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Considering used 4th gen - V6 vs. V8

Discussion in 'Stock 2006 -2010 Explorers' started by CFD27, January 20, 2014.

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  1. CFD27

    CFD27 New Member

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    Great forum! Looking to see if anyone can offer some comments on a possible purchase of a used 4th gen. Currently driving a 2003 Subaru Outback that we are looking to replace. Overall we need more space for summer vacation travel and I need more tow capacity. Down the road, we might look at a boat, so I'm looking for at least 4-5K lbs of tow capacity. Vehicle is also my DD for about 16 mile round trip. Overall, we only put about 8-9,000 miles on this vehicle.

    I started out looking at used 5th gens (2011-2012) and also other mid-size SUV/CUVs such as the Pilot, Durango, 4Runner, etc. Used prices though are generally running in the say mid $20K range. With the deals out there on new, at say $30+K, it seems like I'd might as well as go new.

    So I'm trying to see if there are any low cost options south of $20K. I'd probably drive this 80-100K miles over 10-11 years. The 4th gen Explorer seems to fit this option. It looks like I could pick up a 4th gen with less than 60K miles for under $20k, maybe even well under. One key question that comes up is V6 vs. V8. With the tow package, the V6 would work with I think a 5400 lb rating. On paper, the V8 has more HP, 6 vs. 5 spd trans and seem to have little MPG penalty over the 6. Downside of the V8 is they seems quite a bit more rare and I seem to detect that they have more problems than the V6. Also more costly since they seem to come more with the higher end trims (Eddie Bauer, etc.). A friend of mine had a 4.L V8 (2V I think) in a 2002 F150. He had a number of engine problems - I think multiple problems with the plug coils and something else as well. Not sure if the updated 4.6L 3V is any different/better.

    V6 seems to be a little light on HP by today's V6 standards, but I'm typically not in a hurry and coming from the Subaru 4 cyl, my expectations are not that high.

    What is the conventional wisdom out there? V6 the more reliable engine - would get the job done? There seems to be a lot more out there and the prices would be less. But I could hold out for the V8 and see where that price point puts me.

    Also, any general idea on what MPG to expect from both engines in mixed driving? That is something I'll have to figure in with these older SUVs as they don't get quite as good as the newer SUV/CUVs. I was looking for 18-19 MPG overall, but that may be optimistic for an older Explorer.
     
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  3. Boomyal

    Boomyal Active Member

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    No expert here but I just bought a 2006 limited with a 4.6 and 125K miles. I paid $8500 for it. It has a few warts on it but basically straight and everything works.

    As far as V8 vs V6, from what I can tell after the fact, the V6's had more issues than the V8's. As far as mileage goes, I had heard prior to buying mine that there was a pittance of difference between the two. For myself, I wanted something that could still pull my 20 ft boat because I wanted to dump a 3/4 ton 454 cid Suburban that I could hardly afford to drive.

    So far, after one month and moderate use, my V8 is registering about 15.4 mpg. That is with mostly local driving.

    For the most part I am glad I did not stumble on to this site before I bought. It would be akin to reading all the potential side effects on a bottle of prescription medicine, ie, about enough to scare you to death. By all accounts the Explorer is a pretty decent vehicle. They sure sold enough of them.
     
    Last edited: January 21, 2014
  4. Tech By Trade

    Tech By Trade Well-Known Member

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    More issues, that's a good one.

    If you can deal with the lack of power the only other thing you have to look out for is the timing chain tensioner on the 6.

    with the 8 you are looking at 800+ to have the plugs changed, and double that when the studs break on the exhaust manifold, per side (cad).

    All the rest of the issues are common to both (cooling system).

    My experience so far and it will be 2 years in may I have owned my 07.
     
