus, if you notice a grinding noise from the front part of the vehicle, this means that there is insufficient vacuum provided for disengaging from the hub. While it may seem like a simple problem, there are various causes to consider. 

So, it is best to have the problem remedied sooner than later to prevent further damage from occurring. You will need to replace the actuator and the hub, although keep in mind that by doing so, all it can eliminate would be the low-speed type of grinding when driving on a straight road.

Furthermore, an IWE solenoid replacement is relatively cheap. You should be able to buy one for $25 to about $40.

3. Stuck in the 4WD Mode

Do you notice that you are unable to go from 4WD to 2WD? If so, then it is another actuator issue that is not working properly. This is why when you check for errors, you may see your power train control module showing some error codes. You should be able to get a replacement actuator to address this issue. 

Do keep in mind that it costs up to $100. This, however, does not include labor cost and the price for labor can vary depending on your location and where you get it done. It can go upwards $200.

Read More: Ford C4 Transmission Problems And Solutions You Can Do

Wrap Up

Although the Ford F150 is a reliable vehicle, there are some actuator problems that may arise over time. This is why it is best to pay attention to symptoms and to have the issue addressed sooner than later to prevent further damage to this component and relevant parts.

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