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2002 Explorer Maintenance Help

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by MTNCLMBR, January 27, 2018.

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      MTNCLMBR New Member

      January 27, 2018
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      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      2002 XLT V6 4x4
      Hello all! I'm looking for suggestions and perspective on my DIY maintenance efforts. Hopefully, providing more information will be better than less.

      Some background:
      I started working on my wife's 2002 Explorer, after we got married last year. It is the XLT V6 4x4, and has about 123k on the odometer. She bought it from her uncle in AZ, who owned it from 63k-100k, ca. 2010-2015. He bought it from winter visitors who lived in Oregon (and came to AZ for winters, towing the Explorer behind their RV, which by my calculations could be up to 19k miles). He changed the oil every 4k, put a K&N air filter on it (at 63k), and changed the fuel pump soon after he got it, and said he used a Ford pump. He changed the serpentine belt, and the brake rotors once. He did nothing else. It was used as a family hauler. My wife bought it summer of 2015. We plan to keep it for 2-4 years more.

      I have changed the oil & filter a few times, cleaned the MAF once (bank 2 too lean code, resolved), and wife's uncle (different one) replaced the thermostat housing, topping off the coolant.

      Currently, I've noticed the following:
      - averaging 17mpg
      - coolant leaking from thermostat housing, from near sensor on the top.
      - ride is a little bouncy, and rocks side to side a lot when driving over gutters, driveways, etc. Jounce test shows front shocks worse than rears. All four corners have rusty shocks that say "REFLEX" on the side, I assume Monroe. Wife's uncle did not replace them, so that must have been from original owners, so at least 60k on them. The spring around the shock has a red tag, mostly illegible. Springs look decent, not sure if they are original, or were replaced with shocks (as an assembly). I read OEM rear springs had a tendency to break.
      - rear passenger outer CV boot is slightly torn (<1" slit), some grease spun out, grit inside boot
      - front UBJ boots are completely cracked, dry
      - current p0172 too rich code
      - intermittent airbag light
      - door ajar light always on
      - alarm will go off randomly when parked. After disturbing neighbors too many times at 3am, I pulled out the fuses for the horns.
      - recently the car will resist starting when engine is warm, especially if briefly cranked (not long enough to start), then trying again, won't start. Cranking while giving it some gas gets it going. This has happened twice.

      I looked up the maintenance schedule from Ford, and made a spreadsheet after not finding a good chart online. In the picture, the blue is time owned by my wife's uncle, green is time owned by my wife. Green indicates services performed, Red indicates services missed. I bolded the R (Replace) / P (Perform) for those I am very sure of.

      I plan to address:
      - rear CV
      - leaking thermostat housing
      - front shocks (but perhaps all 4)
      - spark plugs
      - change ATF (perhaps filter also)
      - Front UBJs & UCAs (read that Ford intended they be replaced as a unit)
      - perhaps PCV valve
      - perhaps front/rear diff. fluids & transfer case fluid
      - lubricate driveline / suspension (recommended grease?)

      My questions:
      - What should I focus on first? What can wait?
      - Which of these parts/fluids need to be Ford/Motorcraft? Which ones don't matter?

      - Shocks alone vs. Shock + Spring assemblies? I see a set of all 4 assemblies for about $200 online, not sure if these are poor quality. Autozone quoted me over $250 EACH for their assemblies. I'm not going to drop a grand on shocks. I'm all for saving money, and am pretty handy, so using a spring compressor doesn't scare me, but I don't want to waste my time either if the cost is close, or if the springs might be worn out.
      - CV boot kit or entire CV? Replace in pairs or just the one?
      - Other thoughts? What else should I look at?

      Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 17.58.28.png
      Last edited: January 27, 2018
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    3. odinjunior

      odinjunior New Member

      September 7, 2015
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      Surprise AZ.
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      2015 Subaru Outback
      Out of everything on your list the only thing I have done is the Strut/Springs on all four corners. I installed Ranchos for the extra lift. I forget the cost but I ordered them online from rockauto. Everything on mine is original now except for the struts. 73K miles on the original plugs, hoses and belt..

