02 Explorer Limited 4.0 AC issues | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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02 Explorer Limited 4.0 AC issues


July 3, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Glendale, California
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Explorer Limited
Hey all,

Currently having two issues with my AC. (Dual climate control)

The first, on a cold start while the engine has not yet warmed up, a component in my engine bay seems to "grind" when I turn on my AC. The grinding only happens when accelerating and not while stationary (I can kind of feel the grind through my foot on the gas pedal). The component will "Grind" 3 to 4 times during acceleration, then the grinding will stop. AC still works fine and blow cold air out without problems. If the vehicle is warmed up before I turn on the AC, the grinding does not occur at all. Any ideas?

The second issue has more to do with the vents. When the AC is cooling fresh air, air blows through all the vents without a problem. However, when I switch to Inside Recirculation, air does not blow out of the front(top) 4 vents. I can barely feel some air blowing out by the foot vents on the bottom and that is all. Ideas? is this a door/vacuum/motor issue?

Thanks, any input is appreciated.

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So you don't get this grinding noise at start up with the AC off?

There are vacuum actuators that moves cheap plastic flaps. The actuators extend beyond the flaps maximum range and ultimately snap their connectors. I'd recommend dropping the glove box and looking behind the dash while changing AC settings. Look for an actuator that isn't connected to anything.

Thats correct, no grinding noise when starting up with AC off. Its as if the compressor is getting stuck momentarily? But would this issue not also happen when the engine has warmed up?

Ill check the actuators, but I find it hard to believe that those vents will close once re circulation is engaged, especially when they are blowing out at full power when recirculation is off.

Also did notice this morning that the grinding will occur even if the car is stationary and the AC is engaged on a cold start.

Actuators are plugged in!

Once the recirculation is pressed, air blow out of the front vents for a few seconds, then it starts to force the air through the window defrost vents at full blast while no air is coming out of the front vents?


Compressor had started to leak, or what i believe was coming from the compressor, and I didnt notice. It seems everytime the grinding occurs, the compressor leaks x amount of refrigerant?

You are experiencing the death grind. Feel free to see my posts about rebuilding my AC system back in 2011. If you get the AC compressor changed out before it completely locks up, you will probably spend a few hundred bucks. If it locks up, you will spend about $1,500 or more because you have to replace the entire system.

If it's grinding, it may have already sent stuff through the system, but anytime that compressor is running and grinding, it's becoming more damaged and WILL send black death through that whole system at some point. If the compressor is leaking and you can see it, it's probably the mineral oil lubricant, which means it's near death.

I only know this crap because I'm on my THIRD complete AC system overhaul. I wasn't fortunate to have grinding for more than a few minutes before it locked up completely while driving with the AC on. I guarantee you, I'm in tune with the noises that damn AC compressor makes.

Haha thank you!

Yea I figured, I'm gonna have the compressor swapped out along with the accumulator. Then get a full ac flush and recharge. Hope it will end well!!!

Do you have rear AC? Vents in the ceiling.