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Beware of new tensioners on older motors

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by LoquetusofBorg, June 8, 2016.

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  1. LoquetusofBorg

    LoquetusofBorg "Resistance is Futile" Elite Explorer

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    Hello gang, just thought I would let anyone who is thinking about putting new tensioners on your older motor....
    DON'T. My motor was in perfect running condition, not a rattle anywhere front or back. Thought I would do a little proactive maintenance when replacing my intake and intake gaskets by putting in the new tensioners. My motor lasted about 3 weeks then the timing failed on the front. (got real lose and noisy, so I quit driving it and had it towed in) Reason: Tensioners were to much for the old plastic cassettes. I have sunk a bunch of money into this rig like all the rest here have only to have this bite me now. I only have enough to have the front done and not the back. I love the explorer, but why did they use third rate engineers to produce the motor! It is literately un-serviceable. (when it comes to timing chains) To make this long story short, Ford disassembled the front to get to the timing chains and that, (the tensioners), were the problem as they applied to much pressure on the old cassettes. Had I let the tensioners alone I would have been better off. So if any of you are thinking preventive maintenance on your tensioners please beware! Can anyone here tell me which is easier for someone at a apartment complex, Drop the transmission and work under it to replace the rear chain cassette or motor pull? For the inquiring mind my motor had 215,000 on it before I changed the tensioners.
     
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  3. Tech By Trade

    Tech By Trade Well-Known Member

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    I do believe if an aftermarket company came along and designed a cassette with an actual metal base and teflon chain guides this motor could become pretty much bullet proof. That assumes you have already installed a metal thermostat housing of course, and don't include the garbage radiator or transmission as part of the engine...

    I found it easier to pull the engine, as I had a stud broken off of one of the exhaust manifolds that I couldn't get at. Made that pig of a job into a 10 minute mission.
     
  4. Flash

    Flash Well-Known Member

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    I believe that all of the new tensioners available are steel backed, I don't know about Teflon though. That would be good.

    I did my chains with the engine out but it was an engine swap, so....
    I think if I were doing it now I would go the gearbox way.

    You'll need all the socket extensions in your toolbox to get to all the bellhousing bolts, probably need to borrow a mate's too.

    At 215k I guess they weren't the original tensioners you took out to replace?
     
  5. SoNic67

    SoNic67 Well-Known Member

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    I researched before online about Explorers... That's why I bought mine with the V8 engine.
    Still messed up because of the rust on it, but I guess that's a lesser evil.
     
  6. LoquetusofBorg

    LoquetusofBorg "Resistance is Futile" Elite Explorer

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    Yes I have a metal therm. I had the passenger side of the engine bay out and was granted very easy access to everything on the passenger side, plugs, wires, tensioner. I have replaced the blower fan, resister, heater plenum (inside), plenum door with metal door tips, inside wire harness (Limited), steering column (with cruise, climate and radio controls), most under-hood hoses, fan and clutch, egr valve, pcv, all new rotors, pads, shocks, sway bar end links and bushings, tie rods and tie rod end links, rear parking brake pads and parking brake components, rear helper springs, eatc, message center, hydro-graphics dip kit (for the wood grain interior), 100 square feet of gtmat (80ml) sound dead-ner on roof, walls and floor, inside of the doors as well as the interior of the doors, painted the interior with a different color of gray (it pops a little more), new speakers (pioneer), new pioneer deck with steering wheel control (pioneer avs5700), new carpeting, new to me eddie Bauer seats with leg extensions, window tinting (front doors) soon the two small windows, fixed rusty rockers, bodywork, new paint (black) was sky blue, new front windshield, new one piece head lights, new bumper (99), new fog lights, new rubber door seals, took dash apart so I could sand all the green off to replace with red on the gauges, all new led lights through out the interior. I know there is a lot more that I have forgotten and then....... Timing chain.
    And I thought I was about done with this rig.......
     
