The composite (plastic) intake manifold may crack near the thermostat housing and cause a coolant leak. Ford released an updated manifold that was reinforced to prevent a recurrence. No recall was issued for this problem but Ford did extend the warranty to seven years on some models from the date of purchase.
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Most reported 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac problems
A failed heater blend door or actuator can cause the temperature control for the HVAC system to stop working. A clicking sound from the dash area would commonly indicate an actuator fault. If the heater gets stuck on the hottest setting, the heater blend door may be broken requiring replacement of the heater box to repair the issue.
Various problems with the 5-speed automatic transmission were common. These problems can be more common on the 2002 models with build dates before March, 2002. There are many service bulletins describing the diagnoses and repairs, which include fluid leak repairs, transmission software updates, or internal failures requiring a costly repair.
The intake manifold O-ring gaskets commonly leak, causing stalling and poor idle quality; the Check Engine Light will illuminate.
Our technicians tell us the spark plugs in this engine can be very difficult to remove. Ford has issued a service bulletin (08-7-6) to address this issue, which includes a recommended procedure on how to remove the plugs. Failure to follow the recommended procedure can result in the one or more spark plugs breaking off in the cylinder head.
The recommend procedure is as follows. Using this procedure will greatly reduce the chance of breaking a spark plug.
1. Break the spark plugs loose when the engine is warm.
2. Turn each plug 1/8 to 1/4 turn and soak the treads with 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of Motorcraft Carburetor Tune-Up Cleaner or a quality penetrating oil. Do not try to remove the plugs at this time.
3. Let the threads soak for at least 15 minutes.
4. After the soak period, tighten and loosen each spark plug, working it back and forth until the turning effort is reduced. Then, you can remove the spark plug.
There are special tools available to remove the broken spark plugs and repair shops will often charge additional labor time, over and above the quoted spark plug replacement cost, for the removal of each broken spark plug.
The rear wiper may stop working. This could be due to a rear wiper motor that has failed requiring replacement.