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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • There is a dipstick but it is hidden, I beleive on the right (passenger) side of the tranny... I'll have to check, anyone else know?

    They call it "sealed for life" (100 or 150K if I remember) but then again they'll recommend you flush it way before then I'm sure...
  • I have a 01 Explorer Sport and it only has about 22k miles on it. The other day i was driving in 4x4 high becuase of the snow. I stopped at a store and turned it off to make parking easier. When i left and tried to turn it back on I could hear the relay swicth but my indicator light on the dash dosent come on and i can tell it isnt in 4x4 high. dosent work in 4x4 low either. Someone Please give me some advice on what exactly im dealing with, if i need to take it to the dealer or what. Any comment appreciated.
  • coltpeytcoltpeyt Posts: 11
    Thanks for the reply. My lawsuit (lemon law) against Ford is continuing, and hopefully we will come to resolution ASAP. The transmission continues to slip and jerk, and the front-end pulls harder then ever to the left upon acceleration.

    Can you imagine if this case makes it to trial, and they put me on the stand to testify that Ford's Service Manager said there was nothing to be done for the front drive tires pulling - other then I needed to hold on tight to the steering wheel... Now that's real concern for Passenger safety FORD!

    Anything you might have regarding the Explorer service letters would be appreciated.

  • kxweil38kxweil38 Posts: 4
    Does anyone know where I can find a diagram for a 2004 V-8 engine on a Mountaineer?
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    My dealer told me to change the fluid at 30K. I reluctantly agreed to do so. It did shift better afterwards. I am no fan of dealers, however, with this transmission and the ford spec fluid, I suggest you do change the fluid at around 30K and let the dealer perform the service.
  • colin3colin3 Posts: 1
    i'd planned on making a trip to see family this weekend for easter - but today the overdrive light kept blinking - denoting a problem with the transmission - - any idea what the problem could be? could it just be a transmission fluid problem? or am i going to have to cancel my trip?

    when i accelerate - at around 25 mph - it drops a gear - and the rpms shoot up - then immediately - goes drops back down and shifts back up

    i'd appreciate any and all advice
    thank you
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    I think I may have a solution for you. I live in Michigan, and well, the roads here are CRAP! My wife drives a 2000 Explorer Limited as well, and she likes it very much, however I agree with you that the ride in them is rather rough. So, about a year ago I ordered some Edelbrock shocks from an online store, and it rides SO much better now. The little road imperfections that used to unsettle the beast, now get soaked up. Note however, that I only replaced the front shocks, the back shocks have the air assist, so I left them alone. Big potholes still cause a ruckus, but at least that is more rare.

    They were relatively easy to change, and if you decide to do them yourself, be sure to spray penetrating oil generously on all 3 bolts a day or two before you tackle the job. Should come apart pretty easy.

    Another suggestion for improving the ride, is to go to adjustable swaybar end links. Haven't done this myself, because the ones I ordered were the wrong size. Haven't had a chance to follow up and try again.

    Old tires get harder as they age, so this in conjunction with over-inflation, can make for a pretty bad ride as well.

    The best of luck to you!
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    You didn't say what year your Explorer is. If it's an '02 on up-you could have the solenoid problem reported here by many. At any rate, your transmission sounds like it's in a "limp mode" and needs attention. I would have the Explorer looked at, and rent a car for your trip.
  • cdfexpcdfexp Posts: 3
    Had truck for almost 2 yrs now, tried different gas, just changes the tint of the smell. Dealer say only use regular. I have notice with this promblem, it seems to go away in the winter, well at least it doesn't show its nasty smell as much. so the weather is starting to break, and what do you know the 2 nices day there was the smell. Windows open, or closed get the smell, YES IT IS stronger windows open. I can cause the smell purposely sometimes by hard acceleration, or long acceleration. Help the smell at times makes me dizzy!

    dealer changed one of the cats not both after about 5 or so visits
  • cdfexpcdfexp Posts: 3
    The check engine light has done this twice.


  • webmyzerwebmyzer Posts: 2
    I don't know if any has replied to you yet, but your exact situation happen to my 97 Explorer XL. I found a transfer case at a trust worthy parts yard for $600 with 55k miles on it (Ford wanted $2,500 plus labor to put new one in). I also happen to need Ball joints (Due to failed inspection). I installed the transfer case and ball joints for $700............The ball joint press I rented from Auto Zone for $100, and returned it........

