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6 time flashing 4WD lights


January 22, 2006
Reaction score
City, State
Jville NC
Year, Model & Trim Level
03 Explorer XLT 4.0L 4x4
6 time flashing 4WD lights.......FIXED!!!! and HOW!

Alright, I know this has been brought up before, but I needed some clarification. First I have a 1997 Explorer 4 door XLT. Has around 120k on the SOHC 4.0L. Well I want to know the most likely cause of the 4WD not disengaging and the 4WD lights flashing 6 times every two minutes. I heard that it is most likely a sensor or motor on the transfer case, but I also heard that somebody who was having other electrical problems (window switches and locks) found a bad relay to be at fault. I am stationed at Camp Lejeune NC, and am flying out to Missouri (where the Explorer is) and then will be driving the explorer back to North Carolina this weekend. I wanted to attempt to fix this problem before I drive it 1000 miles cross the country. What should the first thing I look at be?

Thank you,


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I have the flashing lights because I disconnected the wiring harness that goes to the transfer case because I don't want the 4WD engaging. Does anyone know if GearheadJLM disconnects the wiring harness whether or not the 4WD would disengage. He could then at least drive it in 2WD to get it to NC. I don't think it is going to snow too soon down there.

Yeah just disconnect the transfer case connector and you wont have any problems with the transfer case (just ignore the blinking lights, could use electrical tape as a temporary 'fix' over the lights ;)).

Take it to the dealer and let them hook it up to the diagnostic computer. It may be something simple, and they can fix it while your there, or they can tell you whats wrong with it, and if it is safe to drive it at high speeds for 16 hrs, you can repair it when you get to NC. At least you wont be worrying the whole trip!

Thanks for the replies. I disconnected the harness and the 4wd disengaged. Made it back no problem. I still haven't had time to try and figure out what was wrong with it, I guess I'll try a dealership or a couple tranny shops, seems to be a common problem, Im sure somebody knows soemthing

Yeah just disconnect the transfer case connector and you wont have any problems with the transfer case (just ignore the blinking lights, could use electrical tape as a temporary 'fix' over the lights ;)).

Makes you wonder sometimes, eh IZ?

it might be because the four wheel drive switch has fallen out and all you need to do is take the radio/air vent thing out and see if it is connected, that happened to me once

Flashing 4x4 lights

I had EXACTLY the same situation with my 97 XL, 4.0L OHV, 112,000 KM (67,000 miles). I took out the 4x4 shift motor and it was OK. Just cleaned it up a bit and put it back in. Cleaned the two speed sensors at the same time. Still the same flashing lights, especially when the headlights were turned on!. Next I changed the TOD relay. Still the same flashing lights. Then I did the Brown Wire Mod and the problem went away with the 4x4 disengaged. About the only thing left that was a common denominator for the flashing 4x4 lights was the computer. I switched it out and the problem is gone. I was fortunate that I was able to get components cheap from a local wrecking yard. A local Ford dealer wanted around $100 just to do the diagnostics, but all my parts cost much less and my curious nature was satisfied. (I paid $4 for the TOD relay and $6 for the computer "relay"). I kept the Brown Wire Mod switch and usually go with 2 wheel drive as I like to be able to decide when I want 4x4.

So here is my advice in order of my priority and potential cost, assuming your console 4X4 SWITCH WORKS WHEN SELECTED - 1. Do the Brown Wire Mod, it's cheap and effective. 2. change the TOD relay, easy to change and cost not too bad and 3. change the computer, but it can be very expensive if new.
But the most important thing you do is to keep coming to this site! This is where I have learned what I need to know about my Explorer.

The BWM won't fix the underlying problem. The lights are blinking because the system has detected a fault. Without knowing exactly what that fault code is, the cause is a guessing game at best. As mentioned, a dealer's NGS or WDS scanner will be the best source for the exact cause of the problem.

That being said, the rear axle speed sensor tends to fix the problem about half the time. It's a cheap part (usually less than $20) and easy to replace... can't hurt to try it.


Thanks for the replies!

I bought a 2004 Ranger yesterday, I had them through in a diagnostics on my explorer 4x4 system as part of the deal. Hopefully it'll be something simple like the speed sensor. I will keep you guys posted on my findings. :usa:

Well, the results are the front AND rear driveshaft position sensors. So I am going to try to replace them and see what happens

Okay, so finding these senors at a reasonable price is going to be difficult. Here are my Exact codes that ford gave me. B1836 and a B1837, These are for Tcase front and rear speed sensor circuit failure. Now, I need a part number.

I had the same problem and got the dealer to fix it!

All they did is replace the main battery fuse. I ended up paying almost $600 to the ford dealership just so they could spend 10 min. finding a fuse. I would look it up online if you havent fixed it yet. Try expertvillage.com, they have a video that explains it in more detail.


Okay so I found the parts on rockauto.com. I took pictures on the exact part numbers. I took the old sensors out, removed shift motor (you can see they the 4WDH is engaged), cut the brown wire, replaced the sensors in the connector, reconnected the "brown wire", put everything back together. First thing I did was start it and put it in 4wdh, then 4wd low, then back to AUTO. Then took it for a ride around the block. I no longer had any binding issues, and the lights did not come on, at least for the ride around the block. So I took it to the muddy back yard to get it stuck. When I could no longer move, I poked my head out and seen the front tires turning (this is with selector lever in AUTO) No 4x4 Auto indicator light came on (I'm not sure if it is supposed to). So, I backed it up, pulled it back onto the road to see if there was any binding. None. Awesome, problem solved.














VERY helpful info from all. I thank you. I have a 97 explorer xlt awd and have the 6 flashes every 2 minutes. Didn't think I would ever find out what it is. Thanks again from upstate NY

Mine received this problem while i was changing out the gauge cluster bulbs. do you know what could have caused this?

EDIT: Never-mind, blew fuse 26