    4. shane10

      shane10 Active Member

      February 9, 2016
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      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      2002 Ford Explorer
      Being the easiest to do, I would start by replacing front and rear diff fluids, as well as transfer case fluid, I believe I used royal purple as well as mobil 1 fluids for these, might as well go motorcraft but everyone has a preference. My ride seemed much smoother/quieter after swapping them.
      Do some research on transmission fluid changes on these transmissions, and use your discretion. Many people argue it causes more harm than help past a certain mileage.
      Leaking thermostat housing shortly after being replaced might be a cheap aftermarket part, or simply a crimped gasket.
      PCV valve should last 50k++ miles, but might as well replace as it's a cheap part.
      Sparkplugs, if motorcraft sp500, should last 100k+ miles, might be a good idea to replace if it hasn't been done yet, along with wires. I just replaced my stock plugs after 188k :eek: Definitely go motorcraft with these.
      UCA should be replaced as a unit, I went with motorcraft as it was only marginally more expensive than alternatives, and I prefer OEM.
      I would recommend replacing entire CV axle, which may be unnecessary. If one part is worn on a unit, I personally prefer to replace the whole unit, that's just me. I would also replace both sides, as things tend to fail in pairs.
      REFLEX shocks is the cheap consumer line of Monroe, which I have heard not so great things about. I would recommend replacing the shock/strut assemblies as units, as the springs may be of questionable quality to begin with. But some have used a spring compressor and replaced just the strut for much less money. I replaced all 4 corners with KYB quick struts a couple years ago, and am very happy with them. They did come with a $500+ tag. 4 assemblies for $200 is a red flag for me. Also make sure your sway bar links are intact, and sway bar bushings are in decent condition, this will help immensely with cornering and overall sway.
      The airbag light is likely a breaking wire underneath the driver seat, it is too short and breaks with too much seat movement. My light has been on for years, learned to live with it.
      Door ajar light is likely a broken wire in the driver door jam boot, tight spot to work. The wires are ALSO too short and stretch with the door fully open, causing them to break. Check for other broken wires while in there.

      Sounds like you have pretty much else everything covered.
      Good luck!
    5. dkl

      dkl New Member

      January 28, 2018
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      Northern CA
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      2002 Explorer XLT, 4.0L
      I think you have everything prioritized right. I recently replaced wheel bearings, quickstruts, door ajar switches and front upper control arms on an early build 2002.

      I bought Monroe shock-spring assemblies from Rock Auto. Front quick-struts #171321 and rear quick-struts #171322. $105 to $109 each minus an $80 rebate they were running on a set of four.

      I would replace all of the door ajar switches. There is one in each door and two in the hatch. There is also one under the hood, but it's probably not the problem. They are also available from Rock Auto.

      Differential and transfer case fluid change is easy. 3.25 pts of 75-140w synthetic in the rear, plus 4oz of friction modifier. 3.25 pts of 80-90w gear lube in the front. I used a hand pump to suction out the front differential. 3.0 pts of Dexron III/Mercon in the transfer case. I use Castrol for most of my changes where available. I had the transmission fluid changed by the dealer, Mercon V. They run a cleaner and conditioner through it at the same time, not a power flush though. It shifts great, but the solenoid body was also changed at 45K. Truck now has 102K. I also changed the external inline filter located at the cooler.
      Last edited: January 29, 2018
    6. xtheproschx

      xtheproschx New Member

      January 26, 2017
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      2005 mountaineer base V8
      I actually just replaced my spark plugs @146k miles on my 05' Mountaineer with the 4.6 liter. I've been taught 60k miles for spark plugs, give or take. We are the original owner so I should've known if they were ever replaced. Anyway I was surprised that they were the original plugs. I never had a misfire code or rough idle etc. I wanted to replace them for the sole fact that I wasn't sure when they were done.
      I work at a Ford Dealer so I get motorcraft parts usually cheaper than from Rockauto. I pulled out the spark plug on cylinder 6 and found oil on it. Minimal amount but enough to know I will have to replace the Valve cover gaskets soon. I wanted to reply when I saw that you replaced yours at 188k.

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