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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • rsmtomrsmtom Posts: 28
    Call a local 4X4 shop and ask if Warn makes a manual hub to fit your Explorer. They do for some of the Rangers (not the newest), and I assume the same auto hubs were used by Ford on both the Ranger and Explorer. Ford went cheap and used plastic internal parts in the hubs--apparently heat soak from the brakes can cause an early death for the hubs. There is some loss of convenience in manual hubs, but you get much superior reliability. If you plan on an off-road trip, simply engage your hubs in the driveway before leaving. It won't hurt the front end to drive with hubs engaged and t-case in 2WD. You could also leave the hubs engaged if foul weather threatens.
  • dwfmillsdwfmills Posts: 12
    If anybody has brake work done, do not use Ford rotors. Use aftermarket rotors. Ford rotors are JUNK!!!!!! The aftermarket ones will outlast Ford's 3 to 1.
    With all my experiences with Ford on my 96 Explorer you can almost rest assured I will NOT trade for a new one this fall. Quality is NOT job 1 for them, and service is job $$$$$$$$$$.
    It all comes down to the bottom line. It's all BS.
  • mkt1204mkt1204 Posts: 1
    I am looking into buying a late model (95-99) Eddie Bauer and would like some advice on any problems that owners are having. I currently own a Japanese car and I'm not sure if I am ready for the problems that come with owning a domestic auto. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but there are a few misconceptions in my book.
    1. A car SHOULD run for 150,000 miles without a major service, with exception to brakes and timing belt changes.
    2.What some people consider "runs well" could mean "oh, I've only had to rebuild the transmission, or replace the A/C, or this is only the second engine."
    ---lets face it people, these are not common problems, a "WELL" build auto should last with no major services except for routine maintenance.
    --and no, replacing the transmission or engine is not routine maintenance, due to what some may think.
    --People who have never owned a well build car figure that these expensive repairs and constant services are normal, thats because that's all they have ever known!

    --But, due to the criticism I still plan to get into the American market and purchase an Explorer, at least it's cheaper to repair and it's the trendy thing to drive. Who needs to save money.
  • bokenboken Posts: 3
    I have a 96 explorer Limited Edition that needs suspension work. My mechanic told me it needed new torsion bars which would be $370 and new ball joints which would be $420 (parts +labor). Is this a reasonable quote for this type or work?
  • magchasemagchase Posts: 16
    The ABS light on my '94 Explorer XLT (54,000 miles) will remain lit after starting, but not on the initial start in the morning. This is erratic, and will not always occur. It seems to stay on during the hot months (it's been happening for about 2-3 years. A local mechanic feels it's nothing to worry about. The ABS system still works like a charm in the winter weather. Any suggestions? I simply ignore it?
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    The reason the light does not go on with the initial start is that the computer doesnt know there is a problem with the ABS until you start driving around... If the ABS light is lit, the ABS system is offline, and will not function. Have all the sensors been tested for continuity? There might be water in one of the connectors, and a bit of dielctric grease will fix that. Next step, I'd have another mechanic or even a Ford dealer look at it.
    Good Luck
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    ALot of people metion dieseling on their V6 engines but its not metioned if its the Sohc V6 or the Ohv V6. Any information is greatly appericiated. I just took lease on my 2000 explorer and i love it. Thanks
  • anonymousanonymous Posts: 314
    The "dieseling" was a characteristic of the old OHV V6 design--something related to poor quality control in manufacture of piston wristpins. The SOHC V6 has its own issue(s)--most complained about is a "rattling" noise coming from camshaft drive components, and is noted in vehicles as recent as the '99 model. You will have to check around to determine if the design defect has been remedied. Some folks have complained of multiple repair attempts for this issue, but that could have been due to incompetent dealer service departments.
  • tomsrtomsr Posts: 325
  • majdad52majdad52 Posts: 1
    Sounds like the front brakes are always engaged. You may want to have a mechanic check the brake cylinder. Its possible the orifice is clogged and is not releasing the pressure to the front brake calipers.
  • shayes1shayes1 Posts: 12
    Does anyone know where a Cargo Net can be ordered that will fit into a Sport? It has the four
    tie down hooks in the back. thanks for the help!

  • shayes1shayes1 Posts: 12
    Does anyone know where a Cargo Net can be ordered that will fit into a Sport? It has the four
    tie down hooks in the back. thanks for the help!

  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    Just a word of caution to anyone considering the purchase of a Ford Exploder. DO NOT DO IT!!!

