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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • bopilotbopilot Posts: 8
    Thanks to Ed and Kiawah for the quick help. I just now got back on line aftr a health problem and see your suggestions. I will look into the trailer add on first. However, now my headlights dont work all of a sudden. All other lights work including front cornerlamps and foglamps. Go figure. All this started after I replaced the column ring circuit?? Did I do something wrong while installing it? A bit of a chore but I thought I did it right.

  • bopilotbopilot Posts: 8
    I just checked the trailer connection. All is OK. Opened upthe top tailgate light and it is an LED with a resistor to drop the voltage. It still flickers when all ignition is off. And I still get no headlights now. I am pulling my hair out.
  • chadp1chadp1 Posts: 2
    I have a 2001 explorer xlt and the rear window shattered while closing it today. Any advice on replacement. Should there be used ones available? ( if so, what should i look to pay) or should i run through the insurance?
  • Save the Hair! The problem is in the COLUMN, the headlight circuit runs through the MULTI-FUNCTION switch, the switch that has the stalk on the left side and operates the turnsignals, headlights, wipers and hazard flashers. When you pull back on the stalk, the headlights should come on. If not, then there is a problem in the multifunction switch or it's connections. It is common for the multi-functions switches to go bad. It is very easy to replace, I replaced one on my 1997 Explorer, costs about $65 for the part and only took about a 1/2 to replace. You don't have to take the steering wheel off, just the plastic cover that goes around the column, then there are 2 screws that unscrew from the side, and the thing comes off, unplug the 2 wire connectors. You can plug the connectors back in to be sure they are tight and test the unit and headlights again while the unit is hanging loose. If the headlights wont come on, even after wiggling the unit, the unit is probably bad. If you have a tilting steering column, you will need to uscrew the lever out of the column to get the MF switch off.
    What is this COLUMN RING CIRCUIT that you mentioned? I never heard of such a thing. Whatever it is, it COULD have affected the headlight circuit, since the headlight circuit goes through the column and the multi-function switch.
    Good Luck
    E.D. ISF
  • The "top tailgate light" do you mean the center high mounted brake light? If so, does it flicker by itself or do the other brake lights flicker with it. It gets it's power through the switch on the brake pedal, that would be the first thing to check.
    Good Luck,
    E.D. ISF
  • jsimsjsims Posts: 3
    I have looked everywhere to see how I can quiet down my rear tailgate and I just can't find the problem. The noise is driving me crazy, any suggestions?


  • bturflybturfly Posts: 2
    This may sound obvious, but have you checked the actual lights? I had a headlight and both my taillights go out at the same time on my 95 explorer, I thought it was a fuse... but it turned out that they actually just burnt out at the same time. Huge coincidence, but replacing the light fixed the problem.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    turned out that they actually just burnt out at the same time. Huge coincidence

    That is quite an amazing coincidence. It's possible there is some other unseen factor here that stacked the odds - like a spurious voltage fluctuation or some such thing.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • kinney201kinney201 Posts: 3
    For about a month now, my check engine light has been coming on and off every few days. Each time, I pull the P0153 code = O2 Sensor CKT Slow Response (Bank 2 Sensor 1). Does this mean it the O2 sensor needs to be replaced? If so, can anyone give details about where to find it? Is it easy to replace? Anyone have pictures of its location? Thanks in advance!
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Bank 1 is the side of the engine which has the #1 cylinder. Don't know for a Ford, but for my Chevy Sub which has the engine front to back, that is the drivers side. Therefore Bank 2 (in the case of Chevy) is the passengers side. If you follow the enhaust pipe down after coming off the engine exhaust manifold, at some point you will see an Oxygen sensor sticking into the exhaust pipe. The first one on the pipe will be sensor 1, and will be 'before' the catalytic converter. There would be another sensor (#2) 'after' the converter. The O2 sensors will have a set of wires on them that connect back to the engine computer.
  • ericnorthericnorth Posts: 1
    I have a 94 explorer that the 4 wheel drive lights flash every now and then and then the windows wont operate. It comes and goes but seems to be getting consistantly worse. Any ideas
  • chandykchandyk Posts: 17
    99 Explorer, all maintenance up to date, 78K miles.

