1996 Ford Explorer Multiple issues | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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1996 Ford Explorer Multiple issues


December 26, 2008
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City, State
Dayton, OH
Year, Model & Trim Level
1996 Explorer XLT
1996 Ford Explorer
2 Door, 2WD with switch for 4WD high/low
4.0L engine

I have had a long term issue with this explorer that I need to mention prior to bringing up the current issues. This is that the check engine light has been on for awhile, and it throws a code indicating a bad oxygen sensor but it's not very specific as to which. This has affected gas mileage noticeably and makes the engine idle a little rough when stopped at an intersection, and sometimes rough when idling.

I had plans to attempt a fix on this issue on the next oil change, but since new problems have cropped up I wanted to see if there was any input or possible relation between them.

I don't drive much anymore due to being unemployed, but I had to make a bank run last night to hit an ATM. No noticeable problems aside from the cold weather making it a little stiff since it's not driven as regularly...brakes a little less precise for a bit, cold tires, ...normal things. It was maybe 35-40F degrees last night.

When I came out from the ATM (inside the bank), my explorer wouldn't start. It had plenty of cranking power it but there was no audible engine firing. I tried this a couple times, I could hear the fuel pump power on before attempting to crank. I didn't smell any obvious leaks, checked fuel pump shut off, the fuses, and pulled the relays and plugged them back in just incase there was a bad connection there. Nothing helped. At this point I called for someone to come get me and help me get the vehicle into a location where I could get it towed later.

While I was waiting for them to show up, I tried holding the pedal to the floor as indicated in the owner's manual and cranking. It started and idled unaided, but as soon as I would shift it into drive the motor would die. I started it a second time and let it idle while I waited, just incase it would shift and stay running so I'd have someone to follow me incase something happened. They turned up and while I turned my head to talk to them the dash light came on indicating a brake issue. I had blown a brake line near the rear left tire, and it had leaked enough out of the reserve to throw the warning light. Brake pedal was mush, almost no resistance at all.

But attempted to put it into drive and it died immediately. Pushed it into a stall and went home. Found a tow company open this morning, took awhile.....so we were up there making sure it hadn't been towed away during the night and waiting on tow company. Tried to start the vehicle again and it fired right up and ran, it would shift into neutral without the engine dieing but didn't want to risk putting it into drive with no braking ability.

So, I realize the brake is not related to the check engine light issues. And that the vehicle not starting might have saved me from being in an accident if the brake line had blown while I was on the road. But I don't think that's a safety feature of the vehicle, so it's something wrong. And it was just my good (in a way) luck to have it crop up when it did....but it still needs addressed.

So I am thinking moisture related problem due to engine heat creating moisture in something related to spark being generated. Could the oxygen sensor issues and the spark issues be related? Or am I right to assume they are unrelated and address them individually? I need to fix the brake line and engine starting issues before I worry about the oxygen sensor codes unless they are related. Obviously money is tight, so suggestions to minimize parts swapping is also desired.

The vehicle also has had an incident of electrical problems (2 winters in a row) related to needing a circuit module replaced, it didn't affect the core systems of the vehicle though...but affected windows, internal lighting, wipers, radio...never caused vehicle to not start. Took me awhile to find it because it wouldn't crop up reliably until it got worse the next year.