Giving up the ghost... - Ford Explorer Forum - Forums for Ford Explorer Enthusiasts
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Old 11-29-2017, 11:57 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 2
Giving up the ghost...

I think my '05 may be on its last legs.

105K miles ( that's not a lot) but

Check Engine light just came on

Heater quit working and
Thumping sound coming from the dashboard
Thumping stops only when the heater temp is set to cold

My mechanic said 'we're gonna have to talk about this balljoint next inspection' that was a year ago

Every so often the car will make a thumping sound and you can feel it. Something in the drivetrain for sure. Universal?

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Old 11-30-2017, 06:36 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 583
Last legs? Hardly. It's up to you whether to repair things as they need it or let it get run down and have worse resale value and more investment in something to replace it.

Check engine light - Pull the OBDII trouble codes. Places like Autozone will do this for free or you could buy one like a BAFX on Amazon for $22 which links to an android device, or get a wifi version for an apple device.

What does heater not working mean? Air is not hot or fan doesn't spin or comes out of wrong vent location? Air not hot tends to be a heater core blockage, or a blend door that is broken or the electrical actuator for it failed.

Fan doesn't spin could be fuse, relay, or fan itself but could be the blower module on the firewall. Is it manual or EATC (automatic climate control)? On manual controls the firewall module going out will cause all speeds but highest fans speed to not work. I am only generalizing, assuming the '05 setup is the same as prior years.

Air coming out the wrong vent, especially the defrost vents instead of the rest could be a vac line or dash actuator module (usually the o-rings in it) leak. Thumping in the dash might be the blend door flapping around. Where exactly is it coming from? See if you can narrow it down by taking the glovebox and/or radio out temporarily.

A mechanic cannot predict a year in advance that a ball joint is on the way out. Either while driving you notice it's a problem or it's okay still. Maybe the thumping is the ball joint or maybe not. Whether intentional or not, you're not providing sufficient information to make a good guess.

Makes a thumping sound exactly when? Accelerating? Decelerating? Steady speed? All speeds? On road bumps? I would not think it is certain to be the drivetrain, and drivetrain is not a part, it's an entire system with no way to lump together in a way that an assumption can be formed.

I suggest that you try to tackle one problem at a time with much detail instead of several at once. The check engine light would be my first pick as it may be running rich wasting fuel, and/or possibly dumping unburnt fuel into the catalytic converter which could damage it if driven that way too long.

With only 105K in the engine (which engine?) and only 12 years old, usually a vehicle at this point is quite cost effective to repair and should remain that way for another decade and 100K mi unless you lose the transmission or develop an engine problem deeper down than the heads.
Please post your vehicle year/model/engine/(n)WD in help topics.

'98 Explorer XLT 4L SOHC 4WD
'14 Explorer XLT 3.5L NA AWD
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Old 12-11-2017, 08:32 AM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 9
Chirp, everything mechanical eventually needs work as things wear, doesn't mean it's on its last legs. I've seen explorers go over 200,000 miles without major engine or transmission repairs.
Please listen to JC, he's right about getting the check engine light taken care of first, catylitic converters can be damaged if the air fuel mixture is too rich due to a sensor fault. A lot of times check engine lights can be something very minor, like an oxygen sensor or even a gas cap gasket!
I'm assuming you saying the heater quit means you're not getting any heat when you turn the control to hot, all you get is the thumping sound in the dash. I know what the thumping sound behind the dash is from. It's your blend door actuator malfunctioning. The ac heat system blends hot and cold air by opening/closing a blend door in the ductwork in the center of the dash behind the heater controls. The actuator uses a small motor with plastic gear train and the first small plastic gear in the mechanism strips so the door tries to open but fails and keeps falling back and making the thumping sound. Since it doesn't open no heat gets to the ducts and you're cold.
I went to youtube and looked up the blend door motor replacement procedure and decided to do it myself. I also found a YouTube video showing a guy that came up with a way to fix the actuator instead of replacing it. He sells a replacement gear on eBay for the one that breaks in the actuator for $20, that's how I fixed mine instead of buying a complete new actuator for a lot more money. I thought repairing the actuator was way more practical than simply replacing it, it literally only took about 10 minutes time to repair the actuator once I had it out of the dash.
If you decide to do it yourself look up the you tube videos that show how to replace it without taking the entire dash apart. I looked at several because each one had different good ideas on shortcuts to make it easier to do.
BTW, my local garage wanted a stupid amount of money to fix it (told me they had to take the whole dash apart) so that's why I did it myself.

Ball joints wear over time and get loose, that's to be expected. When they get too loose they need to be replaced. My previous explorers joint were slightly loose for like 3 years until they progressed to the point they needed replacing.

Thumping in the driveline "every once in a while" may simply be the auto 4wdcoming in when the rear wheels slip a little. When the 4wd is engaged if you drive over a patch of snow or loose gravel when accelerating often you'll feel it and maybe hear a thump too. So that "problem" may not be a problem at all.

Please don't let several problems at once discourage you, overall the explorers have been fabulous vehicles and give great service. After you fix the problems you have now, it may be quite awhile before anything else needs attention. Good luck!
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