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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. thefranchise713

    thefranchise713 Well-Known Member

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    My revision has a drain plug. Pop the plug, suck out fluid, cap, remove fill plug, fill, cap. done.
     
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  3. peterk9

    peterk9 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Found this using the Forum's 'Search' feature; PTU and Rear Diff Fluid Change - 2011 Explorer XLT

    Peter
     
  4. SunnysMama

    SunnysMama New Member

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    I wish I would have known about the PTU issue as I would have had my 2014 Explorer's PTU serviced at 30,000 miles. Honestly, my Explorer has been rock-solid, so you can imagine my shock when I saw it leaking the grayish black fluid. I've read where people on here say their car made a noise or a bang. My Explorer never made a sound and it drove the same way it has always drove, but I knew my Explorer was in big trouble when I saw the leak and then I climbed underneath it, and put some of the leaky fluid on a paper towel, and looked at it in the sun. I could see the fluid had broken down from black to a grayish color, and it also had sparkly metal shavings in it. The fluid also smelled like it was burnt. I realize any car can have problems, but my Dad (who was once a Salesman for Ford) always taught me that with regular service, and good driving habits, these types of major drive train issues should not happen. Obviously, Ford Engineering made a huge mistake by saying the fluid in the PTU is "lifetime" because it's not. Hopefully the newer Explorers have serviceable PTU's and Ford tells owners the PTU's are not "lifetime" and they need service. I need to find out if my replacement PTU is serviceable and I will ask them the next time I take it in which will be this November. I believe that Ford also needs to tell owners & dealers to service the PTU's at 30K miles, and maybe sooner (15-20K) depending upon driving conditions.
     
  5. 613GT500

    613GT500 Well-Known Member

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    My PTU was replaced with the newest part and it still remains as a non-serviceable part.
    Tech said I can bring it in for a drain and fill, but it's still not part of Ford's service recommendation.
     
  6. ocracokeBound

    ocracokeBound Member

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    Reporting another dead PTU, 2013 with 136K
     
  7. 613GT500

    613GT500 Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully you heave extended warranty?
     
  8. ocracokeBound

    ocracokeBound Member

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    Nah, I guess I was spoiled by my Rav with 8 years and 250k with no major issues. BTW: for anyone playing at home. Was a $1400 repair bill, 900 for the part, 500 labor. Local indie transmission shop, they have worked on a number of my cars. Anyone paying a $700 premium at the dealer is crazy.
     
    Last edited: October 26, 2018
  9. VCFP153

    VCFP153 Active Member

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    Very true. I have a friend who can not only rebuild an iPad, he can make it run MS-DOS, if necessary. We call him Capt Gadget.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. KN39

    KN39 New Member

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    Hi folks, new user here. I'm in the market to purchase a used 2013 to 2016 Explorer, anywhere in the Base to Limited model range. I've been a full-size Chevy SUV person for a long time, and am ready to step down in size and Chevy just doesn't have an option that I like. I've been researching for the past couple months and have noticed quite a few of these used Explorers where the Carfax has two entries, usually less than 1000 miles apart;

    Entry 1: "Transfer case serviced"
    Entry 2: "Transfer case removed to complete repairs" (I assume this means it was replaced?)

    After finding this thread, I understand it's actually referred to more specifically as the PTU. Is there any reason to believe that an Explorer that's already had a PTU is any better or any worse than one that hasn't? I've read through this entire thread, and although there is some brainstorming, no one really knows the exact reason why this is happening. On the drivetrain in general, a prospective buyer would be watching for;

    1) Shuddering at lower RPM's in gears 2 thru 6 when accelerating without downshift,
    2) Light jerking on acceleration in any gear at any speed,
    3) Fluid dripping from the transmission/PTU area,
    4) While sitting still, propane or natural gas smell in the cabin with heater bringing in outside air after 20 minutes of normal use,
    5) Determining if there is a drain plug of some kind so that I can service the PTU every 30,000 miles or so.

    Without getting too far off track in this very helpful thread, is there anything else that's obvious that comes to mind, other than corrosion on the leading edge of the hood and rust on the vertical door seams? I'm worried about purchasing a Limited or XLT as they seem highly dependent on the large touchscreen for many of the vehicle controls, but I'm not finding much in terms of accessories failure, and I am seeing a few 2013's out there with 200,000+ plus, which seems good. Additionally, as I understand it, the AWD versions are really 4WD with front wheel drive as primary and rear wheel added for 4x4?
     
  11. peterk9

    peterk9 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Welcome to the Forum.:wave:
    Here is a useful thread although it is directed mainly at a new vehicle some checks for used ones have also been added.
    Helpful Hints for a Pre-Pick Up Inspection / Check List
    The 5th generation is actually AWD with FWD bias that engages the rear wheels when required or when the Terrain Management System (TMS) is set to certain functions that may engage all wheel (ie Sand mode).

    Peter
     
  12. blwnsmoke

    blwnsmoke Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    @KN39 The problem with the ptu is such low fluid (about 17oz) that is "lifetime" if one was recently replaced, I would change out the fluid every 30k and not worry about it.

    Most of what the owners were seeing is old burnt fluid never changed because it isnt in the manual to change it. Some have no drain plug so they have to be vacuumed out.. it is more of what many didnt know.. now that we know of the problem, I feel it is easily preventable pending proper maintenance.

    Mine finally went out at about 132,000 miles on its original fluid. I will change it out now every 25-30k until i decide to get rid of it and personally dont forsee any issues going forward.
     
  13. KN39

    KN39 New Member

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    Thanks for the helpful info, folks. As always, these vehicle forums have a select few people that really know their vehicle.

