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PTU Problems

Discussion in 'Stock 2011 - 2019 Ford Explorer Discussion' started by GeoMimi89, December 9, 2012.

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    1. ExPlat

      ExPlat Elite Explorer

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      Don't know where you got that 'explicit' maintenance info but my 2016 Owner Manual is as stated in my post #463 and 613GT500's post # 474 stating 'no normal maintenance'. In addition, my PTU has some type of Sensor, there is a wired plug in the case, otherwise how did I get the '4x4 is disabled' alert?

      @ Keith N: My car has 4 same size Michelin tires because I replaced the crap Hankooks at <12k miles, had a PTU drain plug and sensor, never towed anything, air duct was installed and working, never drove in sand and a PTU that did not need 'normal maintenance' (as per my OM).

      No, there are just too many words like 'may, possibly, assume, theory, etc - the basic truth is that these PTU's are a poorly engineered part for the task it is given and Ford has made the situation worse by not allowing or recommending reasonable and proper maintenance.

      Anyway, the car is at the Dealer, I have an Enterprise rental/loaner car, a 2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid. My SA is an old pro and has a cute act, he was surprised that a PTU had failed, has only seen one other, a high mileage Police PIU. I mentioned to 'please clean the oil off the bottom of the car, we can't drive it smelling like it does', he clucked and said it does smell funny but made no promises. Ford service, gotta love it.

      Yes, I need another Dealer very much, it just might be a Toyota or Honda Dealer. I'm fed up with this 'Platinum', my wife is too. It will be difficult to sell this car if it stinks of gear oil though.
       
      Last edited: December 3, 2018
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    3. Keith N

      Keith N Elite Explorer

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      @ExPlat - Its just a theory, like I said. Under my theory your car falls under the bad luck and the unit generates extra heat due to manf. tolerences of gears, and has failed due to baking the oil. Sorry you don't like theories, but you are in a forum, where a lot of info shared is opinion, theory and best guesses. Truth is only Ford knows and I am sure they fully understand the issue, as it does cost them money in warranty replacements.

      The engineering in where it is located on V6 is probably the biggest mistake in my mind. Too much heat to deal with. The oil is always baking, and if you add any extra stress, like towing, climbing a mountain, sand, or extra heat from a tight gear mesh, it goes over the thermal edge.

      There are other choices out there, as you alluded to.
       
    4. 613GT500

      613GT500 Well-Known Member

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      Don't bank too much on Honda either, especially if you are thinking of the Pilot with the 9speed tranny.
      My colleague already had the tranny on a MY2016 replaced at less than 30K.
       
    5. ExPlat

      ExPlat Elite Explorer

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      Aw, hell, I'm just upset at this car at the moment, didn't mean to take it out on you fellers, my apologies. :chug:
      The Honda/Toyota comment was because the tow truck driver this morning said they were the two brands he didn't pick up very often. There is no perfect car, the many I have owned are maintained and clean, so I expect a little cooperation from them, this Explorer is a test of my patience.
      To top it off, my Corvette is acting up too but for some reason I make allowances for that one. ;)
       
    6. KayGee

      KayGee Active Member

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      The info I posted has the links to the Ford websites it came from right in the post. It's the blue text that you can click on. Do you guys/gals not know that there is far more info out there than just what is published in the owner's manual?

      As far as the PTU sensor, that is only for a PTU fluid overheat situation. The PTU and driveshaft are alway spinning whether the vehicle is operating in FWD or AWD. If you don't have enough fluid or the fluid is sludged, I suppose it may delay or not ever trigger the sensor.

      The 4x4 disabled is for the ATC/RDU and has nothing to do with the PTU. If the ATC clutches overheat, the system will either lock them to keep them from slipping and generating more heat or completely disable them (which will prompt the AWD off/disabled message) until the clutches cool and vehicle is shutdown/restarted. This is covered in the link I included in post #473.
       
