Late '90s Explorer as daily driver.


tinman_72

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Just wondering how reliable a late 90's Explorer could be. I currently drive a 2011 Escape 2WD V6 and it is pretty nice but I have issues with it that make me want out. First and foremost is the fact that it is front wheel drive. It is the first FWD vehicle I have owned since my first car (1979 Honda Civic) back in the late 80's. When I bought it I figured the V6, leather seat, etc, would allow me to overlook the downsides of FWD. Not so, I hate it. Another reason I want out is that my half mile mud driveway will not allow me to keep the vehicle clean. It is too nice and new to be covered in mud all the time.
I also do not want a small car or anything that I have to climb up or down to get out of or into. I already have a Ranger that is my secondary vehicle but it is not nice enought to drive 40 miles per day.
Looking on Autotrader there are quite a few late 90's Explorers/Mountaineers in my area with V8's with around 150K miles for 2500-ish. (Some are even AWD.) That's about the same miles as what is on my Escape but I am thinking Explorer's are probably more robust.
Does anyone know if there are particular downfalls to these vehicles? I understand they are over twenty years old at this point but I know that the 4R70W in the late 90's was a very good transmission, and a 302 is easy enough to rebuild. I am just wondering if there is anything about these vehicles that are known to go bad on a regular basis even after repair.
 


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Shran

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They're pretty good vehicles. AWD Explorers do not have low range in the t-case FWIW. There were some issues with timing chains in the V8 Explorers as well I have heard - something about it getting loose and wearing a hole in the timing cover. Probably not something you'd run into. Everything else is fairly stout. Loose steering, broken door handles and broken seat backs are the major things I see on a regular basis.

I judge Explorers by the condition of the interior - if it's clean and doesn't have broken door panels and handles, armrests aren't missing, leather seats aren't ripped up... it's probably in overall good shape and was taken care of. That probably rings true for any vehicle but in my experience has been doubly true for Explorers... if the interior is rough, the rest is even worse.
 

tinman_72

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Thanks for the input, that's what I was hoping to hear. Something like a timing gear/chain and cover swap doesn't scare me - I have done enough of them on Windsors in the past. A few of the Explorers I was perusing that had pictures had suprisingly nice interiors. Driver's seats look slightly worn but not torn or cracked through yet.
 

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The v8s are all around better. Better engine, better trans. The transfer case is an AWD unit... non selectable. Fine for daily driving, no good for real off-roading.
I've never seen any timing chain issues with the 4.6l, but I was out of the dealership game by the time that would have surfaced. I have the belt tensioner pulley go bad and wear through a timing cover... a few times actually. We just clean and epoxy it. It only has to hold non-pressurized oil in.
 

tinman_72

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I actually had a 4.6 out of a '02 Explorer that I stuffed into my 1995 Thunderbird. Nice, smooth running engine but I want something a little cheaper to work on. Also, according to reading I have done online the 5R55 transmission is not the best. That 4R70W tranny I had in the T-bird took some real abuse with no complaints. Oh, and I want a cable running to my throttle body, not a wire. :)
 

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Loose steering, broken door handles and broken seat backs are the major things I see on a regular basis.
What's with the loose steering? How can you know if it's loose, or just touchy?
 

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Could be anything in the steering linkage - worn out column, tie rod ends, rack & pinion or all of the above. You can tell something is worn out when you turn the steering wheel a couple inches and nothing happens or there's excessive vibration through the steering wheel itself while driving. It's harder to spot on the 1st gen Explorers - you can just about be missing a wheel bearing on those and it'll still drive OK. Seems easier to spot sloppy, worn out steering and front suspension parts on the IFS Explorers, to me anyway.
 

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Mine seems mighty touchy, especially with side winds, but for driving straight it's just easy as pie to keep straight.
I'm still wondering if it's a steering thing or just me not knowing how to drive something that doesn't pull one way or another
 

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wow. i like escapes. fwd go pretty good. i would rather have a 11 escape over an 2000 explorer for general use.
 

tinman_72

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wow. i like escapes. fwd go pretty good. i would rather have a 11 escape over an 2000 explorer for general use.