    One more quick question regarding the fluid changes on the PTU, does the complexity of the fluid change vary (when there is no drain plug) from mobel to model Base/XLT/Limited/Sport? I seem to recall a post or two that mentioned one of these models had to have an exhaust or structural member removed to suction the fluid out ...

    I will also mention that I've test driven enough of the identical Limited models now to have a good feel for if the vehicle's drive train is struggling or if it's in good shape, and so far it has depended on whether it's had a new PTU or not (the PTU replacements have been smoother), best I can tell.
     
  14. KayGee

    KayGee Well-Known Member

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    All fluids have a recommended maintenance interval regardless of what a manufacturer may say. Conventional wisdom has always been to replace transfer case lube every ~30K miles (some may say up to as much as 50-60K, but there is always a recommended replacement interval). 16+ with a drain plug call for 30K intervals for any severe use (idling/stop and go/towing/dusty environments), which is probably the maintenance schedule most folks should be following.

    Retail - Maintenance Schedule | Maintenance | Official Ford Owner Site
    Fleet - Maintenance Schedules | fleet.ford.com
     
  15. fjc2

    fjc2 Elite Explorer

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    I changed my PTU fluid today in my 2014 Explorer Sport. 30,000 miles, and it was thicker than latex paint and pitch black. No drain plug here so I had to vacuum it out with a Mityvac hand vac. I got roughly 10 ounces out of it, and it took a good bit more than that to fill it up to the fill plug.
     
  16. ExPlat

    ExPlat Elite Explorer

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    My turn, at 29,280 miles my PTU and who knows what else is toast. This $60k 'Platinum' is becoming quite the Service Bay Queen, my repair folder is a big one.

    We were shopping about 25 miles from home and while parking the car a very loud 'bang' sounded from under the car, right under my feet. Later, I kept that noise in mind as we headed home on a freeway. I started smelling gear lube (propane smell) and told the wife what I think was happening (I read this Forum, ;)), after about 15 miles the dash console alert comes on "4x4 is disabled", now the gear lube smell in the car is intense.
    As my local Ford service advisor is on speed dial I ring him up with the in-car bluetooth while driving towards home and the Dealer's direction. I tell him the situation and ask him what to do next, bring the car to him or just go home? It's Saturday, no mechanics available at the Dealer so we head for home, it's closer anyway.

    Back to being on the freeway - we're heading for home and now the car starts to buck and surge, at this point I could have just pulled over on the busy freeway and waited hours for a AAA tow truck. Instead, I slow down, put on the emergency blinkers, get on the freeway shoulder and slowly limp the 1-2 miles left - with all the windows open because of the putrid gear oil smell. :fart: At home I called Ford Roadside Assistance and scheduled a tow truck for Monday morning for the car to be delivered to the dealer first thing.
    I parked in the street and noticed that no oil is dripping from the car, I guess it's blown all over the bottom of the car now, what a stench, hope they can steam clean it off.

    The car still has the 5 year/60k power train warranty and I have a Ford ESP warranty with 1st day rental so I'll get a loaner, supposedly.
    It's hard to be optimistic after all the shop time this car has had.

    BTW, there were no prior symptoms, no smell, leaks or noises.
     
  17. whimsey

    whimsey Member

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    Whoa! That's depressing, is that original 29,000+ miles on the PTU? You never changed the PTU fluid previously? Of course it's a "Lifetime Fill Fluid" according to Ford. That's a big cruel joke, especially you have to pay for the PTU replacement if it happens outside of warranty. Changing the fluid regularly saves you the expense and aggravation of replacing the PTU. Of course Ford has made changing the PTU fluid darn near impossible on most models. I'm really lucky our 2017 2.3 EB Explorer has easy to drain and fill plugs on the PTU. Plus it holds more fluid than earlier models and the exhaust pipes are not against/near the PTU. Good luck with getting it fixed. I'm sure it will be fixed but it still should not have happened with so few miles.

    Whimsey
     
  18. ExPlat

    ExPlat Elite Explorer

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    Yea, it is depressing, luckily we were close to home and not in the middle of nowhere, or worse.
    The car has 29,280 miles on it but is out of the 3/36,000 BtB warranty. Doesn't matter, the other warranties will handle the repair but with a car that has been babied, never towed anything, no spirited driving and has received all regular maintenance (and then some!) this shouldn't happen. I have asked the Service Rep several times to change the PTU fluid and was told the usual BS. Sadly, he was right, had I tampered with the PTU they may have denied the repair, as it stands I lose the time and use of the car during the repair, Ford loses the money to repair it, a terrific business model.
     
  19. peterk9

    peterk9 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    I don't know if there is actually any evidence of that. The failure seems to be unpredictable. Some have had it early on and some have gone over 100k miles without changing the fluid.

    Peter
     
  20. whimsey

    whimsey Member

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    It's ironic that Ford feels it's "better" to have to replace these PTU's, as long as they are under warranty, than to allow a fluid change which would save them and their customers a lot of expenses and headaches. Of course after 60,000 miles the "failed" PTU is your expense. Maybe that what's they are hoping for. But it's just a bad business model if you expect long term customers and repeat business. I've been a Ford owner for over 40 years. But if was stuck with a PTU that you could not change the fluid on and costs me thousands of $$$ I'd seriously think about another Ford sad to say.

    Whimsey
     
  21. peterk9

    peterk9 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Again, where is the evidence that that is the case. Preventive maintenance may or may not prevent a PTU failure. It seems logical but I believe it's still a 'roll of the dice'. I feel it is pure conjecture at this point to say changing the fluid will prevent a failure.

    Peter
     
    Last edited: December 1, 2018

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