Understanding Rough Idling in Ford Explorers

Rough Idling, Ford Explorer, Faulty Ignition Coil, Vacuum Leaks, Spark Plug

Understanding Rough Idling in Ford Explorers

Rough Idling, Ford Explorer, Faulty Ignition Coil, Vacuum Leaks, Spark PlugOwners of a Ford Explorer may experience rough idling. But what does that mean and why is it happening? Rough idling is when the engine feels like it’s shaking or vibrating excessively when you’re at a stop. There are various causes for rough idling , which include faulty ignition coil or spark plugs and vacuum leaks. This can be frustrating and concerning, as it indicates that something is not quite right with your vehicle.


There are various causes for rough idling. Therefore, it’s crucial to identify the root cause to address the issue effectively. It’s always wise to consult with a qualified mechanic to diagnose the exact problem. This article sheds light on common reasons behind rough idling in Ford Explorers and provides tips on how to fix it.

Rough Idling Common Causes in Ford Explorers

Vacuum leaks

One possible cause of rough idling in a Ford Explorer is a vacuum leak. When there is an air leak in the intake manifold or vacuum lines, the engine cannot get the proper fuel-to-air ratio, resulting in a rough idle. These leaks can occur due to deteriorated vacuum hoses, loose connections, or a faulty intake manifold gasket. Identifying and repairing these leaks is crucial to restore a smooth idle.

Faulty ignition coil or spark plug

Another potential culprit behind rough idling in Ford Explorers is a faulty ignition coil or spark plug. If either are not functioning correctly, the engine may misfire. A misfire can cause the vehicle to shake and vibrate during idle. Replacing the faulty ignition coil or spark plug can often resolve this issue.

Dirty or clogged fuel injectors

A dirty or clogged fuel injector can disrupt the flow of fuel into the engine, leading to a rough idle. Over time, fuel injectors can become clogged with deposits, affecting their performance. restore proper fuel flow and improve idling by using fuel additives or cleaning the injectors.

Faulty Cold Start Valve

What if your Ford Explorer only idles rough when it’s cold? Then it could be a faulty cold start valve,  malfunctioning temperature sensor, or fuel system problem. Consult a professional mechanic to diagnose and address the specific cause.

Diagnosing Rough Idling in Ford Explorers

It’s certainly helpful to know common causes of rough idling in Ford Explorers. However, it’s essential to diagnose the specific issue accurately. Following these steps can help with diagnosis.

Check for error codes

Modern vehicles have onboard diagnostics systems that provide error codes for potential issues. You can use a OBD-II scanner to retrieve the codes that focus on the rough idling issue. However, it’s important to note that error codes alone may not provide a complete diagnosis.

Inspect for visible signs

Conduct a visual inspection of the engine bay, paying attention to components such as vacuum hoses, ignition coils, and spark plugs. Look for any signs of damage, loose connections, or wear and tear that may be contributing to the rough idle.

Perform a thorough cleaning

Carbon deposits or dirt in the throttle body can cause rough idling. Clean the throttle body and the idle air control valve to improve airflow. Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning products recommendations.

Seek professional assistance

Rough idling can be caused by more complicated issues. These include engine misfires, faulty sensors, or even transmission issues. Professional mechanics have the expertise and specialized tools to diagnose and repair complex issues. They can diagnosis the issue with specialized equipment. Compression tests and fuel pressure tests can pinpoint the exact cause of the rough idle.

How To Fix Rough Idling in Ford Explorers

With a better understanding of  rough idling common causes and diagnosis, let’s explore potential solutions. Here are the common repairs to fix rough idling.

Repair vacuum leaks

If a vacuum leak is causing the rough idle, then you’ll need to identify the source of the leak and repair it. Replace deteriorated vacuum hoses, tighten loose connections, or repair a faulty intake manifold gasket. Make sure that all vacuum-related components are in good condition.

Replace faulty ignition coils or spark plugs

If a misfire is the culprit behind the rough idle,  then replace the faulty ignition coil and/or spark plugs. Consult the owner’s manual or a qualified technician for the correct replacement parts. Properly installed and functioning ignition coils and spark plugs restores a smooth idle.

Clean or replace fuel injectors

If dirty or clogged fuel injectors are causing the rough idle, then there are two options to consider. One approach is to use fuel additives specifically designed to clean fuel injectors. These additives can help remove deposits and improve fuel flow. Alternatively, if the injectors are severely clogged, it’s best to hire a qualified technician to diagnosis and repair the issue.

Consider software updates

In some cases, rough idling may be due to outdated software or calibration issues. Ford dealerships or authorized service centers can perform software updates to address these issues. Keeping the vehicle’s software up to date can help resolve idling problems and improve overall performance.

Perform regular maintenance

Preventive maintenance keeps your Ford Explorer running smoothly. Regularly replacing the air filter, fuel filter, and PCV valve can help prevent rough idling. Additionally, following recommended maintenance schedules ensure that other components, such as the throttle body and sensors, are in good working order.

Regular Maintenance to Prevent Rough Idling in Ford Explorers

Preventing rough idling in your Ford Explorer starts with regular maintenance. By following these maintenance tips, you can reduce the chances of encountering idling issues:

Change fluids regularly

Regularly change engine oil, coolant, and transmission fluid according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This helps maintain proper lubrication and cooling, preventing issues that can lead to rough idling.

Inspect and replace worn-out components

Regularly inspect and replace components such as belts, hoses, and filters that may wear out over time. Worn-out components can hinder engine performance and contribute to rough idling.

Use quality fuel

Choose high-quality fuel and avoid prolonged use of low-quality or contaminated fuel. Poor-quality fuel can lead to deposits in the fuel system, causing rough idling and other performance issues.

Keep tires properly inflated

Maintain the recommended tire pressure. It not only improves fuel efficiency, but also reduces strain on the engine. Underinflated tires can increase engine load, potentially leading to rough idling.

Drive gently

Aggressive driving habits can put unnecessary stress on the engine. This leads to rough idling and other performance problems. Smooth acceleration and avoiding sudden stop or starts can help maintain a healthy engine.

Tips for maintaining a smooth idle in Ford Explorers

To maintain a smooth idle in your Ford Explorer, consider the following tips:

  • Follow the recommended maintenance schedule: Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. This includes regular inspections, fluid changes, and component replacements.
  • Warm up the engine: Allow the engine to warm up for a few minutes before driving, especially in colder weather. This helps ensure proper fuel combustion and reduces the chances of a rough idle.
  • Avoid unnecessary idling: Excessive idling can contribute to rough idling. It’s often more fuel-efficient to turn off the engine and restart when dealing highly congested traffic.
  • Monitor fuel quality: Use high-quality fuel from reputable gas stations. Avoid using fuel with questionable quality or contaminants.
  • Drive gently: Smooth acceleration and deceleration help maintain a healthy engine. Avoid quick starts or sudden stops that can strain the engine.

Experiencing a rough idle in your Ford Explorer can be frustrating and worrisome. However, this tips to diagnose and repair rough idling may reduce some of the stress..

Schedule Your Rough Idling Service

Remember, if you’re unsure about the cause or unable to resolve the rough idle on your own, it’s always advisable to consult a qualified mechanic. They can provide professional diagnosis and repair services to ensure that your Ford Explorer is in optimal condition.

Please call Ron’s Garage at (734) 961-4701 for same-day or next-day appointments. Otherwise, visit our website for more information or to schedule your next Routine Brake Maintenance Service.