    I need some help settling a dispute with air-conditioning.

    Does MAX A/C use more gas than regular A/C?? Is this just an old school tale, or is it true?

  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Max a/c typically does 2 things, it shuts a damper door which when open is drawing fresh air into the vehicle (hot air that needs cooled), and cranks the circulating fan speed up a notch.

    Neither of those would make a material difference in MPG. One might argue that the fan running at a higher speed is drawing more current, thereby the alternator is consuming HP that could have been delivered to the wheels. One might also argue that recirculating the cooler air (as opposed to bringing in fresh air) keeps the cabin cooler, making you more comfortable and willing to stay in the car longer, thereby making you less likely to speed, thereby reducing the wind resistance, which is driving up your MPG. No material difference is the right answer.
  • jefferygjefferyg Posts: 418
    Kiawah, I like your logic. But on some older vehicles (maybe newer ones too) doesn't the compressor run continuously on Max? If so, then that saps a few horses and would in theory use slightly more gas. However, on larger vehicles with bigger V6 and V8 engines it doesn't seem that it would have as much effect as on say a 1.6 liter 4 cyl. I would think the difference would be negligible on an Explorer.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Not that I've personally seen. Typically the compressor is told to cycle, based upon the pressure switches in the system. Compressor builds up the high side to high pressure and disengages. Pressure begins to drop (and equalize) as freon moves thru the system. When pressure drops to certain point, compressor is told to engage again.
  • chandykchandyk Posts: 17
    Thanks much to both of you for the fast answer.
  • shark715shark715 Posts: 382
    Kiawah, sounds like you are fairly knowledgeable about automotive A/C systems. I'm fairly mechanically inclined, but I've never really understood how A/C works. My wife has a '96 Explorer, and about a year ago I noticed that the A/C was not as cold as it used to be, and I also noticed the compressor was cycling on and off every 6 to 8 seconds. I mentioned this to my mechanic (whose ability I trust immensely). He added freon, but mentioned nothing about how frequently the compressor was cycling. Until recently, the A/C worked great, but there was no change in the compressor cycling on and off. Over the last month or two the duct output has become warmer, and now it's hardly cooling at all, and the compressor is cycling on and even more frequently (every 2-3 seconds). I assume there is a freon leak somewhere, but should the compressor be cycling on and off so frequently? Is it likely the two problems are related, and if yes, why did the A/C work fine for the last year even thought the compressor was cycling so rapidly? Any insight would be appreciated.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I don't know whether the two problems are related but the rapid cycling suggests a problem with the thermostat. Anyone else have ideas?

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • my 1999 ford explorer won't start, we replaced the fuel pump..
    we have fuel pressure in the fuel rails, but the pump works but theres absolutely no fuel getting to the cylinder

    the spark plugs do have spark, but they are completely dry when pulled...

    it won't start

    i am thinking something with the ECU that isnt telling the injectors to fire...

    any help?
  • with my above indications of my explorer not being able to start...

    i have done a little a bit of research..

    and is it possible my camshaft position sensor is bad..

    causing my timing to be off not lettin the injectors to fire at the right time?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    I am by no means an expert on a/c, just mechanically and electrically inclined, and have worked on everything that has failed over the years on all of our vehicles.

    Basically as I understand what is happening with air-conditioning freon circuit, is that there are 4 pieces...and you can draw them in a circuit on paper. The compressor (the piece that is driven by the belt of the engine), takes low pressure freon gas and compresses it to high pressure freon gas. That gas then passes thru the condenser (the radiator like fin device that is in front of the regular vehicle radiator). That condenser releases heat to the air, and when freon looses heat it changes state and becomes liquid, which is still high pressure. This liquid freon then goes thru a small orifice, which restricts the flow of the freon. This restriction is what allows the pressure differential between the low side pressure and the high side pressure. So on the input of the orifice is high pressure liquid, on the output side is the low pressure liquid. I'll explain why is is low pressure in a bit. That liquid freon then goes to the evaporator which is inside the car in the ductwork, and that evaporator absorbs heat out of cabin air. When freon warms it changes state to gas, and that gas vapor goes back to the input of the compressor. That's it, one closed loop system with 4 pieces.

