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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • I got the battery and alternator and spark plugs changed 6 months ago . The battery got tested last week , it was fine . The battery level needle fluctuates when I'm at a stop sign with the brakes on . The dealership checked the electrical connection to the brakes , it's okay . They said maybe the battery gauge needle is broken , and to wait until it doesn't work at all . I'm paranoid , because in the heat of the summer I stalled 4 times , once 2 hours from my house , another in the middle of an intersection . I got towed so many times AAA was going to cancel my membership . I just want to get this vehicle in a reliable state , it's only a 98 , I had less problems with my 87 Dodge truck . Thank-you for your responses .
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Yeah I totaly understand. I can't understand why you are having these problems either. I have had 3 Explorers and others in my family (In-laws and friends) have Explorers and none have had anything like your problem happen. If your Explorer's battery stays charged and usually runs fine then I think that we can rule out a charging problem. There could be many things causing your vehicle to stall. When you are at stop lights and sitting still do your RPM's Fluctuate as well as the voltage guage? You also may want to post a message at to ask a one of the very helpful Ford Techs there if they have any idea what the problem may be. You will have to sign up with a screen name but the site is free as is the help. To post go under the Ford owners tab and click on the Ford owners help link. This may be the thing you need. I wish you the best of luck with this problem. I can understand your frustration and hope that someone can help.
    Goodluck! JRC
  • My 98 Explorer has electric locks but no keyless entry. My key for my Explorer is slowly getting worn and takes 15-20 tries of turing the key to opening the door sometimes. Other times it will open right away. I have never had a problem getting the key to work the ignition. When I purchased the vehicle, I only received one key and don't have a good key to make a copy of. Will I have to have new locks installed to get keys that work? Anyone ever install an aftermarket keyless entry on an Explorer?

    Another strange thing that may or may not be related. When my key will not unlock the doors, I can pull on the passenger door handle and it unlocks automatically. When the key is working, this doesn't happen. This weird activity makes me think I may have a bad electronic lock module or something related.

    The easiest way for me to deal with this problem is to never lock the vehicle. I would just hate for someone to take my $5 sunglasses though.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    How does the key work on the passenger door? If it works fine there then you may have a bad lock Cylender on the drivers side. What model do you have (XL,XLT, EB, Limited)? New keys have to come from Ford because of the computer chip inside that is used for the anti-theft system. I think they cost about $45.00 a piece, but don't quote me on that.
  • ... seem to be tricky. The key seems to open both the driver and passenger doors the same. The only lock that opens easier is the rear liftgate. I had a new key cut off the worn existing one for $30 and paid an additional $30 to program the second key because it takes two keys to program a third by yourself. I didn't expect it to work any better but wanted to get a second key so I could program additional keys in the future.

    As far as the model, its a stripped down bare-bones XL model.
  • Just wanted to report a couple of problems that developed with my 2002.5 XLT Explorer v8 4x4, 8k miles now.

    A month or so ago I started noticing a high pitched vibration coming from the transmission. This was especially bad when the engine was cold, and it was really only apparent during acceleration.

    Second problem that JUST started, creaking front suspension (very bad when going over speed bumps are pulling into my driveway).

    Dealer just fixed both items: (1) transmission problem was a defective valve body, replaced now no noise at all! (2) front sway bar kit replacement to fix creaking sound. I've read some posts about the sway bar thing, and hope this is not a problem I will have to deal with again??

    I had a contour previously and this was a common problem, I had the rear sway bars replaced like 3 times under warranty, then they just started lubing them every couple of months.

    Just wanted to share my experience in case someone else is having similar problems.
  • smily1smily1 Posts: 104
    I have a 98 V8 AWD. I get lots of vibration and shuttering on slow speed sharp turns. Do you think my AWD is going out?? It seems like it wants to lock up in permanent 4wd. The front drive shaft is currently removed and the vibration is gone.

    Anyone experience this?
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    GM used to consider them a wear point in the mid 70s on the applications that used them, and it makes sense. lube 'em if they squeak and replace 'em if they wear enough to start sliding out of position is that way I expect to handle life with swaybar bushings on my exploder.

    now, if there is some damage to the BAR itself, like rusting down to a toothpick or something, that calls for action. otherwise, phooey, more rubber to wear as the miles go by. it doesn't freak me out.
  • Smily1 writes:
    I have a 98 V8 AWD. I get lots of vibration and shuttering on slow speed sharp turns. Do you think my AWD is going out?? It seems like it wants to lock up in permanent 4wd.

    My 98 V8 AWD Mountaineer had all kinds of front end issues at ~75,000 miles. The dealer replaced virtually all moving parts under extended warranty including transfer case, half-shafts where the U-joints failed, & ball joints. I chalk it up to over-enthusiastic driving and living in the land of pot holes.
  • smily1smily1 Posts: 104

    I found out that its a front diff. failure. They found water in it. We had a nice little flood a while back and it just caught up with me. Now that I think about it, I think this is just the cause of the noise and not the lockup problem...I guess I will find out when I get it back.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    Well I just had my inspection done on my 96 Explorer V8 with 133k miles on it. the car has been relatively trouble free. Now I'm at the point where things are weaing out on me.

