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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • erock00erock00 Posts: 3
    Thanks for the reply. I did check the drive belt and found no visible (or audible) problems. Didn't check the PVC valve, because I just had it replaced by the dealer (Ford does it for free at 60K miles) when they fixed my chain tension limiter. Aside from the hoses, which I probably could have inspected a little better, I think I'm out of options. Time to take it in, I guess.

    Thanks again,
  • jazzy8jazzy8 Posts: 11
    I am in the market for an 4WD Explorer from 1997-1999. I have done some research, but can't seem to find the answers to the following. Thanks in advance to any who can help.

    What is an XLS compared to an XLT?
    Do the SOHC V6 models only come with the 5spd auto?
    Can you turn off the 4WD? I have a friend with a Sport who has 3 selections, all labeled 4WD.
    Whats the most common problem in this model range?
    How do the ball joints hold up?

    Thanks again.
  • marlin77marlin77 Posts: 14
    96 XLT, 80k,4x4 (great engine by the way), low speed chirping noise from under front end. the frequency increases with speed, cannot be heard above 25mph, even during backing. dealer and i thought wheel bearing, replaced, but noise still there. techs have heard noise and are stumped, u-joints look good and no slack. it has to be a rotating speed governed part. any other axle or drivetrain component make this noise? almost a year now, gets no worse or better but driving me nuts.
  • ace10ace10 Posts: 137
    try bent front driveshaft(s). to be certain, find a decent hill (down) and slip it into neutral and let her roll. i'll bet the noise won't be present. if it's not, then it's probably the driveshafts. repair will be in the $800 to $1,000 range.

    noise will probably get worse over time.

    not such a great suv now, huh?

  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    if the noise is there out of gear, might be yet another idler wheel in the drive belt path has a dry bearing. I have had to put an occasional drop of oil on them all for several Fords now
  • ace10ace10 Posts: 137
    but while the vehicle is in motion. post# 805 indicated that the noise was present when travelling at low speed in forward AND reverse, not when at a stop. that would indicate something in the drivetrain or suspension, not the engine. the problem is vehicle speed dependent not engine speed dependent.

    the front driveshafts are a KNOWN problem with the vehicle, just not very common. they somehow bend and rub against their housings. the noise is actually still there above 25 mph, it's just that the frequency is such that it blends inot one subtle noise, not the chirp, chirp, chirp....

  • Rick05Rick05 Posts: 6
    Maybe I can provide a few answers. I have a 97 Ford Explorer XLT. I have 95,000 miles on it and I'm on my 3rd, yes 3rd engine. The diesel sound started when I reached 25,000 and Ford wanted to get it to experiment on it. Hey, I love a new I thought. Second engine lasted one week, never found out what was wrong with it...LOL. Third one was ok until...25,000 miles and we hear that clicking again, but thank goodness Ford finally figured it out and it only took 5 years ...YEH!!! Got it fixed and haven't heard any weird sounds since, but then again, I only have about 40,000 miles on my engine. Btw, the 98s and 99s had the same trouble but Ford will fix them and they've added extended warranties to them. Only one more payment and it's mine....wooooooopeeeeeee. LOL
  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    Read through the board for a lot of discussion on Explorer problems.

    My thoughts...stay away from a 1999 Explorer. A lot of people (myself included) on here have posted about a plethora of problems with this model year. Consumer reports also gives the 1999 Explorers some of the worst ratings the Explorer has gotten since it came out in the early 90s.

    As for the trucks, the XLS comes with the 4.0 OHV engine. It has about 35 fewer horsepower than the SOHC 6 cylinder, but has had a lot fewer problems. This is basically the same engine they have been using in Explorer and Ranger for nearly 10 years. The XLT comes with the SOHC engine, and an optional V8. The SOHC engines from 1997-1999 model years were bothered by a timing belt tensioner problem and leaks with the manifold. Ford did offer an extended warranty on the engine to owners of trucks with the SOHC engines because of these problems.

    Hope this helps.
  • marlin77marlin77 Posts: 14
    but I think ace10 has it nailed. the noise is speed dependent and at higher speeds i can tell that it blends into a faint whine. I'll try the downhill(you really did'nt think i'd try coasting up hill did you?) test then put this on the ford techs. I've had writeups for this before my 75k warrnty expired, I just hope they don't try to jack me around and say it's a different problem. Really though, the 96 hasn't been a bad truck, my share of nitpicking small stuff but it's logged some hard city miles and hauled some heavy stuff. tows a 1100 lb boat real easy too.
  • rysterryster Posts: 476

    XL/XLS is the base model. XLT is the mid-grade model. An XL/XLS can be optioned out to equipment levels close to an XLT, but not quite. The XLT was probably the most popular model during the 97-99 model year as it offered the best value for the dollar in terms of equipment and price.