  7. LoquetusofBorg

    LoquetusofBorg "Resistance is Futile" Elite Explorer

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    Oh yeah, forgot to say new tires (265/70/16), new rims (black with polished aluminum bead ring)
     
  8. Tech By Trade

    Tech By Trade Well-Known Member

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    I'm Surprised anyone would spend that kind of money on a rig with a POS 4.0l SOHC in it. To each their own I guess. The bonus of dropping the transmission and going at it that way is you could get a head start on the Servo Bore failure that is probably going to be next. From the list above it seems that you prefer to do things properly, so pulling the transmission and getting the Bores honed and sleeves installed is a much better fix than the pistons with the o-rings on the shaft.
     
  9. LoquetusofBorg

    LoquetusofBorg "Resistance is Futile" Elite Explorer

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    This motor was never a POS until I changed the tensioners and then it opened my eyes to the design flaw and how careless the engineers were when designing this motor. There have been many that would just do an engine swap for cheaper but then what? the same thing ten miles down the road or ten thousand. If I fix this right, that motor will hopefully go another 215,000 and will likely outlast me. I had ford do the complete front of the motor. This way I will only need one tool to hold the rear cam shaft for the torque spec and not all the other tools up front, at least from what I have read here on rear installation of the chain and will already be at TDC. You are right about the servo I will remove and replace along with filter change a look at the torque converter. I maintain my rig very well not sure about it's predecessor as she did not write anything down but it has lasted this long so she did a pretty good job I think. I am not sure as to when I will get this done but it will be this year. I have bought these parts along a 4 year span so it has not been a drain all at one time, but the chains are a huge expense to have all at one time. Thanks for the info.
    Robert
     
  10. Tech By Trade

    Tech By Trade Well-Known Member

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    The plastic Cassettes themselves are an inherent flaw. The only metal is the backing on the traction side of the rear. It does nothing to support the big chunk of plastic that supports the entire other side, and tends to shatter. This was never improved, the only improvement was an upgraded pin so you can replace the guides without having to pull the driver side head. If it isn't shattered, you will probably have to smash the old one to get it out. Streetrod2000 has a great step by step on the process of replacing the guides that I used when I did my 07. Its a little more in-depth then just being TDC. Lots of factors come into play including chain tension when timing these things. If time is no concern tools can be made to time it correctly, but in the end, I think you would be ahead buying the OTC kit and using it. As for a drop in, I do agree completely that you are ahead replacing the chains over someone elses garbage. Just make sure to use quality parts. As Streetrod notes, Cloyes and OEM are the only way to go. Be sure to change the oil pump too as the screen is probably full of little chunks of plastic. Best of luck to you.

    On a side note, if you have the 4x4 it will have the balance shaft. Odds are its tensioner is shot. you wont be able to change it without pulling the motor as the upper oil pan cant be removed without lifting the engine anyway.
     
  11. LoquetusofBorg

    LoquetusofBorg "Resistance is Futile" Elite Explorer

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    Changed mind...
    I am having ford mechanics do it all so if something happens it will be guaranteed. I have nothing left in the bank but I will be able to drive it with confidence and not always worrying about the chain in the back thinking to myself "will it happen on this run to the store" .......... Thanks guys. To all members that have wrote the "how to's" and took the time to make videos so that we all could benefit from your experience please accept my heart filled thanks as you have save me alone thousands of dollars in repair costs.
    Sincerely,
    Robert
     
  12. LoquetusofBorg

    LoquetusofBorg "Resistance is Futile" Elite Explorer

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    Chains are done. It is so much tighter then before. It is like having a new engine, the cost 2700.00 dollars. Yes I could have had a re manufactured motor sent to me for 2022 bucks from Powertrain products inc. That option would have saved a lot of time and money but you don't know things are that expensive until you start to rip things apart and they don't give...they break. Ford mechanics in this area get a whopping 100 bucks an hour and they had over 60 man hours in this job because of all the bolts breaking, but are re-writing the manual for timing chain issues for other folks on those years of motors. I did not have to pay for those hours, I paid real close to bid on this job, so I am very glad I did not do this job myself to save money. I also have a guarantee. Many parts had to be replaced that I did not plan on, but am glad they did. I know there are many of you that would have never put that kind of money in there explorer and think I am crazy, but I love my sport and quite literally did not want anything else, so it was more of an investment for my future as it will most likely outlast me. I will get some pictures of this rig up in my profile, don't know if I can, but I will try. Thanks again to all the folks that replied to this tread.
    Sincerely,
    Robert
     

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