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Car Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common car problems based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

The instrument panel and switch backlighting may fail due to a faulty dimmer control module. A failed module will require replacement.

Models with electric sliding doors can develop problems with the door mechanism. The cable in the door becomes frayed, which will damage the electric motor.

Power door locks can activate intermittently due to a faulty door lock actuator in the driver's door.

The clutch in the torque converter can fail, allowing debris to circulate throughout the automatic transmission.

The Acura MDX may develop issues with the automatic transmission.

Rough shifting may occur, and the “D4” light and check engine may begin to blink. The check engine light will also illuminate, and OBD trouble codes P0700, P0730, P0740, P0780, P1768 and/or P1768 will be stored in the computer.

If the transmission shifts roughly, the failure is very likely mechanical failure of the transmission. If the transmission performs normally, a faulty sensor, or dirty transmission fluid may be the case.

In most cases, it is necessary to use professional diagnostic equipment to provide a diagnosis, and complete the repair.

The longevity of the transmission is dependent on strict adherence to the manufacturer's recommendation for ATF replacement intervals and procedure.

The fuel pump electrical relay sometimes stops working.

Transmission problems are common in this model, often as a result of a failed front pump. The pump loses its ability to create hydraulic pressure, which an automatic transmission needs to function. A sign of front pump failure can be a whine type noise.

Looseness in the steering shaft and steering shaft coupling U-joint can cause a knocking / popping noise from the steering column when turning. The steering shaft and coupling U-joint will need to be replaced.

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 automatic transmission may develop shifting concerns. On lower mileage vehicles, upgrading the software in the powertrain control module (PCM) and the transmission control module (TCM) may correct the problem. As the mileage increases, internal transmission damage can occur. Repairs could involve replacement of the valve body or a complete transmission rebuild. Whenever major transmission repairs are made, it is important to be sure the PCM and the TCM have the latest software updates to help prevent these issues from reoccurring.

A fluid leak may be noted from the axle area. Red fluid is from the transmission. Brown fluid is from the power transfer unit (PTU). Leaks are commonly from the axle seal and/or PTU cover seal. Leaking seals should be replaced as necessary.

The lug nuts on the Ford Fusion are known to swell to greater than their original size. When these lug nuts swell, the lug nut wrench will no longer fit, so they must be drilled or extracted. 

The lug nuts swell when they have been tightened too tight. To prevent this condition, only tighten the lug nuts with a torque wrench. If changing a flat on the road, the lugs should be loosened and tightened to specification at the earliest opportunity. 

Erratic engine coolant temperature or intermittent overheating can be caused by corrosion inside the water pump. The impeller may spin on the water pump shaft or the impeller may corrode. Either condition reduces coolant circulation resulting in engine overheating.

coolant, pump, water, engine, overheat, damage, corrosion, impeller

Even though the manufacturer does not call for regular servicing, our technicians recommend servicing the power steering fluid regularly.

The Lincoln Navigator is known for displaying the normal symptoms of a coolant leak, including overheating, the strong smell of coolant from the engine, and illumination of the low engine coolant warning light, without any visual signs of coolant leakage. 

This leak is difficult to locate as it is buried underneath the intake manifold, and only begins to leak coolant onto the ground in advanced stages of disrepair. This leak springs from the heater tube, which allows coolant to flow between the water pump and HVAC heater core

When the connection for this tube begins to leak, the coolant burns on the hot engine, and produces a sweet smell that is unmistakably engine coolant. 

The remedy can be complicated, and will necessitate removal of the intake manifold, heater tube, and possibly the water pump. After removal of these items, the connector may be replaced, or a set of o-rings, depending on the year of the vehicle. 

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.

Bulletin 13N02 - This program extends the coverage of the brake booster to ten years of service or 150,000 miles from the warranty start of the vehicle, whichever occurs first. This is a one time repair program.

