The S series has a few problems that seem to happen to most of them over time. However they are not any worse than most of the others. One thing to remember is that the S series started back in 83 and didn't stop until 2004. There are many millions of them out there, far more than many other makes of small truck.
One of the bad items is the intake manifold gasket. There is a newer design out there that holds up much better.
Another item is front hubs and ball joints. Mainly because they are undersized for the vehicle.
The humming you hear is quite likely a hub. When you replace it don't shop by price. Look for either OEM or a high quality aftermarket.
There are a few other quirks but they happen to other trucks/makes as well (heater core leaks, control motors, front axle interlocks)
At least in this case you have support.
December, 5, 2009 AT 11:41 AM
The intake gasket problem was found by my own mechanic after I bought the vehicle.
Let this be a lesson for future buyers: The Used car dealer who sold me the vehicle purposely wiped the underside of the engine where the green anti-freeze actually shows if this intake gasket problem exists. It also is noticeable up on the topside on the intake manifold itself but you really have to look for it.
The Lemon Law does not cover "GASKETS" so if you run into a "Dealer" like I did who knew about the leak but never disclosed it. Do everything you can to discredit the dealership, including reporting this like I am to The NY Attorney Generals Office.
I am so angry I could eat nails, but I will get my pound of flesh one way or another from this Dealer.
December, 5, 2009 AT 9:10 PM
With the hubs the easy way to tell what it is and which side is to go to an empty parking lot. Then drive straight. Turn left and listen for the noise. If it stops or lessens then it is probably the RIGHT hand hub. If you turned right and it hoes away it is likely the LEFT hand hub. What happens is that during the turn the weight shifts and unloads the bearing and the noise stops.
Also check the inside edges of the front and rear tires for wear. The IFS system used likes to drop some as the torsion bars age. This changes the front camber angles and they start eating tires. Not hard to fix but could cost you a set of tires if you don't catch it. Oh and regardless of what the book says set the camber to 0.0 no +/- crap.
Also check the idler arm on the steering linkage. The one they used has a crappy design that likes to wear easily. You can get a " problem solver" part from MOOG that works MUCH better, it has an over-sized set of bearings.
December, 5, 2009 AT 9:28 PM
Thanks for getting me back to reality from my intake gasket tirade.
As far as the front end noise goes. I did your test before you suggested it and then again after your last post. I also had my mechanic put the truck on the lift and look at, move, tug, spin and check the front suspension. No, noticeable problems but I will take off the front wheels next time I have it in for an oil change. The tires are fairly new, have been aligned and I have only put about 1,000 miles on the truck since I bought it. No noticeable wear at this point, the truck stops and drives straight.
I have had Goodyear Wranglers on previously owned Jeeps and they always have seemed to be a loud/noisy road tire and also a tire that flat spots when sitting for a few days then thumps until warm.
Have you ever noticed this? This is not saying that I still could have a mechanical problem but I am curious.
December, 6, 2009 AT 11:01 AM
Noises can be fun to track down. I run Wranglers on my 97, they are not as quiet as the Michelins on the wifes 02 but they were also 1/4 the price!
I can say that I have had and repaired more than one hub that seemed tight and good that still made noise. In most of those you couldn't tell there was really a problem until you stripped the hub down. Then you could feel the rough bearings. Usually though you could hear the noise change while testing.