How to Troubleshoot the Fan Clutch in a Ford Explorer

by Allen Moore
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The Ford Explorer fan clutch is responsible for the performance of the engine cooling fan. The engine needs to operate at a set temperature, and if the fan runs constantly, it may run below the optimal temperature. If the fan never runs at all, the engine may overheat. In the event you suspect your fan clutch is not operating properly, take a few minutes to perform these simple troubleshooting steps to verify whether or not your Explorer needs a new fan clutch. It is best to begin these steps with a cold engine.

Step 1

Climb underneath the front of the Explorer with your flashlight. It is best to have your safety glasses on from this point forward throughout the testing. Look up to the bottom of the fan clutch and inspect for any leaks that may be coming from the body of the unit. If the leak has been there for some time, the fluid trail may be covered in dirt. In those cases, the fluid trail will appear to be a darker line of dirt than the area surrounding it. If a leak is present, your fan clutch has either failed or is in the process of failing.

Step 2

Reach up and spin the fan by hand. If you are unable to reach it from below, climb out and access the fan from the top of the engine bay. A good fan clutch should bring the fan to a halt within four or five revolutions. If yours continues to spin, or won’t spin at all, you have a bad fan clutch and will need to replace it.

Step 3

Start the engine, raise the hood and wait for the fan to engage. It should kick in once the engine reaches operating temperature and shut off after cooling the engine for a bit. If it does not engage, you have a bad fan clutch. If it does, move to the next step. If the fan clutch is spinning from the moment the cold engine is started, you will need to replace the fan clutch.

Step 4

Push the cardboard into the path of the fan, being careful not to put your fingers or any other body part in harm’s way. If the cardboard slows the fan significantly or brings it to a halt, you have a bad fan clutch and will need to replace it.

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