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Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers Questions related to non-modified 2002 - 2005 Explorers and Mountaineers. Problem solving, maintenance, TSB, service bulletins, owner reviews, specifications. Sport Trac and Sport use the 1995-2001 forum.

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Old 07-24-2012, 11:46 AM   #1
Chattanooga, TN
2003 Ford Explorer XLT
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Vehicle Specs

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Checking out this thread!

I have a 2003 Explorer XLT. Does this "qualify" me to use this thread? The word "Mountaineer" is throwing me off. If I'm good to go with this thread, I have some "general" questions. By virtue that this is my first SUV with 4-wheel independant suspension, what would be the first (best) thing to do (look for) as far as improving the handling. I do not plan on going off road or towing. It's the two wheel drive model (for gas saving reasons), and since this vehicle is approaching 10 years of age, I was wondering about what can be done to help body roll during sharp turns. I am having no noticeable problems otherwise. Also, can the shocks be replaced w/o changing the springs? Are they "strut" setups that have to be changed completely (looked up and they are very expensive)? Also, "best" shocks? I heard good things about Bilsteins. Sway Bars? Sorry for so many questions. Any help or "referrals" to other more "appropriate threads" would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:53 AM   #2
Elite Explorer
2008 XLT Ironman
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Don't worry, you're in the right forum

Replacing the strut assemblies, particularly if you are running the originals still, can make a huge improvement.

It's more work than it's worth to try and re-use the springs in most cases. Plus they are probably sagging and/or broken in places. Best to buy 4 new complete assemblies with the springs already installed.

I had a good experience with Monroe struts, they make a quick strut assembly that has a tighter feel than the original.

the least expensive replacement assembly I know of is the Struttek assembly made by Prime Choice auto parts. About 65 bucks each for the fronts, and 75 each for the rears. They already come with the springs on them. A lot of people on this forum have tried them and like them a lot. Here's a link:

After installing them, my advice is to re-assess the handling and see if you need more upgrades.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:23 PM   #3
USMC 1371
Worcester, MA
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2002 XLT V6 4x4
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I'm running the StrutTEK's on all four corners and have nothing but good things to say about them! The ride is awesome and the price is right.

Click here to find out more about the StrutTEK Struts.

Rondo - USMC, Combat Engineer, 1983-1996
Click here for a list of my write-ups!

Originally Posted by FIND on 4-22-13
Don't mess with Boston. They will drop everything, hunt you down, and then go on like you never existed once they are done cleaning up the mess.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:17 AM   #4
Chattanooga, TN
2003 Ford Explorer XLT
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Wow! Thanks Ronin and BigRondo for the quick responses. I'm "shocked" (no pun intended) at the price of the StrutTeks. I can't remember where I was searching (may have been AutoZone or similar store), but I "think" I saw prices hovering around a couple hundred dollars EACH. So pricewise the choice is obvious. I have a good mechanical background (Tune ups, brake jobs, replacing shocks, belts, alternators, etc.), but don't want to make an assumption here. Is replacing these struts a safe and easy job? I have fear of "sprung" suspension components because I have seen guys do some really stupid things. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Ronin, you stated reassessing ride after replacing struts and then deciding about other upgrades. What do you mean by that? Are you talking sway bars, better neoprene (or other material) bushings for all suspension pivot points, etc??? Anything else???
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