Explorer 2000 engine bucking in snow

This car runs fine, except when it snows. Then it starts bucking like the engine has quit and restarted. Rain does not cause this, wind has no effect. Even if I start out with no snow in the air it runs fine (and regardless of the temperature outside), but if ONE snow flake happens to drop off of a tree in its path then the fun begins! It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a nor’easter, or just a few flakes. My mechanic has no idea, and the Ford service guy at the dealership has never heard of this. ANY IDEAS!!? HELP!!!

First I’d forget the idea that this is related to falling snow. Has the engine light been on at any time lately? Has all maintenance been kept up to date? Does it happen even after the engine is hot, or on cold starts only? Does it happen at all speeds, or just fast or just slow speeds? How long has it been happening, only since winter started and it was cold outside? Need some more info.

I wonder if the flakes get ingested through the air intake and make contact with the air flow sensor ? The sensor is before the filter. I, too, have never heard of an suv with snow fear issues. Have you spoken with it’s psychiatrist ? :wink:

The Mass Air Flow sensor is located after the air filter. This is done to protect the MAF sensor from being damaged from airborne contaminates.

But you might want to check the condition of the air filter. If there’s a hole in the air filter, and snowflakes get sucked past the air filter and onto the MAF sensor, those cold snowflakes hitting the hot wires on the MAF sensor will confuse the computer all-to-hell.


No engine light. Maintenance is pretty much up to date Doesn’t matter hot or cold. I can drive the car out of the yard in snow and it happens, or I can drive for a half hour, and then the snow starts and it begins. Speed doesn’t matter. I can be on a back road doing 40, or going down the highway at 70. It’s been happening the last two winters, and the temperature doesn’t make any difference.

Someone else mentioned the air flow sensor. I’m going for an oil change tomorrow, and will change the air filter. But will that help, as the sensor “is before the filter.?”

After the filter, or before?I’ll change the filter tomorrow, if I can find one. Will that make a difference as far as the sensor is concerned?

My Chevy S-10 had a similar problem before. Engine would buck whenever driven in snow or slush conditions. Drove it for several years like this without being able to find the problem, drove me crazy. Eventually the fuel pump died. I replaced that along with the sending unit and problem was solved. Turned out to be in the wiring on the fuel pump above the gas tank. Was never able to inspect that area before until dropping the fuel tank.

I will add that the location of some car’s air intake can cause it to pick-up snow and that snow can block the air intake. I have not heard of this with the Explorer, but I guess it could be a possibility.

Hmmm, I’ll mention that to the mechanic!! Thanks.

Has anyone figured out the answer to this problem? I’ve been having this problem for two years now and I’ve brought my car to 4 mechanics and 2 Nissan service centers. They’ve all told me the transmission, tires, driveshaft, engine is all fine, nothing seems to be broken. Please help!

I know! It’s the transmission, right? I have no Fording idea but a snowflake at least represents moisture which can lead to throttle icing. With that in mind, I would look for the warm air duct or hose and see if it is disconnected or has holes in it. It can be tricky to find but it should be attached to the plenum box. One rough mechanic changing an air filter can do enough damage. If the filter seal is out of place it could let the cold air in.

For most of the U.S. there probably won’t be any snow for the next 7 months to be able to demonstrate the problem to a technician so you have plenty of time to replace this old vehicle. Why would you take a Ford Explorer to a Nissan dealer?

1 Like

I have a 2009 Nissan Rogue not a Ford Explorer but I came across this thread while i was googling car forums regarding the problem I had. I found this thread along with a couple of other ones.

I think I have finally figured it out!! My car was in the shop yesterday getting a final diagnostic for the problem because mechanic was trying to reproduce the problem in the snow and it was snowing yesterday. He reproduced the problem but could not tell me why it was happening. He said it was probably transmission related and to take it to the dealership. Except, I brought it to two different Nissan dealerships and they did a full transmission diagnostic with no problems found.

I lost hope until I did some more googling and other people who had the same problem replaced their air filters. Air filters not seated properly or defective ones allows snow, dirt, debris, etc… to pass through and hit the MAF sensor which sent a current spike to the ECU which made it think it sucked in a huge amount of air which would cause the engine to compensate and by giving less fuel and then end up with a misfire but no code because it was compensating for the “amount of air” which was actually a snow flake.

I decided to try it and IT WORKED!!! WHOOHOOOO!!! When I took out my old air filter, it turns out it had a faulty seal (seals were worn and destroyed) which caused the snowflakes to enter whenever it snowed! My car drove like a beast last night in the snow and no bucking of the engine yet! Luckily, it snowed enough last night and the road conditions would have definitely caused the engine bucking but it didn’t after replacement! So, I’m confident it’s fixed from what I’ve seen last night, only time and more snow will tell but for now it seems to be fixed. It’s only taken me two years to figure out what’s going on with this problem. I will update if the problem comes back, hopefully it doesn’t!

I guess those filters don’t last forever. I’m happy that I may have had a good answer. Now if my frequent electrical grounds answer would ever work to solve a problem, I could be really happy. And the cold air is supposed to cause that problem. Man, old training from 1991 is still good.

I have been chasing a random misfire in my car for about three months. Every time it snowed I would get a misfire every 30 seconds or so. I chased plugs, moved around coilpacks, changed fuel stations. I COULDNT FIGURE IT OUT. then I read your post and thought to myself “Theres no way, thats impossible. MY OEM AIR FILTER COULDNT POSSIBLY BE FITTING INCORRECTLY” YET LO AND BEHOLD THAT WAS THE PROBLEM THE WHOLE DOGGONE TIME. THANK YOU INTERNET STRANGER. I created an account just to respond to your post.


This is why we keep old threads open. :slight_smile:

1 Like

How else can people post questions regarding totally different vehicles that might–or might not–share the same defect?

Plus the fact that Carolyn had to edit profanity out the reviving post.

Hey, it helped solve a problem. That’s… What this website is for, right?

As to the profanity from new members - get used to it. The younger demographic has taken over the internet and there will be swearing. We can inform them that it’s not OK here, but not until they, you know, swear for the first time. :wink:

1 Like