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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • 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. First, let me say that 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, whcih 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 drink. The salt water can rust the chassis as well as the brakes if not washed off immediately. Also a very heay trailer can put a strain on the tranny. The max load on most explorers is about 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 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.

    Good luck!
  • rte66rrte66r Posts: 2
    My newly ordered '02 Explorer EB (with V8) should be arriving any day. They've got Goodyear Wrangler AP tires. Are these tires OK or should I ask the dealer to put Michelin Cross Terrain tires.? I need a tire that gives a quiet smooth ride but behaves in the snow.
  • kurz2kurz2 Posts: 2
    Thanks mazman for your quick answer !
    This is really GREAT help...
    Just let me bother you with one more question : does this mean you would totally stay away from 97 to 99 SOHC models (damn - that was exactly what I was looking at !) ?
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    I dont know whether I would definitely avoid a 97 vehicle, but like I said before, if you buy it from an individual that took maintenance seriously and took really good care of the vehicle, and replaced the timing chain tensioners, Firestone tires, for example, then its a good chance you will enjoy the vehicle for several years. Otherwise, you could be buying a migraine headache. The OHV engine has a simpler design than the SOHC, and is easier to service, although not as powerful if you need it for towing. I was able to acquire some speeding tickets with my 1994 OHV equipped vehicle.

    Hope this helps.
  • hodog16hodog16 Posts: 53
    Hello all,

    I just wanted to post the solution the ford dealer found for my 98 explorer's hesitation problems. First, thanks to mazman1 and swschrad for their responses--I passed on your suggestions to the service shop.

    Turns out that one of the ignition wires would generate static charge after heating up (after driving awhile) which caused one of the spark plugs to misfire. That caused the engine to run roughly after heating up. Go fig, huh.

    Thanks again and good luck to all,

  • tallimecatallimeca Posts: 6
    I have a 2000 explorer sport, sohc 13k miles. Recently I started having some problems. Under acceloration, the vehicle/engine will hesitate until you back of the accelorator and reapply. As it hesitates, I noticed a pinging/clanking coming from the vehicle, sound sort of like a back fire or engine misfire. I checked the eec for codes, shows nothing. Was brought to the dealer, they installed the timming chain update and replaced the intake gasket which cause simmilar characteristics when cold. This didn't solve the problem. The check engine light only came on once, the night before the update was complete, but hasn't come on since, but I'm still having the problem. It's going into the shop tomorrow for another try at it. Anyone have any ideas???
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Maybe you have water in your gas tank, or you got some bad gas. I think a cheap solution would be to put some water remover ($1.99 at Autozone) or Gumout Xtra in the tank when half full and drive it.

    You might also want to check the air filter and MAF sensor for a clog of dirt.
  • erock00erock00 Posts: 3

    I just noticed a problem with my AC. When at idle (stop sign or light), the AC system cycles on and off. I can hear it kick in/out and can feel the air go between cold and warm. The fan runs continuously. When at speed (1000+ rpm), the system runs continuously and correctly. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?? If the coolant level gets low, would something like this happen before the system shuts down completely??

    Any help would be great!
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    what engine do you have, and is Ford still using a vacuum cut-out switch to turn the compressor off if the engine starts to get below a certain load point to insure it doesn't stumble when you have to get out of the way of a big old truck on the freeway, or die at idle? those two questions may well settle the case, and sounds like you have a v6 OHC and the a/c is cutting out because the vacuum is low enough to signal the engine is ready to choke. I don't notice it on my 2000 with the V8, but of course that's probably why....
  • tallimecatallimeca Posts: 6
    Alright swapped in a new filter and cleaned the MAF. Swapped in a new fuel filter as well. Picked up the vehicle from the dealer for the second time in as many weeks, they still can find a problem, they are putting a call into ford to run a check to see if anyone reported similar problems and what they turned out to be before they start changing things for no reason. The only way I can somewhat replicate what happens while driving is to put it in park and hold the engine at 1000 rpms, when I do this, you can sort of hear the engine drop a bit and shake a bit, when this happens, I pull my foot off the accelorator and the rpms drop almost to zero and come back up to idle, sometimes it stalls. One of the techs tried telling me it was normal......hello??? Stalling is normal?? I'm at a little over 1/4 tank right now, I put some dry gas and fuel injector cleaner in before I left work. Any info??? One guy told me he had a very similar problem with his 97 sohc sport...turned out there was a tsb to replace the throttle body. I'm assuming that if this were a problem back then, my newer vehicle would have already had this taken care of in manufacturing.
  • sprankjsprankj Posts: 1
    Just found out my 1994 XLT Explorer has a completely rotted out gas tank as well as fuel lines; It's been a very well treated car, and with 117,000 miles the warranty is obviously gone. Has anyone experienced this before with this year of Explorer? I've called the Ford Motor Company and they've stated that their database doesn't have too many instances of this happening. Just paid $700.00 on new ball joints and now I'm going to have to pay $800.00 on a stupid gas tank! What a pain!
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    I still think that your issue is fuel related. If the gumout cleans the fuel injectors, then that solves your problem, you have a solution. It still might be water in the gas tank that the engine is choking on. If you bought a tank of gas right after the gas station got a delivery (or when its tank was almost empty) you could have put a lot of junk in your gas tank, including a lot of water.

