Ford Explorer: How Reliable Are They?
Mark: Hi it’s Mark, Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 17 times voted Best Auto Repair in Vancouver by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing really well.
Mark: So, we’re going to talk about the Ford Explorer. It’s got a bit of a checkered history, a friend of mine who owned one nicknamed his as the Exploder, kind of had a lot of problems with lawsuits and rollovers, what happens with Explorers?
Bernie: Well speaking of that or those older models with the rollovers, that was an interesting issue. The Explorer was an incredibly popular vehicle when it came out and the rollover issue, a lot of it may not of been so much the vehicle but the tires and even the recommended tire inflation. What Ford had recommended is to inflate the tires to 26 psi which is pretty low inflation for a tire, especially a truck tire and the reason they did that is just so the vehicle would have a nice, more car-like ride as opposed to a bouncy truck ride. But the thing that happened with a lot of people is they don’t check their tire pressures, you loose typically a pound of pressure a month in your tire, so eventually not looking at if for a year those 26 psi tires were down to about, I don’t know, about 14 psi. Then everyone loads their vehicle up for a family holiday with lots of weight in it, the tires get hot, they explode. So you know, the vehicle, being the type of vehicle it is, it tends to roll over. So thats kind of a lot of what happened with that vehicle. I think had people filled their tires up to like 32 or 35 pounds, a lot of that may not of happened. So anyways, with that out of the way, lets talk about more modern Explorers because people aren’t buying a1986 Explorers any more, they’re looking at newer ones in the 2000 range. So there’s a lot of issues with these vehicles. Typically what we we see most of are engine problems, especially 4L engines,we see them continuously coming in with rattling timing chains. These are older and getting on with around 200,000 kilometres which is really high but the way the engine is designed there is a timing chain at the front of the engine for one bank and the timing chain at the rear of the engine for the other so you can just imagine if the rear chain fails, which it does, you have to pull the engine out to take it apart. It’s really expensive and really by the time they happen it’s almost usually not worth fixing.
Mark: Wow, so are there any other engine problems?
Bernie: Oh yeah, their engine misfires caused by bad ignition coils or spark plugs, I mean these don’t pop spark plugs out or seize spark plugs like the F-150’s and the other Ford engines but those are problems that happen. Coil failures, spark plugs, also cooling system issues, they use a lot of plastic parts in the cooling system like a lot of manufacturers, so the thermostat housings will leak and fail, radiators too are a pretty common problem, especially in the, I’m just looking at a couple of notes I have here, around the 2006 model year. For some reason radiator failures are really high, so that might be a model to avoid, we’ve repaired them and all sorts of different ranges of years.
Mark: How about the transmissions?
Bernie: Transmission failures are a really common item on these vehicles and that’s, as the vehicles have gotten newer, the 2010 range the transmission issues seem to have gone away but again, the earlier ones, a lot of failures, even going back to those earlier generations to flip over types, the transmission problems were really common in those too.
Mark: Steering, suspension, drivetrain?
Bernie: Fairly good, yeah not a lot of problems but again, we’ve run into electronic transfer casing issues from time to time but the differentials, the drive shafts, those types of things, they all seem to be built pretty solid, nothing exceptional in that area.
Mark: How about inside the vehicle, the common failures, a/c, heating, power windows, doors, locks?
Bernie: We seem to fix a few issues like the heating system like heater blower motor but nothing unusual. The fit and finishes, I just say ok, I mean we see a lot where the plastic interior parts wear out but that’s more of a cosmetic thing than anything else, but the power windows and those sorts of things are fairly reliable.
Mark: So bottom line, would you recommend a Ford Explorer for someone as a vehicle for someone to buy?
Bernie: Not really, no. To be perfectly blunt, I mean they’re nice vehicles when they’re new but there’s so much, so many things that go wrong with them. You’d be better off, dollar for dollar to look at something else, maybe a Toyota Highlander or something, not sure if I’m comparing the right equivalent vehicle there, but there’s other vehicles to look at. So if you want to fix your Explorer, we’d love to take care of you. We do a lot of them and we do it well.
Mark: So there you go, if you need to make sure you get the full life out of your Explorer in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com. It’s world famous now, thanks Bernie
Bernie: Thanks Mark