  5. Flag Gibby

    Flag Gibby Well-Known Member

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    I agree that the gas mileage is fairly equal on the two depending on the type of city driving you have. However, the V6's don't have the tranny and engine issues that the early V8's do and both have the same issues with the cooling systems.
    As far as towing goes, on the six speed I believe that you don't want OD on so you are really only using the first 4 gears which are virtually identical to the first 4 gears of the 5 speed but the difference comes in on the final drive axle ratio of 3.73 on the V6. If you are only going to tow occasionally then I would go with any year of the V6 with the factory tow package and make sure to hook up the trailer brake controller on it and you will be fine up to the max tow rating. With regards to the V8, I would avoid any year before mid 2008 when the engine redesign took place otherwise you will be facing manifold issues at some point that get somewhat pricey unless you can do all the work yourself.
    Also, using HP to compare to todays V6 is not a good idea since it is TQ that gets the vehicle moving and ultimately determines how much of a load you can tow (in combination with the final gearing). Plus, the V6 of today is mechanically engineered different with variable valves etc. and primarily drives a FWD configuration which means that you want less TQ in order to keep the torque steer down but by using variable valves and timing you can make the power band wider and more usable at all times.

    Don't know if I answered your questions so feel free to ask more as they pop up and don't forget to use the search button here since there are a lot of posts on "should I buy or not" in the 4th gen area.
     
  6. Flag Gibby

    Flag Gibby Well-Known Member

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    Sorry but the timing chain tensioner was fixed well before this generation and is not an issue anymore. And with the 3.73 gearing on the V6 tow package you don't even notice the "lack of power".
     
  7. mgmgmg

    mgmgmg Elite Explorer

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    Big fan of Consumer Reports here some info....
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Tech By Trade

    Tech By Trade Well-Known Member

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    Good to know there is no timing chain issue then, I shouldn't have any more issues with mine because I have fixed everything else already. I would hope the V8 had a little more pep because the 6 is pretty gutless. If the 8 is the same the 6 is an even better option.
     
  9. Explorer_PL

    Explorer_PL Elite Explorer

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    I am biased but If you can get 09-10 v8, that would be the way to go. But get v8 with the tow package, not all of them come with it. If you see a v8 badge, and 2" receiver, go for it. Besides sparkplugs problems, v8 has lot less issues than v6. I changed bearings (same on both models), radiator at 150k, I just changed the rear brakes this weekend for a total cost of $72; that included new rotors and pads. I know I used some Chinese aftermarket parts, but I have done it for the past 7 years with no problems, I am not paying $80 for a single rotor from a dealer. Mine has 172k miles, the tranny works same as when I bought it used in 2007. I do tranny fluid flushes every 60k. I tow and plow with mine and it's been the most reliable vehicle so far I have had.
     
  10. 2000StreetRod

    2000StreetRod Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    timing chain problems resolved?

    I keep reading that from posters (especially the Mustang owners) but I disagree. There were significant improvements incorporated in the 2002 and later models - especially for the primary chain tensioner which rarely causes engine damage when failed. However, the traction side of the rear cassette is still not metal reinforced.
    RCssttV.jpg
    The engine or transmission must be pulled to replace it. When it fails valve damage can result.
    DSCN8608.jpg
    RCasset.jpg
     
  11. thebrakeman

    thebrakeman Well-Known Member

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    It's widely stated that the V6 gets only slightly better gas mileage than the V8 (some say no difference). But I would say that is only if you are considering the V6 without tow package. V6 with tow package is another story.

    V8 gets 3.55 gearing, regardless of whether it has the tow package or not. This is because 1st gear in the 6-speed is very, very low, compared to 1st gear in the old 5-speed. So getting the tow package on the V8 has no effect on gas mileage.

    Conversely, opting for the tow package on the V6 changes the 3.55 gearing to 3.73, meaning the engine has to spin 5% faster. This is because V6 models got stuck with the old 5-speed. That's good for towing, but has a negative effect on gas mileage. In any fuel economy thread, anyone that complains about getting worse mileage than expected, typically has the V6 with tow package. It would not surprise me to find that V6 tow package trucks get worse mileage than V8 trucks, especially if you are trying to get the V6 to perform at it's limit.

    So, if you expect to tow a 5000+ lb boat, you must have something with a tow package, period. Might as well go with the V8. And as someone else pointed out, try to get '09-'10 to minimize known problems.

    Also note that the V6 with tow package only gets 10,000 lbs GCVWR (combined rating). 5,000 lbs of boat at 4500+ lbs of empty truck only leaves you with 500 lbs for passengers and cargo in the truck. You will be running at the limit. 3.73 gearing or not, you will not be happy.