    Now the reason there is low pressure on the output of the orifice is two reasons. First, the compressor is pulling a vaccuum on that side, and the second is there is the restriction of the orifice. If the orifice was wide open, the compressor would just freely move the freon around and everything would be at the same pressure. With a small orifice, it restricts the ability of the liquid to get over to the evaporator. The liquid changes state to gas more efficiently when it is low pressure. Too much pressure (blockage in the orifice, or not enough freon in the system), and there is not enough flow. Too little pressure (compressor not strong enough, or too much freon in the system), and there is not enough pressure for flow. If there is no pressure differential across the orifice, there is little flow. If there is a large differential across the orifice, there is a lot of freon flow. The system is built and sized for a specific flow, so you need the right pressures, and the right sized orifice. An analogy would be blowing up a balloon (the compressors job), and then the orifice is the small neck of the balloon which you are holding almost shut. The air in the balloon (well actually now the liquid freon), will come out in a controlled flow.

    These systems are sized to work efficiently. Think of the compressor cycling building up pressure, and the orifice slowly releasing it....working together as a pair. Think of the evaporator coils absorbing heat, and the condenser coils releasing heat, both working together as a pair.

    As mentioned in previous post, it is typically two pressure switches monitoring both the high side pressure and the low side pressure, which manage and control the system.

    Too low pressure as a minimum, and the compressor won't run at all because it doesn't think there's enough freon in the system, and the compressor needs the oil in the freon as a lubricant. Low pressure switch sensing too high of a pressure, turns the compressor on. Too high of pressure and it turns the compressor off.

    Now again, I'm not an expert here, but if I remember correctly if it is cycling too fast it can be caused by a couple situations. First, is that the system is overcharged (too much freon). There is not enough 'space' in the tubing for the gas to compress, and therefore the compressor quickly achieves max pressure before being able to pull down the low side. Secondly, is that the orifice has a blockage, and isn't letting the freon liquid to move from the high side liquid to the low side liquid.

    The system really is balanced (or should be balanced), and you don't want to arbitrarily add more freon unless there really isn't enough in there. That is a very common fix however, because the normal a/c problem is a leak somewhere
    where you loose freon (usually gas, because gas is underpressure, whereas the liquid is less pressurized).

    So when I work on a/c there are two gauges that are used, one is monitoring the pressure on the high side, and one is monitoring pressure on the low side. In a steady state without the compressor running and the circuit is allowed to reach equilibrium, it is pressurized at what you can think of as an 'average' pressure. Once the compressor starts and the orifice restricts the flow, that average pressure that is in the tubes goes up on the high side, and down on the low side.

    The one remaining piece of info, is that you need airflow across both the condenser and evaporator for the system to be efficient and transfer heat. The condenser in the front of the car gets the outdoor air from the car movement and/or radiator fans. The evaporator inside the car gets it's air movement across it from the inside ductwork fan.

    On my vehicles over the years have been 2 vehicles w/compressor failures, and a number of leaks.

    Hope this helps.
  • shark715shark715 Posts: 382
    Great explanation, Kiawah, thanks so much! Sounds like we've had a clogged orefice the entire time, plus a slow freon leak that needs a charge every year or so. What does the orefice usually get clogged with? Is it relatively easy to remove the clog?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Well again, I just only have some hands on practical experiences w/AC.....and you don't know for certain that is your problem. If I were in your shoes without gauges, I would be taking it to someplace who knows and does AC work, not a general shop.

