Skip to main content
Menu
0 items
Fluid level checks Ford Explorer 1991 - 2001 Petrol 5.0 V8

OnDemand step-by-step maintenance & repair BETA

Ford Explorer 1991 - 2001  | 5.0 V8 Fluid level checks

  • time 5 to 30 minutes
  • difficulty 1
Note: The following are fluid level checks to be performed on a 250 mile or weekly basis. Additional fluid level checks can be found in specific maintenance procedures which follow. Regardless of intervals, be alert to fluid leaks under the vehicle which would indicate a fault to be corrected immediately
1 Fluids are an essential part of the lubrication, cooling, brake and windshield washer systems. Because the fluids gradually become depleted and/or contaminated during normal operation of the vehicle, they must be periodically replenished. See the recommended lubricants and fluids at the bottom of this Section before adding fluid to any of the following components
Note: The vehicle must be on level ground when fluid levels are checked

Engine oil

2 Engine oil is checked with a dipstick, which is located on the side of the engine. The dipstick extends through a metal tube down into the oil pan
3 The engine oil should be checked before the vehicle has been driven, or about 15 minutes after the engine has been shut off. If the oil is checked immediately after driving the vehicle, some of the oil will remain in the upper part of the engine, resulting in an inaccurate reading on the dipstick
4 Pull the dipstick out of the tube and wipe all of the oil away from the end with a clean rag or paper towel. Insert the clean dipstick all the way back into the tube and pull it out again. Note the oil at the end of the dipstick.
4a The oil level should appear between the ADD 1 QT and SAFE marks; don’t overfill the crankcase
5 It takes one quart of oil to raise the level from the ADD mark to the FULL or MAX mark on the dipstick. Do not allow the level to drop below the ADD mark or oil starvation may cause engine damage. Conversely, overfilling the engine (adding oil above the FULL or MAX mark) may cause oil fouled spark plugs, oil leaks or oil seal failures
6 To add oil, remove the filler cap located on the valve cover. After adding oil, wait a few minutes to allow the level to stabilize, then pull the dipstick out and check the level again. Add more oil if required. Install the filler cap and tighten it by hand only
7 Checking the oil level is an important preventive maintenance step. A consistently low oil level indicates oil leakage through damaged seals, defective gaskets or past worn rings or valve guides. The condition of the oil should also be noted. If the oil looks milky in color or has water droplets in it, the cylinder head gasket(s) may be blown or the head(s) or block may be cracked. The engine should be repaired immediately. Whenever you check the oil level, slide your thumb and index finger up the dipstick before wiping off the oil. If you see small dirt or metal particles clinging to the dipstick, the oil should be changed

Engine coolant

Warning: Do not allow antifreeze to come in contact with your skin or painted surfaces of the vehicle. Rinse off spills immediately with plenty of water. Antifreeze is highly toxic if ingested. Never leave antifreeze lying around in an open container or in puddles on the floor; children and pets are attracted by it’s sweet smell and may drink it. Check with local authorities about disposing of used antifreeze. Many communities have collection centers which will see that antifreeze is disposed of safely. Never dump used antifreeze on the ground or pour it into drains
Note: Non-toxic antifreeze is now manufactured and available at local auto parts stores, but even this type should be disposed of properly
8 All vehicles covered by this manual are equipped with a pressurized coolant recovery system. A plastic coolant reservoir located at the front of the engine compartment is connected by a hose to the radiator filler neck. If the engine overheats, coolant escapes through a valve in the radiator cap and travels through the hose into the reservoir. As the engine cools, the coolant is automatically drawn back into the cooling system to maintain the correct level
9 The coolant level in the reservoir should be checked regularly. Warning: Do not remove the radiator cap to check the coolant level when the engine is warm! The level in the reservoir varies with the temperature of the engine. When the engine is cold, the coolant level should be at or slightly above the COLD FULL mark on the reservoir. Once the engine has warmed up, the level should be at or near the FULL HOT mark. If it isn’t, allow the engine to cool, then remove the cap from the reservoir and add a 50/50 mixture of ethylene glycol based antifreeze and water. Don’t use rust inhibitors or additives
9a The coolant recovery reservoir is combined with the windshield washer fluid reservoir (there are separate compartments for the two fluids)
10 Drive the vehicle and recheck the coolant level. If only a small amount of coolant is required to bring the system up to the proper level, water can be used. However, repeated additions of water will dilute the antifreeze and water solution. In order to maintain the proper ratio of antifreeze and water, always top up the coolant level with the correct mixture. An empty plastic milk jug or bleach bottle makes an excellent container for mixing coolant
11 If the coolant level drops consistently, there may be a leak in the system. Inspect the radiator, hoses, filler cap, drain plugs and water pump. If no leaks are noted, have the radiator cap pressure tested
12 If you have to remove the radiator cap, wait until the engine has cooled completely, then wrap a thick cloth around the cap and turn it to the first stop. If coolant or steam escapes, let the engine cool down longer, then remove the cap
13 Check the condition of the coolant as well. It should be relatively clear. If it’s brown or rust colored, the system should be drained, flushed and refilled. Even if the coolant appears to be normal, the corrosion inhibitors wear out, so it must be replaced at the specified intervals