    I owned a 1997 Explorer XLT for two years. Because of some family changes that were forthcoming (buying a house, marriage) I decided to trade in this excellent vehicle and purchase a 1999 model of the same. My rationale was to have a safe, reliable car for even more years to come.

    Boy, I could not have made a more incorrect decision. This 1999 model has been in the shop 14 times since April 1999. I have gone as far as filed a lemon law complaint with Ford because of a recurring pinion seal problem (this was finally repaired). This vehicle has had the following work done in this time...
    -a replaced windshield (factory defect)
    -horn replaced (broke after 4 months)
    -pinion seals x3 repairs
    -front brake rotors replaced (warped at 12,000 miles)
    -rear suspension assembly replaced (one of the components was completely split in two...and this vehicle has never been driven off road!)
    -ball joints and support arms in front end (broken at 10,000 miles!)

    It will return to it's second home this coming week to have the engine "dieseling" looked at, as well as engine hesitancy.

    I have spoken to both my Ford sales manager at Dayton Ford (South Brunswick NJ) and the Ford district rep. They claim these are not "driveability problems", and that if it were the case of a bad engine or transmission they might be able to help me. The only consolation they could offer is $1,000 off the purchase of a new one. I could do better myself.

    As for me, I will fight until Ford does something or my warranty runs out. I am not getting $32,000 worth of a vehicle and certainly not the customer service you would expect for having made such an investment. DO NOT BUY AN EXPLORER OR FORD MOTOR COMPANY PRODUCT. THEY WILL GLADLY TAKE YOUR MONEY, BUT THEN TURN AROUND AND SHRUG OFF YOUR PROBLEMS, OFFERING LITTLE ASSISTANCE TO YOU, THEIR CUSTOMER.
  • shayes1shayes1 Posts: 12
    Has anyone added one of these? If so, is it worth it?

    thanks again!
  • tomsrtomsr Posts: 325
    There are performance chips available but they
    are only part of a package to get results. You
    have to modify the intake and exhaust system too.
    It's not cheap and may not be legal.When I got
    my Explorer I thought just get a chip and I'll
    have more power.The people selling the chips
    may tell you it makes a difference but unbiased
    3rd parties say different.
  • shayes1shayes1 Posts: 12
    The one manufacturer I spoke with said 10% more
    horsepower and about 25-30 more lbs ft of torque.
    I guess this coupled witha K&N filter might yield
    better results. I certainly don't want to put
    in a whole new exhaust system, too much money. So your chip made no difference at all?

  • cobra71cobra71 Posts: 3
    I installed a K&N air filter, Motorsport headers and Flowmaster cat-back system on my F-150 4x4. These modifications did not make a lot of difference in performance (I tow a 4000# trailer). I contacted Hypertech and the guy told me what module to ask for (they won't sell direct to the public). I ordered it from Summit Racing and it made a considerable difference in performance when coupled with the other modifications. Gas mileage went up about a mile per gallon in town. The only drawback is you have to run at least 92 octane gasoline. The truck has passed Pennsylvania's emissions test 2 years in a row (they also check for modifications to the vehicle) with equal to or better results than when the truck was stock.
  • teacher51teacher51 Posts: 1
    I have a 97 Explorer with 61,000 of which it has been back to the dealer once. I have the SOHC engine with the rattle in the timeing chain is what I was told. Has anyone gottten Ford to fix it? I really love the truck. It is the first thing I have owned with that kind of mileage that I have spent nothing on inculing brakes. I just put my first set of tires on the thing. I have a friend who still has a 91 that went through two male teenage drives and has 130,000 miles on it.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    Forgot to include link to the NHTSA website. Here it is:
  • lmc5lmc5 Posts: 16
    The rattle that you are hearing is definitely your timing belt tensioners. Your Explorer probably sounds like a diesel truck. The Ford service departments are aware of this problem and don't let them tell you otherwise. I went to three Ford service departments before I finally got this fixed. The first two said they fixed it but the noise kept coming back. The third service department said the others put broken parts on my engine, pretty scary. I currently have my 1997 XLT for sale and as soon as I sell it, that will be it for me and Ford. It only has 58,000 miles on it and has been in the shop at least 20 times. Mostly for the "diesel sound". I was smart and did purchase the extended warranty. Good Luck and stick to your guns when it comes to Ford service departments.
  • firstfordfirstford Posts: 1
    I bought a 2000 Explorer XLT in Jan. 2000. Three weeks after we bought it my wife told me it had a strange squeal in the front end that went away after a few miles. I asked her if the squeal went away after braking she said no. A few days later it did it while I was with her. Took it to the dealer 3 times for he same problem. The said it was the "excluder seals" and that Ford was working on a fix because their current fix did not work. I found that out after my third trip. So they lubricated the seal each time with Lithium grease and sent me on my way. Normally this problem occurs during cool weather, which happens quite a bit in Illinois,but mine started again this summer also. I had read a posting on Edmunds and someone had said where to lubricate the seals. So instead of lithium grease I used a marine lubricant since it could handle water and was a bit more tacky than Lithium I have since put 2000 miles on it with no more squeals. We will wait to see how it handle the Illinois winter.

