PATS key questions.. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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PATS key questions..


New Member
March 28, 2006
Reaction score
City, State
Glens Falls
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 Explorer Sport
I searched to see if I could find a similar question but couldn't so here goes!

I bought a new to me 1998 Explorer Sport. The anti theft system in it has me confused at this point. There is an aftermarket remote (Looks like a cheap system, the remote is an "executive" model) used to gain entry to the X and There is 1 PATS key that came with it. The PATS key will NOT open any of the doors but it will start the X (the key will not turn any of the locks, won't budge!). The red anti theft indicator blinks on the whaddyacallit area where the speedo and tach are.
The Sport is the base Sport, no power drivers seat and the OHC engine (I have that right?)
Anyone have any clue as to why my PATS key won't unlock the doors but will start the thing? If I lose this remote I am screwed royally!! Better yet, Any tips on bagging this aftermarket set up totally would be greatfully appreciated!!

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Its possible that the ignition switch has been replaced.

I believe Spas found this out recently also and from what I remember, she believes her ignition was never changed. Hopefully someone with a 98 that they bought from a Ford dealership new could chime in to find out if the lock sets in the doors fit & unlock with keys and if the rear hatch will also.

I had troubles on my 98 with the key not operating the door locks all the time, but it did operate the ignition. Turned out my key was pretty worn. I was able to get a key cut to match the original keying by taking my title to the dealer and showing them a photo ID. I had a cheapie key cut instead of a PATS key to operate my door locks and hatch only.

It could be a couple different things.

First, If it's the base sport, it should have the 4.0L OHV engine. You also shouldn;t have running boards, no power driver's seat, no sunroof, etc.

Second, the power lock unit could certainly be aftermarket. I don't believe that the base model sport came with remote entry. Power locks, yes, but not remote entry. The aftermarket setup could be what you have.

Third, if it's the original ignition key, the lock tumblers in the doors could be stuck or frozen in place. It's not uncommon for a person with remote keyless entry to have that problem. 10 minutes with a can of WD-40 and some good graphite lock lube should free them up if that's the problem. Check the key in the hatch tumbler too... it's possible that all three are bad, but not likely.

Fourth, it is possible that the ignition lock was replaced. If so, you'll need to have the tumblers re-keyed to the new ignition key, or vice-versa. Not going to be cheap either way.

Good luck!


I 2nd gijoecam's coment re the lock freezing... Many fords that I drive have this problem, not only the Explorers. My 99 ex does it all the time. Every once and a while I will liberaly spray inside the lock with lube and work it. One of the worst ones was when I was working on the ambulance and the doors were locked and I could not unlock any of the doors with the key cuz the tumblers were all siezed up. Another truck took the call and I had to do the old license plate light trick...

Also guard that pats key with your life. If you loose it you will wind up paying a dealer about $100 to reprogram your PATS system. You need 2 PATS keys to program yourself...

jp450 said:
.... and I had to do the old license plate light trick...

I gotta ask: What's the license plate light trick?


If you remove the license plate light you can, by using such an item as the AM/FM radio antenna, unlock the rear door by pressing up on a piece of the linkage. ;) I know it works on the E350 vans and I would assume it would work on the E150 and E250's too.