Brake and clutch fluid

Warning: Brake fluid can harm your eyes and damage painted surfaces, so use extreme caution when handling or pouring it. Do not use brake fluid that has been standing open or is more than one year old. Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air, which can cause a dangerous loss of brake effectiveness. Use only the specified type of brake fluid. Mixing different types (such as DOT 3 or 4 and DOT 5) can cause brake failure.
14 The brake master cylinder is mounted at the left (driver’s side) rear corner of the engine compartment. The clutch fluid reservoir (used on models with manual transmissions) is mounted adjacent to it
15 To check the clutch fluid level, observe the level through the translucent reservoir. The level should be at or near the step molded into the reservoir. If the level is low, remove the reservoir cap to add the specified fluid. Clutch fluid is contained in a separate reservoir next to the brake master cylinder - clean the rubber cap before returning it to the reservoir.
16 The brake fluid level is checked by looking through the plastic reservoir mounted on the master cylinder. The fluid level should be between the MAX and MIN lines on the reservoir (see illustration) . If the fluid level is low, wipe the top of the reservoir and the cap with a clean rag to prevent contamination of the system as the cap is unscrewed. Top up with the recommended brake fluid, but do not overfill.
18.16 Check the brake fluid level by looking through the translucent plastic reservoir
17 While the reservoir cap is off, check the master cylinder reservoir for contamination. If rust deposits, dirt particles or water droplets are present, the system should be drained and refilled by a dealer service department or repair shop
18 After filling the reservoir to the proper level, make sure the cap is seated to prevent fluid leakage and/or contamination
19 The fluid level in the master cylinder will drop slightly as the disc brake pads wear. A very low level may indicate worn brake pads
20 If the brake fluid level drops consistently, check the entire system for leaks immediately. Examine all brake lines, hoses and connections, along with the calipers, wheel cylinders and master cylinder
21 When checking the fluid level, if you discover one or both reservoirs empty or nearly empty, the brake or clutch hydraulic system should be checked for leaks and bled

Windshield washer fluid

22 Fluid for the front windshield washer system is stored in a plastic reservoir in the engine compartment. The front windshield washer reservoir is combined with the coolant reservoir – there are separate compartments for the two different fluids (see illustration 9a)
23a To check the rear windshield washer fluid level on early models, lift the tabs and remove the access panel in the luggage compartment . . .
23b . . . to expose the reservoir
23c To fill the reservoir, lift the cap on the quarter panel above the tail light and pour washer fluid into the hole
24 In milder climates, plain water can be used in the reservoir, but it should be kept no more than 2/3 full to allow for expansion if the water freezes. In colder climates, use windshield washer system antifreeze, available at any auto parts store, to lower the freezing point of the fluid. This comes in concentrated or pre-mixed form. If you purchase concentrated antifreeze, mix the antifreeze with water in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions on the container
Caution: Do not use cooling system antifreeze - it will damage the vehicle’s paint

Recommended lubricants, fluids and capacities

Note: Listed here are the manufacturer's recommendations at the time this manual was written. Manufacturers occasionally upgrade their fluid and lubricant specifications, so check with your auto parts store for current recommendations
Engine oil
  Type API "Certified for gasoline engines"
  Viscosity See accompanying chart
Brake fluid type DOT 3 heavy duty brake fluid
Coolant type 50/50 mixture of ethylene glycol-based antifreeze and water
Caliper slide rail grease Disc brake caliper slide rail grease
18.24a Recommended engine oil viscosity
Engine oil
  With filter change 5 quarts
  Without filter change 4 quarts
Cooling system
  V6 models
    Through 2000 7.8 to 13.2 qts
    2001 and later models 14.0 qts
  V8 models 12.8 to 15.7 quarts
All OnDemand jobs for your car
$12.99
1 year subscription

Already purchased this job? Log into your account to view