  • rennarenna Posts: 7
    I have a '02 mountaineer with 50k miles. I too have had hard, shuddering shifts at about 35 mph and 50 mph. Dealer said it needs a new "redesigned" transmission clutch solenoid pak. cost $480. Has anyone had this done and dose it fix the problem? Is this price about right? Must a ford dealer do this, or could a local shop do it cheaper? Are there any recalls on this? Anyone out there with this problem should get it fixed before your warranty runs out!
  • jm230016jm230016 Posts: 1
    i found that those symptoms usually point to the throttle position sensor
  • fmc12fmc12 Posts: 8
    I am considering purchasing a certified pre owned 02 Explorer XLT,4wd,V8,leather,6 disc,side airbags,tow pkg,backup alarm,no 3rd seat.As part of the certification process,tires and brakes replaced and powertrain warranty up to 75k.The Explorer has been in service since jan 02 and has 47k.It is listed as a manufacturers car,was titled in texas,no lease or daily is clean as new,the Ford dealer won't go lower than $16,500.What kind of mileage can I expect ?
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Yes, the solenoid pack generally does fix the problems you're describing. That price is probably not out of line for the job. I personally wouldn't have it done at an independant shop, unless it's a transmission specialist.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    The light doesn't have to on to be read. Anytime a malfunction light is lit on the dash, a code is stored in memory and can be retrieved with the proper code reader, unless the battery is diconnected. And there is no Ford code for "large exhaust leak". Tell the AZ employee you want the numerical code and not his interpretation of it.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    What does certified mean? If tires and brakes are less than a certain measurement, they are replaced-period! If the tires are new - certified or not, they would not be replaced. So I am afraid you are getting a bunch of bull in regards to "certified". And is it "Ford certified" or "Dealer Certified". There is a big difference between the two. Your gas mpg will be as follows:
    City- no more than 14 mpg
    Hwy- (depending on speed) 19 to 20. If you drive more than 80mph it drops real fast!
  • bmoyers1bmoyers1 Posts: 3

    Thanks so much for the info. I'll definately check into some different shocks based on your experience. I don't have air assist in the rear, so I will probably consider replacing all four shocks with something softer. Thanks again for the tip; I'll go to the Edelbrock website to see what ever else I can learn.

  • einzigaleinzigal Posts: 1
    The "check engine" light came on in my Eddie Bauer Explorer (comes on regularly about every month like clockwork). Well, I took it to my local Ford dealership and they said that it needed new upper and lower intake manifold the tune of about $380. Sheeesshhhh. Well, picked the car up and a few days later I noticed a "tapping" sound in the engine AND...YEP...the CHECK ENGINE LIGHT came on AGAIN!!!! Took it back out there and they said a hose was loose, so they tightened it at no charge and then said that the tapping noise was due to the baffles in the intake manifold being loose...
    Now, that's pretty suspect to me, seeing how they just worked on the manifold days ago. Wonder how the baffles got loose??? Do you know anything about these baffles?? I told them not to mess with fixing it, because I was going to have to think about this one....I think it is related to them doing a poor job on the manifold work, but I don't know about the work involved or if it would have affected the baffles....They told me it wouldn't hurt anything to drive it like this, hmmmmm, should I trust them?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Hi Einzigal, welcome to Edmunds. You can get a free second opinion from lots of auto parts stores (like AutoZone) - they'll read the CEL codes and you can compare them to what the dealer says.

    Your most recent check engine light codes were probably cleared by the dealer but it may still be worth a shot checking.

    Steve, Host
  • rmarquezrmarquez Posts: 1
    craig I have the same problem with my 2002 explorer tell me more
  • I have a 98 explorer 4x4, and last week I was backing out of a gas station and the gear engaged but then disengaged and hasn't worked since. I have not had any problems with the tranny up to this point. Then tonight I was out driving and I heard a little tinkering noise from underneath and the tranny did shift a little hard or more like a jerk {in the drive gear} and that was the only time I have heard it. Anyone had anything similiar to this and what could be the problem?
  • I have a 98 explorer 4x4 and last week I was backing out of a gas station and the reverse gear suddenly disengaged and hasn't worked since. I have had no prior problems with the tranny or anything really. Then tonight in the drive gear I heard a tinkering sound for a second or two and the gear did change with a little jerk,and has not done so since either. Just wondering if anyone has had something similiar or can tell me the what could be wrong.
  • webmyzerwebmyzer Posts: 2
    I've taken the front passenger side tire off, fender wall mud guards off, then used a 1.5ft extension with a swivel at the end attached to a plug socket and it did the trick

  • djn2djn2 Posts: 2
    I have seen Ford Explorers really bashed on this and other sites so I must come to their defense. I think the 98 Expl is a very well engineered vehicle, especially for the cost. It has not been without trouble, but I think Ford has done a pretty decent job. Compared to the cars I have owned in the past, sluggish overhead valve engines requiring tune-ups every 30k and lots of other maintenance interspersed, the Expl has been quite a joy.

    I bought the 98 used with 23k miles form Hertz and for insurance bought an extended warranty. It cost $1200 and covered bumper to bumper for 5yr/70k taking it out to 93k miles. During the warranty period I had one claim that wasn’t covered by a factory recall amounting to $200 for a squeaking dust seal (dusty climate related I expect) on left front wheel.

