Common Ford E250 Van Problems (1992-Present)

Mechanic explaining common Ford E-250 Problems

The Ford E250 was the best-selling van in the United States between 1980 and 2014. The vehicle was only second to the Ford F-Series in the number of sales. It was later replaced by the Ford Transit. 

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most common problems experienced in the 4th Generation E250 model. If you’re thinking of buying a used van, this is important information to know. Let’s dive in. 

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Top 5 Problems 4th Generation Ford E250 Van

1. Exhaust Leak 

Exhaust manifold on a Ford E250

Symptoms of an Exhaust Leak

An exhaust leak takes place when exhaust gases coming from the engine’s combustion chamber escape out of the exhaust system before they get to the tailpipe. In the Ford E250, this takes place at the exhaust manifold – a stainless steel or cast iron casing that collects exhaust gases from the engine cylinders and sends them to the tailpipe. 

Some of the symptoms of this problem include smelling a bit of exhaust coming from the engine compartment and experiencing headaches or nausea. Another sign would be hearing a ticking noise when the engine is cold. 

Causes of an Exhaust Leak

The studs that hold the manifold in place tend to rot or break off. In some cases, the manifold can crack. This causes a big safety issue especially if the exhaust gases leak into the engine compartment. There’s a high chance that they could find their way into the vehicle’s cabin. 

The noise comes from where the manifold connects to the engine. You’ll hear it from either side of the wheel wells. It’s caused by metal expansion when you switch on the engine. Having been left out in the cold, the metal takes up space and expands into a crack or broken stud as it heats up. 

How to Fix an Exhaust Leak

To fix the problem, start by inspecting the studs that hold the manifold. If they are broken, the nuts will not do their job. They’ll create a loose contact, causing exhaust fumes to leak into the engine compartment. You may have to remove the studs or even drill and tap them. Be very careful not to cause damage to the engine metal when drilling. If the drill slips, it can punch a hole into the coolant jacket. 

Before replacing the studs and screwing the manifold back into place, you want to inspect the manifold for any cracks or traumas. Check along the seams and where you have bends. Manifolds tend to get extremely hot due to exhaust pressure and temperature. They can crack when they expand and contract quickly as a result of exposure to water or snow. 

2. Blower Motor

Blower motor on a 4th gen Ford E250 van
Blower motor on a Ford E250 van

Symptoms of a Bad Blower Motor

The blower motor is responsible for pushing hot or cold air through the vents based on the car’s AC settings. On the Ford E250, it’s located on the passenger’s side right behind the battery. The most common problem here is having a blower motor that doesn’t work at all.

Other times, you may notice that it doesn’t work at certain speeds. This is mostly caused by a bad resistor. You’ll need to replace both the resistor and the motor itself. A blower motor that has completely failed could be caused by a wiring issue. 

Causes of a Bad Blower Motor

These particular types of vehicles tend to have loose wires that hang a bit too low. If they get into contact with something like the exhaust gas recirculation tube, they get burnt due to extreme temperatures. This exposes the wire which ends up rusting or grounding onto the tube.

How to Fix a Bad Blower Motor 

More than likely, the problem will lead to a blown fuse. The fuse is designed to be the weakest link in your electrical system. That means replacing it will not fix the problem. You’ll need to check everything from the fuse, the wiring, the resistor, to the blower motor itself. 

3. Engine Misfire 

Burned ignition coil boot on a Ford E250 van
White discoloration from burning on the ignition coil boot

Symptoms of an Engine Misfire

An engine misfire occurs when there’s incomplete combustion in one or more cylinders. One of the most common symptoms of this is a check engine light that pops up to tell you that there’s a problem. If you were to pull the code, you’d likely get a P0301 through P0308. 

Each number at the very end represents the cylinder that’s misfiring. This provides direction on where to go when diagnosing the problem. Other symptoms include noticing some skipping or bucking from your engine. You might also feel the vehicle struggling to take off or shake and shutter every time you come to a stop. 

