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How to install a 1996 Explorer 5.0L into a 1995-1997 Ranger

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Submitted By: RangerSVT

I started this project for a couple of reasons. I wanted to have a factory looking engine bay with factory AC (air conditioning). 

Why not keep it original you ask?? Why else do a V8 swap, MORE POWER!! 

I know people have done this swap, but to my research and knowledge, no one has documented it with keeping the AC. 

What I am doing is using a 1996 Ford Explorer without PATS as a donor, and it’s going into a 1996 Ford Ranger 4X4 X-cab. I will be using the Explorer’s motor, trans, and t-case. For the most part, I will focus on the most direct, bolt in swap possible, so others wanting a V8 swap can have this as a reference. I won’t concentrate too much on removal, just the basics and what will be needed. Some mods can be done prior to the V8 being installed.

I removed the engine, trans, t-case, engine wiring harness, starter-to-battery wiring harness, and alternator-to-solenoid as one unit, but I also removed the donor core support to ease and speed removal. You will need to remove the exhaust from the manifolds. It will take a little maneuvering to remove. If you don’t remove the core support (which requires cutting it out), I recommend separating the motor and trans and removing separately. I also removed the starter as it made for more clearance around the suspension mounts. I left all the accessories bolted to the motor, AC compressor, power steering pump, etc. as I plan to use the entire donor’s FEAD…

You may notice I removed the trans cooling lines with the motor, since it’s secured along the oil pan inside the motor mounts and not on the frame, it was easier. Onto the Ranger, out with the old….

Here is the empty Ranger engine bay…

And here are the motors removed and side by side…

In this pic, notice the motor mounts that are attached to the block. This is the stock explorer steel mounts that I ended up using. I used the stock rubber 4.0L mounts and the explorer plates. The locator tabs on the rubber mounts were removed. The passenger side fit without any mods needed. The driver side did need trimming and one hole drilled. Also visible is the factory Explorer oil cooler. This will need to be removed as it contacts the gearbox.

Passenger side mounted and in the vehicle…

Next is the oil pan. The explorer has a nice thick aluminum pan that I would have loved to keep, but it contacts the engine cross member. I got a mustang dual sump pan, but I had to buy a new pickup tube (parts store knows them as oil pump pickup screen) as the Explorer’s tube is too tall to clear the dual sump pan. Also, the aluminum pan’s bolts are too long and cannot be used. I had to get a bolt kit. I wanted to get an oil pan stud kit to aid in installing the oil pan if I ever had to take it off. When I went to order my bolts, I found out the stud kit was actually cheaper than a bolt kit, and the stud kit was stainless steel. The bolts were standard bolts…

Here you can see the difference in heights of the pickup tubes…

With the engine in, I had plenty of room on the driver’s side for the exhaust manifold. The passenger side has more room than it looks, but is a closer fit.

Another mod needed is to remove the oil filter thread adapter located in the block. This is what the oil filter screws onto to secure it to the block. The Explorer block is set up for the oil cooler, which has female threads instead of male threads, so the stud can attach the oil cooler to the block. 

This is easily removed with a 1-1/4" socket. If you use a thread adapter from another block, you will find it difficult to remove since there are no flats for a socket to fit on to. I searched around the shop for a nut to fit on the oil filter stud. I found a castle nut that was the same thread size, cut off the tabs of the nut, and threaded it on (along with the original adapter) to the oil filter stud from another block. Using the two jammed together, I was able to back out the stud and thread it into the Explorer block. You might be able to source a replacement stud from a machine shop or NAPA, but I have not tried. I just used one from a block I already had. 

Any stud from a Ford engine that uses the FL1A style filter should work.

Once this is done, it’s time to install the oil filter relocation housing. Be sure to get the correct adapter, like THIS one. As I found out, it’s best to install this with the engine out of the vehicle. I had to lift my engine back up and remove the mount to install the housing. 

In these pics, the engine is in the truck, but lifted to install the housing. You will want to install the adapter before installing the engine in the engine compartment.