In some of the affected vehicles, it is possible for the brake booster to develop a small tear in the diaphragm under certain driving and environmental conditions. If this occurs, the driver may hear a hissing noise while depressing the pedal and may also experience a "spongy" pedal feel without a noticeable effect on braking performance. If the vehicle is not serviced, the tear will eventually expand and the pedal effort required to stop the vehicle will gradually increase. However, in all cases, the fundamental vehicle braking system remains functional.

Adhesive for foam blocks in the headliner can fail leading to poor fitment of the headliner and a possible rattle around the sunroof area. The foam blocks attach the headliner to the mounting brackets. Access the headliner and re-secure the foam blocks to the brackets using cable ties / zip ties.

The automatic transmission may develop shifting concerns. On lower mileage vehicles, upgrading the software in the powertrain control module (PCM) and the transmission control module (TCM) may correct the problem. As the mileage increases, internal transmission damage can occur. Repairs could involve replacement of the valve body or a complete transmission rebuild. Whenever major transmission repairs are made, it is important to be sure the PCM and the TCM have the latest software updates to help prevent these issues from reoccurring.

Squeaks and creaks heard while driving over bumps and turning can be caused be a couple common sources and should be carefully diagnosed. Possible weld issues on the lower control arms can cause the noise concerns and require repair kits for the lower control arms from Ford. A jounce bumper (bump stop) rubbing against dry strut plate can cause an abrasion noise from the strut area. In this case the strut assembly should be disassembled to lubricate the jounce bumper and then reinstalled.

The Check Engine Light may illuminate, the engine may run rough and have misfires on acceleration. Commonly the ignition coils and/or the ignition coil boots are the cause of this problem. The rubber boot that insulates the coil to the spark plug can dry and crack allowing arcing. Inspect the coils and boots, and replace them as needed. Our technicians also recommend replacing the coil boots any time the spark plugs are replaced.

This concern relates specifically to the E4OD and 4R100 automatic transmissions. Transmission fluid leaking from the front of the transmission bell housing may also be accompanied with shifting and transmission engagement issues. This is often caused by transmission overheating and is the sign of a significant internal transmission problem. The superficial cause is the failure of the front pump seal of the transmission. The immediate repair is to remove the transmission, replace the front pump and seal, replace all fluid with the transmission filter, and verify proper flow through the transmission fluid lines and cooler. It is also recommended to make sure the vehicle is not pulling a load that is heavier than the gross vehicle weight limits because this can cause the transmission to overheat. Depending on the transmission's mileage, this can also be a good time to consider a complete overhaul or replacement with a remanufactured unit, as often just the pump and seal replacement is a short lived remedy.

The 2008-2012 Ford Escape with manual temperature and fan controls may have problems with the the blower motor only blowing air on certain settings. Most commonly the fan will only run on the highest setting. This is a well documented problem, and is caused by a failing blower motor resistor.

Correcting the problem is straight forward, and requires replacement of the small resistor. The resistor is normally found behind the glove box, next to the blower motor.

The common problem for ignition misfires are ignition coils going bad. Replacement of the bad ignition coil is necessary. These should be fixed as soon as a problem is detected. Otherwise the misfire can cause damage to other components.

The Ford F-150 has known issues with the V8 engine ejecting spark plugs. This will make a tapping or knocking noise, plus the engine will begin to misfire at all speeds. The check engine light will also illuminate.

The threads on the cylinder head are too short and soft, allowing pressure from combustion to overwhelm and destroy the threads. 

When the spark plug ejects, the cylinder head becomes damaged, necessitating repair of the spark plug port threads, or replacement of the cylinder head and cylinder head gasket. 

Ford has recommended a method of repair for the cylinder head that prevents the spark plug from ejecting under future use. Replacement of all spark plugs is not necessary, but an updated spark plug design can help prevent this from happening in the future. 

There is a technical service bulletin for the V8 engine.

The auto level ride compressor may fail causing the rear of the vehicle to ride to high or too low.