Two Explorer Issues. Advice wanted.

sue36February 15, 2006

A month or so ago my 1998 Explorer Sport would just not start. It would jump, but if you shut it off it wouldn't restart. Replacing the battery seemed to take care of it. This past weekend the alternator showed signs of going (lights dimming, wouldn't start without a jump, etc.), so that was replaced today for $291.

Now the 4 wheel drive indicator is blinking every once and awhile. We have no idea why.

And the windows won't open or close. The fuses were checked. Someone who looked at it said it is probably a frayed wire, but there is no way of knowing where the fray is because Ford runs the wire in a loop.

A few months ago the driver's door wouldn't open from the outside. DH's uncle fixed it (sort of), but it still doesn't seem right. I am wondering if maybe he screwed up the wire when he was messing with the door (he has an autobody shop, but he is more of a body work guy than a mechanic).

Does anyone have any idea about what would cause the 4 wheel drive light to blink or about the window issue? I feel like I am bleeding cash with this thing, unfortunately I can't afford to replace it. Thanks.

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I guess the first thing I would try (or have done, if you're not comfortable doing it yourself) would be to take the inside door panel off the driver's door and see if there's anything that's obviously wrong (frayed wires, cracked gears, bent pieces, etc.). You might also be able to see more of the door mechanism and see where it might be binding or if there are lubricated parts which need more lube.

I'm sorry I can't help you with the warning-light issue, but that kind of door stuff was SOP with older watercooled VWs...

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 4:28PM
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I hope I can help. I am a retire elect. engineer that worked for the St. Louis Ford Explorer plant. There could be several contributing factors, but as the other gent said, if there are no loose wires, the loss of voltage/amperage could have damaged the "Gem" module. This module has control over locks (Gateway module to the antitheft module), and controls the express down function on the drivers window only. If this module become damaged all sorts of weird things can happen to your car, and yes the 4x4 hi/lo and all sorts of cluster, windshield wiper and other functions can be affected. I have even heard of the electronic boards in these modules having too much torque causing a slight bow, making them have seemingly neurotic problems. 1999 was the last year for this particular module and at that time the windshield wipers and door lock circuits were rerooted. I would have a mechanic take a module out of a '96-'99 explorer sport or 4 door and see if the problem is solved, then you can arrange for the appropriate repair. The Ford dealer should also see error codes generated by this module via electronic diagnostic equipment (Sometimes not though). My last thought is that you have a qualified tequnician check the main grounds in the vehicle prior to the module swap, I believe there are like four main grounds (kick panel passenge side, under the hood, and maybe one by the console. I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 11:34PM
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jbryson1, welcome to the board. As a Ford Electrical engineer (retired) we will find some common ground, and probably some where we will bump heads. While specific vehicle knowledge can come into play on some models, and plug and play is acceptable, there are others out there that plug and play attempts can cause serious problems so that really should be avoided at all costs.

First thing, the 4WD indicator blinking does indicate a fault in the 4WD system, and they probably would not have 4WD available if they needed it. One of the biggest things they need to know is the dealer isn't the only place to have this looked at. Most independents can handle GEM module issues with the run of the mil scan tools such as the Snap-On MTG2500, the Genisys, or the Mastertech. However top shops will have an NGS on hand for these systems as well.

As far as the repair that was done a few months ago, forget about it for the moment Sue. The car should be diagnosed right now as if it's never had any other problems or repairs. It would really be a waste of time and effort to pull the door panel and start looking at things first, before following a proper diagnostic routine. That being said, the easiest circuit to deal with is the power window circuit.

As I said, for this car, and especially this system, I would choose the NGS for my scan tool. The first step I would perform is pull the drivers door switch, and check for power at the LT Blue/Black wire. If there is no power to that wire with the key on, I would use my NGS and attempt to command the ACCY delay relay on/off. BTW, the ACCY Delay relay not only controls the power windows, it also powers up the torque on demand relay, which is part of the 4WD system.

Depending on my findings at this point I would be either headed towards the ACCY delay relay, or the GEM module for the next step in the diagnostics. But the most important thing, is I would not be getting anything to plug in and try, and this is where jb and I will be at odds. Ford for some reason has never embraced the idea that technicians are capable of critical thinking skills, and quite able to analyze a system like this. All we need in many cases is a fault code, the criteria that the system uses to determine the fault, and an appropriate schematic, and we will go find the problem in an efficient manor.

