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Old 05-18-2009, 12:55 PM   #1
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Default IWE Solenoid Seems to be a common issue

I've read a number of posts on here involving problems with the IWE Solenoid. For the 2nd time in 8 months I am taking my 2006 STX 4x4 into service for this same issue. The problem seems to be one of water contamination in the system that causes the component to try to engage the 4x4 - interestingly my issue only seems to occur on inclines, with the gas pedal engaged and I'm doing to close to or over 50 mph.

Does anyone know if there is a permanent fix for this issue and/or how to prevent future water intrusion? I would think a component such as this would have some kind of housing or covering to prevent the intrusion..

An interesting side note to this was, about 3 weeks after getting the first occurence fixed, I started getting a whistling sound from my front driver's wheel. Turns out this was due to a bad vacuum hose. What makes it interesting is the fact that it appears that the IWE has something to with vacuums in some of the posts I've seen, so I sort of wonder if my problem is more than just a solenoid -

Any advice would be much appreciated....

Thanks,
Paul
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Old 05-18-2009, 01:14 PM   #2
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Hi Paul
I was lucky.My problem was just the solenoid needing replacement.Its a crappy design locating that solenoid where water could just run off&to the switch!I used aluminum foil to seal it when I got the new switch.Watch yourself going into car washes.The blast of the water jets in the car wash can allow water to get in the system.Thats when I started having problems.Stay away from car washes!
The IWE hubs have two vacuum hoses running from each hub.They easily pull off&you can check for water there.You may have to suck on the hoses&see if you can extract any water.(I know this is nuts but thats what I did)I cannot imagine taking our trucks with water up to the hubs&water getting into the system while going off road!UGH!It could have been engineered better.
Hope this helps in some way&hope you get it to work properly..Be well,Pete
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Old 05-19-2009, 09:58 AM   #3
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Hi Pete,
Thanks for your response. What I've found in visiting this forum and why I joined is the fact that people such as yourself are really informative and very knowledgeable and like me share a passion for the F-150.

I'm admittedly a neophyte when it comes to anything mechanical, and you explained something that is extremely easy to follow -- again thanks!

Well onto the truck, I actually dropped it off a few hours ago at the Ford dealer. I explained the situation and the fact that it happened 8 months ago, almost to the day. I told them that I'd appreciate it much if the replacement part had some kind of hood / covering so that I won't be back in another x number of months for the same repair.

Someone somewhere in this forum mentioned something about a new part number that has that feature and hopefully the dealer will do it's homework.

Anyway, should it occur again, I'll know what to do. Funny thing about this issue is it seems to my truck's achilles heal, in what best can be described as a great running truck. I've got 54K on it, and it runs like a dream. In fact one dealer service person that I brought it to just before they closed down for good said it was an extremely clean and well cared for vehicle.

With my last F-150 (2001) it was the same, only it's achilles heal was spark plugs - so it seems I get plagued by one big issue with each truck, but taken as a whole, they are solid trucks.

I quipped to my wife that if this issue keeps up I might trade it for the new 2009; she said doesn't have the stomach for yet another new f-150, so I guess we'll see how it goes from here.

Thanks again.

Paul
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Old 05-19-2009, 05:46 PM   #4
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Hi Paul
Where are you?NJ here.First truck I got is the F150,got it last June.My wife said we could use a truck&I thought she was nuts!We do alot of work on the property,bit my tongue&took the plundge.No regrets here.I feel like 17 when I first got my drivers license!
Did my homework regarding the purchasing a truck.I was told to stay away fron Chevy&dodge.35K miles is what I had on it when I bought it&now it has 46K miles on it.Maintenance im all over this thing.
Like anything else,things do go wrong.Ive learned alot on this forum myself&saved my self a ton of dinero doing the needed repairs.Great we can share our enthusiasm for our beloved trucks.
Ford I believe has the competition beat.They are a good value&engineered well.Take care,Pete



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Old 05-19-2009, 07:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulR View Post
I've read a number of posts on here involving problems with the IWE Solenoid. For the 2nd time in 8 months I am taking my 2006 STX 4x4 into service for this same issue. The problem seems to be one of water contamination in the system that causes the component to try to engage the 4x4 - interestingly my issue only seems to occur on inclines, with the gas pedal engaged and I'm doing to close to or over 50 mph.

