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Don't buy 3rd Gen with 4.0L

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by 2000StreetRod, May 13, 2015.

^^Searches ExplorerForum.com^^





  1. 2000StreetRod

    2000StreetRod Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Recently there's been several threads about members purchasing a 3rd Generation Explorer with the 4.0L SOHC V6. I'm sorry if my advice offends any existing owners but I advise against purchasing one unless the original timing chain components have been replaced. Even though the timing chain cassettes were upgraded in the 2002 and later models the rear (right) cassette guide is still not reinforced with metal on the traction side.
    DSCN8608.jpg
    That means that the guide is a candidate for failure after 200K miles and many earlier 3rd Gens are exceeding that mileage. Most potential sellers have determined this and that is why they are selling before catastrophe strikes.

    Replacing the rear cassette normally requires pulling the engine and accurately following a fairly sophisticated procedure. A special tool kit (OTC 6488) is normally required to retime the camshafts.
    OTC6488Kit.jpg

    Also, around 2004 the head casting was altered making it almost essential to remove the head in order to replace the front cassette. Removing the head normally requires compressing the valve springs to remove the cam followers and requires another special tool.
    ST-103a.jpg
    Since the cassette replacement process is labor intensive it is expensive to have performed by a shop. Purchasing and installing a replacement engine from a salvage yard is less timing consuming but there is still a risk of timing chain failure in the near future if the engine isn't low mileage.

    Additionally, the harmonic balancer is prone to failure.
    HarmBalancer2.jpg

    And the thermostat housing is prone to failure.

    I suggest that potential 3rd Gen buyers who are not inclined to make their own repairs shop for a vehicle with the 4.6L SOHC V8. The timing chain guides on that engine also will eventually fail but both are located in the front of the engine and can be replaced without pulling the engine.

    On the other hand, if you're a good home mechanic with the ability to pull/install an engine, and are willing to learn how the V6 timing chain components are replaced and the camshafts are timed, you can purchase an early 3rd Gen with bad timing chains for around $2K. For less than another $1K you should be able to purchase the special tools and make the repairs using OEM parts.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
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  3. Joe in NY

    Joe in NY Active Member

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    Yup. Sounds about like what I found about the 4.0 SOHC. I quickly determined to stay as far away at all costs.. But not easy finding the V8! Its found in less than 14% of ALL 2002 Explorers! Bit rare :p Ford really blew it with that V6...
     
  4. boominXplorer

    boominXplorer Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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    If the chains and guides have been updated or a new engine installed then I would feel just fine about buying a 3rd gen with a 4.0.

    To be honest I just had to put a head and piston in an 02 4.6 due to the timing chains grinding all the way through the tensioners and loosing all oil pressure to the front timing cover area. It locked up the cam in the right head (It always goes first, has the worst flow path). This was with 168k mi.

    In the end is all about how well a car was taken care of. Buying from a private seller will give you a whole lot more history of the vehicle than any dealer with carfax (as long as seller is honest or has receipts). When a dealer gets a car to sell they throw every bit of information out the glove box in the trash except the owners manual.
     
  5. Tyleryac

    Tyleryac Active Member

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    I agree. I had a nightmare with the timing chains. Once the repair was done by Ford however, I should be able to get a few more years from the engine.
     
  6. 2000StreetRod

    2000StreetRod Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    cassettes replaced

    Good point and I've edited my post to reflect that.

    From what I've read that is not typical for the V8. I suspect there were warning signs that were ignored.
     
  7. Tech By Trade

    Tech By Trade Well-Known Member

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    There is no update on the newer model that prevents the timing chain failure. The fourth gen explorer and second gen sport trac come with the same issues. If an aftermarket part company could come up with something a little more solid for the timing chains they could make these things bulletproof. As for the thermostat housing, there is a metal alternative out there. Harmonic balance, haven't run into it yet but I'm sure I will.
     
  8. dsturch1

    dsturch1 Member

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    I have a 2003 Explorer with 155k that has just been sitting in my driveway for a year since I have no time/ability to pull an engine and am not sinking a few thousand into the truck. Figure I will just buy a used engine, try to do the repairs prematurely before putting the used engine in the X and then hopefully ill be good to go for another few years with it.
     
  9. 2000StreetRod

    2000StreetRod Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    fuel stabilizer?

    If you haven't added fuel stabilizer to the tank I suggest you do so immediately. In a couple years without the stabilizer the fuel becomes non-combustible causing additional problems.
    oldfuel.jpg
    Rebuilding a spare engine at your convenience and then swapping sounds like a good plan. Ford really did a dis-service to its customers producing an engine that must be pulled to replace the camshaft timing chain.
     
  10. extra-medium

    extra-medium Active Member

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    Sorry to dig up an older post, but I am facing this issue now. I tried replacing my tensioners to try and buy me some time, but that time is pretty much up. I am debating the idea of sinking a few thousand into the repair for new timing chains and fix the a/c compressor while they are in there, or do I trade it in for another Explorer/Mountaineer or Escape with less miles. On average, does anyone have a rough estimate of how much the timing chain repair costs at a Ford dealership?
     
  11. Exproblems

    Exproblems Well-Known Member

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    Not sure on the cost to repair your engine if it is still running without any major internal damage, but if the engine has jumped out of time and quit starting like mine did (rear Timing chain) and you have damaged valves etc, Ford will tell you it is cheaper to replace the engine than tear the old one down and go thru it looking for damaged parts and pieces of the tensioners. Costs more in overall labor $$$ to break the old motor down than to buy a used, working motor and install that into your vehicle. I can tell you Ford charged me roughly $1600-$1700 in labor to R&R my engine, this included the AC system evacuation and recharge and they quoted me around $1600-$1900 on a used engine with 96K on it with either having a 1 month to 6 month warranty on them. I decided to get a new, Ford Reman motor for $3200 with a full 3 year, parts and labor warranty. My total install costs with tax and a few extra's installed came to $5280.00 This was back in Oct 2013.
     
