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Ford Explorer Maintenance and Repair



  • gasburnergasburner Posts: 31
    I have a 99 Exp. XLT V8. This weekend I had a problem with my steering lock mechanism. I went to start my car and put my key in the ignition but couldn't turn it. The wheel lock mechanism was engaged and wouldn't budge, and the key was now stuck in the mechanism. I fought with the thing for about 20 min. trying every combination of turning the wheel and key, stepping on the brake, and trying to move the shifter. Finally, I called Ford's roadside assistance so I could get it towed. After I reported the problem, and knew I could get a tow, I tried one last time using MUCH MORE force, and was able to turn the ignition. Now the mechanism works just fine, like nothing ever happened. This is the second time this has happened, the first time, about 2 weeks ago,it only took me about 30 sec. of fighting with it. I've already brought it to the Ford dealer once previously and told them that mechanism wasn't as smooth as it was when I bought it, and the dealer said it was normal. I suspect that if I bring it in again, it will be a similar response. Anybody have this problem, or possible solution.

    On another issue, I had my brake pads changed a while back by an independent mechanic. When I got my truck back, the steering feel was different (hard to keep on center, with very little feedback.) I took it to the Ford dealer and they said that when the pads were changed, the mechanic moved the wheels without the engine on, which caused air in the power steering system. They then bled the lines (under warranty) which fixed the problem. I've never heard of this before, and neither had the independent. Anybody have this experience?
  • idntnvuidntnvu Pulaski, VirginiaPosts: 252
    First off, I need new front brake pads. Bought some Bendix Titanium at Advance Auto yesterday, paid close to 40 bucks for 'em. Anybody ever used these on their explorer?
    Secondly, Last week the thing starts missing, and the check engine light comes on. I leave it at the Ford dealer for a few hours and they call me back with "needs new plugs." Okay, I didn't think plugs could get so bad in 43k miles but okay. Turns out, the #4 plug was bad. However, not only did they want to replace the plugs at $10.14 each, plus the outrageous labor, they wanted to do an induction cleaning for $44.95, and change the fuel filter, for a grand total of $317.52. I said "shut the hood, park it out front, and don't touch it until I get there." I called my "normal maintanence" garage, and they could do the exact same service for $130. That was including a cost of just under $7 per plug. I take this into consideration, and return to pick up the explorer. I'm then informed that I owe them $95 for the "diagnosis." What a rip off. Now, I make 6 bucks and 3 quarters an hour, so I'm looking for the cheapest way to approach this situation, and where do you go for the cheapest? Wal Mart. There, you can get autolite platinum plugs, 2 for $3.88. However, they didn't have the ones for my OHV V6. At Advance, they run about 4 bucks a piece. A very mechanically inclined buddy of mine offered to put them in for me, so I was approaching that prospect. However, at the last minute, he informs me he can't due to other family obligations, so I left my explorer at the garage this morning to get the plugs replace (no cleaning, no fuel filter), an alignment and balance the tires. Going to put the brakes on next week.
    Thirdly, I'm having a flowmaster exhaust put on Friday morning. Has anyone else had a performance exhaust put on their explorer? I couldn't get duals on the '99 because of a fuel line running down the drivers side, so I'm getting a single pipe with 2 outlets with the flowmaster muffler. The double tip will come out near the top behind the wheel, and will face the side of the car. I think it will look great, and I can't wait to hear the sound.
    And finally, does anyone know what the name of the burnt orange color is that was used on the XLS Explorers from '99-'01? It isn't the bright orange that appeared on the '01 Sports, this is a darker, reddish orange. Questions or comments are welcome ;)
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    The above example is how dealers alienate their customers. They want to charge $44.00 for an induction cleaning when the chemicals cost them a grand total of no more than $10.00. There are some on these boards that work for dealers in sales and management that defend their practices, I will not go anywhere near a dealer unless I have to. There are some electrical issues that crop up that sometimes dealers need to diagnose, but thats the only time I go near them.
  • nand12nand12 Posts: 6
    Please check your engine at idle, with the hood open to see if you have a diesel-like noise eminating from the black engine cover. It's very likely that all the 2004 explorers make this noise and that they make it because Ford built defective engines for the 2004 model year. The diesel sound and its timing with acceleration etc., is consistent with a timing chain/tensioner or cam shaft tensioner defect which plagued the 1997-2001 model year vehicles equipped with the 4.0 L SOHC. I personally advise all 2004 4.0 L explorer owners to get the facts from their respective dealers to see what the defect with the engines is.
  • idntnvuidntnvu Pulaski, VirginiaPosts: 252
    I got my explorer back yesterday evening, and I can tell a huge difference. The front end was out of alignment a decent amount, and after the correction, it's a lot easier to keep on center and the steering feels a lot tighter.
    They ran the computer diagnostic to reset the idiot light, and it showed a #4 plug misfire. They didn't charge me but a couple bucks for that since they already knew the problem, just had to reset the light. The mechanic suggested that I have a cleaning service performed, about 40 bucks, cleans the injectors, throttle body, lots of other components, and he said "you wouldn't believe the difference it makes. I did it to mine and it made a huge difference." So I'm thinking I might get that done next week. I'm going to see how it runs this week with the new plugs. So far so good, but I only drove about 15 minutes after getting it from the garage. Total bill for yesterday's work was $145, which I feel was well worth it.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    fascinating. if they put nylon parts in that german-built engine again, they ought to be horsewhipped, baled in barbed wire, hung upside down naked from a high-tension line in a blizzard and sprayed with boiling water... and then somebody needs to get serious with 'em.

