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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • the engine is a 4.0 6 cylinder we replaced the battery and it seems to try to start but won't. thamks so much for any advice! :confuse:
  • bopilotbopilot Posts: 8
    Thanks for the quick response. Must have missed the reference so after reviewing your copy I see what needs to be done. Nothing has been run so and a new accumulator, orfice tube, and interconeect hose from accumulator to condensor have been installed. Yes, the system that was left was flushed. Per your instructions I am to remove the compressor, check for oil and apply as instructed.

    I am confused as to installing the refrigerent. You said to hold first can upside down but did not say whether the following cans need to be upright or upside down for liquid. Please clarify.

    The local mechanics use the "venturi" evacuators which I was avoiding but if it is OK will purchase one from local supply house and do it all myself. What is your opinion of this method?

    Steve G.
  • 98explorer:
    Ok, You replaced the battery, but I'm not sure if that had anything to do with your starting problem. All you said was "hard to start". When the engine is hard to start, do you mean that the engine does not crank, or turn over slowly or sluggisly, or do you mean that the engine cranks over normally but just does not start?
  • it cranks over normally, it just doesn't start, it's getting a spark and fuel checked and cleaned the idle air control valve and still nothing, it seems to do this more when parked at an angle
  • Installing the refrigerant is easy, just be careful. You hold ALL the cans upsidedown to charge liquid refrigerant into the system. The reason why, is that if you hold the can upright and charge with gas, the liquid in the can boils into gas, making the can freeze and the pressure in the can drops very low. You hold the can upside down so that the liquid does NOT boil in the can, you want the can to stay warm, so that the pressure in the can does not drop down too low. It is very important to note that you should start with the vaccuum in the system, HIgh side valve on the Gauge set closed, Low side valve open, and with the can connected to the charging hose, with the valve on the can tap CLOSED. When ready to start charging, hold can upside down and very slowly open the can tap valve,watching the low pressure gauge, begin to charge the refrigerant into the vaccuum on the low side. You should see the low side guage slowly rise up out of a vaccuum the build up pressure. As the low side builds up pressure, watch the high side gauge, it should slowly start to rise also (this indicates that the gas is flowing from the low side through the orifice into the high side. You should keep charging until the pressure stops rising, this will depend on how cold or warm the can in your hand is. If you kept the can from getting cold, the pressure should be up to around 80 to 100 lbs. Then start the engine, and set the AC to MAX AC HIGH BLOWER. The AC clutch should engage and the compressor will start pumping the refrigerant from the low side to the high side, making the low side pressure drop, and high side pressure increase. Once the can is empty, the low side pressure should drop very low, the compressor will start cycling, turn off the can tap and remove the can. Put on the second can, slowly open the can tap to slowly charge refrigerant into the low side, Use the can tap valve as a throttle valve to control the rate of refrigerant flow into the low side, and to control low side pressure from going over 60 pounds. Keep the low side pressure under 60 pounds while you are charging the system, to keep from slugging the compressor with liquid refrigerant. Check the lable on your system to see how much refrigerant it should take. I think about 30 ounces would be close, just under 3 cans. But don't just go by the volume or the weight, observe the pressures in your system and put in just the right amount of charge to bring your pressures and temperatures into the correct range. See the attached text at the bottom of this post.
    Whatever, you want to use for a Vaccuum Pump is fine, as long as it is able to suck a good vaccuum, down to 29 inches. The Venturi types use air, and may take a lot of air to operate, so be sure you have a good air supply before you get one. Most do it yourselfers buy the single stage electric vaccuum pumps, they are the cheapest ones. Most shops buy the dual stage electric vaccuum pumps, because they do a good job and last longer. You may be able to find one at a tool rental outlet.
    Since you are new to this, I included some text from an AC paper I wrote, that explains about how to charge your AC System. You may find this useful:

