How to Replace the Ignition Switch in a 2002 Ford Explorerby Robert Bayly
The Ford Explorer is a small SUV that has its ignition mounted on the steering column. The ignition consists of the ignition switch and the lock assembly, which are separate and distinct parts that you should never replace at the same time. The switch completes the electrical connections needed to start the engine and allow the electrical system to operate. The lock, where you put the key, is what turns the switch to different positions. Replacing the switch is fairly easy once you remove the plastic steering-column covers.
Disable the airbag system by parking the Explorer with the wheels straight. Turn the key to "Lock." Wait at least two minutes for backup power to drain.
Remove the plastic knee bolster panel by detaching the two Phillips screws at the bottom of the panel. This is the plastic panel under the steering column. Carefully pry the top of the panel loose at a point directly above the lower-left screw, using a flat-head screwdriver.
Remove the three Phillips screws from the lower half of the steering-column cover. Lower the cover and set aside.
Remove the screw that holds on the upper cover. This screw is exposed when you remove the lower cover. It is below the turn signal arm towards the dash. Lift off the upper cover and set aside.
Detach the ignition switch connector from the ignition switch. It is mounted on the driver's side of the steering column.
Remove the ignition switch by pressing on the release clips on the top and bottom of the switch and pulling it out of the steering column. Take careful note of how the spring under the switch is positioned because you must put it back the same way when you install the new switch.
Push the electrical connector onto the switch. Engage the ignition switch with the spring and snap it into place on the steering column. Replace the screw for the upper steering-column cover and reinstall the lower cover. Reattach the knee bolster panel by securing it with the two Phillips screws.