Ford Explorer Climate Control Problems [Plus Solutions]

In this post, we’ll explore the usual climate control problems in Ford Explorer cars. You’ll also discover why you’re facing the problem and how to fix it.

2011 Ford Explorer

But first, you should know why your car’s climate control system has gone bad. Here are the common causes of climate control problems in a Ford Explorer:

  • Low refrigerant levels in your AC.
  • A refrigerant leak.
  • A wide air gap in the compressor clutch.
  • A broken vacuum hose.
  • A faulty blend door actuator.

Ford Explorer Climate Control Problems

Auto climate control switches to AC in cold weather

One sign of a faulty climate control system in a Ford Explorer is that it switches to AC when set to auto mode in cold weather. After the system starts blowing cold air, it may also set the fan to max.

Usually, this problem occurs because of a functional error in the climate control system. You can fix the issue by disconnecting the negative cable from your car battery for about ten minutes.

Once you reattach the cable to the battery and turn on your auto climate control mode, the system should stay on heat.

AC blowing hot air

If your AC blows hot air, your climate control system is problematic.

Your AC might be blowing hot air because it is low on freon. The air conditioner needs a decent amount of refrigerant to convert the warm air in your system to cold air.

If you’ve been using your Ford Explorer for over three years and you’ve never recharged your AC, you might be out of refrigerant. In that case, you’ll need to refill your AC with refrigerant.

You can either hire an auto mechanic to recharge your AC or do the job yourself. If you decide to recharge the system on your own, you’ll need a r134a refrigerant can and a charging hose to pump in the freon.

After you’ve recharged your AC, turn on the system again. The system should blow cold air now.

If you’ve already recharged your AC when it starts releasing hot air, you might have a refrigerant leak. You can fix this issue by sealing the leaky part in your AC.

But first, you must find the damaged part. Most refrigerant leaks occur through the low-service AC port.

Follow these steps to find and fix the leaky area in your AC:

  • Pour some UV dye into the low-service AC port using a manifold set.
  • Then, use a black light to find the leak.
  • After locating the leaky area, use a vacuum to pump out all the refrigerant gas in your AC.
  • Next, reconnect your manifold set to the low-service port.
  • Apply a sealant to fix the damaged part of the hose.
  • Then recharge your AC again.

Your AC will blow cold air now.

Compressor keeps cycling

A bad climate control system may manifest in the continuous cycling of your compressor. If your compressor keeps going on and off, the air gap in your compressor clutch might be too wide.

When you switch on your AC, the compressor clutch receives a signal and transmits power to the compressor in order to activate the unit. This clutch contains two parts: a pulley and a shaft.

The pulley collects the signal from the AC and attaches itself to the shaft to communicate the signal. Immediately the shaft receives the signal, it engages the compressor.

There is an air gap between the pulley and the shaft in the compressor clutch. This space prevents a pulley from linking to the shaft when the AC is off.

Due to excess pressure on your engine, this air gap may widen. When this happens, the pulley may slip from the shaft while the AC is on. This will cause your compressor to keep going off and on.

To resolve this problem, you’ll need to reduce the air gap in your compressor clutch to the correct size. Check your car’s user manual to find the appropriate air gap for your compressor clutch.

Air only blows out of defrost vents

If your climate control system only blows air through the defrost vents, there might be a problem with the system. This issue often indicates you have a damaged vacuum hose.

Your vacuum hose provides the pressure your engine uses to pump air throughout the climate control system. Without this pressure, your climate control system might be unable to perform any of its functions: heating, cooling, or blowing air through vents.

In some cases, a torn vacuum hose may still offer a little pressure, which the engine then transfers to the climate control system. Since this pressure is insufficient to cover all the activities on your climate control system, the system shuts most air doors down.

Then, your climate control system sets the defrost vent as default and uses the little pressure from the vacuum hose to blow air through the vent. This might be why you are only getting air through your defrost vent.

If you’re facing this issue, take your car to your dealer and ask them to inspect it for a broken vacuum line. Your dealer will repair the hose once they find it.

Heater blowing cold air

Another common indicator of a bad climate control system in a Ford Explorer is that the heater blows cold air. When this happens, you might hear the air doors in the climate control system opening and closing continuously.

If your heater is blowing cold air, your blend door actuator might be faulty. This motor is responsible for matching the temperature of the air in your climate control system to your preferred settings.

The blend door actuator works by opening and closing your heater core and evaporator until it reaches your set temperature. However, if the actuator is bad, it might continue changing its position even after attaining your preferred temperature. As a result, your vents may release air that is colder than what you want.

The only way to resolve this issue is to replace your blend door actuator. You’ll find the blend door actuator behind your glove box.

Ford Explorer Models with the Most Climate Control Problems

These Ford Explorer models have the highest number of climate control problems:

  • 2002 Ford Explorer
  • 2003 Ford Explorer
  • 2004 Ford Explorer

Data from reveals the 2004 Ford Explorer as the model with the most climate control problems. 110 users of this model expressed dissatisfaction with the climate control system.

Following closely behind the 2004 model are the 2002 and 2003 Ford Explorer models, which got 90 and 91 reports each of AC and heater issues.

Ford Explorer Models with the Least Climate Control Problems

Here are the Ford Explorer models with the least climate control problems:

  • 1991 Ford Explorer
  • 1992 Ford Explorer
  • 1993 Ford Explorer
  • 2009 Ford Explorer
  • 2021 Ford Explorer
  • 2022 Ford Explorer

According to, no user of the Ford Explorer models above reported problems with their climate control systems.

Cost of Fixing Ford Explorer Climate Control Problems

It costs between $180-$275 to fix the average climate control problem in a Ford Explorer.

Tips to Prevent Ford Explorer Climate Control Problems

  • Don’t ignore any strange signs from your climate control system.
  • Recharge your AC once every three years.
  • Always use the R134a refrigerant when recharging your AC.
  • Clean your air filters every month.
  • Don’t park your car in areas without shades.

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Wrapping Up

Your climate control system will resume working normally if you apply these solutions correctly. If you need to replace a component in your climate control system, contact your dealer.

Your dealer will provide the most suitable version of the item for your car.