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A Tale of Two Explorers

Discussion in 'Stock 1991 - 1994 Explorers' started by cantornikolaos, September 21, 2016.

^^Searches ExplorerForum.com^^





  1. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    Location:
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    City, State:
    Greenville, SC
    Year, Model & Trim Level:
    2004 Eddie Bauer Explorer
    Callsign:
    BigTime
    I have a 2004 Eddie Bauer Explorer, V8, 2WD, and a 1994 Explorer XLT, 4x4. I'm in seminary up north, so I bought the '94 for cheap hoping to use it up here. It's back home, at my parents' house, and I am guessing they don't want it sitting around in their yard too long. I was given the 2004 Explorer this summer because the compressor locked-up. Otherwise, the 2004 is in great shape.

    I got the '94 for cheap. The seller said the transmission was leaking fluid, but he thought it was mechanically sound. The color of the fluid looked decent, but the level on the stick suggests the seller may have over-serviced it. I drove it three times. Once, it wouldn't shift from 2nd to 3rd. The other times, it went into all the gears without any problems, and shifted smoothly. I figured it might have leaking seals or leaking cooler lines, but decided it was worth a gamble.

    That Explorer has done some sitting, but now, it doesn't appear to be leaking. I drove it around some and everything worked perfectly. I would love to keep it around because it's 4x4, and I'm in Herkimer County, NY. Does it sound like it would be a decent truck? I will have to do some maintenance, and would change all the fluids before starting an 800-mile roadtrip. Hopefully, I can avoid dropping the transmission, at least for a while.

    I wish I could keep both Explorers, but I'm not sure if that is an option. If I have to chose one and let go of the other, which one do you think it should be?

    Here is a photo of the two Explorers.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Rick

    Rick Pumpkin Pilot Staff Member Admin Elite Explorer

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    Tough decision. The responsible side says keep the newer Explorer, but the fun side says keep the first gen ;)
     
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  4. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    BigTime
    Do you not think 2WD will be a problem in the winter?
     
  5. Rhett

    Rhett Let Them Eat Cake Elite Explorer

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    94 Sport 4x4
    I'm not familiar with 3rd Gens, but if that 2WD doesn't have Limited Slip, you're asking for trouble in winter. Put the best snow tires you can find on it, and some weight in the back...and pray :)

    I'm biased toward the 1st gen. I'd keep both, it can't cost much to have the '94 around. In MO you can even drop it down to liability insurance only, or 'recreational use' and get an insurance discount. Regarding its tranny the A4LD is picky about the level and quality of fluid in it -- hope that yours is not bad, just over or under filled.
     
  6. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    If I can help it, I want to keep the '94. I will give it a full service before I put it on the road, and that will include new ATF, filter, and some Lucas.

    Slightly off-topic. I heard some valve ticking in the 4.6L V8 (not the '94). Sometimes, when I start it, there is some noise that sounds like valve-ticking on the top-end. The sound usually goes away within a few seconds and oil pressure is always good. Once, that ticking sound persistently continued for a few minutes, then it got quiet. I shut it off and started it up a few minutes later and it purred like a kitty. Is that bad?
     
  7. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    I might have found out that problem. I hope so anyway. An exhaust manifold. I would rather it be that than something mechanical.
     
  8. 92exp4x4

    92exp4x4 Elite Explorer

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    Tough choice... I like the style and simplicity of the first gens. But the newer one would be more of a performer and more comfortable. Personally the 94 hands down, but i'm certainly bias.
     
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  9. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    Yeah. I've also had a strong bias in favour of the first generation. The newer one has a V8 so it will definitely be a better performer. It's surprisingly good on the fuel, too. It's a really nice truck and it is well-appointed. there are many things about this truck that I really like.

    The older one is a well-equipped XLT. It has 4-wheel-drive, leather seats, sunroof, premium factory audio, all that good stuff. If I keep the older Explorer, I want to get new leather upholstery for the front seats and console cover. Where can I get that done?

    Thanks.
     
  10. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    @92exp4x4

    You have a Jurassic Park Explorer? Sweet! Got pics?
     