    Also one of my 100,000 mile Platinum plugs went cold after 17,000 miles. It made the engine hesitate when it was cold. I swear who ever the engineer was that made it to where you had to get under the vehicle to replace a spark plug ought to be the poor fella that has to replace it.

    This was my first Ford product and it has been in the shop more than all of my other GM products combined. This will probably be my last.
  • seacrowseacrow Posts: 22
    I own a 98 Explorer XLT SOHC V-6 2WD Loaded including leather and moonroof. It is pretty obvious to me that the overwhelming problem is not the vehicle, it is the service departments that most of you have. There are some flaws in design of this vehicle. I have done a lot of research on these problems and a lot of this info comes form my service writer, the best I have dealt with.

    91-current Explorers use a 4.0 OHV (overhead valve) V-6. It was the sole V-6 engine until 97 when the SOHC (single overhead cam) version arrived. They are the same engine only the SOHC uses different heads. They are based on the old 2.9 V-6 used in the Ford Ranger from 86-92. They are built in Cologne, Germany and are a very good design. Both engines are still offered, the OHV is on low-line XLS, XL models from 97-current. XLT and above gets the SOHC or the 5.0 V-8 (96-current).
    Problems with the OHV are most commonly dieseling sounds. Most of the time this is due to "piston slap". The pistons slap on the insides of the piston skirts. It can be caused by a simple manufacturing defect in a wrist pin/connecting rod of very little tolerance. Piston slap is very rare and engine failure due to it is extremely rare. It normally will not damage the engine any more than everyday use. It is more annoying than anything. Overall this is an extrememly reliable engine and is good for more than 200K of service or more without incident. Early models also had EGR problems if equipped with an EGR valve.

    Problems with the SOHC are stalling, vibrations while turning and knocking sounds on startup or hard acceleration. Stalling can be due to a bad program in the ECC (engine control computer) or a warped intake manifold/bad intake gasket. It can also be caused by fuel with high alcohol content or a loose gas cap. The ECC can be reflashed with an updated program, the intake is usually solved with a new gasket and sometimes a new intake manifold. The manifold leak causes a vacuum leak in the cylinders causing it to stall. Try different brands of gas and always tighten the gas cap. Especially the twist and click type. Vibrations while turning are caused by the power steering hose/exhaust vibrating under steering pump load on the engine. There is an update for the hoses and an exhaust bracket that makes those noises completely disappear and makes the steering smooth as silk. The knocking noise is the timing chain tensioners, specifically the tensioners. The original design had the tensioners mounted to the engine block with nylon anchors. They would break and cause the timing chain to rattle against the timing covers. After several redesigns, they have finally made them steel and should solve the problem without further incident. This noise usually starts around 20K and worsens. It normally will not cause any engine damage but is not good for the engine either. I've had all three of these problems with my 98 and all three are fixed for good. It is smooth as silk.

    Other problems are phantom wipers, premature transmission failure, premature rotor warpage, rear wiper failure and rear suspension noises.

    Phanotm wipers is caused by a defective multi-function switch. Some corrode and some were bad from the supplier. It makes the wipers activate themselves when turning the signals on or making turns. It has been updated and should not cause any more problems once replaced. 97 and newer Explorers have speed dependent intermittent wipers. The faster you drive the faster the intermittent wipers wipe (the shorter the intervals). This is a conveniece and can be turned off (see owners manual) don't confuse it with phantom wipers.

    Premature transmission failure is most often a result of lack of maintenance. The tranny should be serviced every 15-30K miles depending on towing, driving habits, etc. I think the owners manual is far to lax on freqency of this service. I think it says 50K. I do mine every 15K, I tow a lot and do a lot of city driving.

    REar wiper failure is a lot of times due to the rear wiper getting stuck in it's holder on the hatch. Try turning it on and freeing it by hand (be careful). I've done this a couple of times and it has never failed since. The holder is a little tight and needs to be loosened up. It helps to use it more often too.

