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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • My 93 Explorer has beginning to give me intermittent starting woes. Sometimes it starts, others it just clicks. Also, on occasion, when it does start it sounds like the starter is still engaged and makes a sound like you are trying to start it while it is running? Does anyone have this problem? I am not sure if it is the starter, the relay, or I've heard that the positive cable goes bad on these cars and that may be the problem.

    Any thoughts?
  • swn1swn1 Posts: 27
    I had the disappearing act with the coolant on my '91 Explorer and found out it was caused by one of two things. The upper heater hose connection would leak onto the manifold where you could sometimes see the antifreeze laying or the heat from the manifold would evaporate it. The other happened twice. The gasket between the core and tank on the upper hose side of the radiator leaked. The leak was so slight that when the vehicle was stopped, the heat from the radiator would evaporate what was leaking out. The best way to see it is to lay on the gound and look up with a flashlight along the radiator and you will see the stains and sometimes the antifreeze. At first it looks like the upper hose is leaking but it's not. Solution is new radiator. Get one with lifetime warranty so when that one leaks you can exchange it. Swapping radiators takes about 20 minutes.
  • rysterryster Posts: 564

    Have a '00 Explorer and love it. On the inside bottom of each of the front doors is a long rubber gasket/shield held in by 4 or 5 white plastic fasteners. Does anyone know of a source for these fasteners? The rubber shield on my driver's side is slightly loose and it appears to be due to a loose fastener (they are all loose, but one significantly more than the others).

  • jtnjtn Posts: 2
    Question for mazman1 or other knowledgeable people. I'm strongly considering purchasing a 1996 Eddie Bauer with 96,000 miles. I have a very good relationship with dealer and so far I've herd of no serious problems with the vehicle. The truck was a local trade with very good maintenance record. My concerns are about the high miles and what may lie ahead. I plan on purchasing an extended warranty but would love some feedback on what others think. Would you buy the vehicle? What would you check out before shelling out the cash? I've had the truck for 7 days and have put 200 miles on it during my extended test-drive and I've been very happy with how it runs. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
  • 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. tHE 1996 Explorer you are looking at has a 4.0 L OHV engine. It is not as powerful as the V8 or the SOHC, but has a lot fewer problems. The 1996 model year was one of the best for Explorers.

    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, which 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 water. The salt water can rust the chassis as well as the brakes if not washed off immediately. Also a very heavy trailer can put a strain on the tranny. The max load on most Explorers is about a 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 interior 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. could be your best friend here.

    Good luck!
  • tom193tom193 Posts: 5
    I drive a 96 AWD Explorer. 130,000 M. Very good truck. Very few problems. All minor. Excellent Ford dealership. However I now question the level of safety afforded this vechile. Rollovers at low speeds, rollovers resulting from rear collisions, tire recall, etc. Is there a an integral design flaw with this truck? Shades of Bronco 11? I have two small kids to be concerned with.
    As a law enforcement officer please be advised that Rollovers are not pretty. At any rate perhaps we can hear from some fellows officers on this same topic along with some automotive truck design engineers.
    Thank you for the opportunity to be apart of this forum.
  • jtnjtn Posts: 2
    Thanks to mazman1 and tom193 for your responses. One more question. Is there any way, or any test, one can determine the condition of the transmission or drive train? This is what has me concerned. From my limited car knowledge my understanding is that a new one on an Explorer could run up to $2,500. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    The only way to really check out the tranny is open the bottom tray and check it out. I check the fluid periodically.. check for burnt smell and uniform pink color.

    You can check the auto clutch by doing the following test:

    In an open space (empty parking lot)
    Put left foot firmly on the brake.
    Shift to drive
    Put right foot LIGHTLY on gas...
    If car stalls or you hear banging noises.. you have a problem. Keep in mind.. easy on the gas here.

    Good luck.
  • enforcerenforcer Posts: 40
    these are solid trucks but the maintenance on a 5-year old vehicle vehicle with almost 100K miles will be expensive without an extended warranty.

    there have been quite a few posts on this board from people who had to replace transmissions, engines, etc. well below the 96K miles on your vehicle. i bought a '97 XLT last fall with 32K miles and have already claimed $500 on my warranty.

