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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • wpackwpack Posts: 2
    I have a 97 Explorer, the check engine light came on, I had Auto Zone use the scanner, it said I had a misfire in cylinder 1 I believe, so I changed the plugs & wires, the engine is running rough even after I changed the plugs & wires, what else could be wrong ? any help would be appreciated.
  • What engine do you have? How many miles? I would assume it has over 100k miles. Several things can cause the engine #1 cylinder to misfire, plugs and wires are just two of them. You could have a vaccuum leak that is affecting that cylinder, or an electrical problem with the coil, or a problem with the fuel injector, or an internal problem in the cylinder such as a leaking valve, a leaking gasket, or a cracked head. Start with the easiest things first and work your way towards the most difficult problems, until you find the problem. Check the ignition spark at the end of the #1 spark plug wire, to be sure it is strong, compare it to the others, don't get shocked! Check all the vaccuum lines to be sure there are no leaks. Put a vaccuum gauge on the intake manifold to check the engine vaccuum under all conditions. There might be a vaccuum leak on an intake gasket near the #1 cylinder. Then run a compression test on all the cylinders, do a dry test first, then a wet test second. Compare the results between all the clyinders and between the first test and the second test.
    There, that's a few things you can do to check to get you started. Let us know what you find.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • asdanzasdanz Posts: 1
    While trying to diagnose a starting/battery problem in my '93 Explorer, I happened to check voltage from the battery positive to engine ground with the negative battery cable removed (positive still connected. I was surprised to see 2 volts between the battery and the engine. Is this normal? What would cause such a reading? Battery took a charge from a charger and engine started when all hooked back up, but is now dead again after sitting overnight.
  • Not a False Ground, but a False Reading. What are you using to read the voltage? Probably a sensitive digital VOM, They can read the faintest traces of voltage. You are probably reading a "surface charge", or "static charge", which is kind of a "GHOST CHARGE", a voltage present with hardly no current. There could be a slight charge bleeding through the battery case, wash the outside of the battery with soap and water, rinse with baking soda solution to neutalize any acid on the outside of the battery, especially the sides and bottom. Check to be sure you have a good ground connection from the engine to the chasis, there should be a flexible grounding strap wire for this somewhere in the engine compartment. I would bet that if you were to connect a 12 volt Test Light between the battery positive terminal to chasis ground with the negative battery cable removed, the light would not light and that if at the same time you connected the DVOM between the battery positive terminal to chasis ground with the negative battery cable removed, the voltage would read zero. Do that and tell us what you read. The light bulb connected across the circuit bleeds off the "surface charge" so that the DVOM correctly reads zero volts, or very near zero volts. Test and see if that's correct.
    Once you answer back, we can get into why your battery is going dead and how to test for parasitic current draw from the battery.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • Dear BMR0330,

    Has anyone provided any advice on your problem? I have a '98 Explorer Sport that just started doing the same.

  • Hello Fokes, I'm a member of a classic car forum and know that you guys will have the answer to my problem. My wifes explorer is having a starting problem. She took it to church while I was out of town and it would not start when church was over. She tried it the next day and it sarted. She drove it two days no starting problem. Then she came to the airport to pick me up, shut it off, then it would not start. It sat for a while awaiting the tow truck driver and when he arrived it started. Its in the shop but they can not duplicate the problem. Any suggestions?
  • What Year Explorer? What engine? How many miles?
    Intermittent problems are the most difficult to diagnose.
    "Would not start" needs more explaination.
    When the vehicle does not start, which one or the following conditions most fits your situation?
    1. The Engine turns normally, the head lights and the dome light do NOT dim too much, the engine does not start.
    2. The Engine turns very slowly or barely turns and slows to a stop, the head lights and the dome light dim very much, the engine does not start.
    3. The Engine does not turn at all, the starter clicks, the headlights and the dome light dim very much or go off.
    4. The Engine does not turn at all, the starter may or may not click, and the head lights and dome light stay at normal brightness (may flicker very slightly when starter clicks).
    5. None of the above.
    6. All of the above.
    7. Other.
  • It may be the electronic module. It will test ok when the car is starting. You have to test it when the car won't start. I learned this the hard way-after several tows. Good luck!
  • bhawkerbhawker Posts: 1
    I'm having a problem on my "97 merc mountaineer with the locks. It has keyless entry, keypad drivers door, and auto locks in drive. When I push lock or unlock, sometimes a lock sticks and won't go to the desired position. Normally it taks a couple of times pushing the button, but sometimes it won't go at all, then an hour or so later there is no problem. I am having this problem with three on the locks on the car.
  • The locks are sticking, Spray some WD-40 into the door locks to try to loosen them up. You may not be able to lube them good enough from the outside of the door. You may have to remove the interior panel from the door and lube the door locks directly. You will need to lube the locking mechanisms, the linkages and the electric lock solenoids, until they are loose and working freely.
    While you are in there, it is highly advisable to lube the electric window channels and runners.
  • emarensemarens Posts: 1
    I have a 1997 Ford Explorer with 169,000. The front end has been sqeaking for some time now and several repair shops tell me I need upper and lower ball joints. I have had my uppers replaced under warranty through JD Byrider in June of 2004. Is it possible for them to already be worn?
  • peteczpetecz Posts: 1
    I have a 92 Explorer (4.0l V6) with 160k miles. I'm unable to get it to start. It falls under category 4 of your list. The engine doesn't turn, the starter clicks, the lights stay at normal brightness.