  12. Number4

    Number4 "I'm counting to 3, then I'm getting your dad." Elite Explorer

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    You need to take into account your model year, it's condition, how much you've currently spent on it and how long you plan to keep it.

    Yours is an '02. Running in fair condition with high mileage (200k+) you'd get maybe 2k to $2,500 for it in ATL. With a timing issue, maybe $1,000.

    The '02 is prone to the most issues, especially electrical. If you like the third gens, then I'd suggest buying an '04-'05 with the 4.6l V8.

    For what you're going to pay Ford, for not that much more you could have a newer and better Explorer. One with the V8.

    Also, they are cheaper down south and don't have all the rust issues.
     
  13. boominXplorer

    boominXplorer Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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    Ford dealerships want more than Kelly Blue Book says your truck is worth to do timing chains. See if there is an independent shop around you that has done the job before and is familiar with it. My shop charges around $1700 give or take $100 depending on if you want your rear main seal, plugs, wires etc replaced.
     
  14. extra-medium

    extra-medium Active Member

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    Thanks for all the input. It is an '02 with 128k on it and it runs fine otherwise. I notice what seems like a skip or misfire every once in a while but my buddy who was a mechanic in the army said it was the power overlap or something like that, I can't remember what he said it was. I have noticed some other things here and there that don't seem as major like a rattling heat shield (from what it sounds like) and a single clunking sound when I have my wheels turned and I start moving like when I back out of a parking spot. It's kind of a relief to know it would be less than a $2k fix since I thought it was going to be around $4k.
     
  15. Number4

    Number4 "I'm counting to 3, then I'm getting your dad." Elite Explorer

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    My '05 every once in a while feels like it misses. No codes.

    The clunk you mentioned should be the 4x kicking in as it detects "slippage" due to the tires rotating differently. You can ignore this, it's just an annoyance.
     
  16. Sweersa

    Sweersa Active Member

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    My '05 has over 176,000 miles on it. I bought it last September, and I really like it.

    It has some noise coming from the rear, I'm guessing it's the wheel bearings or rear differential. It can get annoying at highway speeds. When we had the vehicle suspended in the air with all wheels removed, I didn't feel any play in any of the hubs, but who knows. The noise seems to get a little worse if I'm turning to the right.

    The transmission can make a loud sound if I stop quickly. If I stop smoothly, it's usually fine. It up-shifts a little weird.

    It has an odd and somewhat quiet rattle at idle and low speeds coming from the engine. It's more noticeable in the colder months. Replaced serpentine belt, idler pulley and tensioner, and it still happens. Sometimes I don't notice it.

    I plan on taking it in for differential service, hubs, and tranny service at a trusted local shop before the end of the year. I plan on sinking $2,000-$3,000 in it for repairs.

    Despite the issues, I love this Explorer. It handles the snow excellently. I hope to drive it to 300,000 miles if the engine doesn't blow. I think I'd have a new engine with warranty put in it, if it came down to it. The body has no visible rust.

    Great SUV.
     
  17. extra-medium

    extra-medium Active Member

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    I have the full time AWD transfer case so I don't think it is the front wheels locking in. It is something new that has developed during the last month or so. I have had this Mountaineer since August 2012, replaced all 4 struts, front hub and bearings, front ball joints, and rear left bearing. I am curious if it might be control arm bushings or something else. I called the local Ford dealer and they quoted me 2700 for timing chains and 2100 for A/C repairs. I am gonna get other shop quotes before I pull the trigger on any decisions.
     
  18. CaliNick25

    CaliNick25 New Member

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    i have a 98 Xlt with the sohc with 237k. i bought it with 200k and only had to to do regular maintenance on mine, its got 31" 2wd auto trans. i take it on trips all the time.
     
  19. Maniak

    Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    The 4.0 in our 2006 Mustang (same motor as the explorer) is over 290k miles and still running strong..

    Synthetic oil changes every 7k-9k miles and new plugs/wires etc every 80k miles... Only "repair" to the engine has been the thermostat housing and EGR/DPFE. I broke the DPFE doing plug changes (I leaned on the plastic)..

    ~Mark
     
  20. 2000StreetRod

    2000StreetRod Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Lasts longer

    For some reason the 4.0L SOHC V6 in the Mustangs seems to last longer than in the Explorers. As far as I've been able to determine the cassettes are identical. Maybe the cassettes last longer because there's less load on the engine (less vehicle weight and frontal area). Or maybe the gearing is different.
     
  21. mikeinri

    mikeinri Well-Known Member

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    I have a 2004 with the 4.0L. Took it to the dealership when the chatter started getting loud. The truck had around 175k and was otherwise in good shape (was due for maintenance items like tires, brakes, etc.). They told me to trade it in.

    I then went to a local shop for an estimate. I specifically told him not to bother with the maintenance items if the engine was going to cost too much to fix. He said he'd look at it and let me know. Next thing I know, I have new tires, brakes, etc. and the same engine noises. He said he's heard worse, and to just drive it until it quits because the cost to repair is so high.

    About a year later, it died, got a Jasper rebuilt installed, for just under $6k.

    Six months later, tranny cooler developed a nasty leak, and took the tranny with it. I now have a Jasper tranny.

    Truck has 200k, and is in pretty nice shape. While I'm happy not to have a payment, I'm not happy about spending $10k on a 200,000 mile, 11-year old truck (that was already paid for).

    Hopefully, I'll get several more years out of it...

    Mike
     

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