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Ford Explorer Air Conditioner and Heater Problems



  • Simple question, but the answer is a little complex and has to be divided between 02- and 02+.
    - On the 02+ models, the blend door is on a horizontal axis. When the door breaks, gravity will usually pull it to the bottom of the box. If can wedge in different positions, but it is most common for it to lie in the bottom, blocking air flow through the heater core. However, it isn't a complete blockage. The 02+ has a vacuum button that will shut down coolant flow through the heater core when the door is forced to the full down position for Max AC. Just the weight of the door is not enough to depress this switch and it will actually hold a broken door slightly open. You will get a minor amount of heat, and poor AC efficiency when the door is broken and just lying in the bottom of the box.
    - On the older models, the blend door is on a vertical axis. When it breaks it can swing open and shut freely and operation is unpredictable. Again, it can break in different ways and wedge in any position in the box, but usually just "flaps in the breeze". A lot of customers will report that they can get heat if they go uphill, make a hard right turn, and hit the blower motor to full blast. What is happening is that the door is being pushed around by motion of the automobile and the door is pinned in one position by blasting the fan motor to hold it in place. If you check through different posts, you can find a lot of "superstitions" to get heat or AC. If this describes your truck, it's fairly certain that the blend door is broken. You can find pictures of both systems on the web site.

    To your question directly: The switch between defrost/vent/floor is controlled by the mode door. This door is vacuum actuated on the Explorer and failure to switch is usually a vacuum leak somewhere in the system. The no-vacuum default mode is defrost-only for safety reasons. If this is your problem, you need to start with an inspection under the hood for loose or deteriorated vacuum lines and move on to using a handheld vacuum gauge/pump to check operation of the doors and trace a vacuum leak back to the source.
  • Based on what you are saying, it does seem to be a vacuum issue. However, in all modes, I get a high flow of air to the floor and insufficient flow to the mode it is actually set to (even when in defrost mode). It also seems that the drivers side floor gets most of the flow and the passenger side floor gets very little. My wife is always complaining about cold feet.
  • kaakaa Posts: 1
    I have the same POS 2006 Ford Explorer with exactly the same problem. I have been told to change the radiator, change the thermostat, change the fan clutch assembly, change the blend door. All of which did nothing but help Ford pay for their over priced employee pension fund. I will never buy another Ford product. 2 years old and I cant drive it in the winter unless I want to freeze to death. Pathetic.

    The roar is probably your fan clutch but who knows. If you have a small leak in your radiator it can also cause the fan to engage and sound like a freakin bus.
  • I have a 1998 Ford Explorer that mice have gotten into--in the blower, I have taken my glove box out and can see the bower and it had trash in front of the blower and a bit of trash in the blower I got wat was lose out I've had to cut the grid on left side so I can get my hand in there, I'm still cleaning on stuck on gunk, I've yet to get the smell out I turn on the vents and I'm still getting that odor yukkkk--anyway before I started this process the blend door was working fine on max/ac the door closed on regular ac and vent the door opened well the door stopped operating and has started operating again But the door is only open the it's turned on the max/ac it's close on everything else hearter/deforst etc.
    now I think I'm crazy WHEN and how does this door operate--seems as if it's working backwards now but maybe I just Thought it was working the reverse before--help--also any ideas how to remove this smell and could it be in the vent if so is there any way to get to them--Ford wants a fortune to do this, I'm trying to do what I can.
    Thanks so much for any help
  • tinkhelptinkhelp Posts: 1
    My fan is making a terrible noise and I need to remove the fan to check it out. Can anyone help?
  • dtownmildtownmil Posts: 23
    My 98 AC does not work at all. Is it worth having the system checked for leaks and charged? I may only have the exploder for one or two more summers and I've suffered through two with no AC already.

    I tried one of those cans that you charge it yourself and it didn't even make the AC cold for any time period at all.

