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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • Hi Folks. Disclaimer - Let me start out by saying I know next to nothing about car engines!
    Took in our Explorer with 68K miles on Thursday because it was idling really rough and seemed to be "slipping" when I went to accelerate. Going over 60mph felt like I was really pushing the car. After two days the dealer tells me that it wasn't holding compression and that they need to send the heads to the machine shop and replace the head. Is this normal for a car with so few miles. We bought it with 28K three years ago so we have done around 13K a year mainly around town and such. Had an extended warranty that expired last November even though we haven't gone over the 70K miles!! Typical! My main question is this though. We took the car in last July because it started over heating - air conditioning blowing hot air, lights on the dash came on etc. It was also making some funny knocking noises. Service dept. replaced the thermostat and away I went. Well now that it is out of warranty the price is $1790 to fix. After talking to some people more knowledgeable than myself, I am starting to thing that it might be related to the over heating last July and should be covered under the warranty. What are my chances of getting the dealer to see my way of thinking? They claim it's not related because they did a compression test last July and it checked out OK. Is there someone else I should be contacting about this other than the dealer? They claim to have contacted the "warranty guy" and all they can do is give it to me at wholesale rather than retail which will save me 20%. Something smells fishy to me and this just isn't adding up.

    Many thanks in advance for any info anyone might have.

  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    I am not going to be a lot of help here, but it is more than plausible that your overheating was related to your head gasket issue. I just had the head gaskets replaced on my 98 Subaru Outback and the only symptom of a problem was engine overheating. The way it was diagnosed was not with an engine compression test, but rather they found hydrocarbons (combustion gasses) in the coolant. I would defer to someone such as mazman on this one, but I am not certain that you would see a loss of compression in the early stages of a head gasket failure. I think the problem probably existed while it was under warranty, but I don't know what your chances are of proving it. Good luck.
  • I wanted to first thank each of you (mazman1, dtownfb and G159) for your input. I appreciate the speed of which I (we) received replies :)

    Sorry that it took me so long to reply back ...

    anywho, would it be safe to assume that if her truck makes such a noise then the linkage has already sustained considerable damage from the prior owner doing that very thing (driving on dry pavement in 4WD) too much? ? ?

    also, I don't recall if she has the 4WD (auto) option on her truck (i'll check tomorrow) but if she does, then from what I read of the previous posts in 'auto' mode it will not lock the front wheels, correct?

    Therefore, if the road surfaces are variable, such as black ice, some snow (wind blown drifts)... etc ... then it would be safe (okay for the truck) to run in 4WD auto?
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    If she has 4WD Auto, tell her to keep it there during rain, snow or icy conditions. Otherwise keep it in the 2wd mode. 4WD Auto will not lock up her wheels, until it is necessary.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    If the damage is done .. no sense crying over spilled milk... Just get it fixed.

    On my 2000 Explorer, the knob on the dash has 3 positions 4WD Auto, 4wd high, and 4wd Low. I leave it in auto, and it never engages 4wd by itself.. even in snow. When I get stuck in snow, I have to turn the knob myself to put it in 4wd mode and lock the differential. I can unlock the diff by taking it out of 4wd high and backing up slowly a few feet.

    On my Expedition, there was an additional knob position that said 2wd. I basically left it there all the time. I manually turned the knob to 4wd high when I was in snow.

    To answer your last point, "yes", but try to avoid making sharp turns in 4wd high mode, as that puts a lot of strain on the linkages. Unless you are in Buffalo, NY, you will do better to be in 2wd.. especially from mpg perspective.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Let me see if I understand. You had an overheating problem last year. You brought it in, and they fixed it by changing the thermostat. Was it fixed? Did the truck run ok after the thermostat change?

    Did they actually do a compression test last year? Do you have the service Repair Order that you can refer to that actually says they did it? If they did not do the work last year, you may have a case for an attorney. At the very minimum, I would talk with an independent mechanic you trust.
    After that, use the knowledge to speak with the service manager or the shop foreman at the dealership.. not some drone in the service writer uniform. If you feel put down and are not explained what is going on, or they are not willing to work with you, call the Ford regional rep... but only do that as a last resort.

    From what I have read here, if you have a head gasket problem, they can just replace the gasket. If the heads are fouled or there is damage to the pistons or valves, those can be indicative of some serious problem.. one that would not have been fixed with a $1.35 thermostat swap 6 months ago.
  • mookie14mookie14 Posts: 252
    i got a 2000 xls and im like 140 miles past the time im supposed to get a oil change ive got castrol syntec blend 5w30 in the engine the main question is how long will it or rather can i get at least 5000 miles between oil changes out of this oil i will start using ac delco oil filters so anyone answer this please i got 42000 miles on thus thing so far.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Chances are the paper in the oil filter will go bad before then. Castrol Syntec is 80% dino oil and 20% synthetic. If you want to go longer between changes, change to full synthetic and upgrade to a heavy duty filter.