Does anyone know if there is a permanent fix for this issue and/or how to prevent future water intrusion? I would think a component such as this would have some kind of housing or covering to prevent the intrusion..

An interesting side note to this was, about 3 weeks after getting the first occurence fixed, I started getting a whistling sound from my front driver's wheel. Turns out this was due to a bad vacuum hose. What makes it interesting is the fact that it appears that the IWE has something to with vacuums in some of the posts I've seen, so I sort of wonder if my problem is more than just a solenoid -

Any advice would be much appreciated....

Thanks,
Paul
Their was a recal issued for the bad vacume hose which can cause your 4wd to engage and grind along with water from the iwe.Did you get it checked out yet?
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:13 PM   #6
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Hi,

I'm writing because I've had the fun time of dealing with this grinding noise issue and I have learned a significant amount by fixing the passenger side on my own and having no 4x4 at one point. I drive a 2005 Ford F-150 FX4 with a 5.4L.

As per the TSB, the solenoid can injest water which will burn out the solenoid leaving 4x4 inoperable. This solenoid controls locking of the hubs which to my understanding is a feature ford has added amongst the other manufacturers as a fuel saving feature (not spinning front end). I don't know the other manufacturers that well but I understand the front diff spins all of the time and the transfer case stays disengaged. So when you engage 4x4, the transfer case is shifted in, AND the hubs are engaged. I've tested this and have learned this is true. My IWE Solenoid failed in a funny way where it did nothing!!! So I'd put the truck in 4x4, it said it was in 4x4 but it wasn't. I was able to force it by unplugged the IWE solenoid vacuum hose and plugging to remove vacuum from the hubs that day thankfully (was stuck in half a foot of snow ?!?!???).

I had the constant grinding noise which drove me nuts so I had the shop look at it and they replaced the drivers side IWE, the solenoid (the old one was not shot) but did add the rain cover to the solenoid (which I recommend).

So, then what happened was.... anytime I went up a hill (under load), I would hear the lovely grinding noise again. If I stepped off the accelerator it'd be gone!!! And it's do it again on the next hill, etc... Can't be good, I knew something was grinding! Well, what i found out was BOTH sides were actually shot and the drivers side was replaced, but because the passenger side was leaking it was causing the brand new drivers side to grind apart again.

My dad has a 2006 F-150, so I sent him the same information to find out he had the problem too! I decided to replace my passenger side myself as it's out of warranty. It wasn't too tough of a job surprisingly, just a bit annoying. I've since looked at my OLD IWE to find that the rubber will rub against the plastic piece that is pulled in by vacuum (to disengage the hubs)... Maybe I can attach a picture later. I could be wrong, but from what I could see the exact spot of where the rubber seal was blown was where it rubbed! I have only seen one side though.

This is what I wrote him. I could be wrong on some of this!!! But this is what I've learned on the doing it myself!!!!!


Definitions:

IWE - Integrated Wheel Ends - This is the fancy term ford uses for the Automatic Locking Hubs
IWE Actuators - The actual "locking" hubs themselves. They have a spring in them forcing them to be locked, vacuum is applied to UNLOCK them against the spring. A vacuum leak can cause them to partially or fully engage when unwanted.
IWE Solenoid - This controls locking and unlocking the hubs by allowing or disallowing vacuum to the IWE Actuators.

Solenoid:
Ford came out with a "Rain Cover" for the IWE Solenoid. Behind your battery if you see JUST the solenoid, I'd go to ford and tell them you want the rain cover. It's their new "replacement" part, but you should have it regardless. Water comes down the hood, into the solenoid, then burns it out. Then you have no 4x4.