    For the past 2.5 to 3 years, the steering wheel would "stick" before it would begin moving. Nothing major but you definitely noticed it. Finally this winter it has been extremely cold here in PA. Noticed on a number of occasions the steering wheel was almost impossible to move. Got it checked out yesterday. You guessed it... the steering rack was bad. Luckily I took it to a independent garage and they are putting a re-built rack in for about $250 plus labor (4.5 hours). Also I am finally changing the serpentine belt (squeaks after rain or snow). Think the last time I did that was around 50k or 60k miles. Also need new tires. Have an appointment for Dayton Timberline AT at $68 per tire, out the door.

    So $1000 later (includes power steering flush and oil change), my Explorer is ready to tackle the roads for the next couple of years. Can't really complain about this vehicle considering the amount of maintenance I haven't done on it. It has served me well.
  • smily1smily1 Posts: 104
    The front diff was bad. It cleared up the noise and the slow speed turn vibrations. Now do I keep it or buy a Tacoma...hmmm...
  • I found out why my 98 Explorer is loosing antifreeze. The bad news is that its in the oil. I was suspecting antifreeze in the oil and sent my last drain oil in for analysis. It tested out at 0.36% antifreeze after 3k miles. I know the problem has been around for a while because I have been adding small amounts of antifreeze for months.

    I have the 4.0L OHV V6 with 103k miles on the clock. Has anyone else had problems with bad head gaskets/heads at this mileage? I always thought the 4.0L OHV was one of Fords better engines.

    After 103k miles, I am assuming that I should have the heads redone while I have them off. It only makes sense because most of the labor is just getting to the heads. The wear metals on my last oil analysis were all acceptable so I don't think I'll need a complete rebuild of the lower half. Is there any good reason to just get a rebuilt engine now or should I repair the top half and hope for 200k miles?
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    they can also check the cylinder wear with the heads off, but ideally if they have to lift it to work on the problem, you should have 'em get out the plastigage and mike a couple of the crank bearings. if in range, rebuild. if out of range, go for a rebuilt.

    if they don't have to hoist to fix this, it's a gut call. if there has not been unusual noise, do the heads and gaskets. if there is any evidence of "thunk", I'd start over with a rebuilt.

    this is Joe Owner speaking, by the way, I don't do heavy engine work.
  • Hi, I own a 95 explorer sport with 92000 on it. Just recently ive noticed a very loud squeaking coming from the right rear wheel. I have checked around the wheel, doing as much as I can without removing the actual wheel, and i can't seem to find anything out of the ordinary. I'm guessing that something is not lubricated, or i have a brake component that is rubbing against another part. The sound occurs when driving only, and only occurs after I have been driving for approximately 5-10 minutes in city traffic. The car has never been wrecked and nothing I have done should have started the noise. Also, the brakes and rotors back there are less than 1 yr old, with at most 10K on them. I need some insight soon, as the car is for sale.
  • brophbroph Posts: 85
    2 weeks before xmas - I had what I thought to be oil in antifreeze, turned out to be trans fluid instead. I never heard of this before, my first guess was head gasket. After having the radiator replaced and transmission flushed (43 qt.) it runs fairly fine (now if I only can get the check engine light to stay off). I have a '96 with 4.0 OHV & approx 116K on it. It's my understanding that they check them anyway before they assemble it back together, but I could be wrong. Oh, my repair came just a tad over $900. This is one xmas present I can't return. Good luck.

  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    and to find it, you have to know what the computer thinks is broken. what are the codes, have they been pulled? can't go anywhere without knowing what system(s) are setting codes in the computer.
  • brophbroph Posts: 85
    I'm sorry, the code that has been pulled was PO420 (low emission in bank 1 of the cat - something like that??). My mechanic who is usually pretty good at finding problems & not looking for a quick fix, told me that I need an O2 sensor(s). They replace 3 out of 4 ($100/ea + labor)why they didn't replace all 4 I don't know. Still nothing, light came on next day under load (running in 4wd). I personally don't think that it is the O2 sensors, just a hunch. I really think I need to have an emission test done but hate to spend the $$, especially if they can't fix the problem. I can't afford guessing games. This vehicle was a theft recovery, the whole dashboard & guts had to be replaced. I'm wondering if it is a short. My speedo is running 10mph higher than actual speed also. Every time it gets reset, my wife & I have a running bet on how long it will stay off. I even went to Autozone to have it checked - same code. The manager could not even find what to fix in the code book, at least I didn't have to look at it for a week. I have to say being a Chevy man and all, this vehicle cost me $1700 in repairs total for the time that I owned it (I have to expect that with a vehicle w/ over 100K on it). It really runs good, but the ride is short of being comfortable. I even replaced all the shocks, this improved some. I think the seat is shot because it feels like it lost it's support on the leftside. Don't mean to ramble. Thanks.

