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Ford Explorer Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the Ford Explorer 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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38
Known Problems

The Ford Explorer is known for a rough idle, engine stalling, loss of power, and misfires, accompanied by the check engine light.

The intake manifold O-ring gaskets commonly leak, which creates a large vacuum leak. This vacuum leak causes unmetered air to enter the engine, and the fuel system becomes insufficient to compensate for the large amount of air reaching the engine. 

Replacing the intake manifold gaskets corrects this concern.

The Ford Explorer with automatic climate control may have a problem with frequent fan speed changes when using the heater or air conditioner. Normally, the fan speed changes only to maintain a selected temperature, but when the fan speed changes frequently and needlessly, there is an issue with the fan speed control unit. 

The fan speed control unit, sometimes erroneously called the blower motor resister, regulates the speed for the blower motor in order to maintain the temperature set by the driver. When it fails, the fan will run at random settings, and the climate control will be inaccurate.

Note: this does not affect the temperature of the air that comes from the vents, it affects the amount of air that comes from the vents. 

The repair is simple, and quick. The control unit is located behind the glove box in most models, and removal and installation takes only minutes.

Also note: this only applies to vehicles with single or dual automatic climate control.

A ticking noise may develop from the engine due to a cracked exhaust manifold. Damaged exhaust manifolds will require replacement to correct this issue.

A rattling noise from the engine may indicate that the timing chain cassette is worn. Our technicians tell us that installing an updated cassette and timing chain tensioner should correct this concern.

A cosmetic crack may develop on the plastic liftgate trim panel. Ford has released a service procedure to replace the applique without damage the the liftgate glass.

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.

If you experience difficulty starting the engine when cold, stalling at idle, or hesitations during acceleration, it may be the idle air bypass valve. This valve helps the vehicle idle steady when the accelerator pedal is not pressed.

The Ford Explorer with the 4.6L V8 is known for displaying the normal symptoms of a coolant leak, including overheating, especially when the vehicle is idling, the strong smell of coolant from the engine, and illumination of the low engine coolant warning light

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. Most vehicles, model 2002 and later, will have o-rings, and the water pump will not need to be removed. 

A coolant leak may develop from the radiator. Ford has released and updated radiator and powertrain control module (PCM) software update to address this issue. The software update includes revised cooling fan operating parameters. Failure to complete both service procedures may result in repeated radiator failures.

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.

Drivers may notice the engine idling roughly, hesitation to accelerate, and even engine stalling on the Ford Explorer V8.

The mass air flow sensor (MAF) is prone to fail, and commonly is diagnosed as the faulty component when these issues arise.

When the Check Engine Light illuminates, and the diagnosis is a failed MAF, it will require replacement to correct the issue. 

Ensuring the air filter is installed properly, and sealed to the air filter housing, can help prevent MAF sensor issues. 

The Check Engine Light will illuminate and the engine will idle roughly when cold. There are updated upper intake manifold gaskets to resolve the problem.