    Rotor warpage is present on almost all newer vehicles and is mostly due to driving habits. The brakes get hot and something as simple as driving through a mud puddle or a car wash quick cools the rotors and they will warp. The tires and suspension on Explorers help amplify the problem. Just living with it seems to be the best. Mine are slightly warped on both my F-150 and my Explorer and it comes and goes with weather and brake usage. Don't ride the brakes, brake hard, and do your best not to get hot brakes too wet. Also, air wrenches can warp rotors too. Always request hand torquing of lug nuts whe you have service performed.

    There is an update on the rear suspension bushings that will solve the bed spring sound some of you have.

    that's about all I know about the Explorer. when I get time I will dig out my invoices and post part numbers and any others TSB numbers I have. I do not work for a dealer but I am lucky enough to have a good service department. Ford has designed many updates to parts and worked to correct some of these problems. I think that many of you aren't hearing of them for some reason. My Explorer has had almost every problem I mentioned except for the tranny problem. All of this was fixed in one trip and four days sooner than projected. Ford sells almost half a million of these a year. Most folks I know haven't had any problems with Explorers but for as many as they build there are bound to be some problems (many times supplier problems not Ford). Sometimes it's common sense problems (rotor warpage) that folks aren't aware of. I love mine. I drive the hell out of it and the great service department has made the problems seam minor. I hope this info helps. Take it to the dealer with you. I will post part/TSB numbers ASAP. Good luck.
  • mrmnm30mrmnm30 Posts: 1
    I am picking up my 2000 Explorer XLT with the Sports Package, leather and sunroof on August 14th. It is currently being built. After reading all this, I am quite nervous. I decided to get the Explorer because I kept hearing great things about it. Now I'm not so sure. Anyway, lets see what happens. Seacrow, if you could... can you give me the name and address of the dealership where you get you vehicle serviced? I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping it's anywhere near my house. I live in NYC. If you could provide name, address and number of the dealership that services your Explorer, I would greatly appreciate it. Feel free to e-mail the information.
  • jnitsjnits Posts: 2
    Thanks to the postings on this website and information from a local Ford dealer mechanic, I was able to correct that noisy camshaft chain problem common to these engines. I recently purchased a lease-return 1997 Explorer XLT with 48K miles on the SOHC engine and no warranty because this was a private sale. I didn't notice any engine noise when I test drove this vehicle because it only made noise after starting when the engine was hot. After reading every posting describing this problem, I called the service departments from 3 local Ford dealers and was given estimates for the repair ranging from $500 to $1800. One of these service writers put a mechanic on the phone who knew the history of this problem. This is what he told me:
    The problem is the left camshaft hydraulic chain tensioner located behind the thermostat housing and threaded into the left cylinder head. When a hot engine is started, the oil pressure is low enough to prevent the tensioner from working properly causing the chain to rattle until the oil pressure increases gradually silencing the noise. Ford has produced 3 different tensioners for this chain with the second and third designs supplied to their dealers to correct this problem (usually on warranty vehicles). The third design corrected the problem on my engine. The first design tensioner can be identified by the gold color of the 1 1/8" head (looks like a bolt head). The second design looks the same except it is black. The third design is black and has a 2" extension protruding from the top of the bolt head.
  • jnitsjnits Posts: 2
    The part number for the 1997-2000 SOHC EXPLORER/MOUNTAINEER ENGINE TENSIONER KIT supplied by Ford (third design)is XU2E-6K254-AA. It sells for $24.43. It includes an oil volume reduction plug which is just a 6" plastic rod installed into the oil galley passage located below the hydraulic tensioner. A Torx head pipe plug must be removed to install this rod. I was able to install this kit in about 3 hours. It's tough to get to these parts but it can be done without any special tools.
  • seacrowseacrow Posts: 22
    The dealer I use is Sarasota Ford in Sarasota Fl. It is the highest volume dealer on Floridas west coast. My service adivsor is Paul. Ten years ago this dealer was the pits for sales and service. Now it is great in both areas. Don't worry so much about the problems. I know several people with 99-00 Explorers that have had no problems. I seem to have all of the problems. AS long as my dealer can fix them right I could care less. I intend on seeing 150K plus out of my Explorer. Aside from the problems I mentioned, it is built well with high quality materials, great fit and finish and not one of the problems made me worry about getting stranded, etc. The dealer acted like they were no big deal, they have fixed a lot of them which made me feel better than if they said "unable to duplicate" which is what I used to get from them. Good luck and enjoy.

    hicaira, I understand how you feel. If I did not have such a great dealer, which seems to be the norm on these boards, this Explorer would be long gone.

