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PTU Problems

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

^^Searches ExplorerForum.com^^
  1. 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
     
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  3. KayGee

    KayGee Well-Known 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.
     
  4. 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.
     
  5. KayGee

    KayGee Well-Known Member

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    My 16 and 17 with low PTU fluid were built over a year apart.
     
  6. 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.
     
  7. 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
     
  8. 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.
     
  9. 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!
     
  10. 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?
     
  11. 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.
     
  12. KayGee

    KayGee Well-Known 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...
     
  13. 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
  14. 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?
     
  15. KayGee

    KayGee Well-Known 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.
     
  16. 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...
     
  17. 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.
     
  18. 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.
     
  19. 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?
     
  20. 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....
     
  21. 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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