I wanted to point the outputs of the housing straight forward, but there was interference, so I had to point them down. 

This pic is from underneath…

I opted for the dual filter setup. When you buy your kit, plan on where you want your filter to be mounted since you only have 30” of hose. It has to be within 30” of the housing on the block. I mounted mine to the factory bumper bracket. If you want to mount it elsewhere, you will need to get longer hose available at your local hydraulic hose shop. Bring the hose with the kit with you so you can get the right type of hose. This hose is not expensive and won’t cost much for what you need. There is room to mount it to the lower core support, but for my application it would be in the way of the winch I'm mounting later. The current mounting location is temporary. I will be building a new bumper and incorporating a mount into that to further protect the filters…

I used stainless steel braided lines from the trans up to the cooler mounted in the core support.

The alternator circuit, on the other hand, does need attention. Keep in mind that I am keeping my AC. If you are not keeping AC, then this step is not necessary. The Ranger alternator harness uses an 8-pin plug, with (6) wires, while the Explorer alternator harness uses a 6-pin plug, though only (4) wires are used. The Explorer harness lacks the high pressure switch circuit in this harness. This is because the high pressure switch is in different locations of the two vehicles. The Ranger switch is on the back of the manifold, and the Explorer switch is next to the condenser. More on the AC high pressure switch later….The Explorer harness is on the bottom, the Ranger harness is on top (below):

I chose to dissect both alternator harnesses and take the good parts and the parts I needed to make the harness that would work for me. Although not necessary, but if you are keeping AC like me, you can just use the Ranger harness.

 In this pic you can see that the Explorer harness on the left is a larger size than the ranger harness on the right at the alternator.

Here you can see the Explorer harness on the left and the Ranger harness on the right at the solenoid end. The Explorer uses (2) fuse links while the Ranger uses (1) link. This is because the Explorer alternator is a 130 amp and the Ranger is 95 amp…

Here are the two alternators side by side. Notice the slight difference in bolt patterns, and the Explorer alternator on the right is also slimmer front to back than the Ranger alternator on the left. The Explorer alternator also has a 1- plug design, the Ranger has a 2-plug design, both have the large gauge battery wire, but in different locations. You can also see the 2-wire Explorer plug versus the Ranger’s 3-wire plug…

Here I am removing the third plug from the Ranger harness. It is not necessary, but I didn’t like it hanging around and I removed it. It’s not hard to do. Remove the red lock tab, use a pick to unlock the wire, remove the wire from the plug, then reinstall the red lock tab…

Here I am wrapping the new alternator harness in wire loom before taping the loom up. Notice the plug on the ground?? That is the high pressure switch plug for the AC that is in the Ranger alternator harness. 

Here is the finished harness installed with the motor in the truck, looks factory, doesn’t it??

After all these mods are done, now its time for the motor to go in it’s new home…

I tried to install the motor, trans and t-case all at one time. I found out this was the hard way to do it. I recommend separating the motor and trans and installing the motor, then the trans/t-case from underneath. I had to remove the upper intake plenum to clear the firewall, as well as remove the radius arm brackets (the one that bolts the left side to the right side). Mine were damaged and I was changing them out anyways, but if you install the powertrain separated, you will not have to do this. Here is the motor in the engine bay…

You may have spotted the oil cooler still attached to the motor, as well as a different set of motor mounts. At this point is when I found out that neither would work and the task of lifting the motor up several times began. I already covered the motor mounts earlier, as well as the oil cooler. The Ranger charcoal canister contacts the motor and needs to be relocated…

Here the motor is in it’s new home and final install!!

With the engine and the condenser in, you can see the clearance I have.

So here starts the mods to get more clearance. Here is the bracket that holds the upper condenser. After the mod you can see the S bend in the bracket. It is normally straight.

Here are the radiator drop brackets that come with a 3” body lift (and after I modified them to move the radiator forward). If you do not have a body lift, you can still use this bracket to relocate your radiator.