    I worked at a Toyota dealer in 93-94. I saw many a Camry with engine problems right off the truck. Avalons had windshields falling out and a host of other problems. They were always fixed and no one cared. If a Ford had a problem, people say "I will never own another Ford" Many of Fords problems are no worse than Toyotas in most cases. It is the biggest brainwash I have ever seen. People will actually spend 10K more for a Toyota and if it has problems you'll never hear about them. My fathers 92 4x4 pickup V-6 auto. is the biggest POS that any of my family memebers have ever owned. He drives his company Explorer to avoid driving the truck. He is on his fourth pass side front hub, third AC compressor, brakes every 8K, there is a rattle in the A pillar that no one can find (very strange problem). He has babied the truck it only has 70K miles and still smells new. AS a 80's Toyota fan, I am truly shocked that ever Toyotas quality has fallen in the last 15years the way it has. I had a 84 Celica GT once that was absolutely one of the best looking, designed and most reliable cars in history. Toyota builds nothing close to that now. It's a real bummer. They ALL have problems now.
  • 456ttt456ttt Posts: 13
    Engine is very rough. Engine check light is on. Dealer says it needs intake gaskets ($325.00). Said it was a known problem but that Ford was not paying for the fix if car is out of warranty. Anyone have this problem and what did they do about it ?
  • njdevilsrnnjdevilsrn Posts: 185
    Well, not even a month after I continued my Ford bashing on this site, I have succumbed to Ford again, but I'm optimistic about this one.

    After a couple of shouting matches in the service and sales department of my Ford dealer, I got them to help me out of my 1999 Explorer. Name a problem Explorer is notorious for, this truck had it, and then some. In 15 months of ownership, this truck was out of service for 17 days. It had the windshield replaced (factory defect), horn replaced (broke), 3 trips for pinion seals, ball joints and support arms replaced, rotors replaced, a broken rear suspension link assembly, the timing belt tensioner problem, and a mysterious steering problem which would cause the truck to loose its path in turns after the front end made a loud clunk.

    Last week I purchased a 2000 Explorer XLS Toreador Red with the Sport Package. Bottom line, if anyone out there in the New Jersey area sees a 1999 Platinum (dark gray) Explorer XLT with appx 14000 miles on it on a used lot or auction. DO NOT BUY IT!!! It is a death trap.

    Hoping to have better luck with this one, njdevilsrn.
  • I have a '95 Explorer XLT with 63K miles. Most days it works fine. Every couple of weeks we get in, turn the key and the engine will turn over but not start. It doesn't even sputter which makes me believe it's electrical versus fuel-related. In reviewing posts on this BB I noticed SKY767 mentioned the same problem in post #559, but I didn't see any responses. Have others experienced similar problems and have they been fixed?

    There are other electrical problems as well--driver-side passenger window won't operate; 4WD is activated without the button being pushed; and, new for today, the dome light stays on in spite of all doors being tightly shut and swtich on dash being turned off.

    Meanwhile, in what my review of this BB indicates is SOP, the dealer is passing the buck. First they said the gap on the sparkplugs was incorrect (it wasn't). Then they said it was the aftermarket alarm on the we disconnected it and the troubles have continued. I agree with many of the other sentiments posted here--dealers want to do nothing more than sell cars, they could give a damn about fixing them under warranty (we bought an extended warr.). It makes it all the more clear while I prefer imports. The Explorer is my wife's, but not for long if this trouble continues. My car is a trouble-free volvo 850 wagon, a manufacturer which unfortuatnely, since I bought the car, has been purchased by Ford! Thankfully they aren't serviced at the same dealerships!

    Any suggestions you have, please let me know. Post them here and/or email me at


    P.S. We just bought new tires, Michelin LTX's ($415 at Costco). The Explorer, when it actually starts, drives twice as well as it did with the OEM Firestones--more quiet, smoother ride and better handling. It was every bit worth the extra $50 versus getting Firestones. Now, I just hope we can get the electrical issues resolved or we'll be trading it and the new tires in on an import.
  • mazman1mazman1 Posts: 229
    I think your no start condition may be your fuel pump (or vapor lock). Have you taken the tank down below 1/8 of a tank... that puts a lot of strain on the fuel pump, and an over heated pump may fail... also, there is a problem with Explorers that have less than a 1/4 tank and are parked on a hill nose down.. the tank is rectangular, and the gas moves away from the pump!

    Also, it that is not the problem, maybe you can try to burp the gas cap, and try to start the car again.

    Good luck.
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