    Any advice appreciated. Thanks.
  • Of course the compressor has to be running properly and providing cooling capacity to the evaporator core inside the plenum box. You should be able to feel one AC line going into the firewall getting icy cold when the compressor is running and the return line warmer. This is a pretty good indication that the system is charged and providing at least marginal cooling. You'll need a set of gauges to check that it is absolutely optimal, but just checking with your hand should get close.

    A common problem with this particular model is the blend door in the system. This door diverts some or all of the air flow through the heater core. The door tends to break and will let air flow through the heater core, killing AC efficiency even if the evaporator core is cooling properly. The actuator motor for the blend door is on top of the plenum box behind the glove box opening. You can remove this motor and examine the blend door axle. There are two common fail modes and pictures of both are available. The repair involves replacing the blend door and the dealer will want to remove the dash and plenum box to replace the plastic door with another plastic door. Replacing the door is easy, but it's 8-10hrs labor to disassemble the dash, evacuate the AC system and remove the plenum box(figure $800+). There are better alternatives available.
  • I have a 2004 ford explorer( limited), the air conditioner is blowing only warm air, thought it needed to be recharged, had the a.c. recharged but still only blowing warm air from vents .help thanks
  • chsrowerchsrower Posts: 1
    I have a 2005 Explorer the air is only coming out of the defrost and floor. The heat works fine, and the a/c is cold. The only problem is that the a/c won't switch to the front vents. So the a/c just blasts my feet and the windsheild. Any ideas?
  • On #191, the problem is likely with the blend door or actuator motor. The motor is hard to get to and there are video's in YouTube showing how to get to and examine the motor and blend door axle. The fix is within the capability of most DIY'ers and much better than an expensive dealer repair.

    On #192, the function between defrost/vent/floor is controlled by the mode door which is a vacuum actuated system. The vacuum motor and door is visible from the passenger side under the dash above the transmission tunnel. If you happen to be a left handed, 93lb, double jointed, contortionist, it's easy to get to...otherwise it's a tight fit. There is a plastic lever from the door that the shaft of the vacuum motor attaches to. This little plastic arm tends to break and will give the exact symptoms that you are seeing.

    The lever is a plastic piece that inserts into the end of the axle. It can be pried out with a screw driver and you can attempt to glue the pieces back together and get it working again. The HeaterTreater guys can help you with a metal replacement lever if the glue doesn't work out. Once you have it out, you can see the size and axle connector and may find some way to make a little lever that will work or a junkyard piece. I don't think Ford sells this part individually and you would have to buy the entire plenum box to get a replacement.

  • bennyj2bennyj2 Posts: 2
    I just had my 03 explorer (131,000 miles) AC recharged at (of all places) Sears. Before going in I noticed the temp was a bit on the warmer side than years before. Being six years old I figured it needed recharging. After recharging at a cost of $135.00, I noticed the temp was cold on the offset but after a short time it stared warming by at least 10 degrees and the a short time later back to cold. This fluctuation presisted without stopping. Sears checked the system a second time and told me the temp was at 40 degrees. I could not find a spyglass under the hood to see if there were any air bubbles in the system. Help! I need to return with professional questions before summer arrives!
  • dodgekbaddodgekbad Posts: 56

    I have a '98 Explorer v6 sohc, with 127k miles. It blows warm air when the
    a/c is switched on.

    2 year ago I had the same problem, took it to a shop, and they told me the condensor was leaking. I bought a used COMPRESSOR at a junk yard
    by mistake. They put it in and everything; they had a machine that cleaned/filled the system and all that. It worked great until the following summer. I guess the leak never subsided, but I bought a can of refrigerant/stop leak and everything worked well again. Now it doesn't.

    I thought it was the leak again so bought more freon but this time it appears the system is full. There's a little pressure gauge on the can and the freon squirts out the side when I tried putting more in.

