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2005 Ford Explorer Engine Fail Safe Mode

Okay, I have a 2005 Ford Explorer with roughly 160K miles which has done me good for about 6 years now, but over the last several months I have had little things go wrong here and there.

I am a mechanic by no means, but can tinker with “minor” projects when the needs arises. I change my own oil, put in a new alternator, changed the idler pulley, put on a new belt, and put new rotors, pads, and calipers with the help of a friend.

Two days ago as I was driving home after dropping my daughter off at a friends; as I was going about 55mph my Explorer jerked really hard and the RPM’s dropped (almost like it shut off); then the RPM’s shot back up and it was fine for about another quarter of a model. My Explorer jerked again; only this time dash lights flickered, RPM’s dropped slowly, and I received two indicator lights on the dash (SERVICE ENGINE & A WRENCH). The dash also displayed a message “Engine Fail Safe Mode;” I had no throttle response and as I pulled over and came to a stop the engine died.

When I tried to restart the Explorer I kept getting the same display on the dash, but this time it was displaying “Engine Fail Safe Mode - Low Oil Pressure.” I was lucky enough to have a Kentucky State Trooper help get me off the road and I left her in the parking lot of a gas station about a 1.5 miles away from my house. I have a friend who was going to help me move it to a garage yesterday and when we went to pick it up I decided to try and see if she would start. When I cranked her up she started and then died; I tried this two more times and on attempt number three she stayed running (with no indicator lights).

I went ahead and drove my Explorer to the garage and talked to the mechanic about what it was doing. He is going to hook it up and see what the computer says, but I am afraid this is going to be a costly repair.

My question is; has anyone else had this happen and what am I looking at as far as repairs? Also, once I get the malfunctions codes; how easy would it be for a person with minimal mechanical experience to fix (depending on the issue)?

I think that your biggest fear at this point should be damage to the engine as a result of re-starting and running the engine after a warning of low oil pressure. Until the diagnostic codes are known, nobody could possibly give you an accurate diagnosis or possible repair costs, but the possibility of bearing damage from running it with low oil pressure is a very expensive scenario.

If you are really lucky, this may turn out to be something as simple as a bad crankshaft position sensor that is affected by heat. But…the possible low oil pressure situation would have me sweating a bit until the full story is found.

4.0 ohc? i would check codes and see if any come up for cam sensor or crank sensor.

Yes … 4.0 OHC … when I went to start it the next day the low oil pressure message was non-existent … So I am hoping this is a sensor issue

In the future if you get a low oil pressure message, don’t try to start it again until a mechanic inspects the situation. Just have it towed to the shop. The mechanic will use his own oil pressure gauge to confirm or deny whether there actually is an oil pressure problem. That’s the most important piece of information you need to know at this point.

At any time did you at least check the oil. Low oil pressure could mean that you have little to no oil in the engine. Restarting it was the wrong thing to do until you checked the oil.
If it didn’t show on the dipstick, you should have waited until you got some oil into the engine.

Extremely low oil pressure would put the computer into limp mode.