    IMO, changing the oil at 3K miles, spending $30 for a oil change is not a big deal. Its probably the single best thing you can do for the vehicle to keep it on the road. Changing the oil regularly helps the engine get rid of particulate dirt and makes sure the engine is properly lubricated (in case you go down a quart).
  • mookie14mookie14 Posts: 252
    of course i got xls im wondering i wanna clean this engine some say oil does it but i think it does not can power max do the trick or they say as your mileage goes up you need to go up in octane i use shell is that true i got 42000 miles on it she will have at least 57 to 58000 when im done with it what can i do ...
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Clean the engine... Do you mean inside or outside? I never really cared too much about cleaning the outside of the motor. I have seen some over zealous people that actually Armor-All the plastic parts of the engine.

    Regarding cleaning the inside, I use Chevron Techron Fuel system cleaner every 6 months. I also use Isopropol Water remover in the winter to get rid of bad gas and condensation.

    Regarding Oil changes, I change the oil & filter every 3 months or 3,000 miles.

    Hope this helps.
  • mookie14mookie14 Posts: 252
    whats your take on snythetic oil ripoff or no doubt it should be in any car etc. plus who really makes the best if you drive alot like i do and go like 200to 300 miles past oil change due point castrol or amsoil mobil who let me know i know who makes the best filters ac delco right ??? oil and for what kind of truck or minivan thast the question.
  • How do you remove the front rotors on a 96 explorer with control trac. I removed Calipers and associated hardware but rotors wont budge. There is a center net in the axle, must I loosen this, or is corrosion holding rotor on hub
  • epp1epp1 Posts: 48

    I have a '99 XLT 4WD with the SOHC 6. 39K miles. Lately, I been experiencing a strange phenomenon while driving that essentially feels like the tranny slips or disengages momentarily while travelling along at speeds of 40-whatever. It is a sudden jerking sensation that I can feel through the throttle and the passengers can feel by the jarring effect.

    I had the tranny serviced - new filter and fluid. This seemed to temporarily solve the problems, but no less than 250 miles later, it began acting up again. I do not lose any tranny fluid on the underside of the car or on the garage floor.

    Has anyone experienced something similar? I call ed the dealer and was told there was no recall he was aware of that coincides with these symptoms.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  • I asked a similar question on this board a few months ago. According to several of my local Ford dealers (Central NJ), the Ford company line is that they do not recommend using synthetic or blend oils in their vehicles as the vehicles were designed to run with "dino" oil in them. Now, as far as running the car 200 or 300 miles over the oil change due point, is that 3300 miles or 5300 miles between changes. I never go more than about 3000 miles between changes, and I think most people on the board, including mazman (who I think uses a synthetic or blend oil) would agree not to go past 5000 miles with any type of oil in there. insult intended, but can you try to put a period or comma somewhere in your posts, they're kinda hard to read.
  • smily1smily1 Posts: 104
    I would bet the only reason that ford dosnt recommend synthetic or a blend is that they dont want their vehicles to last that long. Tell me how do you design an engine to use only inferior oil? And no, seal leaks/shrinkage is not an issue any more. All of the same great oil additives are in synthetic that are found in dino. More information can be found in the maintenance board under "synthetic motor oil".

    98 V8 AWD 52k on mobil 1 full synthetic.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229

    I use Castrol 100% Syntec 5w30. Syntec Blend has 80% dino 20% synthetic oil. Mobil 1 is also very good oil. Where it really comes thru for you is if you are very hard on the engine.. lot of city driving, hot climate driving or off roading. Synthetic oil is superior to dino oil because it can withstand colder as well as hotter engine temps without breaking down or coagulating into sludge.

    A big consideration is to use a quality oil filter.. not a piece of junk. The filter wears out or gets gunked up before the oil wears out. Fram makes an inferior product in my opinion. I use PureOne, made by purolator... but if you change the filter regularly, at about 3,000 - 5,000 miles the filter you use probably does not matter.


    Sounds like one or more of your clutches is malfunctioning. I'd have the tranny in to see a tranny professional (does not have to be the dealer unless under warranty.. they just send it out anyway) soon before you cause any damage to the unit. Just driving around can damage a malfunctioning tranny.

    Good luck
  • smily1smily1 Posts: 104
    Yes. Lots of off road driving and a leaded foot.

    Also, its my understanding that the ford motorcraft oil filter is made by Purolator and makes it much cheaper than just buying the Purolator brand. Yes, I do know that its not exactly the pure one model but its much better than most.
  • mookie14mookie14 Posts: 252
    so a oil treatment will not hurt a ford?? i think the way to do it is just pure in the crankcase right? not that i have lead foot got into a doggone lease and didnt know what i was doing i know now it will have like 59000 on it bye 1-03 when i git rid of it as far as doing the oil treatment every oil change is that the way to go????? thanks ps. is stp good???
  • smily1smily1 Posts: 104
    I know this is not directed at me, but why do you need to clean out the engine when all you are going to do is turn over the ford next year? You wont see any long term benefits form it nor will you see any immediate return for your extra expenses. My advise to you is save your money. Oil changes are all you are obligated to as far as that area is concerned.
  • tincup47tincup47 Posts: 1,508
    Oil treatments only hurt your wallet. No manufacturer recommends them, but the reason is they have no proven benefits and have not gone through any manufacturer's testing. It is certainly not because manufacturer's don't want their engines to last. People's main motivation for getting a new vehicle is the desire to owning an improved newer vehicle, not that they wore the old one out. Most vehicles traded in have engines that will last through several more owners.
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