  11. Kesp4.0

    Kesp4.0 Member

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    My Explorer ownership almost mirrors yours, except I've owned a 1993 2wd and a 2003 4x4. Most importantly, what is the mileage for each vehicle? I'd hate to make assumptions without first knowing that. I would give comfort and safety points to your 04 Explorer. Reliability goes to the 94. It also gets safety points for being a 4x4, but lacks the airbags and braking capability of the 04.
    One thing to consider is which one will nickel and dime you to death, and, of course, that is completely dependent upon their mileage and history. Assuming they're both well into the 100k range, with all other things being equal (maintenance and driving history) I would say the 94 would be the more robust and dependable vehicle.
    I absolutely loved my 2003 but there was always a long list of things that constantly needed attention on it, and I babied the hell out of mine. If you haven't already encountered it, you stand a high chance of dealing with window motor and door lock issues, cracked rear fascia and leaky rear window seals, that extreme fading of interior door panels, engine ticking and the biggest of all, that complete piece of crap 5R55 transmission. That isn't everything that could or will happen, but those are just the common items most folks complain about. On the positive side you have a very comfortable and safe ride, and with the exception of the transmission the power train is pretty solid.
    As for the 94, you might run into a/c compressor issues, that annoying pushrod knock, bad gas gauge, and lastly the almost equally as crappy A4LD transmission. I say almost because while many people complained about it, it wasn't nearly as bad as the sealed 5R that you couldn't even maintain without pita procedures. I got nearly 200k on my A4LD before needing rebuild, whereas my 2003 5R was acting up at 80k. Of course, anecdotes don't equal data.
    Between the two, the 04 is a much more timeless design whereas the 94 looks more dated. That being said, I kept my 93 and sold the other one. They both did what I asked of them, and as far as cars go, they both had personality in their own ways. The 93 just had it bigger and better.
     
  12. larrydd999

    larrydd999 Active Member

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    We've a '92 XLT purchased new with over 230k and no issues whatever with the transmission even though it rarely gets any attention other than checking the fluid level. The temperatures are moderate year around, the hills aren't bad, and we never tow, so that all probably helps. It's interesting to note, however, that many of the Gen1 Explorers on the local Craigslist do have transmission issues. Maybe there's an opportunity here. :)
     
  13. 2stroke

    2stroke Elite Explorer

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    I personally feel the design of the explorer went down hill over time, opposite what most vehicles do. The first gen was nearly perfect. The second gen got some welcome upgrades, but also picked up many problems as well. The 3rd gen was severely "sissified." By the 4th gen, it wasn't even an explorer any more. The 5th gen isn't even an SUV, its a crossover.

    This is all personal opinion, but the only engines offered in 3rd and 4th gens were the 4.0 SOHC and 4.6 V8. 2 of the 3 worst engines offered in the last 20 years IMO. Whether you like airbags or not is up to you. I personally don't like them. I always wear my seatbelt, and always have (I'm not one of those claiming seat belts kill more than they save). Airbags are one of those things that will save your life if you are in a head on high speed crash, but hurt you everywhere else in life. They can turn a minor rear end crash into a big injury. You can get seriously hurt or killed while working on the vehicle. I'm not making this up, the statistics are out there.

    I wouldn't worry one bit about mileage of the first gen. You should be more concerned about it being 22-23 years old. Everything rubber is degraded, wires can degrade, seals can leak, etc. They are extremely reliable if you put the work into it, but its a little old for most people.

    On the other hand, the 2004 is known to be less reliable with engine and transmission problems, as well as a host of others. Throw that in with the fact is a 2x4, and I would be inclined to sell it.

    I'd sell the 2004 and buy a small front wheel drive car, and keep the 94 if you can. If you never tow or haul anything, or ever do anything where you need 4x4 (hunting, ice fishing, etc.) maybe sell both. I've driven front wheel drive cars around quite a bit in the snow, and they do well. You don't need 4x4 in the winter, but a 2x4 rear wheel drive vehicle can get dangerous if you are not careful.
     
