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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • cmartin411cmartin411 Atlanta, GAPosts: 42
    I have a 2003 XLT w/ 54,000 miles. I took it to the Ford dealer on Monday morning hoping it was just a faulty light. Not exactly. They had it for 5 days and a total repair cost of $1074.41. The truck hasn't been abused, and never towed anything. The majority of the miles are interstate.

    The dealer found the torque converter clutch was failing to engage. Received code P0741. They had to remove and replace the valve body assy.

    Lucky for me this was a company vehicle. When I was on the phone with our fleet administrator, he said we have stopped ordering Explorers because of the quality issues and have switched to the F-150 4 doors. I would have a hard time spending my own money on a Ford after this.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    I am not going to get in to a motor oil discussion here. However, it would seem to me a blend of syn/reg. oil offers better protection than regular motor oil. If you want to spend the money for full synthetic, go right ahead. However, it's not my imagination, the car quiets down faster since I switched to a "blend".
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,592
    I don't want to debate it, but there have been studies done that say blends are worthless. Your Explorer may very well quiet down and that's wonderful, but full synthetic DOES offer much better protection. As for cost, well, I figure for the extra protection of that VERY expensive engine a couple bucks a quart extra is worth it.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    I misread the posts, thinking the one titled "Akangl" was posted by her. Sorry! Didn't mean to scare you, Akangl!
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,592
    No problem, I kinda figured that out. My Explorer is being pretty good these days, I'm not too worried about it, I know what the deal is with the tranmission now and will just ride it out until I have a chance to get it fixed.

    It just turned 7,200 miles yesterday.
  • ajmtbmajmtbm Posts: 245
    We were hearing a grinding noise from behind the temperature control area. It only happened when the truck was cold, and it appeared to grind when the passenger temperature went from 70+ to 60 with the driver side at 67. taking it to the dealer, they said they will replace the heater box. They also noted that they need 2 days because they need to "rip the dash apart." does anyone have any detail on this type of repair? Also, should i be concerned that the likelihood of having no more rattles in the dash is between slim and none?


  • ajmtbmajmtbm Posts: 245
    With the A'udiophile" system, is it just my imagintion or does the radio data (text) display for only about 20 seconds and then stop. is this normal?
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    your two issues, and another edition of "Communists In Engineering," in which Our Hero tags Evil Plots to make cars unfixable although they charge you a thousand dollars a pop.....

    1) heater box... sounds like the classic worn motor for the blower fan issue. at least through the 2001 explorer, you take the fan and blower out under the hood, like REAL cars have traditionally been made, by removing three bolts into the plastic duct and cracking a sealant gob on the motor. when you put the old blower on the new motor, you will have to hink around a couple times to get it aligned right, and may still have to tickle it when it gets cold... the fans drag on the duct as temperatures change, and there is one sweet spot. you lose that as the motor bearings wear out, allowing the motor shaft to thrust forward and push the fan into ducting.

    motors are $20-40. you can do this in an hour even if you hold the tools between your toes.

    / CIE section / if the 2002+ screwed this up, it's off my buy list. seriously. no foolin'. the ability to replace the blower motor without torches and fifty hours of labor in this cold climate is one of my top ten serviceability tests when I look at new cars. I have not been under the hood on a 2002 or later, but if they changed this PLUS made the tranny a sealed unit, I am not buying another explorer. one screwup in ten is my limit.

    it would be a pity, cause I like the truck, but $100 repairs that turn into $500 jobs that also screw up the dash so it's never right again is NEVER the correct engineering decision. and it implies a lot else was screwed up.

    are you listening, Detroilet? we need these things fixable. not buying anything that isn't. / end CIE /

    2) it was not normal in the earlier units, but it sounds like a setting option. you should be able to find a tickle for this in the manual to make the display stay on. my guess is it's a rotating option under the "OBD" switch or whatever they call the setup mode that stops the music and changes the time, etc.

    the mach units up to 2001 did suffer from display failure, and that was almost always the fault of power supply or front panel silver-solder joints that were too thin and cracked under heat and vibration stress. resoldering them fixes those issues.
  • ajmtbmajmtbm Posts: 245
    luckily (?) the heater box is a warranty repair. its a 2002 Ltd with 16,000 miles. my main concern is the "rip the dash apart" comment that the dealer made. I gues i will be hearing squeaks and rattles in my future.

    with regards to the radio, the manual says nothing. it tells you how to turn on and off the display, but does not mention that it freezes after a little bit. once frozen, if i change stations and go back it works again. its so hard to determine if it is a reception problem or the way the thing is set up.
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,592
    Limited the heater was stuck on HOT, it was the blend door in the heater box, they would have to rip the dash apart to replace a $200 part. I was quoted about $1500 for the job. Needless to say between that and the front end being gone, the truck went bye-bye too. Bought a 2004 XLS Sport, much better truck.
  • yettibuttyettibutt Posts: 98
    Has anyone else noticed the front seats on their 03' Explorer (or 02/04 I guess) tilting to one side? If you look at mine from the front, both seats seem to tilt towards the outside (doors).
  • idntnvuidntnvu Posts: 251
    Okay...when your vehicle has been in the garage more in the past month than on the road, it's time to weigh some options. Most of the work done so far has been normal maintenance, except a spark plug failing. I was putting brake pads on Monday morning, and just as I got it jacked up off the ground, I noticed a puddle of fluid under the engine. It looked a lot like oil, but turns out it was power steering fluid. I opened the hood, and power steering fluid was covering the entire engine compartment. The cap to the resovoir was barely hanging on, but had been blown off. It is hard to get that sucker off, so there had to have been a hell of a lot of pressure on that thing. What would cause pressure to blow the cap off and blow fluid out of the fill hole? I left it at the garage this morning, and apparently this is a common problem with explorers. How many of you guys have had this problem?
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    on 4 Explorers/Mountaineers. Sounds like it was either overfilled, or you turn the wheel with the engine not running. That's the best way to pop the cap. Don't do that!

