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This issue was ongoing for sometime with my Explorer. On acceleration, sometimes the car would make this horrible noise like it was grinding metal on metal followed by the worst vibrate I ever experienced in a car. (felt like deep rumble strips and sounded just as bad) I started noticing that it was happening in September of 2009. Again, scared the life out of me the first time and I was determined to figure it out. Of course it only happened when I was driving...never when my husband was driving. One Saturday it did happen to my husband and he determined that it was the front bearings or something close to that...At any rate we replaced all the bearing and joints and everything possibly replaceable in the front end. Thought it was good. Then it happened again only louder and stronger. I took it to a few shops and they said they couldn't figure it out that it must just be me going off the road and hitting a rumble strip without knowing it. No one knew what it could be nor have they ever heard of the problem from anyone else. On my way to work, in the normal spot it would act up, it did it again. This time it felt like usual with the horrible grind and rattle and vibrate but it seemed like the car wouldn't go. Usually I would have to slow down or even come to a complete stop and than I could proceed but not this time. The truck was done...I was sure it was in serious trouble. I left it parked and called a tow truck. The shop that I had it towed to took it for a test drive and when the guy got back with it he was surprised he made it back to the shop because it acted up so bad for him. We put it up on the lift and let it idle for a while and it did it again!!! Turned out to be the drive shaft. You can remove this and still drive the truck you just will not have 4 wheel drive. I chose not to do that and just have it fixed. We ordered a used one and he put it in. Total bill was 550.00 Parts and Labor. Hope this helps you pin point the problem before you are left stranded.
Bailey, CO, US