    There are two ways to tell what the refrigerant is doing in the system, you must use Both:
    First, with the AC Gauges, reading the high side & low side pressures.
    Second, is measuring or feeling the temperatures of the lines & vents during the charging process.
    Start the engine, set the A/C to Max Cool, High Blower. With Engine idling, as you slowly charge the refrigerant into the low side vacuum, the evaporator begins to fill with boiling refrigerant as the charge is increased. As the charge is further increased, cold refrigerant vapor and mist begins to flow into the accumulator. Then at the final amount of charge, cold vapor & refrigerant mist begin to flow towards the suction port of the compressor. You MUST FEEL the suction line at the compressor to see how cold it is at the SAME TIME that you are watching your gauges & charging the system. When you JUST BEGIN feel the coolness starting to come through the accumulator and then reaches the compressor suction port, STOP charging & let the system stabilize, before continuing. You MUST STOP CHARGING when the pressures look good & when the temperature of the suction line to the compressor BEGINS to get cool. Set the engine to run at 1500 rpm, you want the line at the Compressor suction port to be cold. Charging the A/C is a fine Balancing Act, to get it just right and achieve 100% system performance. DO NOT OVERCHARGE. If you do overcharge, the system will not cool very well, the A/C will not be as cold, & you may slug the compressor with liquid refrigerant, causing damage to the compressor. It is best to charge it a little under, than a little over. On an an average FLORIDA day of 90 degrees as an example, the high side should run about 210 to 235, low side should run about 21 to 30.
    Pressures will vary slightly according to your climate and location. Expect slightly higher pressures when the outside air temperature is hotter. There is a general rule of thumb that the high side pressure should be about 2.3 to 2.6 times the ambient air temperature (outside air temperature in the shade).
  • Hmmm....... parked at an angle? You mean like parking on a hill? Possibly a fuel pickup issue? I seemed to remember issues about fuel pickup when the fuel tank is low, say 1/4 or less. Does is seem to happen when the fuel tank is low, maybe try keeping the fuel tank 1/2 full or more and maybe not parking on hills.

    I found some references to explorers not starting with 1/4 tank of gas, when parked backed up on a hill. See Below messeges #3166, 3167, 3168 & 3171:

    #3166 of 5231 idntnvu & bond001 by jrc346 Dec 12, 2004 (11:55 am)
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    You may have a point with the IAC valve. Seems like you posting about that brought back memories from the past when people were writing in here about "hard to start" and "poor idle" conditions.
    Both of the Explorers that I am talking about (2000's) will both not starting when backed up a hill, and have less than a quarter of a tank of gas. I always have to roll to the bottom of my driveway to start the trucks. It hasn't happened in a while because the gas always stays above 3/4 or a tank. When I suggested to keep the gas level above 3/4 it was for the reasons mentioned. Cooling, keeps debris out of the pre-filter (and fuel line filter), and solves the no start condition some have when on an incline.
    I don't claim that these are facts, just friendly suggestions that were passed on to me from various people I have talked to. They seem to make sense, but it's anyones guess. I do believe that it is a part of regular maintenance to change your fuel filters. When they build up crud and sediments in them over time, it causes a strain on your fuel pump, and will also decrease your gas mileage. Think of it as when you are blowing air through a straw. Bend the straw and it becomes much harder to push the air through. This strain causes heat, and will eventually get the best of your fuel pump.

    Replies to this message:
    • bond001 (Dec 12, 2004 10:20 pm)

    #3167 of 5231 Starting on a hill by opera_house_wk Dec 12, 2004 (5:56 pm)
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    I park my 97 facing down on a steep driveway and if I'm below 1/4 tank before I pull in, then there can be trouble. I've "run out of gas" there just trying to warm it up for a couple minutes. The tank is lengthwise and it is just simple physics.

    #3168 of 5231 Re: Starting on a hill by jrc346 Dec 12, 2004 (6:14 pm)
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    "The tank is lengthwise and it is just simple physics."

    Very true, but for some reason my 1999 Expedition does not seem to be as sensitive to this issue. However, like the rest of my vehicles, the gas in that rarely gets below a quarter tank.

    #3171 of 5231 bond001 by jrc346 Dec 13, 2004 (12:57 am)
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    "Is the fuel tank different in my Explorers than the 2000?"
    That is what I am wondering. The 1996 Explorer I sold 3 years ago didn't have the start problem on a hill, but it did burn up a fuel pump at around 90,000mi, so that is why I am cautious.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,664
    I think that your excellent comment about flushing not being "magic" and not being able to repair a junk transmission, is/was the basis for my reluctance to endorse flushing as a "cure" for anything. I'm much more inclined to agree with flushing as a maintenance item---and I myself have done this and will do it on my cars.

    I think too many people are "sold" a flushing on the basis of their hope that it will correct an issue, and really, the odds aren't so good for that. So the shop gets paid for a flush AND an overhaul.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,985
    I think some of the confusion concerns changing/flushing vs power flushing - I've read comments over the years to avoid power flushing of the tranny fluid with those special external flushing machines/pumps.