    7. ExPlat

      ExPlat Elite Explorer

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      Sure, there is lots of info out there, thanks for the link, my Service Advisor ought to read it too. ;) The OM is the only connection many people have with Ford and their car, and not many read even that.
      That 'Police-Only Power Transfer Unit' stuff is interesting for an overview but how does that correlate with non-police cars like we have?
      Your pictures of the non-normal maintenance service schedule are more like what the normal schedule should be, but those are not what a 'normal' car's schedule looks like on the Ford Owner website, for example, mine (below). Even strictly following the non-normal schedule my car's PTU destroyed itself before the first 30,000 mile fluid change, bad luck.
      ... and thanks for answering my question about the '4x4 disabled' alert, good to know. thumb.gif

      Update: My SA called this afternoon to inform me that I was right, it was the PTU that broke! He actually said that. They have ordered a new PTU and it may arrive on Thursday or Friday, it takes one work day to install it he says.

      Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 5.52.56 PM.png
       
    8. KayGee

      KayGee Active Member

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      I haven't gone down the rabbit hole of research to verify every little nuance, but I would think the PTU and ATC/RDU would operate roughly the same in all models that used the same parts (cooled ptu with temp sensor and ATC/RDU on 4WD/AWD vehicles) - the only difference would be the programming for the PIU (ex: pursuit mode) vs retail.

      I posted the links to the retail and fleet maintenance schedule - you can go there and put in your vehicle info and select the schedule you want to see - I don't use the ford owner site for anything other than sync updates.

      As far as your PTU destroying itself, I can't say why, but when I drained and filled mine, they only had ~10-12 ounces of fluid from the factory and took ~18 to fill back up. Maybe yours had low fluid and/or a manufacturing defect? When stuff like that happens, no amount of PM is going to change things.
       
    9. blwnsmoke

      blwnsmoke Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      There was a bulletin that went out in earlier PTUs saying the wrong quantity of fluid was put in. I remember it saying roughly 12oz instead of 17oz or somethijg very close to that amount.

      It might have been in the PIU communications.
       
    10. KayGee

      KayGee Active Member

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      My 16 and 17 with low PTU fluid were built over a year apart.
       
    11. bigdude2468

      bigdude2468 Active Member

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      Did my annual PTU drain and fill today on our 2014 with no drain plug. I fiddled around with the hose on my vacuum pump and got it in a little further. I was able to extract 10 ounces which is more than I have gotten out in the past. Fluid was dark like it always is but did not smell as nasty. Refilled with Mobil 1 gear oil.
       
    12. Keith N

      Keith N Elite Explorer

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      I just did mine and I can get 14 ounces easy each time. the 1/4” od cooper line with sweeping arc helps me feel my way to bottom.

      9EBC88CF-1AA5-4973-AF03-9F7AB2AAC196.jpeg

      3E34E7E9-E67C-47D0-A85D-688507F30118.jpeg

      920960F5-488D-49A7-9449-CA4E65E0F24D.jpeg
       
    13. VCFP153

      VCFP153 Elite Explorer

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      Oddly enough, it does NOT say that for the '17. Mentions everything else on that list, but not the PTU.
       
    14. royski

      royski New Member

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      Alright, I'm jumping into this now instead of making a new post and hoping I can get a few answers. I have a 2013 Base model, 4WD. I noticed last Saturday what appeared to be an oil drip in my driveway bit the fluid was very dark (black) and I has just had my oil changed the week earlier. Yesterday, I stopped by my local shop and there was fluid all over the bottom of the transmission area. The mechanic said he wanted to clean everything off and have me drive it for a day to see if he can pinpoint more accurately where it is leaking from but he was pretty sure it was somewhere where the 2WD/4WD changeover takes place (I don't remember his exact words). He was going to call his buddy at Ford and talk to me about it later today.
      Upon looking online last night, everything to me sounds like it it the PTU going/leaking. My main question is, do I just replace the gasket or am I best off putting a brand new PTU in? I'm sure there are a bunch of other variables as well but I am looking for opinions here.