It is really nice on a straight highway. If I have to drive aggessively at all (aggessive meaning "jump out into busy traffic", not "drive like a 16 year old kid") the front end feels like wheel hop. (Bang, bang bang bang) It feels like the motor and/or transaxle mount are shot, even though I replaced them two years ago. Every shift is hard and clunky, even though I just put a thoroughly remanufactured trans in less than six months ago. Even when in neutral, slowing down to a stop I can feel the trans downshift. Doing a little research, this is the way most Ford 6F30's are.
Steering + drive on the same wheel just doesn't work right for me. I've never seen CV axles last more than 5 years or so. I have never had a straight axle rear end go bad.
Lastly, if I give it a little gas to pass someone, see that someone is already in the passing lane and then let off for a second, then floor it again, nothing will happen for literally 2-3 seconds. Or, if I need to turn left to cross oncoming traffic (this part is really bad in the rain) and I give it just a little too much and the wheel spins, traction control will "take over". You would think that it would do something to give more traction. Maybe apply braking to one wheel or some kind of torque management. But no. It actually will cut the throttle off for a few seconds. So I end up pulling out into traffic and the vehicle comes to a stop. Right in the middle of incoming traffic. The instinct at this point is to floor it. This makes it MUCH worse and it just happens again. Even when I turn off traction control. It is a very dangerous vehicle.
But like I said, in a straight line it is very nice. Leather, moonroof, SYNC, chrome clad wheels, all the bells and whistles. It is even fairly quick from a stand still. But it sucks when you have to drive it.
 

scotts90ranger

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I've been daily driving my '00 V8 Explorer for 2.5 years and put 45k miles on it... it now has over 250k on the clock. In some ways it's in good shape but has been beat to heck in others. When I got it the rear spiders were gone and the transmission was on it's last legs (lasted 7 miles after I got it home) and took a complete rebuild and 20k miles later the gears went out so another couple hundred in parts...

It's easy to get real 4x4 (99.9% of all 5.0L explorers are AWD), get a manual 4406 transfer case out of a '97-03 F150 and the front drive shaft if it had a 4.6L, rear drive shaft out of a 5.4L powered same generation Expedition. From there cut a hole in the floor and slit the carpet on the other side to fit the shifter through. Cutting the hole on mine was easier since I got most of it when the trans was out... From there the front fuel tank bracket needs to come out to be trimmed and it's in the way to get the case up in there. Oh, and you need a 1310 to 1330 conversion U joint for the front joint on the front shaft.

I average 16-17mpg in mine with 31" tires, sitting in traffic is a killer on the ol mileage indicator in the center console.

I've had the stupid thing in the dunes a couple times and it actually impresses me, doesn't have jack for ground clearance and very little suspension travel but air the tires down and it gets around just fine. The shimmed up limited slip helps out a lot in that respect and makes street driving with the shift kit somewhat interesting at times but handles better than I expected...

Don't know if I'd pay $2500 for one though, my first one was $800 but now I have near $2500 into it but my second one (wife's daily driver) was $400 and I haven't touched that thing other than putting tires on it. Third one for parts was $200... in this area they peak around $1600 on craigslist and facebook
 

bobbywalter

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It is really nice on a straight highway. If I have to drive aggessively at all (aggessive meaning "jump out into busy traffic", not "drive like a 16 year old kid") the front end feels like wheel hop. (Bang, bang bang bang) It feels like the motor and/or transaxle mount are shot, even though I replaced them two years ago. Every shift is hard and clunky, even though I just put a thoroughly remanufactured trans in less than six months ago. Even when in neutral, slowing down to a stop I can feel the trans downshift. Doing a little research, this is the way most Ford 6F30's are.
Steering + drive on the same wheel just doesn't work right for me. I've never seen CV axles last more than 5 years or so. I have never had a straight axle rear end go bad.
Lastly, if I give it a little gas to pass someone, see that someone is already in the passing lane and then let off for a second, then floor it again, nothing will happen for literally 2-3 seconds. Or, if I need to turn left to cross oncoming traffic (this part is really bad in the rain) and I give it just a little too much and the wheel spins, traction control will "take over". You would think that it would do something to give more traction. Maybe apply braking to one wheel or some kind of torque management. But no. It actually will cut the throttle off for a few seconds. So I end up pulling out into traffic and the vehicle comes to a stop. Right in the middle of incoming traffic. The instinct at this point is to floor it. This makes it MUCH worse and it just happens again. Even when I turn off traction control. It is a very dangerous vehicle.
But like I said, in a straight line it is very nice. Leather, moonroof, SYNC, chrome clad wheels, all the bells and whistles. It is even fairly quick from a stand still. But it sucks when you have to drive it.


well....shit then.

the trans is clunky for sure....the 4 whizzers with the stick i thought were great...the 3.0 was ok....about par with the explorer.....the little bit later units with the 2.0 ecoboost i think are awesome.....your is the gen before those...


the explorer is old. and much easier to pair down to diy stuff. so there is some serious win there.

but killing the axles in the stock rbv platform is something i specialize in. judging by your driving description....i think you will be too...
 


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