2001 Explorer XLT, possible issues, need advice

Heyo. I’ve got an '01 Explorer that has been serving me for a good few years now. It’s never had trouble starting up or keeping temp. No leaks, regular oil change, no transmission problems (excepting a bit of creak occasionally).

About a week ago, I was driving home, about 2.8 miles away, when I stopped at a light and the thing shut off. No sputter, no choke, just a peaceful power down. Electrics still ran, no strange feelings or noises. Started up just fine right after, but when put in gear it shut down again.

Long story short, took it to a garage. Explained everything, and of course, after finding nothing glaring, they labeled it a tranny problem, claiming that it was reaching temperature and then getting stuck in 4th gear. He quoted me $15-2300 in repairs. Now I’m no mechanic, but I know full well this isn’t a transmission issue. I put some gas in it and kept on driving, and there seems to be no issue at all now.

What I and a few others believe is that, since for a long while I was only putting in $5-10 of gas into it, maybe the fuel pump or a related part was just getting funky. I put 30 bucks of gas in, and besides the already clunky nature of the vehicle, it runs just fine.

My question is: Would there be anything else that caused this issue? For a while I thought my gas gauge had been a little funky, and I was running slightly low, but the tank was not empty. No work was done to the car in the shop, just a diagnostic. Advice?

2001 Ford Explorer XLT, 210k. No previous issues.

Well, keep the tank over half full and see how it goes.

The stalling might have been caused by a funky Idle Air Control valve.


The IAC valve controls the engine idle speed whenever the accelerator is released.

So, as you were stopped at the light, in gear, with the engine idling this was imposing a load on the engine. If the IAC valve moves to the wrong position for this idle condition the engine will stall.

Then in order to get the engine started again, you had to shift the transmission into park/neutral. When the engine started in park/neutral there was no load imposed on the engine so the engine idled. But as soon as you shifted the transmission into drive you imposed the load back onto the engine and the engine stalled again because the IAC valve still failed to go to the proper position.

These IAC valves can sometimes be effected by heat where they malfunction intermittently.

One way to check for a funky IAC valve is, once the engine is up to temperature and idling in park, take the handle of a screwdriver and rap on the IAC valve. If the engine idle speed changes when doing this replace the IAC valve.

The IAC valve is located on the throttle body.


I believe the shop that recommended a transmission was wrong

Don’t go back there

They would probably install a rebuilt transmission, and then your original problem would not be resolved

And then the ugliness would begin

You mean it stalls at or near idle speed with the transmission in D, but not in N or P? It could be a tranny problem, but that wouldn’t be my first guess. More likely some kind of idle control problem or fuel/air mixture problem. Check the IAC control and vacuum leaks. What’s the recommended maintenance schedule look like for this vehicle? Any scheduled maintenance been deferred?

Besides the IAC I would have the fuel pressure checked if it fails.