At this point I had enough clearance to mount my cooling fans. Here are pics of the fans that I used. They are 10” fans flowing 1400CFM each and only using 4.5 amps doing it. They are only 2.5” deep at the middle, and 1.25” at the sides. 

Here are the fans mounted. It doesn’t look like I have much room, but the bottom fan I can fit my finger between the fan and the crank pulley. It isn’t a lot of room, but it’s enough. The top fan has more room than the bottom, but it’s hard to tell from the pics…

Here are the fuel lines, I had no problems and needed no modifications, had plenty of room on both the motor side and the frame side, and both connections are plug and play…

On top is the Explorer power steering hose, the Ranger hose is on the bottom. You can see the difference in length. The explorer hose needs to be used. However, the ends are different on one end, which is the gearbox end. The Explorer uses a rack and pinion steering, not a gearbox. This is easily solved by a trip to a hydraulic hose shop and having them cut the end off and install a regular 90* 3/8 inverted flared male fitting. There is enough room on the hose for the shop to do this…

The return line is next. I used the Ranger return line and modified it. I tried to bend it without loosening it, and winded up kinking it at the gearbox. I had to cut the kink out and use my tubing bender to make a couple bends in it and then flare the end. If you loosen the fitting at the gearbox, you might be able to reposition the hose and bend it slightly by hand into location. Then trim the extra rubber hose at the reservoir…

The transfer case uses a 1330 u-joint/flange, so you will need to get a 1310/1330 conversion u-joint to mount your original driveshaft to the t-case. For those that have the one piece 1998+ driveshaft mod done already, good news, remove the flange from the Explorer driveshaft with the u-joint on the transfercase end, and install on your driveshaft. I had done the driveshaft swap already, so I just had to take my flange and conversion joint off, and install the Explorer flange and joint onto my driveshaft. The joint was in good shape, so I opted not to replace it at this time. I will be swapping out axles shortly and will upgrade my joints then. My driveshaft bolted right up with no mods needed.

The trans crossmember does need to be modified. It doesn’t line up with the factory holes, but it’s not far off. With the crossmember bolted to the trans mount, the passenger side bolts up on the side of the frame rail, but the driver side doesn’t. I slid it inside the frame rail, but the hole is about an inch away from bolting up. 

The t-case also sits lower than the stock 1354, so it needs to be lifted, as the front driveshaft hits the trans crossmember. For the swap I installed 2-inch square tubing between the trans mount and the crossmember and offset the mounting holes. This lifted the t-case high enough to clear the driveshaft off the factory X-member by about an inch. I will be doing a SAS (solid axle swap) in the next week or so, and the trans X-member will be in the way, so I am custom building a trans crossmember. This gave me about 1 to 1.5 inches of clearance. My trans mount has enough stud sticking out of the bottom that I could probably fabricate a small spacer to take up the threads and that would be enough to clear the driveshaft, but the offset of the bolt pattern put a severe strain on the mount…

The front driveshaft from the Explorer will be needed to be used due to the flanges being different at the t-case, but they are the same length. The Explorer shaft is on the top, the Ranger shaft is on the bottom…

The AC line is the last, only because it has been at the hydraulic hose shop this long (although he is doing me a favor and doing it in his spare time and only charging me parts). I broke the high pressure fitting on the manifold block thinking it had threads, but it’s welded into the block, so I took a 4.0L Explorer hose up there as I couldn’t locate a stock Ranger hose. I just took off the Ranger hose fitting at the condenser and had it crimped onto the Explorer line. After I got that done, I installed the line and the AC was done. Just charge and enjoy that nice cold air out on the trail in the summertime!

I had to take it to the exhaust shop to get the exhaust done. I don’t have pictures for this as I didn’t have the exhaust to use from the donor truck, it was already gone. And since you can’t get catalytic converters from the junkyard (illegal to sell used cats), I had to go to the muffler shop and have them put the exhaust on. 

I Hope you enjoy your new power plant, I know I am! Any questions, feel free to send PM’s.  




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