      Thanks!
       
    15. Keith N

      Keith N Elite Explorer

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      Need to determine for sure it is ptu and heavy gear oil you are seeing. Is it a seal leak or coming out of breather vent on top of unit.

      If breather, which is common, means the oil has turned to sludge and vent is being plugged up. Oil is not doing its job.

      Some have done several vacuums and refills with new gear oil in effort to save or extend life of ptu. If you find a mechanic to do this it could be around $100 each time.

      Otherwise you can start looking for a new unit. Make sure it is latest and greatest from a ford dealer. They have improved the unit over the years.

      How many miles do you have?
       
    16. 613GT500

      613GT500 Well-Known Member

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      There's no propane smell?
      When my broke and leaked, it was a horrid smell like propane gas.
       
    17. KayGee

      KayGee Active Member

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      Good catch. I printed out the schedules for my 16 and 17 and threw them in my vehicle folders a while back and they were the same. Looks like someone's been updating the site somewhat willy-nilly...
       
    18. Keith N

      Keith N Elite Explorer

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      Maybe a legal CYA. If they say every 30k on newer cars, that have 8x better life supposedly due to design changes, it shows they we’re wrong on earlier models and with no drain refill method on older units, it shows they had design flaw. May make class action lawsuit easier to prove if it ever came to that.
       
      Last edited: December 6, 2018 at 12:28 PM
    19. royski

      royski New Member

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      I have around 75,000 miles on it.

      The fluid has no real smell to it but feels almost like oil and is very black.

      Does anyone know, if I decide to replace the whole PTU, will I still be putting one of these bad systems in, or are the new replacements made better?
       
    20. KayGee

      KayGee Active Member

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      As far as trans and PTU, either, or both, could have a leak, or you could have a leak where the two connect (seal leaks are somewhat common).

      Best bet is to not jump the gun - clean and watch like your mechanic suggested. Some like to add dye to one or more fluids to aid in leak location.

      If you have a dipstick on your trans, you can check fluid level. There's no easy way to check the PTU fluid level, but you could drain it to see what's left.
       
    21. ProjectSHO89

      ProjectSHO89 New Member

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      Just got my Explorer back yesterday from the dealer. I'd diagnose a leaking pinion seal a couple of weeks ago so took it in for its routine service, 17N03 work, and added the leaking PTU to the list since the Expy still under powertrain warranty. The service advisor called me late Monday and said they had to order a replacement PTU. They called me yesterday morning and said it was ready to pick up. Got there, filled out the paperwork and saw they just replaced the leaking pinion shaft seal instead of the whole PTU. Wasn't very happy about that...
       
    22. Keith N

      Keith N Elite Explorer

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      This thread started with the pinion seal leak issue and has morphed into the more outright failures over the years. The pinion seal leak issue seemed to be more on early units and the repair success rate seems to be hit or miss if you read this thread from beginning. But normal practice seems to replace the seal for the leak, which makes sense.
       
    23. blwnsmoke

      blwnsmoke Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      If the seal is the issue, Ford will only pay for the seal replacement. Totatally makes sense.
       
    24. ExPlat

      ExPlat Elite Explorer

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      Did they change the PTU fluid, or at least top off the fluid as part of the repair?
       
    25. royski

      royski New Member

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      Very true. Brought it back to my mechanic and they said it is the seal between the PTU and the Transmission and referred me to a local transmission shop. They are going to replace the seal and put new fluid in the PTU as well as change out the transmission fluid as well. Hope this works as I plan on traveling for the holidays....
       
    26. Keith N

      Keith N Elite Explorer

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      @royski- good news.
      If they have to remove ptu completely I would ask them to inspect it for anything suspicious. Rough feel, excessive lash or whatever their trained eye can determine. Drain and put new gear oil in at a minimum.

      Good luck
       

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