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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, lots of great information here on this subject but I need a little more help.
My 1996 Explorer XLT may or may not have the PATS system. Others on the forum indicate that the 96 year did not come with that system, although mine has the keys with the "S" stamped on it and the "THEFT" light in the instrument cluster that does what everyone says it's supposed to do, i.e. blink every 2 seconds.
The problem is I usually need 6-8 turns of the ignition key to finally get to check engine light to come on and hear the fuel pump to fire up. I've done a lot of checking of fuses and wiring and it's all good. In addition, there are times that the door locks go crazy, locking and unlocking, and they eventually settle down. I'm thinking that is the ECM module that is getting confused by the number of ON-OFF switches of the ignition key.
I have taken the steering column covers off, and there are some wires that appear to be sensor wiring, and one that makes the bell go off if you move the sensor off of the barrel housing. The other is fixed and very fine wires go under the dash.
Is there any way to check the ignition key barrel for proper contacts? I don't think I can simply replace the barrel since this appears to have the PATS system of some kind.
It is getting worse and before I take her to the dealer, where they will charge no less than an arm and a leg, perhaps one of y'all have experienced the same thing and have a fix.
I appreciate the help.
Thanks,
Red
 

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A '96 US market vehicle should not have PATS but your statement about the Theft light is curious. Can you link to a picture of your key or the same shape already on the internet? A PATS key has a thick plastic top with a chamber for the chip in it.

If there is a PATS problem then the theft light will start blinking fast when you try to start it.

Yes the door locks may switch positions if the key is turned multiple times, it signals some programming state.

You can replace the ignition cylinder but it seems like it is the switch behind it or the PATS receiver coil around it in the column "IF" It has that, but that is not unique to your vehicle, you could pull one off a vehicle at a junkyard and it's plug and play.

I'm wondering if you just need an ignition switch. You might have the lock cylinder worn at the back where it connects, will have to take it out to see if it is reusable. If not then you need a locksmith to rekey or two sets of keys, one for ignition and the old for doors, and will need to program in the new keys OR switch the chips from the old keys to new.

If the lock cylinder is okay then maybe just an ignition switch failure. You can get those on Rock Auto for about $14 plus shipping. Basic info for taking it apart here:

http://www.explorerforum.com/forums...-switch-lock-replacement.336869/#post-2853546
 

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I've had this problem happen on two of my explorers over the years..take the ignition lock cylander out and look inside the Barrell that it slides into. There are two different wires with copper contacts that slide into grooves of the cylander on opposite sides. one of the wires is for your door chime when you leave the keys in the ignition and then the other is for the anti theft. If it's broken or damaged or out of it's groove or even if it's work down to where it doesn't make contact with the lock cylander it will trip the alarm. There is a tab on top of the contact that usually starts to go flat and it doesnt make good contact anymore. Bend the tab lightly to wear it will contact the cylander as it turns on. Five minutes your good to go. The reason it takes a bunch of times is it's partially making contact and u luck out eventually. I'm willing to bet money on it.hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
1996 Explorer PATS problem

Thanks JC and Hoopdaywisperer. Your advise has helped me with years of trying to diagnose the PATS problem with the ignition.
I have not taken the cylinder out yet, but I am almost sure that those contacts on the problem. The way that mine is set up is there is a "blueish" plastic piece that has a small metal tab that grips onto a grove around the cylinder. This was very loose and I think it is related to the door chime as it was constantly going off when I was trying to reseat it. I was able to get it back in place but holding it there took a small dab of silicone. It is holding but the door chime is random.
On the opposite side of the cylinder, there are a couple of whisker small wires that heed down under the steering column. I have not touched that yet as I think this sensor is the PATS one that is giving me the grief.
I could be wrong here, and have them reversed, so any info on these would be greatly appreciated.
I did spray some dry lubricant into the key cylinder and that did seem to make it easier to rotate and it took only two rotations of the key to fire the old girl up. I plan on taking the key barrel out this weekend and check if there are any contacts that I see are worn or need to be cleaned.
Y'all got me thinking now that the small plastic part with the tab is the PATS , but one thing for sure is that it's a pain in the behind.
Thanks for your help and looking forward to any info. I will take some pics when I have the key cylinder out to help the forum for the next PATS victim.
Take care,
 

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Discussion Starter #5
UPDATE - Intermittent crank-no-start

Howdy y'all, just a quick update on my progress that may help others.

After 3 days in the mechanics shop, I got her back with little more that a good check of the system and some info.

There is no PATS system on this model year, so the key is just a straight key with no chip inside. This will make the ignition cylinder easy to swap out without the PATS scanner tool from the dealer = $$$$

The fuel pump was checked and all passed, electrically and pressure test. Held about 40#of pressure on the injector rails all day.

The relays were loose in the distribution box, tension on the tabs is a bit sloppy, but the relay checked out and was not in need of replacement. Used a piece of gorilla tape across the tops of the three relays to add some stability to them. Not sure if that did anything, but it is much more stable in the holder.

The crank sensor was next, it was rusty but was still working. It was not changed and there was really no more places to go.

So I took her back home and I'm going to replace the key cylinder, the relay and the crank sensor myself, just because I really think it's one of those causing the problem.

I was hoping that one of the mechanics out there would have a removal and installation of the crank sensor, as I am not sure if there is any setting of the distance to the crank that needs to be done or if it's just a bolt the new one on. May have to remove the belt to get to the bolts.

Thanks again to all out there and any info y'all have is greatly appreciated. I will keep the team posted on progress.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Update

Howdy y'all, just wanted to update on the intermittent, and random crank with no start problems that I have been struggling through.

No electrical issues were found on the fuel system, but there was still the random failure of the pump to energize when the ignition key was switched. I moved to the crank sensor next, which is an exposed sensor that is simply works off of the timing markers on the harmonic balancer.

Well, the sensor checked out fine electrically, however when I was getting at it, I noted that the harmonic balancer itself was rusty, and had many years of road dust and dirt caked on. I cleaned it off, and actually polished the teeth with a wire brush and it looked better at least.

Now, it appears that the ECM is doing what it is supposed to do, firing up the fuel pump and cranks with a start. The crank position sensor may not have been detecting through the surface rust and dirt on the markers.

I don't want to jinx myself, so for now, I'm enjoying the fact that I don't have to switch the ignition on a dozen times and say a prayer each time I jump in my old, but trusted friend.

I'll keep you posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Update on Key Ignition Switch Problems

Well howdy y'all again, it 's been a while since my last post, and I just needed to run something by the group here.

Since last update, the replacement of the ignition key switch has greatly helped the number of times I have to switch the key before I finally get the fuel pump to energize. It's a random thing now.

So recently I took the key switch back out to inspect it and took a closer look at the small switch that is mounted at the 2 o'clock position on the key cylinder. It has a small tab that appears to be used when the key switch is turned and then to the ECM. It was very sloppy in the switch enclosure and I managed to slightly bend the tab up a hair which helped with the pump motor turning on.

I hope that I am on to something here, as this may be the reason for the "crank-no-start" and failure to energize the pump relay. Is there any way that this switch can be the device that is causing the pump relay to make contact sporadically?

I've included a picture that I found off the internet, it's not mine, but is exactly what it looks like in the red circle.

Thanks for any help, and I hope this will help others that have been plagued by this same problem.
 

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