    just view the warranty as buying prepaid maintenance and repair insurance.
  • masonmimasonmi Posts: 148
    I normally use my keyless entry pad to lock and unlock the doors and to set the alarm however I never hear the horn after the second time I hit the lock button, is there a way to un-silence it? if it is silenced?
  • dishikidishiki Posts: 5
    Hey all,
    My wife and I have a 97 Explorer XLT 2WD, with about 62k miles on it. We noticed a knocking sound whenever we would brake towards the fron of the car. We took it in and they said it was the brakes. So we got brand new brakes. However, in the past couple of days, the sound has gotten worse. You really notice it when you make a left turn or when you hit a bump. It feels like a clicking/slipping/knocking./ Anyone experience this or have any idea what it is? Other than that, the car is great. It's my wife's and I have been pushing her to get rid of it, but she refuses. She wants to keep it forever. Thanks in advance for the help.
  • xplorer27xplorer27 Posts: 1
    I have a 92 explorer with 130000 miles in it. When ever i drive it i need to run premium gas or it pings very bad. Can anyone help me with this problem? By using the premium gas it does not ping anymore but is this nessesary?
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Change your spark plugs and wires as well as use 5W30 oil. Change your air filter element. It should stop pinging. Beware that if you use premium for more than a couple of months, it will need to have 93 octane. But, soon you will hear a knock even with 93 octane. Then it will be time for a ring job.
  • bioman3bioman3 Posts: 37
    In addition to changing the spark plug wires and spark plugs you may also want to consider:
    a) resetting the PCM (engine computer) by disconnecting the battery for two minutes then reconnecting the battery. The PCM will now relearn all engine settings. Of course you do this with regular gas in the tank. The engine may run rough for a few miles (10) while the PCM is in the "learn" mode
    I) with 130,000 miles on it, your engine may also be suffering from carbon build up. To resolve this issue you may want to put some of the readily available decarbonizing agents into a tank of gas or have the engine decarbonized by a good mechanic.

    Good Luck

  • I have a 97 2door Explorer sport 4wd. It has 66K miles on it and is in good condition. However, I hear a rattling noise coming from under the car at the rear. It sounds as if I am pulling an empty trailer behind me. The guy at the oil change place said it might be the gas tank rattling against its support. Anyone else experience this problem? Thanks.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    I doubt it is the gas tank. Something that heavy should not rattle... it should fall off if it is not supported correctly... and even if it was a little loose, it would make a thud noise, not a clank or rattle.

    The skid plate that sits below the gas tank is a possible candidate to check out. It is supported by 4 small bolts, and since is is essentially a sheet of metal, will make a rattle noise.

    Also look at the bushings on the suspension and the spare tire mount.

    Good luck. This may be an easy fix that you can do at home if you are mechanically inclined.
  • isselaissela Posts: 1
    I bought an '02 Explorer XLT 4WD in April. Overall, I am very happy. It's a great looking SUV, all compliments on style, etc. I have a 4.0 Liter V6. The acceleration is excellent, the gas mileage is very good at 23 mpg, and it is very comfortable. Handles well, too...can't really tell it's a truck. I have had my share of problems. It was in the shop within a week because there was a paint bubble on the driver side on the roof in one of the troughs near the luggage rack. They fixed it no problem. I also noticed that there was a subtle ticking when the climate control fan came on...but that went away. There is a sulphur smell after the truck has been driven about 5 miles and that lasts until it is shut off...93 octane gas helps it but this is still unacceptable. There is also a rough transmission shift from 2 to 3 at low speeds say from 25-30 mph if you take your foot off the accelerator. There doesn't seem to be a positive gear shift when there should be. This causes some concern. The other problem was my instrument panel. I had a problem because the Temperature, Fuel, and Tachometer gauges would quit working after about 2 miles of driving or they wouldn't work properly. Ford easily replaced the instrument panel with no problem. I attribute some of these problems to the redesign but I am still upset that after over 100 years of auto making that they can't get it right. Nonetheless, I would recommend the vehicle. Ford is still working on the exhaust smell and the hard shift but I have yet to hear anything. I really enjoy the vehicle and it is very nice. Good luck.
  • tom193tom193 Posts: 5
    Interesting. No direct response to my message 818.
  • marlin77marlin77 Posts: 14
    well tom, as an owner of a 96 xlt bought new and a big city cop I can tell you the explorer is no better or worse than any other high center of gravity truck. the vehicle I've seen most upside down is a jeep wrangler. I log 35 miles round trip of rush hour highway traffic and I do believe the higher seat position, better visibility, has gotten me out of more hairy situations in traffic than the risk a roll over poses. it's really the knuckle heads who think they're driving a carry that have problems handling an suv. a little bit of money will make the explorer handle much better. first, get the best shocks you can afford, and a heavy duty sway bar. you may want to change all the rubber bushings with polyurethane. the best change on my truck was changing tire size and type. i went from stock 235.75 x 15 goodyears to a 255.70x15 lite truck touring tire. results were a wider track and much more stable feel. as musch as i drive and as much carnage i've seen i doubt i'd ever own a sedan again.
  • masonmimasonmi Posts: 148
    Hi, I asked in a previous message though i'll ask again has anyone had trouble having their alarm set without the horn blowing? mine will set though the alarm doesn't confirm that it is set.
  • budgewoodbudgewood Posts: 2
    Hi. Have been reading these posts for several weeks now and I am considering purchasing a 98 Explorer XLT from a friend. 37,000 miles. She is fixing to buy her 3rd Explorer and is sold on them. I am concerned about the V6 SOHC in this vehicle. I started it up today and heard a slight dieseling sound from the motor that did not go away. I am not sure if this is the timing chain tensioner. Is that sound a pronounced sound that you can't miss. Anybody have any advice about this vehicle? I am also considering purchasing an extended warranty on this vehicle. I love the size and features but I am concerned after reading these posts. Thanks for any advice.
  • tallimecatallimeca Posts: 6
    People should keep in mind that not everything in the engine if fully lubricated upon startup. My sohc had the update and even still, for the first like 20 or 30 seconds, it makes a ratte and soon quiets down. My dad has a f350super duty with the triton 5.4 liter v8..........anyone ever listen to these motors upon start up....same thing.
  • scootyscooty Posts: 10
    Have your friend take it to a dealer and have them check it out.It is still under warranty for the tensioner problem.My '97 had the fix at 43000 miles and it stopped having the diesel/rattle sound at startup.It has 51000 miles on it now and has not started back yet but I assume it will in the future.If I were you ,I would not buy any vehicle that made unusual engine noises.I bought my Explorer before any of the SOHC problems were known and it is almost paid for now.But in all honesty,my Explorer has been a good vehicle with the only problems so far have been the tensioners ,intake manifold gasket,thermostat,and a bad electric lock.All repaired under warranty,except the thermostat.Unless your friend can get the engine noise checked and fixed and give you an extremely good deal and the extended warranty,don't buy it.That is just my opinion.
  • mattbartmattbart Posts: 12
    in response to your concern about low speed rollovers, refer to my post #719. good luck.
  • Hey all