    The TSB on the trottle body was to fix sticky throttles in the 1997 model. I dont think that is your problem. Next put gas in your tank from a differnt gas station, and not "gaseteria" brand.. my Explorer likes Mobil and Exxon and Amoco.. but not Getty and Gulf or the cheap stuff.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Get a replacement tank from a salvage yard. It will cost you a lot less. You can then clean it up and repaint it. Its easy, you could even replace it yourself if you are mechanically inclined.
  • dterry727dterry727 Posts: 1
    I have a 99 DOHC (64000 miles) with AWD and dual range 4WD - standard configuration except 2WD, I guess. It shudders under moderate acceleration from a stop. Slow acceleration or hard acceleration works fine. I saw a message somewhere here that mentioned "clutch sensors", but I really don't want to search 795 messages looking for it. Can anybody help? Other than that, I think it's the greatest, tightest, most solid, rigid, fun vehicle I've ever driven - and more gadgets...that even still work!
  • roger57roger57 Posts: 5
    I ordered a new 2002 Exp back in April. Still no delivery. The dealer is telling me the plant where it would have been built has been shut down, due to the tire replacement program.

    This sounds bogus to me. I don't see any connection. Anyone have information re this matter?

  • rysterryster Posts: 564
    The Lousville plant has been idle since the beginning of June and should remain so for the whole month. The last two weeks of June were due to the annual summer shutdown. Not sure if the first two weeks were tire related or not.

    I had read somewhere that Ford was going to temporarily stop production of Explorers to free up tires for their recall.

    The dealer is not lying...the Louisville plant is currently idle.
  • erock00erock00 Posts: 3
    re my A/C problem....yes, I have the high output v6. But, I never have had this problem before. Would charging up the system solve the low vaccum problem, or is there something more complicated? You know how expensive A/C components can get.......

    Thanks for your reply.

  • hughc2hughc2 Posts: 1
    I have a 1993 Explorer with 85,000 miles on it. I have a vibration coming from the front end of the car. The whole car shakes as though the alingment is way off. The entire front end has been replaced. Any comments or similar problems? He dealer sites some harmonic vibration in connection with the engine mounts/blocks.

    Thanks Hugh
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Might be simple... maybe they did not repair it right? Tell the dealer to take it to Carnegie Hall to see if the harmonic vibration can get it an audition... then tell him to fix it right this time... no, seriously.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    hmmm, something changed, then. you would need to have an a/c professional check the charge level, but you can check the air and vacuum streams yourself -- clean air filter, free rattle in the PVC valve, no cracking on any of the vacuum hoses, ESPECIALLY the ends, and no softening of the ends where you have rubber and not solid plastic vacuum leads. replace anything that isn't up to standard, it's all cheap stuff. the a/c should act up long before the brakes would, since vacuum assist is part of the power brakes, and there hasn't been vacuum advance of the carbs or distributor for a long, long time to kill mileage as an indicator. if that doesn't find anything, it's time to take it to the a/c guys. I do assume you have checked top and bottom of the drive belt, and it's clean, not chunking off gobs of rubber, shined up from slippage, and you don't have more than 1/2 to 1 inch of depression when you push in on the longest section between pulleys... and you don't have that gawdawful squeal in humidity that says tighten or replace the belt.
  • 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: 564

    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.
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