    My Nissan service manual just says to inspect the tranny fluid every 30,000 miles and only replace if there's some indication of a problem, like milkiness from water intrusion or a dark/black/burned color.

    Maybe the Ford trannies really are that bad, but it sounds like overkill to do more than the manufacturer recommends - it seems like going around flushing the tranny, radiator, power steering and brake lines is an idea thought up by the bean counters in the quick lube places to maximize their profits.
  • today we have discovered the crankshaft position sensor and are in the process of replacing that i think that is the problem i'll keep posted thanks!
  • dodgekbaddodgekbad Posts: 56
    My SUV is a '98 Explorer V6 SOHC with 108k miles. I was replacing plugs and wires when on the last one I finally got it off with Liquid Wrench and 20 minutes of waiting, in 3 intervals, for it to soak. Something went wrong because I can barely put in the new plug. I thread it by hand a little, and then use the socket and the plug barely goes down and just gets stuck in top of the socket.

    I think it runs a little rich. No check engine light however. But then again I didn't drive that much. Although I am tempted to just drive it like that until otherwise, but my gas mileage would be terrible I bet. And that defeats the purpose of changing the plugs to begin with.

    The plug looks like it's way out there by the way. It's the rear one on the drivers side. Any advice?
  • I can't comment on power flushing, but have NEVER had any of my vehicles transmissions POWER flushed. I always flush my transmissions by disconnecting the cooler line and using the transmission pump to flush out the old transmission fluid and add new fluid. I always drop the pan and put in a new filter before I do the flush. I believe that is the best way to do it. I've done this on my personal vehicles for over 30 years, on all types of vehicles, mostly American makes, several Chevrolets, 1979 GMC, 4 Ford Explorers, a 1991 Saturn, a 1976 Toyota and a 2002 Nissan Altima. The manufacturer's recommendations will vary from make to make and also over the years as technology improves, but I have found a good "Rule of Thumb" is to flush and replace the transmission fluid and filter every 30,000 miles. Most vehicles I know of will show signs of the fluid darkening by that time, or certainly by 60,000 miles. And some vehicles need it more than others, and unfortunately, Ford transmissions seem to need it the most, at least from my experience. If your transmission does not have a filler tube and dipstick, it's best to leave this to a shop to do. Bottom line, I believe is is good insurance to do good maintenance, and the transmission flush is money well spent, as long as you don't get ripped off and pay to much for it. As I said previously, I spend less than $100 to do the transmission filter and flush, doing it myself.
    Now about the "other" maintenance flushes, I also believe the other flushes, such as the Radiator, Power Steering, and Brakes are also important and beneficial maintenance items, for several reasons. Don't flush just to flush, flush when you need it.
    The Radiator seldom needs flushing, and for most people with used cars, this will usually occur when they need to replace a water pump or Radiator, otherwise 5 year intervals are about normal. Check the manufacturer's recommendations. Systems that use the Dexcool Antifreeze (Orange/Yellow color) should be drained and flushed more often, about every 3 years. I have seen Dexcool gel up when left in a system for 5 years. When you service the system, and you have to drain the cooling system, it is an excellent time to check the overall cleanliness of the system. If any rust, corrosion, or discoloration of the fluid, it's best to pressure check the system to look for any potential leaks, Check/Replace Hoses, fix any leaks, and flush the system. It is easy and inexpensive to flush the cooling system, using an ordinary water hose. Drain antifreeze into a pan and dispose of properly, antifreeze is poisonous and can harm animals. You MUST remove the radiator cap and leave if off during the entire flushing process, so that you won't build up excessive pressure in the system. I made a simple adaptor from hose fittings and plumbing fittings that allows me to connect the water hose to one of the heater hoses so that the water will flow through the heater core and then into the engine. Turn on the heater in the car so the the heater water valve will be open. Start the engine and let it idle. With the Radiator Cap off turn the water hose on slowly and watch water come out of the radiator cap opening. Watch out for splashing water. Slowly flush until the water runs clear. The engine needs to warm up enough for the thermostat to open and for the water to circulate through the engine, so you may have to turn the water hose off for a few minutes, and cover the front grill with some newspapers. NEVER hold your hand or your head over the radiator filler opening, as hot water can suddenly gush out! Once you have very warm water at the Radiator cap opening, turn the water hose on slowly, so that water runs out the radiator cap opening until it runs clear, turn off water hose, let the radiator heat up again and turn the water hose again until the water runs clear. You need to repeat this process a few times until the water runs clear every time, because when you turn the water hose on, the thermostat closes when the cool water reaches it, so you actually flush only part of the water out each time until the thermostat closes. Once all the water flows CLEAR out the radiator filler, turn off the engine and turn off the water, remove the hose adaptor, reconnect the hoses, and open the drain cock to drain the system. Close the Drain cock, refill with the proper antifreeze and Distilled Water. I recommend adding only distilled water to the cooling system. Again, it's cheap and good insurance.