    I am looking at leasing an Explorer. We here in Australia haven't got the new updated model yet, so ours are the older (rounder) versions). We also get a 'special' model out here, because the XLT is only 4x4 and it comes with the bronze wheel arches (I think you guys only get this on the Eddied Barer versions), and they also have self leveling rear suspension.

    They are now going for at least 10K Australian than they were when they first came out. So now they are selling for $39990, which is pretty cheap.

    Is there anything I should be weary of with the older model? It is the 2000 model range that is still being sold here. I noticed some talk of 87 octane fuel. We have unleaded at 91, and premiums at 95 and 98 octane. Will they run OK on 91?
    Are they expensive to serivce?
    How many miles/kilometres do you guys get to a tank?
    Any regular problems that are often coming up?

    BTW, Ford Australia has done extensive work on the real suspension to make them more suitable to Australian conditions. ALso, I was talking to a Ford mechanic, and he said that they have heard of no rollovers, and no tyre seperations. Which is interesting considering that many of these vehicles are coming up to thier second set of tyres.

    I would appreciate any help you could give me.
  • deeds1deeds1 Posts: 1
    I have a 98 Explorer Sport 2D 4WD that has given me nothing but problems since I purchased it new in Jan '98. It began at 5,000 miles when the dealer installed cruise control quit working. It has since quit working 3 times (vacuum problems). Then at 20,000 miles the transmission needed to be overhauled. Then at 50,000 miles I needed a new engine due to the cam shaft tensioner problem (pre-extended warranty). Now at 70,000 miles it is having trouble starting. Some days it starts on the first try, other days it takes 10 trys to get it to start. I have had it checked and they can find nothing wrong. Has anyone else had this problem? Also, the radio displaygoes very dim, then blacks out completely, but the radio still works (this problem seems to be unrelated to the starting problem). Any ideas or help would be appreciated.
  • masonmimasonmi Posts: 148
    I have an odd question, I was out of town over the weekend and had to get my battery replaced because my old one died on me, when I checked my fluid levels and battery i noticed the battery isn't mounted all the way down into the holding plate, it seems to stick up a bit on one side, is this common among batterys that are a different brand that what I had?
  • raaizinraaizin Posts: 31
    I hear a slight clank when shifting from foward to reverse while making a K-turn. It doesn't make this sound all the time. Car has 75k miles on it any ideas. Was there ever a recall on this??
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    That sounds like your u-joints are wearing out. You hear a clank noise from the rear end when the truck shifts from f to r or vice versa... especially on a grade. If it does this often, you should have the driveshaft u joints replaced.
  • masonmimasonmi Posts: 148
    I stopped by my dealer today and he re-mounted the battery in for free, they must not have even taken the bolt off and just stuck the battery in the holding tray. Thanks.
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