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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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Known Problems

The 1997-2001 Ford Explorer V8 with a 100% plastic intake manifold  is known for engine overheating, even with normal use, and a coolant leak from the front of the manifold. This will often trigger the check engine light and low engine coolant warning light.

The engine coolant leak is from a factory defect, which causes cracking on the front coolant passage of the intake manifold. In a very short time, this leak will lead to engine overheating issues, especially while the vehicle is idling.   

Between 1999 and 2001, Ford released an updated version of this engine, known as the 'PI' version with a metal coolant passage on the front of the intake manifold, to prevent future issues.

There is no factory authorized repair for the intake manifold, and replacement is required to correct the engine coolant leak and overheating issues.

 

The Ford Explorer with the optional 5.0L/302ci V8 may develop misfires, rough running, and loss of power, accompanied by the check engine light illuminating.

Ignition wires can rest on the exhaust manifolds if they are not properly secured. The hot manifolds will melt the insulation on the wires, damaging the wires and causing the mentioned condition. 

Replacement of the ignition wires, and securing them away from the exhaust manifold is necessary to remedy the rough running conditions. 

Spark plugs in the Ford Explorer 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 for the removal of each broken spark plug.

The Ford Explorer V8  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 of the 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. 

This vehicle is not covered under the TSB, but failure is common. 

The Ford Explorer V8  is known for intermittent rough idling, which may be accompanied by illumination of the check engine light, and poor fuel mileage.

This may be caused by the EGR sensor sticking, causing the EGR valve to stay slightly open, and diagnostic testing must be conducted.

The EGR valve and sensor must be replaced together to correct this concern.

 

The Ford Explorer V8 is known for idling roughly, with a slight whistling noise from the engine compartment. After a short time, this may result in poor fuel mileage, and illumination of the check engine light

This is caused by a cracked positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve hose, which allows a small vacuum leak, and improper evacuation of engine crankcase pressure.

Correction is simple, and requires replacement of the PCV hose. An updated part may be available. 

The rear window wiper may not fully contact the rear window. Our technicians tell us that replacing both the wiper blade and wiper arm will generally correct this issue.