    Power Steering and Brake Fluid Flushes are also easy and cheap to do. You can buy a bottle of Power Steering fluid for less than $5. Use an "OIL SUCK GUN or PUMP' with a hose attached to suck the old fluid out of the fluid reservoir. Discard the old fluid and pour in new fluid. I do the power steering "fluid replacement" every 30K at the same time I do the Transmission flush service and fuel filter change.
    The Brake fluid is also cheap, a quart cost about $5 to $8 and is usually enough to flush all four wheels. You might want to buy 2 quarts to be sure you don't run out in the middle of your flush. To Flush, you simply do brake bleeding at each wheel, using a one man bleeder, simple to make from a small plastic 6 or 8 oz bottle and a foot of rubber hose, size the hose so that it fits snugly on the brake bleeder screw, with the hose going through a snug fitting hole in the bottle top, with the end of the hose near the bottom of the bottle. Use a piece of tie wire to support the bottle during the process. Start at the Left Rear Wheel, attach the hose to the brake bleeder screw. Loosen the bleeder screw about 1/2 turn, pump the brake pedal about 10 times, then check the fluid level in the master cylinder. Pump until almost all the fluid is gone from the master cylinder, but don't let it run dry! Fill up the master cylinder about 3/4 full, lay the cover on top, so the fluid won't splash out, and pump the brake pedal about 10 times. Check the master cylinder and keep refilling it throughout the rest of this entire procedure. Close the bleeder screw, remove the hose and bottle, discard the dirty fluid, put the hose and bottle back on, open the bleeder screw, and pump the brake again 10 times, refill the master cylinder. Continue this same procedure until the fluid runs clear out of the wheel cylinder into the bottle. Close the Bleeder Screw and remove the bleeder hose. Move to the Right Rear Wheel and do the same procedure, then to the Right Front Wheel, and then finally to the Left Front Wheel. All bleeder screws should now be closed. Fill master cylinder with new fluid. Test brake pedal, brake pedal should be firm and high. Always test the brakes to be certain they are operating properly before driving the car. I do the brake fluid flush every 30K at the same time I do the Transmision flush service and fuel filter change.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • When you finally got the old plug to 'break loose', did it seem to come out easier the rest of the way or did you have to 'wrench' it all the way out. If it came out easily after it broke loose, it may just be that the new plug may be crossed in the threads starting it in. You can buy a spark plug thread 'chaser' that is like a tap, you screw it in and it cleans the threads, actually cuts the metal a little bit to reduce interference on damaged threads. If the threadS are messed up bad where the 'chaser' won't work, then you will have to buy a spark plug repair kit, like a heli-coil kit or similar. The guys at the auto parts house should be able to show you what you need. You have to buy the right kit for your type spark plug. It consists of a special tap that rethreads the hole to an oversize special thread. Then you screw the new heli-coil onto the installation tool and screw it carefully into the newly threaded spark plug hole, to the correct depth, according to instructions. Once in, the little metal 'tab' on the heli-coil is broken off and the repair is complete.

    AN OPTIONAL STEP: Myself, I do not like the little metal tab and any metal chips falling down into the cylinder, because with my luck, it will cause me a problem, so before I start doing the procedure, I locate the piston at the bottom of the cylinder, ready to come up on the compression stroke, and I fill the cylinder with shaving cream. When the procedure is done, you rotate the engine, and the shaving cream comes out the spark plug hole carrying any metal shavings and the little metal tab safely out of the engine. Then you have a 'new' spark plug hole with new threads.

    Note: I recommend that when installing spark plugs on any engine, DO NOT overtighen them, apply a very light coating of "never seize" onto the spark plug threads, then just install them tightened down snugly. Pick up the never seize at the auto parts house also. I've never seen a spark plug blow out, just because it came loose, and it if ever did, it would be a LOT better than stripped out threads.
    Let us know how it comes out.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,985
    It's not just the cost of the fluids - ATF seems pretty benign from skimming the material data safety sheets on-line (even though most of the non-synthetic stuff is a known carcinogen to the State of California) but I still don't want that stuff winding up in my aquifer (replacement wells in my neighborhood start around $14,000). So there's the green issue of replacing auto fluids needlessly as well (eco green and dollar green :shades: ).