    As far as finding a V8 with the tow package, I recommend you do what we did:
    Find a Mountaineer. Compared to a similarly optioned Explorer, they are cheaper. And since they were marketed more upscale, there is a higher percentage of V8 models. The only potential "downside" is that the AWD model does not come with a low-range transfer case. If you want to go offroading, get an Explorer with low-range. But you can still lock the front/rear axles together, which has been great with all the snow we've had this month.

    For us, the Mountaineer has been fantastic. We towed our 5000+ lb camper 1900 miles 2 years ago around Michigan's Upper Peninsula for 2 weeks. Not a bit of problems.
     
  12. Explorer0204

    Explorer0204 Active Member

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    Ahh someone who gets it. I can't believe the tow rating went down for the 4th gens. It was 5300 on a 4x4 v6 in the third generation. Everything is basically the same too...
     
  13. thebrakeman

    thebrakeman Well-Known Member

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    I think the V6 models for 4th gen still go up to 5500 depending on the exact drivetrain. Combined rating is 10,000 regardless. V8 with tow package is 12,000. Either engine w/o tow package is 8500, IIRC.
     
  14. Explorer_PL

    Explorer_PL Elite Explorer

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    Hi Thebrakeman -

    When you get a chance, please post a pix of your Equlizer set up :)
     
  15. Explorer0204

    Explorer0204 Active Member

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    This isn't totally related but I have a third gen (almost identical to the 4th when comparing the v6 versions. the v8 third and 4th gens are different) and it is the 6 banger. I added a hitch (and trans cooler) and towed 6700lbs one day.
    I didn't know it was going to be that heavy otherwise I wouldn't have done it..but I must say I WOULD do it again.

    Power wise I never had to go full throttle or even break 4k rpms merging onto the highway. The speed limit was 55 and I was holding 60 with ease even up some hills without downshifting (sat in 4th around 3 grand) Keep in mind that I have 3.55s and not 3.73's so having the tow package would only make your experience better than mine.

    In conclusion I would not hesitate any day of the week to hitch up 4000, 5000 lbs to my Explorer and tow it around. To go over that, I would only do on occasion. For your needs a 6 banger should be fine.

    That being said go with the V8 if you can find one. You can't regret having more power and torque. Its the American way. Plus from what I have heard the 6 speed has a lower 1st gear so it is equally good at towing as the 5 speed with 3.73s but still gets the mileage when not towing.

    Oh and on a 4th gen MAKE SURE to get the tow package. You can't swap hitches on them like you could on the third gens they are a structural part of the frame.

    Finally, If you really want to step it up buy an Expedition with the 5.4. They tow dang good for what they are but possibly out of your budget and efficiency wants. Just throwing it out there.
     
  16. GFish

    GFish New Member

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    I vote For The Six

    I have owned both. I don't really feel a power difference. I prefer my 4.0 Six. It is a sweet engine. Mileage a bit better on the highway and similar in town. If I baby the six I can get considerably better mileage than than I could on the 8.
     
  17. Explorer0204

    Explorer0204 Active Member

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    You think that power difference would shoe up towing? I have never driven the 8 banger but I can't imagine an extra 35 torque wouldn't be noticeable towing...
     
  18. mreed112

    mreed112 New Member

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    If you can't notice 80 more HP and 60 ft# of torque on basically the same weight vehicle, there is something wrong! Both are fine vehicles but there is a difference.
     
    Last edited: January 30, 2014
  19. Explorer0204

    Explorer0204 Active Member

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    Where you getting your numbers man?
    V6
    210 horse
    254 torque

    V8
    235 horse
    290(or so) torque

    The 4.6 in the mustangs had more power than the explorers... If that's what you weed thinking.
     
  20. mreed112

    mreed112 New Member

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    2006-2010 3valve v8 is 292hp & 315#ft.
     
  21. Boomyal

    Boomyal Active Member

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    Indeed! According to information posted in Wikipedia the 4th generation V8 had these specs:

    "A more powerful 292 hp (218 kW) 4.6L 24-valve SOHC V-8, similar to the Fifth-generation Ford Mustang's engine, was available as an option."
     

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