2008 Explorer Auto 4x4 Engages for No Reason | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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2008 Explorer Auto 4x4 Engages for No Reason


New Member
January 7, 2016
Reaction score
City, State
Mt Vernon NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
2008 Ford Explorer
I'm new to the forum and have a bit of an issue with my Explorer. While driving on dry roads, it sounds like the 4x4 is engaged. When I say it sounds like the 4x4 engages, I mean that the engine sounds louder than normal and I have to give it more gas to accelerate. I played around with the 4x4 button by putting the Hi 4x4 on and switching it back to Auto 4x4 and it went back to normal. This has happened a few times now and I'm not sure where to start troubleshooting. Has anyone had experience with this or have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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Sounds like you could have a rear tone ring issue and the computer is engaging the front driveline because it thinks that the rear tires are slipping. I would see if you have any pending diagnostic trouble codes that could help pinpoint the issue.

Or you can just crawl under and see look at the ring while rotating the tires. I was able to see a crack in the ring on mine.

I believe bad hub bearings could cause 4x4 engaging also.

If the 4x4 is auto-engaging on dry roads (which can happen, particularly when turning, if your front tires are decently more or less worn than the ones on the back. Or if you're running different size or even brand up front vs back) then the traction control light will also blink. Is that light blinking? If not, then it's not likely that the auto 4x4 kicking in. Do check those tires though. I experienced this exact thing when I changed the front tires (same size as rear but different brand) but not the rear. Even though the 'specs' were the same, the actual physical tire circumference between the two brands wasn't. The result was the the front tires were spinning at a different rate than the rear, so the truck thought it was slipping, and thus would engaged 4x4. The same thing can happen if the front tires are much more (or less) worn than the tires on the rear.

One thing to consider - it could be your fan clutch sticking/staying engaged when it shouldn't. This would cause the engine to sound louder and will affect acceleration performance.

Yeah, as a couple have mentioned, the tire sizes are coming to mind.
Measure the circumference of each tire. I remember somebody posting what the maximum difference can be (anybody?).

From what I understand, you can have a tire "shaved down" to match the others.
Has anybody had this done?

Don't see why you couldn't just grab a jug of bleech and head out to the pavement and roll that baby until it was the size of the other 3. We used to do it for fun back in the old days.