    Some of the indy shops around here don't even change radiator fluid anymore since the disposal issue is too much of a hassle for them. If you are doing that at home you should be taking the first drain to the recycling center and not flushing that stuff in the storm drain or the sewer.
  • kwccorbkwccorb Posts: 5
    My 1998 explorer makes some gosh-awful noises these days. Sounds like a red neck thug-mobile. I couldn't sneak up on anybody if I had to. It is getting quite embarassing at this point.

    I've been told that I need new ball-joints and whatever else goes along with it. But, is that what might be making the noise. The noise comes from bouncing on the least bump in the road or any other motion. I recently put new breaks on front and back.

    Any ideas?

  • dodgekbaddodgekbad Posts: 56
    Thanks for the reply. I acually can't remember if it came out smoothly or if I wrenched it out. I was tired as dirt by then and on that V6 SOHC, all but one of the plugs are easy to reach -- so it;s sort of a hassle all the way through the process.

    I heard Helli-coil should be left to a pro. It sounds like this cross thread job should be left to a pro also.
  • ecnirpecnirp Posts: 20
    2004 XLT 4X4 - 13K miles.

    This morning I took the SUV out and had no problems. 6 hours later I go into the garage and it will not start up. There was a little bit of light on the dash and then I lost it when I turned the key. Just the old clicking noise.

    Jump started it and took it around the block. Lights on the dash were flickering on and off and the gauges were not stable. Then then the battery light came on so I parked the car.

    Do I need a new battery or could it be the alternator or something else? Is there an easy way to diagnose? Could a shop just hook something to the battery to determine the issue?
  • How many miles? Have you had the ball joints replaced? The suspension BUSHINGS front and rear need to be lubricated, they squeak loudly when they get dry. Get a big can of WD 40 and lay on the ground right up beside the vehicle and spray all the suspension bushings (all points that move). The bushings are on the front on each side, 2 upper control arm bushings at the frame, 2 lower control arm bushings at the frame,sway bar and link bushings and the shocks. On the rear, bushing are on each end of the leaf springs and on the sway bar and links and the shocks. Have a friend, preferably a heavy one, stand on the front or back bumper and bounce the vehicle up and down while you are listening to and spraying the bushings under the car. You may be able to hear where the sound is coming from, and as you spray the bushings, you will hear them silence. Keep spraying until the noises are gone. If the squeaks come back, then spray them again with a heavier spray grease, like a white grease or a marine grease.
    If the ball joints squeak, those will have to be replaced. There is a lower ball joint and an upper ball joint on each side, total of 4. The lower ones wear out first. You may need just the lowers replaced, or you may need both uppers and lowers replaced.
    You can also take it to any service or repair garage and have them put it on the lift and ask them to spray and lubricate all the bushings and anything that moves or squeaks. They will be able to check the ball joints then also. If you have original ball joints, they are probably ready to replace by now. I have heard of cases where the ball joints failed early, like at 50,000 miles, but usually they are replaced between 100,000 to 140,000 miles.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • Yes, you need diagnosis, a shop can test the battery, starter and connections. It might be just simply a loose connection by your desription of the 'flashing lights'.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • kwccorbkwccorb Posts: 5
    I have the same problem with my 1998 explorer. I had a shade-tree mechanic tell me that it was probably this (as he pointed to a little electronic thingy near the air filter).

    I was just looking in my Haynes Repair Manual and the thing he was pointing at was the Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF sensor).

    I looked up the price of the new part and it is about $210. I may give it a try. If it works I'll let you know.

  • seres4seres4 Posts: 2
    Scratch it's nose maybe, but wake up - I doubt it. I've never dealt with such cold customer service about anything in my life. Anyone know how to get in touch with Erin Brockovich? I'll let you know how my day in small claims court turns out. Speaking of court, I'm going to take copies of as many messages as I can find about these problems with me to the judge to try to show a pattern of poor quality and service. I know they won't be about the dealer I'm suing, but I see the dealer as an agent of Ford bound by it's policies and practices. So, if anyone out there has stories about Explorer tranny problems, please reply with your story. If I can win this suit, maybe it will help create a precedent in the court system (at least in California) that will get Ford off it's butt to give the customers what they deserve for their money besides the offer of an extended warranty. By the way, my problem child is an 03 Eddie Bauer 4x4 V8.
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