    I've personally never had an orifice blockage, but I would only speculate that there might be some metal filings from a compressor going bad, I believe I remember reading somewhere that if humidity or liquid gets in the line (because it was open to the atmosphere at some point), that you can get ice crystals. I don't know if that is possible or not, and would think that IF that was possible you'd have symptoms where it might work first thing when turned on after everything was at 'room temperature and pressure'...but overtime would then clog up.

    Trying to answer your post, reminded me that I had a service manual in the closet for my old Suburban. In getting that out and looking at the AC section, I am reminded that the orifice actually has a resevoir with it for the freon liquid on the high side pressure (ie. the balloon) and is called an accumulator (at least in GM lingo). There are like 5 pages of diagnostic flow charts, and I'll pick a couple tidbits.

    Install Gage set and check compressor cycling pressure. Compressor should cycle on at 41-51 psi, and cycle off at 20-28 psi. Most of the boxes on that page deal with then checking and changing the pressure switches. My note: this reference would be talking to pressure on the low side. If the pressure starts to raise up too high, you turn on the ocmpressor which pulls a vaccuum and brings the pressure back down.

    another tidbit example referencing clutch cycling: More than 8 clutch cycles per minute....recover system and check for plugged orifice, repair as required, evacuate the system , and charge. 8 or less clutch cycles per minute, feel inlet and outlet pipes. Inlet pipe colder than outlet pipe, add one lb of refrigerant. inlet and outlet same temperature or outlet colder than inlet....ok.

    I'd recommend getting it to an AC guy with the gauges and the specs for your vehicle. The pressures I just referenced were for my year, make, model....and I have absolutely no idea whether they are even close to what yours should have.
  • shark715shark715 Posts: 382
    Thanks so much again for taking the time to give a detailed response...sincerely appreciated. I was thinking just as you much as I completely trust my mechanic, he is a "general shop" and not an A/C specialist.
  • My 1999 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0L SOHC won't start...
    replaced the fuel pump because signs of bad fuel pressure..
    still won't start..
    theres no fuel bein delivered to the cylinders, like the injectors arent spraying..

    went to NAPA and the guy working had the same problem but in his 1998 Ford Ranger.. he said it was the crank sensor... so i bought that and replaced it... but still same ol same ol... still won't start

    so i'm running out of ideas and getting ready to take it somewhere... but i would rather not take it some where.. if i can fix it myself..

    so anyone have any ideas?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Did you have the computer read, and are there any error codes? You should check that before throwing a bunch of parts into it.
  • well im goin to school for automotive.. i start in august
    and one of my friends has a lower end computer reader..
    and that didn't pick up any trouble codes
  • shaigshaig Posts: 14
    Yesterday evening my wife was in the vehicle, waiting for a car to exit a steep single lane driveway. When she took her foot off the brakes, all the warning lights on the console came on and the brakes went out completely from that point on. :sick:

    Luckily the driveway leads to a large area that abuts a grassy field so she was able to stop the car. After turning the vehicle off and restarting it, it seemed fine. Nonetheless the vehicle was towed and is currently in the shop for diagnostics.

    I asked if the car had stalled, but she asserted not. She did not lose the A/C or power steering. I am currently waiting to hear from the service dept. The vehicle has been regularly serviced and has never had any issues before. Has anyone ever experienced this?
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    The brakes are hydraulic, not even a power problem would not have interferred in her stopping. The motor could have almost stalled loosing vaccuum boost to brakes, but all that means is she just needed to press harder.

    Do a test, drive down a deserted road or parking lot and turn the key off (without locking the steering wheel of course). Then apply the brakes.

    I suspect the car was idling very low or almost stalling, reducing the power boost, and your wife didn't push on the brakes hard enough.
  • canddmeyercanddmeyer Posts: 410
    Was the fuel so low and the angle of the vehicle such that the engine was stalled due to lack of fuel? I had two Fords in the past that would stall on steep inclines with a 1/4 tank or less because the fuel pickup in the gas tank wasn't located where the fuel was.
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