    Didn't we all tell you not to buy that particular Explorer several months ago???
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    and it really shouldn't take ALL that much pressure to blast the cap off. it's plastic-on-plastic with the resivoir, not much of a seal, and not much for threading. I'd guess plus 7 to 10 pounds would lift the thing, and much less to leak.

    if it's a mechanical issue, either the pump is surging, and/or the hose between the resivoir and the pump is deteriorating and periodically plugging or pinching shut. then you would expect a buildup of PS fluid in the resivoir, until the pump is gasping for material, then it might pull a little through.

    I'd get a new cap, pump, and replace the intermediate hose myself, and do an immediate flush of the PS fluid in that case.

    it could also be you have a hose end coming apart or a dying hose, probably the return hose into the resivoir, as that is designed to lie against the thing for anti-rattle purposes. that's a lot more common on older PS systems than overpressure issues.

    there is a full-indicator mark on the bottom of the plastic dipstick built into the cap, and fluid should just touch it cold. should just touch the full-hot indicator if the engine is highway-and-towing hot, too hot to lean against the engine. looking through the side of the resivoir, there should be something on the order of one clear inch at the top before you get to the fluid. if you're pouring the resivoir full, that's the issue that needs to be fixed.

    that's that orange exploder, huh? sounds like you wanted some wrenching time. this is one you can do yourself... but I would advise getting an idler/belt tool before trying to remove the drive belt. I didn't, couldn't get enough windage with my ratchets to get the goldarned belt back ON my V8, and ended up having it towed so I could have it fixed monday morning and get to work monday afternoon. the tool is 40-50 bucks and any parts store that doesn't have one can order it.
  • gasburnergasburner Posts: 31
    I'd have to go with nvbaker's explanation as a prime suspect. I had air develop in the brake lines after a brake job by an independent. The official Ford explanation was that the wheel assembly was turned with the engine off. I've since confirmed this is not that uncommon, irrespective of vehicle make. See my post 2480
  • biomanbioman Posts: 172
    While we are on the topic of power steering, the Explorer owners manual for the 99 Explorer calls for Mercon ATF to be used in the power steering. Can we use the one fluid fits all ATF or MUST it be specifically Mercon ATF for the power steering?
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    ford used to call for type F, and apparently there were premature rack failures in the mid 90s from some posts a while back. the fluid apparently dissolved inner seals, which all of a sudden due to a production modification expected mercon. a little different chemically, and the friction modifier is allegedly fibers in type F and bubbles in mercon, which can behave differently.

    they specifically call for dexron III/mercon in my 00 exploder. being your typical bullheaded german, I browsed the rack at the parts place until I found a label reading exactly that, and bought four quarts. if they said to use sheep snot and change it in the bright harvest moon, I would set my alarm :(

    reason is, then I got somebody I can sue if it falls off the next day.

    there used to be a "universal PS fluid" sold by places like amoco in the 80s and early 90s. I suspect it's only universal if you want everybody to growl about their rack rotting and spraying fluid on the backs of the brake rotors, instead of some owners only. for that matter, there is "hydraulic fluid" sold at all the tractor supply stores in 5-gallon cans for $30 that has pretty much the same base lube stock. it might work. it might rot you out. I'm not going to test it myself.

    read the manual, buy exactly what it calls for, then you have a warm feeling around your backside in case of a so-called fluid-related failure where you would be stuck with the bill.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    What he said! Totally.
  • biomanbioman Posts: 172
    Swschrad & nvbanker for that info. Of course I can always leave the power steering fluid alone and will probably be fine, but when a sick mind sees the dirty fluid in the reservoir the fluid must be changed! It will be changed with the Mercon.

  • idntnvuidntnvu Posts: 251
    Thanks for the info. I'm out of town at the moment, driving a '95 Toyota T100 that belongs to my dad, and left him with the orange Exploder. It returned home yesterday, and the diagnosis was: turned the wheels with the engine off, blew cap off and leaked fluid. Besides that, the only thing the guys at the garage could do was first replace the pump, then the rack, and then see if that fixed the problem. However, after they drove it all day, and had no problems with it at all, they said it was just from turning the wheels. So, false alarm. They said that they have a lot of explorers and other vehicles that do that when say, it won't run and they have to push it in or out of the garage. I did have the transmission fluid change with new screen and new filter, which should address the issue of the transmission slipping when it hasn't been driven for a while. The mechanic said that the transmission had already been serviced, but whoever did the work forgot to put the O rings back on the filter. I'm going to flush the coolant system myself here in a few weeks, and replace the green fluid with the red. Thanks again for the info. You were right nvbanker! I know you guys said not to buy it, but I did anyway. I did get the additional 3/36k bumper to bumper on it though. So far only used it once, but thought I'd be using it again this time. Time to head back to VA, and let Dad have his Toyota back. Man it gets good gas mileage though!
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