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  14. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    2004 Eddie Bauer Explorer
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    BigTime
    The 2004 Explorer has 191k miles. The 1994 Explorer has about 160k-ish. The older one has done some sitting. My uncle babied the hell out of that '04 Explorer. There is some fading on the door panels, but it's not bad. There is a crack on the read facia. I have begun to notice that on a lot of 3rd Gen Explorers. There might be some leakage on the rear window. There is some engine ticking, but I'm hoping that it's a exhaust manifold and not a mechanical issue. I've heard that this hevicle has a known problem with bad manifolds on this engine. I have the 4.6L V8. I'm glad it's not the 4.0L SOHC V6, with one timing chain in the back. The 5R transmission works flawlessly. This truck works great going down Vickerman Hill in Herkimer County. I'm not sure if anyone here is familiar with that hill, but it's a long, steep grade.

    One friend is telling me that engine tick is a rod knock. I hope that's not true. I had to rebuild an engine before. I don't want to do that again.

    I usually gear-down and engine-brake down the hill. The Explorer in 3rd gear is perfect. It goes down at about 45MPH and I hardly have to touch the brakes at all. There are people who burn their brakes up in 6 months. I'm not one of them. I used to have a 1996 Corolla. It did pretty good going down that hill, but I had to brake some. The seminary has a pair of Dodge caravans with 6-speed automatics. Those things are OK to drive, but gearing down on Vickerman Hill does almost nothing. It's kinda scary.

    Teh 1994 Explorer has the OHV Cologne V6. There is no engine noise, though I've heard that noise in one or two Explorers before.

    I didn't really distinguish the 3rd and 4th gen Explorers. I thought the 4th gen was a slight style "upgrade". I do agree that the latest version isn't even an Explorer anymore. It's a FWD car. I bet working on it would be a real pain in the ass.
     
  15. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    BigTime
    I do think the First Gen was Explorer Nirvana. The second Gen brought some nice upgrades, but a few issues. It still wasn't a bad car. I really enjoyed the time I test-drove a 302 Explorer! I wasn't too keen on the style changes. They could have rounded some edges on the grille and headlights without such a dramatic change. The newest generation has the most vulgar and offensive style. not to mention a host of problems and the fact that it's a unibody FWD car. If I want a FWD car, I want my old Buick LeSabre or my 1996 Corolla back. Those were both great cars.
     
  16. 92exp4x4

    92exp4x4 Elite Explorer

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    It's far from done, but is in the works. Check out my build thread in the modified first gen forum. There are a few on here. Try searching the site.
     
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  17. malohnes

    malohnes Active Member

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    My sentiments mirror 2stroke and 92exp4x4 well. First gen issues are well documented and largely correctable with some elbow grease and tlc. If you've got access to a garage and can do some wrenching and/or fab work you'll enjoy it very well. The drive well, trail well and are reliable with little effort once some kinks are worked out. It's well worth your efforts.
     
  18. 2stroke

    2stroke Elite Explorer

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    Its probably not rod knock, but those engines are infamous for shooting spark plugs out. Make sure all of yours are tight, a ticking sound is the last thing people hear before they blow out. If you just want to compare engines, the 4.0 OHV blows the 4.6 out of the water. The transmissions are a wash, although if you ever have to, you can put a manual behind the 4.0 easy enough and will never have a problem again.

    As you stated, not much difference between the 3rd and 4th gens. I think the biggest change is 3rd gens had more of a frame, although I think its technically unibody, where the 4th gen is clearly unibody. That and they basically become luxury grocery getters. The 3rd gens were more basic, although a world apart from a 94.
     
  19. malohnes

    malohnes Active Member

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    I think the 4.6/5.4 v8's are too different to compare to the Expo v6's. The 4.0 sohc and ohv are also hard to compare because the differences are all in the head design and they're worlds different even though they share the same block and general Dimensions.
     
  20. Rhett

    Rhett Let Them Eat Cake Elite Explorer

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    Ok, you are a 1st gen guy. I do not have to see any more evidence. You have your answer, to keep the 1st gen!
     
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  21. cantornikolaos

    cantornikolaos Member

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    BigTime
    I visited the Explorer Assembly Plant in Louisville, KY in 2000. When I was there, there were two frames for 3rd-gen prototypes. At that time, the second gen was still in serial production. I got to see the entire assembly processof the ford Explorer and Ranger. It has been my understanding that the 3rd-gen had a real chassis, but it is less rugged, using struts instead of springs and shocks. I wish I could swap the suspension out. I can't change struts and that is costly work. I can change shocks pretty easy.
     
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