    darned glad I insisted on my V8.
  • nand12nand12 Posts: 6
    If you have the 4.6 L V8 i wouldn't be jumping for joy either because apparently these engines are blowing head gaskets prematurely according to many ford owners. I read one account of a person who bought a brand new fully loaded 2004 expedition with the 4.6 L V8 and by the time he reached 6,000 miles, his vehicle was diagnosed with a blow headgasket. I think Ford is really playing us all for fools because they just dont seem to get the design and engineering right.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    and no, my 2000 has the historic old 302 V8, aka 5.0L. that relic of the 70s used to occasionally get a little piston slap, I am told, but otherwise was pretty tight and solid. also hell to replace plugs 3 and 7 on back in the days of the Boss Mustang, but the plastic inner fenders of the exploders make getting to those plugs right easy now.

    ford better watch out, they'll get a "rep" for head gaskets. the 3.8L V6 on the 90s taurus was a legend in that regard. maybe they should just make nice, thick, fat, ugly, heavy blocks again and be done with the warranty calls.
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,650
    Not really, being slightly sarcastic. I took my Explorer in for a funny shifting transmission, first they told me they couldn't duplicate the problem, then I showed them what it was doing and suddenly that was normal. Oh well, I figure if it has a problem it will show up before the 100k ESC is up.

    As for the dieseling engine sound mentioned in the post above, my 2004 doesn't seem to be doing that and I'm at 6500 miles.
  • nand12nand12 Posts: 6
    Are you sure that your explorer doesnt make the diesel noise? As far as I have checked, ALL the 2004 explorers equipped with the 4.0 L make the noise because i checked a lot of them at my dealer and there are numerous complaints about the noise on other forums. As far as my '04 explorer is concerned, I took it in to the dealer and they are replacing the engine as we post. And the explorer only has 550 frickin miles. In any case many people are having their engines replaced early to prevent it from seizing up later on. I would just check and make sure that you dont have the noise. With the hood open, observe the noise that comes from the black engine cover.
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,650
    Mine is super quiet hood closed or open. I will turn 7000 miles this week, NO engine problems AT ALL. I don't know if it makes a difference, but I use 0W-30 synthetic oil in my Explorer. I've owned mine since January 6, 2004 and 12 miles.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I'm running two 4.0L engines currently, one with 125,000 miles on it, and the other with 30,000. No noise.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Geez, you have GOT to get rid of that thing! You are cursed when it comes to Explorers. If I had just bought a new $30K SUV and got a bad motor AND transmission, I'd have driven it through the dealer's plate glass window by now. Good thing for Ford you're more patient than me!
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Amen. I'm not patient, but I've had 4 awesome Explorers/Mountaineers, and have the 5th on order. But if the new one has a bad engine, I'll be anything but patient!

    I like Fords, but mainly I drive Fords because I have a mutual client who sells Lincolns to me for invoice. If he went away, I would play the field more than I do.
  • nand12nand12 Posts: 6
    Wow Akangl you are very lucky that you got a good motor. Maybe most of the motors shipped from the factory are using a bad viscosity oil for this engine. That would probably explain the valve clatter when idling that goes away once the engine speeds up. In any case it blew my engine out with only 550 miles so its pretty serious. Good luck with your vehicle.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,781
    sorry about your engine problem, but you are the only one to post about it here.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,650
    Well, after talking to the Ford dealer in Fairbanks, I know what's up with the transmission, its minor, just the computer. They said they will replace it when it gets a bit worse, right now its fairly intermittant and I'm not worried about it.

    As for the engine, I asked about that and they said there is nothing that comes up for my truck's vin as far as special bullitins, they ran an oasis report on it.

    I will turn 7000 miles tomorrow. I really like my Explorer and have no intention of getting rid of it.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    Based on the above quotes, I am just "checking in". My wife's Explorer has 19,000 miles with no mechanical issues. The two issues that have come up are:
    1) Bad drivers side rear power window motor
    2) Cracked panel underneath rear glass.
    Both of the above issues are very common.
    As far as motor noises are concerned; I have said this before, this motor is noisy, however it does not make any "diesel" sound. It runs good.
    The only other issue is that when we got the car back from the rear motor not working, we now have a rattle in the drivers door that wasn't there before. I made an appointment for this Saturday. BTW, if you put a partial synthetic oil in the motor when you do an oil change, it helps with the cold start ups and the engine quiets down sooner.
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,650
    Is pretty much worthless. Why combine the worthlessness of petroleum with synthetic? It kind of takes away the whole point of synthetic oil. I run full synthetic in my 04 Explorer and in my hubby's 99 Ram V10, much better cold protection.
  • dgoughdgough Posts: 8
    I have a 1999 Ford Explorer. I've replaced the rearview mirror once already ($350.00 at the dealer) and it still shakes. A lot. As in you can't see out of it.