Actuators:
If you apply approximately 5 inhg of vacuum to the actuator, it will "unlock" the hub. There are 2 lines paired together at each hub, one is a vent line, the other is the vacuum line for the unlocking. My passenger side I cannot pump up at ALL... this means driving I CANNOT disengage that hub (unless it seals a bit)! As long as the truck is in 2 wheel drive on the selector (transfer case free), the drivers side holds at 5 inhg and I can turn the half-shaft by hand which is really neat, once I release the vacuum it locks. I just did this test by turning my wheels out and not even jacking up the truck!!! It was a 5 minute test.


So, the quick checks:

1. Make sure you have the rain cover on your IWE solenoid behind the battery. The solenoid should also "Click" when 4x4 is engaged and disengaged as it's blocking/allowing vacuum. If you flip the selector back and fourth giving 5 seconds or so between you should hear it.
2. Make sure each hub holds 5 inhg of vacuum with a vacuum gauge for at least a minute... Replace any that do not. You should be able to turn the half-shaft by hand if it's in 2 wheel mode and 5 inhg vacuum applied. The hub that leaks and/or you cannot turn by hand will be the hub causing the grinding noise. Or in my case, both.



The TSB states the solenoid can burn out due to water (not having the rain cover), but it does not discuss the issue of the seal failing on the IWE’s.

If you have the issue and want to prevent damage to the hubs, unplug the vacuum line to the solenoid and plug it. It will force the hubs to lock and spin the front end, but at least it will prevent damage to the opposite side hub assuming it’s ok. This also does not force 4x4 engaged as the transfer case also has a lock. I'm not a fan of this but I'd rather not grind anything as a temporary solution until the failing IWE is replaced.




I hope this helps anyone out there!!! My issue is now resolved, but I believe can foresee the IWE Actuators failing again in time due to design.

Shawn

Last edited by homer; 06-19-2009 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 06-19-2009, 02:24 PM   #7
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just make sure they are replacing the IWE solenoid with the update part that has a shroud around it. we ran into this issue recently with the local ford garage trying to sell me the old part.
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Old 06-19-2009, 03:45 PM   #8
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hey instead of buying the part,why not make your own cover for it like i did.I only spend 4bucks on it.Ok i will confess,i only made my own cover cause wherever i went they did not cary the new cover for it,or it would take 3-4days to get it.so i made my own..heres the pic of it.my designe even goes further than the new part that ford made up for the old iwe cover.I even took it to 4 stealerships and showed them and they were more impressed with my cover than the new part ford made to take care of this problem
Attached Thumbnails
IWE Solenoid Seems to be a common issue-pictures-256.jpg  

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Old 06-19-2009, 04:10 PM   #9
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Hey Rnger3rd,

That's funny! I was so paranoid that I ended up wrapping mine in Saran Wrap but putting a hole in the bottom so it can breathe (doesn't get humid). I just don't want that issue coming back!!! hahahaha. I have the shroud on mine though additionally so I should be good. Watch I burn it out though from being too cautious!!!!! hahahaha

Last edited by homer; 06-19-2009 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 06-19-2009, 06:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homer View Post
Hey Rnger3rd,

That's funny! I was so paranoid that I ended up wrapping mine in Saran Wrap but putting a hole in the bottom so it can breathe (doesn't get humid). I just don't want that issue coming back!!! hahahaha. I have the shroud on mine though additionally so I should be good. Watch I burn it out though from being too cautious!!!!! hahahaha
yes their is a risk of it burning out man.You did say you put a hole in in the bottom and thats good,but it also needs to break all over.So the huminity can still get in their and maybe at some point burn it out.

All this i took into account when i sat down and did some rough drafts of the type of shroud cover i wanted to go with.This was my best option(the one you see now)it allows to breah from all sides,but at the same time now getting humid and takine the risk of it burning out.I do live in wi and it gets humid round here.
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Old 06-19-2009, 06:34 PM
 
 
 
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