    Yes, the SOHC V6 comes only with the 5spd automatic. XL/XLS models came standard with a 4.0L OHV engine. The SOHC engine was an option in the XLT models beginning with the '97 model year. The SOHC was also an option on XLS models beginning with the '00 model year. Most XLT models in the 97-99 model year range will have the SOHC engine (it was a popular option), but there may also be some running around with the OHV engine.

    The 4WD is always on in the sense that there is not a 2WD setting. The choices are 4WD Auto, 4WD High and 4WD Low. The normal setting is auto, and the truck basically is rear-wheel drive in this setting. However, as soon as the rear wheels slip the front wheels will automatically engage. It is a good system and is not intrusive in any way when it kicks in.

    The SOHC engine is the biggest problem. There are issues with the timing belt tensioners. Ford has even extended the engine warranties for some owners for the components directly related to the problem.

    Don't know of any ball joint problems. I would assume no worse than any other similar vehicles on the market.
  • My 93 Explorer has beginning to give me intermittent starting woes. Sometimes it starts, others it just clicks. Also, on occasion, when it does start it sounds like the starter is still engaged and makes a sound like you are trying to start it while it is running? Does anyone have this problem? I am not sure if it is the starter, the relay, or I've heard that the positive cable goes bad on these cars and that may be the problem.

    Any thoughts?
  • swn1swn1 Posts: 27
    I had the disappearing act with the coolant on my '91 Explorer and found out it was caused by one of two things. The upper heater hose connection would leak onto the manifold where you could sometimes see the antifreeze laying or the heat from the manifold would evaporate it. The other happened twice. The gasket between the core and tank on the upper hose side of the radiator leaked. The leak was so slight that when the vehicle was stopped, the heat from the radiator would evaporate what was leaking out. The best way to see it is to lay on the gound and look up with a flashlight along the radiator and you will see the stains and sometimes the antifreeze. At first it looks like the upper hose is leaking but it's not. Solution is new radiator. Get one with lifetime warranty so when that one leaks you can exchange it. Swapping radiators takes about 20 minutes.
  • rysterryster Posts: 476

    Have a '00 Explorer and love it. On the inside bottom of each of the front doors is a long rubber gasket/shield held in by 4 or 5 white plastic fasteners. Does anyone know of a source for these fasteners? The rubber shield on my driver's side is slightly loose and it appears to be due to a loose fastener (they are all loose, but one significantly more than the others).

  • jtnjtn Posts: 2
    Question for mazman1 or other knowledgeable people. I'm strongly considering purchasing a 1996 Eddie Bauer with 96,000 miles. I have a very good relationship with dealer and so far I've herd of no serious problems with the vehicle. The truck was a local trade with very good maintenance record. My concerns are about the high miles and what may lie ahead. I plan on purchasing an extended warranty but would love some feedback on what others think. Would you buy the vehicle? What would you check out before shelling out the cash? I've had the truck for 7 days and have put 200 miles on it during my extended test-drive and I've been very happy with how it runs. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Thanks for hte special request. I hope I can help.

    I owned a 1994 Explorer (with the v6 OHV) and I now own a 2000 Explorer with the v6 SOHC. tHE 1996 Explorer you are looking at has a 4.0 L OHV engine. It is not as powerful as the V8 or the SOHC, but has a lot fewer problems. The 1996 model year was one of the best for Explorers.

    The 1997-1999 versions of the SOHC had many problems.. to the point that Ford had to extend the warranty to 72,000 miles on the cam tensioners (there are 3 in the SOHC - two in the front and one in the back) and the lower manifold gasket. To change the timing chains on the SOHC, you have to lift the engine out of the vehicle.. which is very involved and can get very expensive if not under warranty. The OHV engine, although less powerful (especially if you are towing) still got me several speeding tickets. The OHV was much simpler engine and easier to service. That's my two cents.