    I have replaced both the starter and the relay. I was going to replace the ignition switch, but it appears on my 92, I will have to remove the instrument cluster to get to it, and that seems like an awful lot of work...What are the other possibilities?

    The battery was replaced just last weekend when the car died the first time. On Friday, after running some errands, I tried to start the car back up and got the dreaded click. No dimming of lights, etc. So I replaced the relay. I was concerned that the new relay has two large posts and two small posts. My original relay had only one small post. After I installed it, still only got a click when I tried to start it. Pulled the starter and battery and had them both tested. Both were fine. So I put the old starter back in and tried to start it and then got a whizzing noise like the starter was spinning but not engaging. So I pulled the starter back out and purchased a new one and installed it. Now instead of spinning, the new one just clicks...

    Any ideas? Thanks in advance...
    Also, now I'm really doubting my memory/ability. The starter relay has one cable that has two connectors on it for both large posts. The other two large wires look like they can only fit on the leftmost post and the small wire pushes on the small top post. Is that correct?
  • Category 4 means that the starting circuit is not drawing a load. If you are getting a click, then it seems like the ignition switch would not be the problem. If you test a starting system that is operating normally by placing an ammeter on the postive battery cable going to the starter and starting the engine, the ammeter will briefly indicate the CURRENT flowing through the cable is about 150 to 200 amps. This is the NORMAL LOAD CURRENT drawn from the battery during starting. Your problem is that at some point the flow of current is being interrupted, you need to find out where. Since you are actively displaying an interest in finding the problem by replacing parts, we can start by learning and applying some electricity basics. First how familiar are you with electricity and and troubleshooting electrical circuits? If you have some idea of how it works, we can proceed. You will need to get some very basic electrical tools that are cheap to buy at your auto parts store:
    #1 - A 12 volt test light that has a sharp pointed steel test probe on one end, a light bulb in the plastic handle and and at the other end an insulated wire about 24 inches or longer with a "alligator clip" on the end of the wire.
    #2 - An induction Ammeter to measure current in a wire, it is a plastic body and you hold it up against a straight length of wire and it will measure how many AMPS is flowing through a wire.
    #3 - Optional but very helpful, a DVOM (Digital Volt Ohm Meter) You can use to measure voltage and some other things (we will keep it simple for now).
    FIRST - Remember SAFETY FIRST - Watch out for and stay clear of moving fans and belts, stay clear of hot objects, sharp objects, etc. 12 volts won't hurt you, but a short on a battery wire can instantly make a very hot arc that can cause burns -Be Careful.
    Start with the test light, connect the alligator clip to the negative post of the battery and touch the probe to the positive post of the battery, the test light should light. Next, connect the alligator clip to a good metal ground on the frame or body and touch the probe to the positive battery terminal and it should light. Next touch the probe to one of the large posts on the starter relay and see if it lights. If it does, that means that post is the one connected to the battery and power is present there. If no light on one large post, touch the probe to the other large post and it should light, meaning that IT is the one connected to the battery. So now you have identified the large post on the relay as the "BATTERY POST", mark it as such. The other large post is the "LOAD POST" which carries current to the starter, mark it as such. The Load Post cable carries the current down to the starter. Check all electrical connections to be sure they are clean and tight, on battery posts, ground wire connections, relay connections, etc. Also check to be sure that you have a good ground wire connection from the engine to the frame or body of the car. Now put the Ammeter on the cable that comes from the battery to the starter, or if easier, put it on the cable that goes from the relay to the starter. In either place it will be in the series circuit that carries the current to the starter. You can tape it on the cable, or have a helper hold it there and observe the readings for you. Put the Test Light probe on the starter relay "Load Post". Have a helper try to start the car. See if the Test Light lights and if any current draw is indicated on the ammeter. If the Test Light lights, that means power is getting through the relay to the cable going to the starter. This means everything up top is working, and it is time to check underneath at the starter. Jack up the car safely on sturdy stands on a firm surface. Remember Safety First. Check that all wiring connections at the starter are clean and tight. Also check to be sure that you have a good ground wire connection from the engine to the frame or body of the car. Check the starter connections the same way that you did the relay, by connecting the alligator clip of the Test Light to a good ground on the frame or body and touching the probe to the cable coming from the battery at the post on the starter solenoid, have a helper try to start the car, the Test Light should light, indicating that you have power down to the starter solenoid. Next, touch the probe to the large post that connects the solenoid to the starter motor, and have the helper try to start the car, the light should light indicating you have power to the starter motor, meaning that the starter motor should be operating and the ammeter should be indicating a current draw of 150 to 200 amps. If at any point during this process, you do not find power where you should, that is where the problem is, and investigate at that point. If you DO have power DIRECLY across the starter motor, and it does not turn and does not draw a load on the Ammeter, then that means the motor is bad or open somehow.
    Go though all these steps, and if you need more help write back.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • The lower ball joints always wear out first, because they carry the "LOAD", the upper ball joint just holds the wheel in position, so it is strange if the uppers were replaced, but the lowers were not. I tend to believe the lowers must have been replaced, as they are usually worn out at 100,000 to 140,000 miles. The uppers are usually worn out by 140,00 to 160,000 miles, but not in two years use. I would ask for another opinion and ask them to measure how much play they measured in the balljoints. Technically, they are worn out if they have any play, but they can have up to 1/32" of play (.031") before they have any effect on alignment or performance. I would recommend to replace any balljoints that have any play exceeding 1/32" play (.031").
  • flip58flip58 Posts: 5
    I have a 2003 Explorer, approx 48000 miles. It is a 4.0L - 6 cylinder. When under heavy load (getting into the throttle pretty hard), it starts "missing". Almost feels like a bad spark plug wire or two. The dealer had it for two days and could find nothing. It is more prevalent when the AC is running and also occurs more often when the temp gets into the 80's or more. Runs OK under most normal(soft) driving conditions. Doesn't seem to affect the MPG. Any ideas? Thanks.