  • The 2001 model was supposed to have an improved front suspension and improved spring settings in the rear. The beast of course still bounces around like a truck. Anybody have any luck changing out the front shocks with Edelbrocks or any other model to improve the front end? How about changing the sway bars to add more rigidity to the back end? Thanks in advance
  • I have had the tires balanced twice now at a non-Ford dealer. Mentioned the Vibration problem to the ford service guy while getting the oil changed there and he told me it was my cheap Wranglers and Michellens will solve my problem. From earlier posts Michellens will not be my solution. So what is the most likely cause? Tires, Bent Rims, Balancing Job, or the vehicle itself? Thanks, Jim
  • bigaldsbigalds Posts: 47
    Take it to another place to get the tire balance checked. Tell them your problem, and ask them to take the tires off WITHOUT pulling the wheel weights off, and put it on their balancing machine to see how the existing balance is on each tire. They may be balanced ok, and the vibration may be coming from somewhere else. Have them rebalance the tires if they are not in balance. Also check the drive shaft for any signs of out of balance or bending. Has this been happening for long, or did this happen when these tires where put on or when the tires where rebalanced? How many miles on the tires? Also check tires for out of round condition or any irregularities. I've had Michelin and Wrangers before, and they ran very smooth.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    As a follow-up, all work is completed on my Explorer (serpentine belt, steering rack, new tires) and it drives like a new vehicle. Not quite but marked improvement. With 133k miles, you come to expect these types of things.

    I have been driving on the new tires only 4 days (Dayton Timberline L/T) but so far, much better then the Wrangler RT/S at 33% of the price. Not too bad. Paid $68 per tire, out the door. As I put more miles on the vehicle, I can give you more info on the tires.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    It could very vell be the tires, Louis. As part of replacing the steering rack they do an alignment check. The mechanic noticed I had a "wobble" (if you took your hands off the steerign wheel, it would move side to side on it's own) in the steering wheel around 35 mph. I had Wrangler RT/S with about 55k-60k miles on them and the tread was right at the legal limit. Once I changed tires, the "wobble" went away.

    I was not impressed with the Wrangler RT/S. It rode smooth and quiet but the grip was poor esp. in slick conditions like snow, mud and rain. Also they were subject to cupping. I had to replace two tires at 40k miles (cupping began around 35k) because the noise was too much.

    Good luck with the tires.
  • mmadden1mmadden1 Posts: 17
    Had my '98' XLT in fo the 60K servicing and I got a call from the service dept. saying that the ball joints were bad and that they were going to be replaced under warranty--I've got an extended one.

    I was more than a bit suprised: no excessive tire wear, no loose steering, no vibration. The steering feels exactly as it did 4 years ago when I bought it. Most of the miles are on interstates, on very good roads and no off-roading.
    Is this typical for the that year of explorer?
    thanks for any help.
    BTW, due to suggestions on this board, I opted fo the extended waranty; I just wish I went 100K instead of 75K.
  • polifacepoliface Posts: 2
    The leather portion of my front seats are cracking. The cracks are visible on the outside part of the seat area on both front seats. Does anyone have a solution for this problem?
  • jsackjsack Posts: 1
    had to replace lower ball joints at 40,600 miles, dealer said they fail at 30,000 miles sometimes.
    ford will not chip in on my $400 repair bill.
    this explorer is driven all highway miles.
    told them it is not driven like the "built ford tough" commercials.
  • alman08alman08 Posts: 282
    have 2002 xlt... have same problem with mine and i have used the leather conditioning stuff. i spoke with the body shop mgr before about this problem, and he said when it breaks for good, bring it back (within warranty period of course, i assume). right now, it's only showing deep creases.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    the seat foundation (padding, springs, etc.) are not real good on the extreme edges of these buckets, hence the leather takes more abuse as you slide in and out. I have some light cracking on mine. it will not break before the B2B warranty is up.

    looks like item #2 on my all-time pains-in-butt list with the truck (#1 is the low rear view mirror requires bobbing and weaving to see who's going to T-bone you on the right as you pull away from a stop sign.)

    neither one is a show-stopper, not nearly enough to rail and devise plots about. cars break, stuff happens and then you die, but not always.
  • stubborn1stubborn1 Posts: 85
    I understand that Ford has had problems with heads cracking on their 4.0 OHV engine. Can anyone tell me what years where the most common for this to happen?

    I recently took my 98 Explorer in to replace a leaking head gasket. I asked that they send the heads out to a shop and check them out. Both heads were cracked. My mechanic is getting aftermarket castings which are supposed to be thicker where the crack occurred. I'm just curious if anyone else has had the same problem with a similar year vehicle.
  • theasliptheaslip Posts: 4
    Only 150 miles on the 1-week old Explorer. I have had one problem occur twice. When I put the car in park (after driving), let it idle for a few minutes (wife runs in the store or something), press the brake, move the shift lever to reverse (or any other gear) nothing happens. I have to move the lever back to park and play with it a few times in order to make anything happen. Has anyone had this happen before, or have any idea what my causing it? Thanks!!!
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