    Anyone else have this problem?

  • cmartin411cmartin411 Atlanta, GAPosts: 42
    I have a 2003 XLT w/ 54,000 miles. I took it to the Ford dealer on Monday morning hoping it was just a faulty light. Not exactly. They had it for 5 days and a total repair cost of $1074.41. The truck hasn't been abused, and never towed anything. The majority of the miles are interstate.

    The dealer found the torque converter clutch was failing to engage. Received code P0741. They had to remove and replace the valve body assy.

    Lucky for me this was a company vehicle. When I was on the phone with our fleet administrator, he said we have stopped ordering Explorers because of the quality issues and have switched to the F-150 4 doors. I would have a hard time spending my own money on a Ford after this.
  • chuck1chuck1 Posts: 1,405
    I am not going to get in to a motor oil discussion here. However, it would seem to me a blend of syn/reg. oil offers better protection than regular motor oil. If you want to spend the money for full synthetic, go right ahead. However, it's not my imagination, the car quiets down faster since I switched to a "blend".
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,650
    I don't want to debate it, but there have been studies done that say blends are worthless. Your Explorer may very well quiet down and that's wonderful, but full synthetic DOES offer much better protection. As for cost, well, I figure for the extra protection of that VERY expensive engine a couple bucks a quart extra is worth it.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    I misread the posts, thinking the one titled "Akangl" was posted by her. Sorry! Didn't mean to scare you, Akangl!
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,650
    No problem, I kinda figured that out. My Explorer is being pretty good these days, I'm not too worried about it, I know what the deal is with the tranmission now and will just ride it out until I have a chance to get it fixed.

    It just turned 7,200 miles yesterday.
  • ajmtbmajmtbm Posts: 245
    We were hearing a grinding noise from behind the temperature control area. It only happened when the truck was cold, and it appeared to grind when the passenger temperature went from 70+ to 60 with the driver side at 67. taking it to the dealer, they said they will replace the heater box. They also noted that they need 2 days because they need to "rip the dash apart." does anyone have any detail on this type of repair? Also, should i be concerned that the likelihood of having no more rattles in the dash is between slim and none?


  • ajmtbmajmtbm Posts: 245
    With the A'udiophile" system, is it just my imagintion or does the radio data (text) display for only about 20 seconds and then stop. is this normal?
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    your two issues, and another edition of "Communists In Engineering," in which Our Hero tags Evil Plots to make cars unfixable although they charge you a thousand dollars a pop.....

    1) heater box... sounds like the classic worn motor for the blower fan issue. at least through the 2001 explorer, you take the fan and blower out under the hood, like REAL cars have traditionally been made, by removing three bolts into the plastic duct and cracking a sealant gob on the motor. when you put the old blower on the new motor, you will have to hink around a couple times to get it aligned right, and may still have to tickle it when it gets cold... the fans drag on the duct as temperatures change, and there is one sweet spot. you lose that as the motor bearings wear out, allowing the motor shaft to thrust forward and push the fan into ducting.

    motors are $20-40. you can do this in an hour even if you hold the tools between your toes.

    / CIE section / if the 2002+ screwed this up, it's off my buy list. seriously. no foolin'. the ability to replace the blower motor without torches and fifty hours of labor in this cold climate is one of my top ten serviceability tests when I look at new cars. I have not been under the hood on a 2002 or later, but if they changed this PLUS made the tranny a sealed unit, I am not buying another explorer. one screwup in ten is my limit.

    it would be a pity, cause I like the truck, but $100 repairs that turn into $500 jobs that also screw up the dash so it's never right again is NEVER the correct engineering decision. and it implies a lot else was screwed up.

    are you listening, Detroilet? we need these things fixable. not buying anything that isn't. / end CIE /

    2) it was not normal in the earlier units, but it sounds like a setting option. you should be able to find a tickle for this in the manual to make the display stay on. my guess is it's a rotating option under the "OBD" switch or whatever they call the setup mode that stops the music and changes the time, etc.

    the mach units up to 2001 did suffer from display failure, and that was almost always the fault of power supply or front panel silver-solder joints that were too thin and cracked under heat and vibration stress. resoldering them fixes those issues.
  • ajmtbmajmtbm Posts: 245
    luckily (?) the heater box is a warranty repair. its a 2002 Ltd with 16,000 miles. my main concern is the "rip the dash apart" comment that the dealer made. I gues i will be hearing squeaks and rattles in my future.

    with regards to the radio, the manual says nothing. it tells you how to turn on and off the display, but does not mention that it freezes after a little bit. once frozen, if i change stations and go back it works again. its so hard to determine if it is a reception problem or the way the thing is set up.
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,650
    Limited the heater was stuck on HOT, it was the blend door in the heater box, they would have to rip the dash apart to replace a $200 part. I was quoted about $1500 for the job. Needless to say between that and the front end being gone, the truck went bye-bye too. Bought a 2004 XLS Sport, much better truck.
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