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2013 PTU Leak

CANUCK_EXPLORER

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2013 Explorer Limited
Hello all and thanks for taking the time to read my post.

My 2013 Explorer that I bought as an off lease last March has a slow leak from the PTU. I noticed a small black spot on my garage floor last week so I took the vehicle to a mechanic to have it checked out.

As soon as the mechanic put the vehicle on the hoist he told me the PTU is not original, reason being was the yellow number he noticed scrawled on the unit. He mentioned it was common for wreckers to write inventory numbers on parts with a yellow grease pencil and that is what he saw on the unit in my vehicle. He also mentioned a heat shield that protects the PTU is missing which he believed confirmed his theory that the PTU in my vehicle is not the original part.

I am skeptical of this mechanic's opinion after I did some research and noticed that other PTUs on similar explorers and edges had a similar yellow number scrawled on the unit and there was no heat shield protecting the unit. Another reason why I don't believe the unit is from a wrecker is that I bought the vehicle with 93 000km (55 800 mi) so any failure with the PTU would have been replaced under factory powertrain warranty. The vehicle now has 107000 km (64 225 mi) so the factory warranty ship has now unfortunately sailed.

I also came across a TSB that mentions a possible failure of a vent tube at the top of the PTU that causes fluid leaks. The mechanic inspected the PTU from below the vehicle and did not look at the unit from the top. I am hoping this is the issue with my vehicle which sounds like an easier fix compared to a failing seal.

Can anyone confirm if the factory PTUs have the yellow part number and there is no heat shield that protects the PTU for this vehicle?

Other question is if it is possible to drain and flush the PTU as the fluid leaking out is black and borderline sludge!

My apologies for the long post....thanks in advance for the help.
 


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imp

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@CANUCK_EXPLORER
I learn every day! 60 years messing with vehicles, "down here", and closest I've come to "PTU" is PTO, Power Take Off, an access hole provided usually on truck transmissions only. Commoner on tractors. So, assuming you are referring to the Transfer Case, a relatively easy to access device, and if black thick fluid is leaking from it, that suggests the wrong lubricant was put in it. Whether a leaking seal, leaking gasketed parts, or simply fluid forced out due to plugged or stoppered vent (the first thing to check), it should surely have the correct fluid placed in it. Has there been any noise perceptible? In the old days, nefarious operators put thick gear oil in places where it should not be, even engines, to mask noise. All devices containing gearing must be adequately vented to the atmosphere. imp
 




CANUCK_EXPLORER

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Thanks for your reply IMP. Ford is now calling the transfer case for all their AWD models (Edge, Explorer, MKX, etc.) a PTU or power transfer unit. I have not noticed any noises or growling coming from the unit yet but the mechanic that looked at the vehicle said that it was inevitable. From what I have been reading about the PTU failure issue (and there is tons of material on the Internet to go through) the factory "lifetime" fluid that is being placed in these units is failing because of the heat from the catalytic converter. The cat is located very close to the unit and the heat is breaking the fluids down and turning them into a sludge like consistency. I will take a look at the vehicle this week and check for a missing vent. Thanks for the tips!
 




EchoPapa

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2013 Explorer Limited
Thanks for your reply IMP. Ford is now calling the transfer case for all their AWD models (Edge, Explorer, MKX, etc.) a PTU or power transfer unit. I have not noticed any noises or growling coming from the unit yet but the mechanic that looked at the vehicle said that it was inevitable. From what I have been reading about the PTU failure issue (and there is tons of material on the Internet to go through) the factory "lifetime" fluid that is being placed in these units is failing because of the heat from the catalytic converter. The cat is located very close to the unit and the heat is breaking the fluids down and turning them into a sludge like consistency. I will take a look at the vehicle this week and check for a missing vent. Thanks for the tips!

Did you get this resolved? My wifes 2013 Limited started dripping black sludge. Climbed under and figure the PTU seal was a goner. After reading several posts about PTU's I realized the hose had probably just come off. I climbed under and started feeling around on top of the unit. Turns out, some of them don't have a hose but a "Jiggly valve" that just allows the over heated oil to release. I was able to open the fill port and add some additional oil for now and after 3 days of driving she's got no leaks. I'm giving it about a week before grabbing a siphon and emptying/refilling it completely.

Give this a shot before letting anyone talk you into a new unit. Especially if you're not hearing any strange noises. There has been an very audible difference from pre-oil refill and today. Worst case you'll see if the seal is really gone.
 




CANUCK_EXPLORER

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2013 Explorer Limited
Did you get this resolved? My wifes 2013 Limited started dripping black sludge. Climbed under and figure the PTU seal was a goner. After reading several posts about PTU's I realized the hose had probably just come off. I climbed under and started feeling around on top of the unit. Turns out, some of them don't have a hose but a "Jiggly valve" that just allows the over heated oil to release. I was able to open the fill port and add some additional oil for now and after 3 days of driving she's got no leaks. I'm giving it about a week before grabbing a siphon and emptying/refilling it completely.

Give this a shot before letting anyone talk you into a new unit. Especially if you're not hearing any strange noises. There has been an very audible difference from pre-oil refill and today. Worst case you'll see if the seal is really gone.

Thanks EchoPapa. I just had my mechanic take a look at the issue. My PTU has the same valve you mentioned in your post. The mechanic was puzzled as to why the oil is coming out of that valve. He sucked out as much of the old sludge as possible and topped it up with fresh fluid. He suggested installing a drain plug but he will not tap the PTU until he has a good understanding of the internals and he can pick the best spot to tap. I am getting the vehicle back today so I will keep you posted.....fingers crossed!
 




EchoPapa

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Thanks EchoPapa. I just had my mechanic take a look at the issue. My PTU has the same valve you mentioned in your post. The mechanic was puzzled as to why the oil is coming out of that valve. He sucked out as much of the old sludge as possible and topped it up with fresh fluid. He suggested installing a drain plug but he will not tap the PTU until he has a good understanding of the internals and he can pick the best spot to tap. I am getting the vehicle back today so I will keep you posted.....fingers crossed!

I had a mechanic come out and take look. He found the proper procedure in his ford repair manual. He actual sucked out the oil (sludge plus the oil I added), filled it back up and rotated the tires a few times. Drained that and repeated the process 4 more times. He used Lucas oil each time until the last. The last time he sucked out the nasty stuff and he filled it with royal purple. It's been more than a month and we've been great ever since. I'm just adding changing the PTU oil out to the yearly maintenance schedule. I mean, $20 in oil a year and a 1 time $30 for a drain pump vs the big $ some people on here have had to spend. I'll call that worth it. Good luck and I hope this helps someone else out.
 




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