When a Ford Explorer's wipers stop working, the lights on the console go out or the car won't start altogether, owners may become frustrated and attempt to take the car immediately to the shop. However, many Ford Explorer electrical problems can be diagnosed and solved by the owner, and oftentimes the ones that can't are not difficult or expensive repairs.
Common Electrical Problems
Because a vehicle has so many electronic components, it is not uncommon for one or more of them to fail---especially if they are connected in a series. Many of these are connected to the generic electronic module, which is a computer used on Ford explorers to control electronic functions. Interior lighting, battery save mode, four-wheel drive and headlights are all electrical components that may stop working on Ford explorers. Some common electrical problems arise due to tampering by car owners. For instance, it is relatively common for the factory radio to be swapped out in favor of a better sound system, but if one is not careful, he or she may accidentally cut additional wires to the GEM in the Explorer. This may result in gas gauges, speedometer and tachometer failure on the dashboard. If the windshield wipers stop working or the "check engine" light blinks on and off at random, the issue is likely electrical.
Diagnosing an Electrical Problem
The first thing a driver should do is to simply turn off the car and attempt to restart---certain lights, like the ABS and "Check Engine" indicators, may go off after the car is turned back on. Next, one should look for the fuse panel under the dashboard on the driver's side of the explorer. Any blown fuses can be replaced inexpensively and will save a trip to a mechanic. Power windows and locks can be related either to a short or breakage in the motor mechanism inside the door or to the GEM. Dysfunctional remote entry, anti-theft devices and rear window heating are related to the GEM, which may have a bad connection. Dim headlights and interior lights may be caused by a low battery or faulty alternator.
Fixing an Electrical Issue
Fuses are cheap and easy to replace, and prevent more serious electrical problems from occurring in a car's electrical wiring or circuits. If mechanisms on windows and locks are broken due to a bad motor, it is usually best to contact a mechanic unless one has experience in replacing such a switch or motor. Loose connections, circuits or relays to the GEM are easy enough to diagnose and repair since they are usually apparent to the naked eye on the explorer---for dim headlights, one should check the connections to the alternator, for console lights or power windows, the connections to the GEM. Persistent problems, or ones that cannot be remedied with relative ease, should be taken to a mechanic to prevent further damage.
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