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How to put a '91 Ford Explorer in 4WD?
Old 08-12-2007, 05:10 PM   #1
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How to put a '91 Ford Explorer in 4WD?

Anyone else out there with an older Explorer or Ford truck? DH has a stick-shift '91 Explorer and it's been many years since we needed to use the 4WD. There's a button on the dash, but when you push it, nothing seems to happen. I seem to remember there's some other step or trick to it, like having to be in a certain gear or something, but DH thinks not.

If we can't figure it out, we'll head to a mechanic (probably good to do anyway since it's been so long since we used that feature). But I thought someone here might know. Any ideas?
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Old 08-12-2007, 05:31 PM   #2
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Check the front wheel hubs ... they made need to be "locked" (with a 1/2 turn). Had a 92' that had to be locked to engage 4 wheel.
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Old 08-12-2007, 05:51 PM   #3
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Wow thats some old memory. Most early explorers were equipped with autolocking hubs, but the manual ones were an option. Some versions required backing up 10-15 feet to lock the automatic hubs.

Also...drop both visors and see if theres any instructions on them. Ford was fond of putting its four wheel drive engagement instructions and a bunch of warnings on the top of the visors, usually the drivers side.
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Old 08-12-2007, 07:11 PM   #4
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Quote:

Some versions required backing up 10-15 feet to lock the automatic hubs.
Still do this (out of habit).
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Old 08-12-2007, 08:20 PM   #5
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WM, here are the pages from the Owner Guide.

Coach
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File Type: jpg manual.jpg (51.8 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg manual2.jpg (134.9 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg manual3.jpg (152.3 KB, 5 views)
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Old 08-13-2007, 06:29 PM   #6
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Fantastic, thank you!!

Ours does have the automatic locking hubs, so according to Coach's manual it looks like DH was right, and we shouldn't really have to do anything except push the button. Maybe he can try pushing the button and then giving it a minute to engage - could just be stiff.

We'll play with it a little and I'll let you know what happens.
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Old 08-13-2007, 09:31 PM   #7
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WM, press the button while moving slowly forward. The light should come on pretty quickly. Within a few yards you may hear or feel the front hubs lock.

Then try a moderate turn, slowly, on dry pavement. If the four wheel is engaged, you'll know it.

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Old 08-13-2007, 11:14 PM   #8
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Chances are the hubs are dry from non-use and will not engage. Mechanics advise that all 4WD vehicles should be run in 4WD (off-road or in snow) at least a few times per year to keep all the moving parts lubricated.
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Old 08-15-2007, 10:18 AM   #9
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Sadly, we've had no luck at all getting it to work. The light comes on, but nothing engages. AltaRed probably has it right - it's just been way too long since we've used it.

Oh well, I guess it's off to the mechanic. At least now we know how it's supposed to work. Thanks for the help!
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Old 08-16-2007, 01:01 PM   #10
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It's simple to determine whether it is the transfer case not going into 4H, or whether it is going into 4H, but have a hub-not-locking problem.

Put a piece of masking tape or a magnet on the front drive shaft coming from the T-case to the front differential. Then try to engage 4H, and drive forward, then stop. Check and see if the front drive shaft has rotated, by seeing if the tape or magnet is now in a different position. If it's moved, the T-case is indeed engaged. This method works for auto hubs, or manual hubs if both manual hubs are unlocked first.

If the Explorer's electrically shifted T-case is like it's big brother, there is an electric motor that rotates to engage/disengage 2HI/4HI/4LO at the T-case. The big unit has the shift motor bolted to it, it looks a lot like a power window motor. With a long period of non-use, the motor's commutator gets a bit corroded and won't make contact. The hi-tech solution is to tap the motor housing with a hammer. A solid tap or two, not a beating! This usually shakes the motor's armature enough to make contact again. Exercising the T-case electric shift every 6 months or so will usually prevent this problem. At least this is the way it is for the full-sized Ford trucks up through '96 and 250/350 through '97.
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