4wheel drive dash light is blinking. Explorer.


Old 11-18-03, 02:50 PM
Lugnut's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Kansas City, Missouri.
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Smile 4wheel drive dash light is blinking. Explorer.

My 4wheel drive dash light is blinking.

I am getting my 95 Explorer ready for a long road trip. For the past 8 months I have been 'armchair' diagnosing the problem with the 4 wheel drive dash light. It blinks when I use the dash button to switch into 4wheel drive, which I seldom use 4w drive. Over the months, I have concluded three unreliable solutions. Unreliable because I have no evidence that any of these are right or even possible.

1. There is a 4w lock out solenoid. Around $100. Most likely cause but difficult to locate on my car. (hope) This WOULD be a common part on a GM, but Ford, Im not sure.

2. There is a 4w lock out motor ('force motor'). Cost $250. Not a likely cause of the problem. (smile)

3. A parts guy told me it was a V-something solenoid or motor. I had no idea what he was talking about. (confused)

Time has ran out and I took it to AAMCO today to a old friend I know who works there. He pulled a trouble code saying the 'rear end transfer case speed sensor' is bad. It is mounted on the transfer case. He is yet unable to conclude exactly what the problem is. I ordered the part from an auto supply and I will pick it up and deliver it tomorrow and he will install it. Afterwards he will continue to diagosis the problem if it still exist, and we both think it will.

Meanwhile, since I have heard of this problem occurring on other Explorers, I thought I would let everyone here take a guess at what the final solution will be. After it's fixed, I will post back the answer and the closest responder will have bragging rights for one year.

To save dialog for those of you who want try your hand at second guessing the solution, here is the history.

The automatic 4w drive has worked perfect for the last 5 years each winter. It's an automatic transmission. The problem began suddenly last winter, the first time I switched to 4w drive since the winter before. After say 30 seconds, the dash light began to blink. With some experimentation, I could get it to engage in 4w LOW sometimes. Other than that, the behavior was erractic, as though it could engage, but then disengaged by itself, or got stuck trying to engage or disengage. I could hear a few engagment noises that I did not like the sound of so I did discontinued the use of it. I could not simply turn off the 4w drive after I turned it on, instead, the light would continue to blink even after I switched to 2w. The only way to get the light to go off would be to turn off the engine and restart it while in the 2w drive switch position.
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Old 11-18-03, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Germantown, MD
Posts: 29
I've seen the actuator motor fail on these on a few Explorers. My guess is that it would be more common on vehicles which the 4WD isn't used much. The motor will get stuck a lot like a starter or windshield wiper motor when the system attempts to change back to a 2WD range. You may want to tap on the actuator motor with a hammer when the condition occurs. If the problem appears to clear up at that time, you'll know for sure where the issue is.
Old 11-18-03, 04:54 PM
darrell McCoy
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OK, I will second guess on this one. Seems on some there is a relay under the hood and Also a control box behind the radio which I have heard is troublesome. I may be off base, but food for thought. Anyway hope it is a simple fix for ya.
Old 11-18-03, 05:15 PM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Long Island, NY
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Searching back I remember a post about this problem with a link about the repair


Old 11-18-03, 06:02 PM
billys68ss's Avatar
Join Date: May 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 1,459
Lugnut.... The blinking light is much like your check engine light. It is blinking to let you know there is something amiss. If you got a code for a sensor, thats definately a problem. May not be THE problem, but thats the best place to start.
Old 11-18-03, 08:15 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 352
We replace alot of motors for this concern. Get someone to hit the motor while turning the switch to another position. See if this doesn't fix it. But like LARRY G. it's a motor.
Old 11-19-03, 04:25 AM
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Location: Kansas City, Missouri.
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Lots of great replys. Even though I had earlier dismissed the motor as a cause, you guys now got me thinking more about it. And the link from Toyotaman was an eyeopener for me too. It's 6:00 am and I am definately going to act upon these suggestions.

I am going to call and order the motor at 8:00 am so I can pick it up at the same time as I pick up the speed sensor this morning. This could save me up to a whole day being without my car, waiting for parts.

Now you may be wondering why I am not 'fixing' the old motor instead of buying a new one. Here's why. The short answer is that I can buy the part for $131. The long answer is this. My expert parts man where I shop, has known of my problem for months, and has also known the part is strictly ford part for $250 to $300. BUT, yesterday when I stopped in to buy a belt, he flagged me down and showed me a new catalog of products that they started carrying just yesterday ! You guessed it, my motor is one of them. My price is $131 but I think that is at discount. So check with your suppliers to see if they started carrying these parts for your customers too. There are in a Cardone catalog.

Will post back later today.
Old 11-19-03, 01:23 PM
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Location: Kansas City, Missouri.
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It's fixed. It was the actuator motor. They installed a used one from their bench that they had already rebuilt. Total bill $150.

They said the speed sensor was wired into the motor harness and that is why it showed trouble codes for the sensor, but that the sensor was not bad.

Some extra info. The actuator motor now carried by local auto supply cost $131 walk-in price. I got it at a discount price of $94. Even though I ordered the motor, the shop said that the harness of the motor I purchased, did not have the needed wires for the speed sensor, so they could not use it. This harness/wire story (hmmm ) is all second hand information since I never saw the old parts after the repair. I was just happy to get in and out of their for $150.

Hogfan, Toyotaman and Larry G all win the bragging rights for one year.

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