    The 98 has the 4.0 SOHC engine that makes 205 hp, and most of the other things you find in a mid-level auto/truck.. And the SOHC engine really hauls butt compared to the OHV model. It still drives very well still with 140k+ miles, warms up quickly and doesn’t run rough even when cold, nor consume any oil.

    My philosophy is to do the maintenance myself if it isn’t covered by warranty and doesn’t involve fluid disposal. Just bought a house with a garage so why not put it to work.! I had it in to J-lube several times for replacement of all of the fluids as the manual recommends (with synthetics always).

    At around 70k I replaced the factory shocks with Bilstein heavy duty models and also changed out the sway bar bushings for neoprene performance set. This really tightened up the ride and made it feel much newer. I did the 100k tune-up myself (plugs and wires) for $120 in parts saving $400 in labor, again making it run like new. I had to spray out and oil the door locks with WD40 a few times as they froze up in winter (dust I think caused it). And I needed to replace the front two Ox sensors. The 4.0 SOHC has 4 Ox sessors, part of the reason it makes 205 hp. At that point it was running/handling so well that I spent $700 on the high-end Michein SUV tires. It was sweeeet for a vehicle that was paid for!

    At around 125k I hit a major obstacle, however, with front end problems. The seals on the Rack were leaking and the lower balls joints were worn badly, causing a knocking noise when going over any types of bumps. I was worried about the whole front end seizing up or coming apart at highway speed, so something had to be done. These two items sounded like more work than I wanted to do myself but the estimates came back at around $1300. Due to my new mortgage, I broke down and bought the parts and attacked the problem myself.

    Let me tell you that replacing the rack without having the car on a lift was like aligator wrestlng in a pool of power steering fluid. The whole job is somewhere around 10 bolts total, but I had to summon every bit of my previous shade tree mechanic experience and military training to get the old rack out and get the new one in. Ditto for the ball joints. However I got it all back together in a single day so I was felling quite proud. I did have to spend $120 on a ball joint press tool and a few sockets but I probably saved $6-700 on labor.

    Be warned: do not even attempt to do this job without good jack stands, and a torque wrench. You have to get those front end bolts factory tight and the cotter pins replaced, or you risk disaster some dayfrom your front end coming apart. And the vehicle needs to be supported very well so it doesn’t fall on you when tightening up those bolts. Consult the manual for the proper torque settings and jacking/supporting procedures.

    I think Ford could have avoided these front end problems by installing a 98cent power steering filter and a few 25 cent grease fittings in the ball joints. I did on the replacements!

    Since then I also had to replace break pads on the 4wheel disks. I didn’t turn the rotors. It takes the pads a little longer to seat, but if you use synthetic grease on the pad backing plate you can avoid turning the rotors in my opinion. The only other current problem I have is with the radio display, which I expect can be solved inexpensively.

    Anyway, I have a new job and I commute 50 miles rt daily, so with gas at $2 plus I am thinking about a Saturn SC at 39mpg. But I will hang on to the old explorer (145k miles now) for pulling the bass boat (which the SOHC does pretty nicely) four wheeling, and other hauling([non-permissible content removed]) chores. Cheers! (My glass is half full)
  • djn2djn2 Posts: 2
    Make sure you use a torque wrench when you re-install the plugs. You will be amazed at how much smoother the engine will warm up. With all plugs at the same torque, the heat transfer rate between the plugs and the cylinder head is the same for all cylinders. The plugs will run at the same temperature, causing each cylinder to produce the same power, causing less engine vibration and wear. The torque specification is on the spark plug packaging.
  • Hey Chuck,

    What did they charge you to do the flush?
  • I have a 2000 Explorer Ltd V8 and have similar problems with what seems to be transmission vibrations. I've had it it into my Ford service dealer many times over the past 18 months. A year ago they said it was the "rack & pinion" gears and charged me $800 in repairs. The problem never really went away. It seemed somewhat better but gradually increased. Last month I took it back and they "fixed it" for $500. However I noticed on the repair bill that the same parts where used for the repair. I complained and they gave me a 100% refund. BUT, the problem is still there.

    Any info or discussion on this problem would be helpful.

    I'm starting to look at Toyota 4Runners...
  • kellie5kellie5 Posts: 1
    i am having the same problem with my 2000 ford explorer. i am looking for answers too
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    It was part of the 30K service. I went in with a few things I wanted done, and to get the 30K service wasn't that much more. So it wasn't itemized out. This is a unique transmission in the sense, that it takes a Ford spec fluid, and it does not have a dipstick and filler-neck. So, I would HIGHLY SUGGEST the dealer perform this service. Look for coupons at your dealer. But it seems to me it should be an hours labor, and the cost of the fluid.
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