2001 Ford Explorer power steering pulley seized

Tiny
ANCHOR2B
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 FORD EXPLORER
  • 2.5L
  • V6
  • 4WD
  • MANUAL
  • 140,000 MILES
Tonight smoke came out of the engine as I was pulling into work. Opened the hood and the P/S pulley, or thing that is belt wraps around to spin it, was bright orange like hot metal. I let it cool, and tried to start the motor to see if the belt was moving. The car started fine, but when I looked at the belt it was broken. But I also noticed that the "pulley" wont spin. All the others spin but this one I cant budge. IS that normal, or what would cause it not to move?
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Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 AT 10:38 PM

7 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Can you post a picture of it? Power steering pumps can seize, but it's more common for the generator to do that.
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Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 AT 11:27 PM
Tiny
ANCHOR2B
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Harad to see but the one my finger is on wont spin
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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 AT 12:28 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Dandy. That's the AC compressor. Two things have to happen for that pulley to stop spinning. That ribbed pulley should spin freely with one finger when the belt is off. That is the clutch and it will be disengaged. When something comes apart inside it, that clutch can lock up, but then it should just run the compressor all the time. The symptom would be slightly reduced fuel mileage, if it's even noticeable. The compressor normally runs in AC mode and in defrost mode. With a locked clutch, it will run in heat mode too.

Once the clutch locked up, to cause a problem the compressor would have to lock up too. That is less common but it does happen. The compressor is hard to turn. When the clutch is working properly, you have to grab that plate in front of the pulley, and you'll likely need two hands to turn it. (Should do that with the engine not running!) When working properly, it will not turn evenly. What I mean is you'll feel plenty of resistance, then you'll reach a point where it suddenly spins real easy for perhaps a quarter turn. It will get easier and harder to turn three or four times per revolution, but it should feel smooth. If there's a problem inside it, you'll feel it clank to a stop or at least suddenly get stuck. Usually you'll be able to back it up for part of a revolution.

The clutch can be replaced separately if you have the special tools, but it's silly to do that if the compressor has to be replaced too. You might need to buy the two parts separately, but usually the complete assembly is available at a cost that's lower than buying them both individually. If you DO have to replace the compressor, leave that to a professional because the refrigerant has to be recovered first. That is extremely dangerous to work with. It can cause frostbite and blindness. Mechanics wear safety glasses, a face shield, and gloves. If only the clutch needs to be replaced, the refrigerant doesn't have to be removed.
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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 AT 1:37 AM
Tiny
ANCHOR2B
  • MEMBER
I am about an hour away form home at work so I will probably need to take it to firestone. Is it an expensive fix? The belt is off the car. Is it safe to drive a mile or so to the firestone or should I try to get it towed?
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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 AT 1:40 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
There's no 2.5L engine listed for this vehicle. I looked up the 4.0L since it's the most common one, and as near as I can tell, there's just one belt. That means with no belt you will not have a generator, power steering pump, or water pump. If your battery is in good shape, you'll easily get a good 15 minutes with the head lights on, and perhaps as much as an hour with no lights or radio turned on. You can drive without power steering, but turning the steering wheel excessively is going to push some power steering fluid out onto the ground and make a mess. The bigger concern is Ford has had a lot of trouble with burping the air out of the system once it is refilled with fluid. There are a lot of special funnel-type tools on the market to address this now. That can be frustrating because until that air works its way out, the reservoir will blibbit a blob out when you stop the engine and that air can expand. You may need to keep refilling the reservoir a few times over many days. To avoid this, just drive to where you need to go without working the steering wheel more than necessary. The steering will be the hardest at slow speeds. It gets easier as you go faster.

The water pump is the bigger issue. When started cold, the engine is not going to overheat in just three or four minutes unless you have to sit at stop lights a lot. If you do, at the risk of running the battery down, just stop the engine while you're sitting at the red light watching nothing happen, like I do in my city. To go longer distances, you can get up a head of steam, then shift to neutral, stop the engine, and coast a ways, then stop and wait five or ten minutes for the engine to cool. Be aware with the engine off, you'll only get one to three power-assisted stops from the brake pedal, then you'll have to push harder to stop.
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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 AT 2:01 AM
Tiny
ANCHOR2B
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Thanks so much for the information. I shouldn't have to drive more than 5-7 minutes. Hopefully it wont damage anything. I think the belt snapped because the pully wouldn't move. When I opened the hood, the ring around the pully was glowing orange like hot metal does. The belt looked really new with no cracks
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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 AT 2:09 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Keep me updated. I've chuckled for years how everything comes in pairs. Two customers need struts and an alignment. Two cars have a burned out head light, etc. Tonight yours is one of three conversations I'm in right now with Fords with belt problems. Go figure! I won't see another belt problem for the rest of the year!
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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 AT 2:13 AM

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