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Ford Explorer Common Problems Warning

Here are some useful warnings from the staff of Haynes Manuals on what common problems you can expect with a used Ford Explorer. Plus, an instructional video that demonstrates changing the rear disc brake pads on those older models is well within the DIY mechanic’s capabilities.

The Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer has proven to be a popular model choice for many owners desiring a vehicle that serves as the day-to-day family SUV as well up to the task of taking that extended trip into the great outdoors provided you did not exceed the road and driving conditions it was designed for despite the latent promise of its model name.

Like many models, the Explorer has had its share of recalls over the years ranging from 1999 to 2001. According to Haynes Manuals experts the first two generations of the Ford Explorer have had recalls involving cracked rear bumpers from towing stresses, heat shields physically touching the gas tank, faulty seat belts; and, defective studs connecting the brake master cylinder to the vacuum booster.

Used Explorer Shopping
While not all models of Explorer within the aforementioned year range have experienced these recall issues, there are repeated customer complaints over other problems frequent enough to earn the distinction of “common” and merit investigation by a potential used Explorer shopper.

That said, here is a summary of common Explorer problems compiled by the good folks at Haynes Manuals that is a good addition to used car shoppers who are smart enough to see the value of a thorough pre-purchase inspection of any used vehicle.

Ford Explorer Common Problems to Watch For

1. Suspension Problems---According to Haynes, “Numerous owners have complained that their Ford Explorer has a ride quality that’s far too bouncy, particularly along the freeway.”

While there are a few suspension problems that can lead to this kind of problem, it is serious enough to merit a thorough inspection by a qualified mechanic for an accurate diagnosis. The good news is that if the bounciness is due to blown shock absorbers, replacing them are within a DIY mechanic’s capabilities by following a Haynes manual for your particular model.

“We’ve covered this procedure is real detail, so you should have no problems at any stage. Just follow the steps and you’ll be fine,” states Haynes staff writers.

2. Ventilation Problems---Chilly feet when the defroster is on can be due to a faulty floor/defroster door. The fix to this common problem is to install a new door, which means you’ll have to dig into the below-dash ventilation system to get to the affected part from the vehicle. Once there, replacing the fit faulty door should be a snap in comparison to reinstalling the earlier removed ventilation components. Haynes states that they have images and step-by-step instructions for handling this DIY job in their manual.

3. Rattling Problems---An annoying rattle can occur anywhere in any vehicle. However, if you are a Ford Explorer owner and that rattle sounds like it is coming from the steering wheel area of you dash then it is likely it is due to “…the all-too-common dislocated spring from the steering column tilt lever, then that rattle is going to be front and centre on every single journey,” says Haynes.

Staff writers explain that this is an easy fix requiring removing the steering wheel, removing a plastic collar from the tilt flange, and then replace the spring before refitting everything “just the way it was – except with the spring in the right place and doing its job.”

As an added precaution whenever removing any steering wheel, take your time, have a good light source focused on the assembly, look before unscrewing, take photos, and be sure to have a good back support to make the job less painful. A pile of movers’ blankets comes in very handy here.

4. Door Lock Problems---Finding yourself locked out of your car is more of an annoyance than anything else---provided the other door locks are working, you have an analog key for unlocking your doors, or truck access to get inside the cabin. But at least it is one of those fixes you can take pride in doing it yourself and save money.

“The issue arises when the power door lock actuator becomes detached from the mounting bracket, and the fix entails removing the actuator and bracket from the door, then replacing the bracket with a new one, before attaching the actuator and replacing the whole lot in the affected door,” states Haynes with the reassurance that “We’ve stripped down the doors of the Ford Explorer for the Haynes Explorer manual, so anything you need will be contained in it.”

5. Rear Wiper Problems---Not an immediate problem, but one that you will want to fix or have fixed eventually---particularly before the snow and slush season arrive: a rear window wiper that is sluggish and erratic in operating.

According to Haynes, “The good news is that there’s a chance it’s not actually broken, it’s just out of adjustment. So, you’ll need to get to the wiper assembly, which is where we can help, because we’ve already removed a wiper assembly from a Ford Explorer and written all about it in the Haynes Explorer manual.”

Last But Not Least…As promised, here’s an informative video by Haynes Manuals showing you just how easy it really is replacing the rear brake pads with a 1994 Ford Explorer as an example:

How to Replace the rear brake pads on the Ford Explorer 1994

And finally…

For additional news related to DIY repairs and maintenance, here are a few articles for your consideration:

Harbor Freight's Dirty Little Secret Revealed Helps DIY Mechanics

Car Will Not Start? Here’s What To Do With These Easy DIY Fixes

Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily new and used vehicle news.

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