Now the main reason that I would start where I did in my diagnostics? The switch is easy to access. Plus you said you "windows" don't work which I take as being all of them. The RH door does not get controlled directly through the GEM module. But the ACCY Delay relay, is controlled by the battery saver relay, and it is controlled by the GEM. Once you understand the circuit, it would be easy to temporarily take control of one or both relays away from the GEM, and see if you can operate them and the windows. That is the outline for a solid diagnostic routine, and armed with a schematic, and the correct tools any tech would diagnose your car without unneccesary expense and substitution of "known good parts" that you don't presently own.

Use the link below to find a good electrical/electronics technician near you.

Here is a link that might be useful: the international Automotive Technicians Network

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 9:24AM
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The accy. delay can be tripped throught the gem throught the OBDII port. I used this feature when designing electrical test equipment for both explorer, mountaineer, and Aviator, but at that time the Gem had been combined with the Cluster or ICU module. As you said the NGS was my tool of choice, but I may have had alot more functionality than the laymen or professional technician. I had an engineering NGS card, where I could simply push in hex code to the particular modules to activate circuits.

Perhaps it sounds like a bad idea to switch modules, but when you work in a factory and have an abundance of parts to troubleshoot with, maybe the diagnostic professional at the dealership would do certain things differently.

I agree whole heartedly with prior gent with his diagnostic procedure, his way is the correct way to diagnose correctly. I was under the assumption that the window not working was the drivers, not all though.

By the way the ptec or power train module under the hood has definite voltage parameters, it will elicite codes when it goes under 11 vlts, and I am not sure the vehicle will start. When replacing the battery and alternator the codes just don't go away, they maybe another culperite.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 1:58PM
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Hi jb

That NGS engineering card is something new to me, of course these days, there is ALWAYS something new. Frankly I hate when I see things show up displayed in hex when I'm working. It just looks so foreign that dang "$" showing up everywhere, VBG. Plus then I either have to stop and hunt for a translation or ignore it until it becomes evident that I have to deal with it.

Ford used to put switching modules right in their trouble trees. "Substitute known good part". The biggest problem with that of course was they didn't pay well enough for the diagnostics in the first place and then subbing parts definately wasn't paid for if it didn't fix the problem.
They also liked to lead the tech by hand with their diagnostic tests. I'll never forget the first time I worked with an EGR code. That the chart was some twenty steps, only to find out the problem was the EGR position sensor voltage was higher than the closed valve spec. The problem? The valve was stuck open. If they had simply told me, EGR valve position voltage was too high with the valve closed, and gave me a spec of .7 to .9v with the valve closed I would have found the problem in less than five minutes.

BTW you'll love this. Techs have tried swapping parts forever when they couldn't think of any other way to diagnose a problem. Try that with two Chryslers and you can get some pretty interesting suprises. Take two identical vans, except one has theft deterrent. Plug the instrument cluster from the one with theft deterrent into the van that does not have it, and you will end up with a van that won't start because the PCM will see the theft deterrent signal from the instrument cluster, and immeadiately set itself to always look for that command. Once the second vans PCM thinks it has theft deterrent, you cannot remove that from the PCM! That quick plug and try actually forces a PCM replacement to get the car started.

BTW, what year Explorers did you work with? I have a 2002 and love it, 84K and counting.....

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 6:58PM
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I came across this post regarding a the GEM module on fords and hope someone can provide some guidance.

I have a 98 for explorer XLT and post a door latch assembly replacement, the driver door lock switch does not work to lock / unlock any doors. However the lock on switch on all other doors does work and the key works to control all locks.
I have been unsuccessful trying to troubleshoot the switch itself and think it might be the module. A friend has a 97 Ford Explorer XLT and is making drastic modifications to it to include adding 4 wheel drive, a lift kit, etc. Are the 97 and 98 modules the same?

Second question - 1999 mercury sable - I am certain it is the moldule as there are all sorts of electrical things happening. windows will nto go down then they will, interior light doesnt work, wipers work then they dont...

I understand these modules are specific the year and make is that correct? Cant use a explorer module in a sable correct.

Do they sell these moldues after market and if not, and I decide to go the junk yard route, are there any other years I can harvest from?

Thanks for taking the time to respond.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 5:42PM
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It's a '98. It's about the right age to start having trouble with ground connections. However, two experienced men, John_g and Jbyrson1, have discussed common issues already. It wouldn't hurt to locate those 6 or so grounding points and refresh those connections. I'd start with the ones outside the passenger cabin first, especially any mounted on a fender, and up front around the radiator supporting frame. Next, refresh the connections to the engine grounding strap. A bad connection here can prevent starting.

Before messing with these grounds, it is a good idea to disconnect the battery and wait about 2 minutes to discharge the capacitor to the air bag ignition circuit.

You need only to remove one battery cable, the ground cable is fine. Stow it in a manner so that it will not accidently flip or be knocked back to touch the battery post.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 9:52PM
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