    What I would look at when evaluating ANY vehicle: These are easy to do without getting really dirty:

    1. If you are buying it from an invdividual, ask to see the repair and service history. If the person really took care of it, they would save all of the repair work receipts. That's the kind of person to buy a used car from.. somebody who cared to change the oil every 3,000 miles and kept good records of any problems. When was the radiator last flushed? Hoses changed? Spark plugs and wires changed? Air cleaner changed?

    2. look at the fluid levels and smell them (especially the tranny fluid) to check for a burning smell. Are the fluids uniform in color with no oil floating in the top of the radiator reservoir bottle (this can mean tranny fluid has breached the barrier and is in your radiator, and consequently, coolant is in your tranny).

    3. Are there any puddles under where the vehicle is parked?

    4. Check the air cleaner element. If it is relatively clean, the owner cared to change it and probably did not drive it in sand or mud which can get into the lubrication points in the suspension as well as rot the brakes, which are not so easy to see.

    5. Is there a tow hitch on the vehicle? If so, how heavy a trailer was towed, and was it towing a boat? Many times when you have to launch a boat, the rear wheels can go into the water. The salt water can rust the chassis as well as the brakes if not washed off immediately. Also a very heavy trailer can put a strain on the tranny. The max load on most Explorers is about a 2500 pounds trailer, and 300 pounds at the tongue, unless there were modifications done.

    6. Check the interior and try to decide that the odometer reading makes sense based on the condition of the drivers seat and carpet.

    6. Look for muck in the tailpipe. This can be a indicator of a gasket leak allowing coolant or oil through the system.

    7. Get in the car and before starting the engine look around to see that everything looks uniform ... no new seats or new interior panels.

    8. Before starting the engine, push down on the brake pedal until the master cylinder is discharged. The with your foot on the brake pedal (without touching the gas pedal), turn on the engine. If the brake booster comes alive under your foot as the engine is started and returns to normal function quickly, then the booster and master cylinder are in good shape.

    9. Drive the car with the windows open and the radio off. Listen for noises from the engine, brakes and suspension. When you step on the brakes firmly, does it stop evenly without a shudder or pedal vibration (could be warped rotors). Does the engine choke a bit when you get heavy on the gas and does it hesistate on launch after a stop light?

    10. Lastly, talk with the owner and ask him right out why he is selling the car and was it ever in an accident, stolen or submerged in water (many cars are sold after a flood storm). Be wary of guys that want cash that day or are not too knowledgeable about the vehicle. They may have just bought it, found out that there is something wrong and want to unload it. could be your best friend here.

    Good luck!
  • tom193tom193 Posts: 5
    I drive a 96 AWD Explorer. 130,000 M. Very good truck. Very few problems. All minor. Excellent Ford dealership. However I now question the level of safety afforded this vechile. Rollovers at low speeds, rollovers resulting from rear collisions, tire recall, etc. Is there a an integral design flaw with this truck? Shades of Bronco 11? I have two small kids to be concerned with.
    As a law enforcement officer please be advised that Rollovers are not pretty. At any rate perhaps we can hear from some fellows officers on this same topic along with some automotive truck design engineers.
    Thank you for the opportunity to be apart of this forum.
  • jtnjtn Posts: 2
    Thanks to mazman1 and tom193 for your responses. One more question. Is there any way, or any test, one can determine the condition of the transmission or drive train? This is what has me concerned. From my limited car knowledge my understanding is that a new one on an Explorer could run up to $2,500. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    The only way to really check out the tranny is open the bottom tray and check it out. I check the fluid periodically.. check for burnt smell and uniform pink color.

    You can check the auto clutch by doing the following test:

    In an open space (empty parking lot)
    Put left foot firmly on the brake.
    Shift to drive
    Put right foot LIGHTLY on gas...
    If car stalls or you hear banging noises.. you have a problem. Keep in mind.. easy on the gas here.

    Good luck.
  • enforcerenforcer Posts: 40
    these are solid trucks but the maintenance on a 5-year old vehicle vehicle with almost 100K miles will be expensive without an extended warranty.

    there have been quite a few posts on this board from people who had to replace transmissions, engines, etc. well below the 96K miles on your vehicle. i bought a '97 XLT last fall with 32K miles and have already claimed $500 on my warranty.

    just view the warranty as buying prepaid maintenance and repair insurance.
  • masonmimasonmi Posts: 148
    I normally use my keyless entry pad to lock and unlock the doors and to set the alarm however I never hear the horn after the second time I hit the lock button, is there a way to un-silence it? if it is silenced?
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