NHTSA Defect Investigations for the 1997 Ford Explorer

The Office of Defects Investigations (ODI) is an office within the NHTSA which investigates serious safety problems in the design, construction or performance of vehicles. The NHTSA is authorized to order manufacturers to recall and repair vehicles, if the ODI finds a safety issue. NHTSA investigations for the 1997 Ford Explorer, both ongoing and closed, are listed below:

  1. SPARK PLUG EJECTION FROM CYLINDER HEAD NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP05005

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: September 22, 2005
    • Date Closed: January 04, 2006
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Engine And Engine Cooling
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine
    Engine And Engine Cooling:Engine:Gasoline

    Summary: On September 6, 2005, ODI received a petition requesting that the Agency investigate allegations of engine spark plug ejection in certain model year 1997 through 2004 Ford vehicles with Triton V-8 and V-10 engines.ODI received a total of 474 non-duplicative complaints on the subject vehicles where the complainant, or the dealer repairing the vehicle, reported that a spark plug detached from the cylinder and/or ejected from the engine.as of December 8, 2005, ODI is not aware of any allegations where the alleged defect resulted in a loss of vehicle control, a crash, an injury, or a fatality in any of the 10,319,810 subject vehicles.in addition, ODI is aware of only two incidents where the vehicle stalled without restart.information contained in the ODI consumer complaints and obtained from 72 telephone interviews with complainants showed the following:(1) 99% of the complaints were on MY 1997 to 2002 subject vehicles.(2) most the complainants reported hearing a loud pop while driving or upon starting up the vehicle followed by a loud, repetitive clicking or popping sound.(3) many of the complainants reported that the popping sound was accompanied by some loss of vehicle power; however, in 99% of the incidents reported, the vehicle did not stall.in the very few incidents where the vehicle did stall, most vehicles could be restarted.(4) only a small percentage of the complainants cited that they smelled gas or a slight burning smell when the incident occurred.(5) in all but a very few incidents, vehicle damage was limited to the engine.in one incident, the complaint reported that the fuel rail was damaged and replaced after one of the spark plugs ejected from the engine; however, the complainant reported that the damage did not result in any type of fuel leak or fire.in another incident, the only incident where a fire was alleged, the complainant reported that no fluid leak was observed, but that a fire resulted after the spark plug had ejected from the engine and he had restarted the vehicle and driven to another location.none of the complainants reported any damage to the vehicle hood.(6) only two complainants reported that they observed what appeared to be some drops of fuel coming from the cylinder where the spark plug had failed or on the spark plug itself; however, each of these complainants reported that there was no smoke or flames as a result of his incident.as the petitioner noted, and ODI's analysis showed, it is possible for a spark plug to detach from the engine cylinder threads in the subject vehicles.however, ODI's analysis of 474 complaints describing such incidents found only a very few alleged any safety-related consequences.none of these showed any evidence of a serious safety consequence.given the large population and relatively long exposure time of the subject vehicles, the complaint analysis indicates that the risk to motor vehicle safety from the alleged defect is very low.in view of the foregoing, it is unlikely that NHTSA would issue an order for the notification and remedy of the alleged defect at the conclusion of the investigation requested in the petition.therefore, in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish the Agency's safety mission, the petition is denied.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #DP05005 »

  2. FUEL LINE DAMAGE FROM JUMP STARTING NHTSA Defect Investigation #RQ98020

    Component(s): Fuel System, Gasoline:Delivery:Hoses, Lines/Piping, And Fittings

    Summary: There is no summary currently available

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #RQ98020 »

  3. STEERING KNUCKLE SEPARATIONS NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE99045

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: July 06, 1999
    • Date Closed: October 29, 1999
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Steering

    Summary: There is no summary currently available

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE99045 »

  4. THROTTLE STICKING NHTSA Engineering Analysis #EA99001

    Component(s): Vehicle Speed Control:Linkages

    Summary: On January 23, 1997, Ford Motor Company issued special service message (ssm) 10240, announcing that a revised throttle body would be available during the first quarter of 1997 for 1997 model year Ford Explorer equipped with the 4.0L single overhead cam (SOHC) engine.the ssm stated the revised throttle body would address increased throttle efforts that had been experienced on these vehicles.on July 31, 1998, the Office Of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened service query SQ98-014 to determine whether a safety recall was warranted for the problem addressed by ssm 10240.at that time ODI had 14 reports alleging throttles sticking open, including three crashes, on 1997 Explorer with the 4.0L SOHC engine.EA99-001 investigated alleged throttle body sticking, and loss of throttle control, in the subject vehicles.on December 22, 2000, Ford Motor Company filed a defect information report concerning throttle body sticking in 1997-1998 model year Explorer and Mountaineer vehicles with 4.0 SOHC engines that still retain the original throttle body; safety recall 00V-422.the engineering analysis closing report is attached.

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #EA99001 »

  5. THROTTLE STICKING NHTSA Defect Investigation #SQ98014

    • Status:
      CLOSED
    • Date Opened: July 31, 1998
    • Date Closed: January 07, 1999
    • Recall: no recall issued

    Component(s): Vehicle Speed Control:Linkages

    Summary: There is no summary currently available

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #SQ98014 »

  6. WINDSHIELD WIPER MALFUNCTION NHTSA Preliminary Evaluation #PE99049

    Component(s): Visibility

    Summary: There is no summary currently available

    NHTSA: For detailed information & supporting documents, see the official NHTSA page concerning investigation #PE99049 »

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