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Auction Tales- 10 Ford Explorer Loud Tap Left Valve Cover

2010 Ford Explorer 4.0 Timing Chain Issues

On today’s edition of “Tales of the Used Car Auction” we’re going to talk about a 2010 Ford Explorer with the 4.0 Liter engine. I know Ford Explorer’s aren’t the most popular SUV’s out there. Surprisingly though, there are still a large number of them still on the road. One particular “Exploder” we picked up from the used car auction will eventually be back on the road. It’s going to take some expensive parts and a lot of labor to get it running first though. 

It was one of the more puzzling cases, because the Explorer was driven 200 miles with no major issues. Within 10 minutes of being on our lot, the ‘10 Explorer developed a loud tapping noise on the front of the left valve cover. I thought at first maybe they used some kind of additive like Restore to quiet the engine noise, but it didn’t make any sense.

Instinctively, with the 4.0 engine I figured a timing chain guide had broke and the chain was hitting the valve cover. It’s a common issue on the 4.0 Ford engine in the Explorer’s. Using an engine noise-reducing additive will not quiet the noise from this type of timing chain destruction. 

The boss thought a lifter problem, so I removed the valve cover.

I knew I was wasting time pulling the valve cover on this 4.0, but every proper diagnosis must be confirmed. Confirming the timing chain guides were bad in this 2010 Ford Explorer meant removing the valve cover. It’s the only sure way of confirming if a guide had broke or it was in fact another engine mechanical failure. 

Pulling the valve cover involved removing the intake, unbolting the fuel rail and dealing with a few vacuum lines and wire looms. Fastened by 10mm studs, the valve cover comes off with little effort.


It only took a quick glance to see the broken pieces of timing chain guides pictured below. Diagnosis confirmed. This 2010 Explorer either needed a full timing set or a used/remanufactured engine. In our case as a used car dealer, replacing the engine assembly made the most sense. 

These four pieces of a broken timing chain guide were removed from the valve cover of a Ford Explorer 4.0 that exhibited a loud tap on drivers side of engine.

End result of this Ford Explorer 4.0 from the used car auction. 

There are a few main reasons why a car ends up at auction.


1.) New Car Trade-In 

When buying from a used car auction, the cream of the crop is usually the new car trade-in. Simple reason being, new car dealers don’t take junk in on trade generally and new car trade-ins offer the least chance of getting a car that needs major repairs. 

2.) Bank repossessions

Bank repossessions at the used car auction are the most hit or miss when it comes to major repairs. The reason being, sometimes a driver takes good care of their car and just can’t pay for it any longer due to a financial change. 

The other reason a driver lets their vehicle hit repossession is because there is a major issue that is not worth fixing. I’m in no way condemning these people, it’s just a reality. If you owe $20,000 on a vehicle worth $15k and needs $10k in repairs, is it worth paying it off? 

3.) Flood, Collision or Wrecked 

The third most common reason a vehicle is up for auction is because it has had flood or other major mechanical damage in the past and isn’t worth a lot to most dealers. Although some, especially small dealers that offer in house financing will certify and inspect these vehicles because they get them so cheap. 

This 2010 Explorer will get a used 4.0 engine. 

Because the Explorer is fully loaded, in excellent condition and has no other major issues, our dealership will install a used 4.0 engine from Eiss Brothers, our local used parts supplier. If this wasn’t a used car for sale, I would recommend a reasonably priced timing chain set for the 2010 Ford Explorer. 




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