  • I'm having a problem with my 2002 V8 low or no idle. This has happened before and I wrote it off as a clogged fuel pick-up or some bad gas, but itwent away as fast as it happened until it recurred today. Drove it about 3 miles and then parked. Came back about 4 hours later and tried to start it and it stalled. It would only stay running if I applied the throttle. Had to drive with one foot on the throttle and the other on the brake to keep engine at 1000rpm's or it would stall. It seems to run fine and accelerate, but when you pull back on the throttle it stalls. Very much like a clogged fuel filter or gas tank pickup. If it were a clogged fuel filter I would expect poor performance while driveing, but it seems to perform fine once I accelerate. Any suggestions.
  • biomanbioman Posts: 172
    Sounds like it might be a stuck or malfunctioning EGR valve or a vacuum line disconnected or broke off of the intake manifold. I had a similar problem with my 99 XLT V6 SOHC. Can't hurt to check out.
  • I agree with the bioman, it sounds most likely like a problem with a vaccuum leak or EGR system. Listen under the hood and see if you can hear any sound of a vaccuum leak, like a hissing sound. I had a similar problem with my 2000 V8 a few weeks ago, it had a vaccuum leak in a vaccuum valve mounted under the left front fender near the horns, I had to pull the inner plastic fender apron loose to be able to get to it. I think it was some kind of cannister purge valve, it had several large vaccuum lines going to it, and the valve had somehow developed a hole in the back of it, that I patched with some epoxy glue. You could have a vaccuum leak just about anywhere on the engine or on any of the hoses. If you can't find it, check the engine vaccuum with a vaccuum gauge to see if the vaccuum is going low. Then next thing to check is the EGR valve and control solenoid. Sometimes the EGR valve passages get clogged and make the valve stick, cleaning the valve and passages will usually fix it, unless something worst is wrong.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • I can not believe you guys are talking about this because I am now going through the EXACT same problems. I have had my axle seal replaced twice only to have the same noice return again. Upon taking it back to have it looked at for the third time, I am now being told the humming is coming from my rear differential. It is just unreal that there are so many people having the same problem with this, I just can't believe it. I, of course, have a 2002 Explorer with 73,000 miles.
  • I recently bought a 1998 Explorer Sport and have spent the last week fixing the numerous problems with the vehicle. I have one remaining problem with the radio display. Previous owner said the digital display worked intermittently for two years, then not at all for the past year. This week, it worked twice for about 1/10th of the time I was driving it. It is original equipment, the CD/Cassette/AM/FM radio. How can I fix this?
  • gyatesgyates Posts: 55
    Could be the Idle Air Control valve (IAC). My 97 did the same thing. On mine, the IAC is a triangle shaped part, silver in color, located on the air intake line, right on top. Held in by 2 screws, and has an electrical connector.
  • This is something I've been experiencing and ignoring for sometime now. I posted a message about having a low idle problem and starting looking at other posts. I hear a growl or whine from what I believe is the rear left axle or possibly the reat differential. I've been meaning to take it to Ford and have a 4 X 4 service performed where they drain, clean and replace the differential oil. I have the Extra Care Extended Service Plan so I probably should have the dealer check it out. Obviously my fear is that the ESP will not cover the cost.
  • Well, you better believe it! You need to take a look at my post #5085 on this forum, and also do a SEARCH for REAR AXLES and read all the messages that come up. You will be really amazed and saddened. Bookmark these pages and send the links to everyone you know.
    How long have you had that vehicle, and when did you buy it? I don't know what engine you have, I hope it's not a six. Your biggest mistake was buying the 2002, that is the year that they changed to the troublesome full floating rear axle with the aluminum housing and halfshafts. That is why I would never own an Explorer newer than 2001. I bought a 2000 XLT V8 in 2005 and it is a fine vehicle, but it will be my LAST explorer. My wife drives a 1997 XLT V8 and it is also a fine vehicle. I'm going to sell the 1997 in 2008, and it will still be a fine vehicle then, look for it around April 2008. I will sell the 2000 in April 2011, and it will still be a good vehicle then.
    Thank GOD and Al Gore we got the Internet in the 1990's, EVERYBODY needs to use it to research ANY car that are anticipating to buy, find out FIRST all that is wrong with it, and what problems people have been having with it BEFORE you buy it. Edmunds is an excellent source. I know it's too late for you now, but hopefully you will do much better when you buy your next car. My next car is probably going to be a Honda or a Toyota.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • Go to the SEARCH button at the top of the screen and type in "radio display". It will bring up many messages about this. It has been discussed on here many times.
  • Yes, the IAC is a vaccuum related problem as it controls the amount of air bypassing the throttle plate at idle. If it sticks open, it lets too much air into the manifold and cause the vaccuum to drop, the same as a vaccuum leak. You can take it off and try cleaning it with some throttle body cleaner, or else buy a new one (not too expensive).
  • If the dealer had it for two days and could find nothing with all their diagnostic equipment, we won't be able to help much over the internet, we need something to work with, like a diagnostic trouble code (DTC), ect. Be sure all maintenance is kept up, keep a clean fuel filter on it, change every 30,000 miles.
  • I wish I would have found this site before I bought it and trust me, I will be reading this site when I go to buy a new one. It was just so releaved to read that other people were having the same problem because I just thought I bought a piece of crap (which I did but you know what I mean). But anyways, the dealership just called, it wasn't my rear differential, it was my left rear barring, which I just had the left front barring replaced a month ago. Fortunately both were covered. I was going to print out all of these posts and take them with me to the dealership if they weren't going to cover it so I could show them what crap their cars were. My next car is definitely going to be a Honda.
  • flip58flip58 Posts: 5
    THanks for your reply. The dealer said he tested everything, and even contacted the factory/rep to see if they knew anything. I have a friend with a 2002 and it has a V8. He has the same problem as my 2003 with a 6. Go figure.
  • All this does is confirm the incompetence of the dealeship. You have a problem with a miss in the engine under heavy load. The problem is most likely ignition or fuel related, but they should have the skill, experience and equipment to accurately diagnose the problem. There is obviously something wrong with it, and they don't know how to find it.
    I am sure that any competent shop should be able to find and solve the problem. Take the car to a good auto shop and see what they can find.
    I am sure the problem could also be found by a home mechanic using the AutoTap Diagnostic tool.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • 99 XLT v6 4.0 SOHC

