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Tech Tips: Whistling Explorer is Off Key

A whistling or buzz-type sound can be repaired by following these steps.


Do you know anyone who whistles while they work? I do! My buddy, Alan, owns a body shop and loves what he does. He’s a good whistler, too. Nowadays, Alan doesn’t spend as much time working on cars as he does working on keeping his shop profitable – his techs get to have all the fun. Still, Alan usually whistles while he works – he’s just a happy guy.

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Unmusical Grumbling
I stopped by Alan’s shop the other day, and instead of a musical whistle, I heard some very unmusical grumbling. Apparently, he had a 2014 Explorer in the bay that had its own unique kind of whistle. After pronouncing the repair complete and proclaiming that the vehicle looked showroom-new, Alan took it out on the freeway to check the front end. Everything was fine, except for a distracting noise that was coming from the windshield area. Ironically, it sounded like an off-key whistle.

The problem is that Alan knows this customer. She has several cars, and his shop has worked on most of them. She’s very picky, but that’s not the problem. Alan expects his customers to be picky, and he’s proud of the high-quality work his shop turns out. However, he does not believe the noise coming from the Explorer is related to the repair he just performed. And he’s particularly concerned that the customer will think it is – reducing his profitability or maybe forcing him to lose a great customer.


As it turns out, Alan had nothing to worry about. Playing a hunch that this may be a known condition, he flipped open his tablet, accessed ALLDATA and determined that there was a new TSB (technical service bulletin) from Ford that covered this problem. Bingo! In less than two minutes, he found one that describes the exact problem, along with a simple repair.

If you have an Explorer in your shop that’s trying to whistle a Taylor Swift tune and give you some competition in the whistling department, here’s an excerpt from the TSB on how to turn off the whistle.

Whistle or Buzz-Type Noise

Model: 2011-2014 Ford Explorer
Issue: Some 2011-2014 Explorer vehicles may exhibit a whistle or buzz-type noise from the front cowl panel grille cover at highway speeds. This may be caused by the seal for the front cowl panel grille cover not making full contact to the windshield glass surface.
Action: Follow the Service Procedure steps to correct the condition.

Service Procedure

  1. Apply masking tape over the area where the front cowl panel grille cover seal makes contact with the windshield. Drive vehicle at highway speeds.
    a. On the return road test, remove the masking tape to confirm the whistle or buzz-type noise.
  2. Is the whistle or buzz-type noise present at highway speeds only with the masking tape removed?
    a. Yes – proceed to Step 3.
    b. No – this article does not apply. Refer to the manufacturer’s repair information to diagnose the condition.
  3. Remove the front cowl panel grille cover.
  4. Using a straightedge, measure the distance from the windshield surface to the cowl sheet metal at each of the seven mounting holes for the front cowl panel grille cover.
  5. Adjust the cowl sheet metal to increase the clearance to 7 mm (9/32”), as required. This adjustment will allow the front cowl panel grille cover seal to make consistent contact with the windshield .
  6. Install front cowl panel grill cover.
  7. Drive the vehicle to confirm the repair.

Alan’s techs made the repair, and he called the owner to tell her that the Explorer was ready. The
last thing I heard as I walked out of the shop was Alan whistling a happy tune!

This repair/service information is excerpted from information published by the vehicle manufacturer and is intended for the purpose of promoting OE collision repair information to trained, professional technicians with the knowledge, tools and equipment to do the job properly and safely. Before attempting any repairs described, refer to the complete article in ALLDATA Collision S3500. It’s recommended that these procedures not be performed by “do-it-yourselfers.”


Written by members of the ALLDATA Collision team of experts.

© 2014 ALLDATA LLC. All rights reserved. All technical information, images and specifications are from ALLDATA Collision S3500. ALLDATA and ALLDATA Collision are registered trademarks of ALLDATA LLC. Ford and Explorer are registered trademarks of Ford Motor Company. All other marks are the property of their respective holders.

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