Causes of an Engine Misfire on the Ford E-250

One of the most common causes of an engine misfire is a spark plug that is worn out or cracked due to heat. Another cause would be bad coil packs. A coil pack is comprised of different pieces that could be causing the problem. You have the actual coil itself which can break down over time and a boot that tends to get dry and brittle. 

How to Fix an Engine Misfire

If the spring inside the boot doesn’t work as it should, you may notice burn marks on the boot when doing an inspection. Sometimes, the problem is not visible. The easiest way to do your diagnosis is to swap the bad coil for a good one. If the engine misfire shifts, you definitely know that you have a problem with the coil. 

If the misfire stays in the same cylinder, there could be a fuel problem or something else within the system. You never want to drive your car when the check engine light is flashing. This can cause detrimental damage to the catalytic converter and engine which are both very expensive to repair.

4. Shifter Knob

Shifter knob Ford E250 van

Symptoms of a Bad Shifter Knob

The fourth problem that you may notice in the Ford E-250 is having a shifter knob that wobbles a lot. On top of that, it tends to go in between gears if you slightly push the lever. You may think that you’re in Drive when in fact you’re in Neutral. This is a safety issue that is very common in vehicles that have their shifter attached to the steering column. 

How to Fix a Bad Shifter Knob

Steps for Fixing a Bad Shifter Knob on the Ford E-250

  1. Disconnect the Battery

    To start fixing the problem, you’ll need to disconnect the battery and in some cases, tie off your steering wheel so that it does not spin around as you work on it. This helps to avoid tampering with the airbag system which can cause problems later. 

  2. Check the Shifter Lever Bushing

    The next step would be to look inside your steering column. There should be a plastic bushing in between the shifter lever and the steering column. Over time, the bushing tends to wear and tear due to consistent pulling. There are also a couple of pins in there that will need replacement together with the bushing. 

  3. Fix the Shifter Knob with a Serviceable Kit

    You can always buy a serviceable kit that will help you fix the problem. Remember to follow the service procedure. This is a safety issue that requires extra care and attention. You do not want to end up with a bad airbag system or a steering wheel that’s loose. 

5. Transmission Leaks 

Transmission on a Ford E250 van

Symptoms of a Transmission Leak in the Ford E-250

  • Transmission fluid that’s leaking to the ground
  • A vehicle that doesn’t pick up speed due to a slipping transmission
  • Jerking or shuttering from the transmission when you accelerate
  • A whining noise coming from the transmission due to low fluid

How to Find a Transmission Fluid Leak

Finding the source of a transmission fluid leak can be difficult. This is especially if there’s a big mess underneath the car. The best thing to do is to clean it all down, top off your fluid to where it should be, and go for a drive. After covering a few hundred miles, take the car somewhere you can work on it and trace the leak. 

There are several areas in the Ford E250 that can cause the transmission fluid to leak. Finding these leaks is going to be easier if you’re underneath the vehicle. The first place you’d want to check is where the transmission bell housing and pump seal are located. If there’s a leak, the fluid will make a big mess right underneath the vehicle. You’ll need to separate the transmission from the engine and replace all the seals. It’s best to also service the transmission. 

Another common area where you’d find a transmission fluid leak is around the pan gasket. The bolts may have been torqued improperly. They may loosen over time and cause transmission fluid to leak in between the transmission and the pan. 

Another area that you’d need to check is where the selector shaft seal is located. Leaks from there could have you thinking that you have a problem with the pan gasket. You’ll need to do a thorough check to confirm this. 

The cooler lines are also another potential culprit that could cause transmission fluid to leak. These tend to rust and rot. They will need replacement if they are the cause behind it. Also, you’ll need to inspect the tail shaft seal. If it’s leaking, you’ll see fluid flowing from where the drive shaft goes in. 

With that said, you want to be very careful when handling transmission fluid. Remember to wear some hand and eye protection to prevent it from getting into your eyes. 

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Common Ford E250 Van Problems - 4th Gen - 1992 to 2021
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Common Ford E250 Van Problems - 4th Gen - 1992 to 2021
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Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most common problems experienced in the 4th Generation E250 model.
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1A Auto
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