    Is there any to tell if it's the junk yard compressor that went bad? I still have my old one and figure I can put it in myself.
  • revotrevrevotrev Posts: 1
    how hard is it to replace this door??? and who sells it
  • moderately difficult. HeaterTreater. The alternative is to purchase another plastic door from Ford and completely disassemble the dash, remove the steering column, evacuate the AC refrigerant, drain the radiator, remove the plenum box and install another door that will break again over time.
  • Ok I always try and read the post to find an answer before bugging you guys. AC is blowing just a small bit of cold air. I have listened for the increased air flow when changing the AC to max to check and see if the recirculate door is broken, I do get the increased air flow.

    Question: Where underneath the hood is the cap located where I need to try and put freon in?

  • 99 Ford Explorer - During hot weather, the compressor clutch turns off when vehicle is stopped. When the outside temperature drops below 75 or 80 it seems to work OK. Any ideas?

  • jay_57jay_57 Posts: 1
    Please help -- I have a problem with the manual air conditioning system in my 2004 Ford Explorer.


    The vents on the driver-side of the vehicle (includes left vent on dash center panel, vent on left-side of steering wheel and left floor console vent) blow warm air whenever the A/C is in the maximum (re-circulated interior air) and regular (draws in exterior air) positions. This warm air condition is most observable when outside air is used. I believe this is because as the a/c system re-circulates the interior air in the "Max" a/c position, the difference in vent temperature diminishes.


    1. Air flow volume appears normal
    2. Right-side (passenger side) vent temperature is in the 65 to 68 degree range (not precise as inexpensive stick-on thermometer was used)
    3. Left-side (driver side) vent temperature appears to equal the temperature outside of vehicle when a/c is in regular position
    4. Left-side vent temperature slowly equals right-side as the interior cools (only applicable when "Max" position is selected)


    1. What should be my next steps to attempt to diagnose the concern?
    2. Is there a physical divider in the a/c system that splits the cool air distribution into two distinct (driver-side & passenger-side) sections?

    Thank you,
  • steflundsteflund Posts: 2
    The front vents on my 04 Ford Explorer have stopped blowing air. The floor, rear, and dash vents are all working fine. This is the case for both heat and air. Can anyone tell me what the problem could be, and if it would be easy for us to fix ourselves, or if we should just take it to a shop. Also if anyone knows aprox. how much it would cost to fix this problem. Thank you so much!
  • This is strange behavior and you'll need to check several things to get to the bottom of the problem.

    1. Is the air flow strong and changes with fan speed on the defrost/floor/dash vents? Need to make sure that there isn't some sort of blockage of air flow into the fan motor. If flow isn't changing with fan speed, suspect the re-circ door.

    2. Did this occur all of a sudden or was some work done to the dash panel before the symptoms. It's easy to get the dash panel out of alignment when you attach it to the frame and a misalignment may diminish flow through the center vent. You can always pull the center dash control panel and make sure that the vent is clear.

    3. There is a spring loaded valve on the center vents that opens when the vehicle is on max heat. If the vent doors stick, it will block air flow during normal operation. Does the vent come to life when you go to max heat? If the flow changes then the problem is this sticking vent. The vent is opened when the blend door moves to the full up position and is meant to give a little boost of heat when the heater is first started. It's kind of a dumb idea since the air is cold at first and rapidly becomes too hot and you have to turn the heat down. If this is the problem I'd suggest just removing the front control panel and breaking valve. It's only purpose is to make the passenger compartment warm up about 30sec faster. We can provide pictures if you search the user name.

    4. The center vent door is actuated by the blend door moving up and down. If the door starts to get out of alignment, it can push the spring actuated center vent door to the side causing it to jam. This is an early indication that the blend door may be going bad. When this breaks, you lose control over the temperature control in the system. We have extensive information on the doors and a technical explanation of the operation and design flaws in the system. If the door turns out to be the problem there are aftermarket solutions available.

    I would be interested in knowing what you find.
  • bigrobbiebigrobbie Posts: 1

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