    Judging by the date of your post, you've probably already remedied the problem. I'll go ahead and respond, as I had a similar problem and it may benefit those in the future who experience this problem.

    I was plagued with hard starts, rough running, dying when stopping/idling, poor gas mileage etc. - a plethora of fuel related problems. The final straw was a breakdown recently on the free-way with 1/2 tank of gas. Filled it up after limping off the freeway and the gauge still read empty. I suspected the fuel sending unit (integrated with the pump). Upon inspection there were a few things wrong with it. The flex hose which probably sucks up the gas had a crack in it. The black float indicating the fuel level had a chunk missing and was soaking up gas (may explain the black material in your filter). The stem extending into the tank had snapped/cracked from the base and so the pump was just floating around only connected by hoses and electrical wires. A new sending unit/pump got me back on the road.

    I have always had a problem with less than 1/4 tank parked downhill - nose down. All the gas runs to the front of vehicle, pump is starved and won't start. The tank was a salvage replacement after driving over a mounted tire retired the first tank. Since it was put in I had a lot of sloshing and banging noise coming from the tank. The insurance's body shop and Ford both denied hearing anything. While the tank was down I noticed a small plastic reservoir that was supposed to be attached in the tank under the pump. It was floating around and making all the racket. In the process it probably snapped the fuel pump from its base. It is not sold separately and couldn't be reattached. Had to buy another salvage tank (new =$1100). Hopefully that solves the parking downhill problem as well.
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