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How good are 2nd gens for off-roading?

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by masospaghetti, July 14, 2019.

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  1. masospaghetti

    masospaghetti Elite Explorer

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    Not looking to do anything crazy, but thought it would be fun to do some light offroading. 2nd gens any good for this? anything to be aware of?

    98 XLT, 5-speed manual, 4WD. All stock, has all-season tires on the rear, Hankook Dynapros AT in the front. Suspension is in good shape but is all OE replacement stuff. I have the Monroe coil load-leveling shocks in the rear.
     
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  3. RangerX

    RangerX Elite Ranger Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Not as good as a Gen1, but way better than a Gen3!
    I ran the Rubicon trail with a group from this forum and there were 2 gen2s in the group. Both had a mild lift and a locker or two, both made it through. The weak link seemed to be front axle shafts, one broke two!
    If you’re thinking of big bear or desert trails, some good tires and knowing how to drive off-road will get you far. Just don’t go alone.
    Disconnecting your sway bars will make a big help, especially the rear. Consider it mandatory.
     
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  4. EB4X

    EB4X Active Member

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    Hey Maso,
    I just got mine road worthy and took it on some mild off roading / hill climbing yesterday at small local hideaway....did very well IMO.... limited slip did it's job going up semi-challenging hill... You should try AZUSA CANYON..... you're in O.C. like me ...it's only about a hour or so drive up there..... 57 north to 210 West to Azusa off-ramp.....go north until you see the mud pit! Granted neither one of us have mud tires but there's mild mud there too and a bunch of creek crossings / some hill climbing etc. Go on youtube and type in "Off roading Azusa" etc....
    Maybe you could hook up with me and buddy...others and head up there this summer.... get a caravan going....
    Does yours have the LS rear diff ?
     
  5. gmanpaint

    gmanpaint It's Always Something! Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    All depends on how much time and money you want to spend on it. Lol

    Limit straps will save your cv axles, but replace them with new units, before putting them thru the stresses.

    Gearing, lockers, lift, armor, proper tires for the terrain, shocks, and knowing when and where to use the skinny pedal, all matter for successfully making it back in one piece.

    The fronts low articulation is the deciding factor on the limitations it can handle on trails. You will lift a front tire a lot, which is ok if done right. It's the limited droop that gets you into trouble and can cause a flop, when it nose dives to one side, going down an obstacle.

    Can still enjoy a lot of trails, and it will get you to plenty of places off the beaten path. Mine has taken me to some epic destinations, many times.
     
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  6. masospaghetti

    masospaghetti Elite Explorer

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    Yeah that would be fun, do you have a plan for your next trip? I have the open 3.55 gears in the rear.
     
  7. masospaghetti

    masospaghetti Elite Explorer

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    Well honestly, I was hoping to be able to poke around with the rig basically as-is - I know this is a hobby that can get expensive! The rear tires will be needing replacement soon anyway, so I could easily justify a matching set of Dynapros.

    Not sure I understand this, can you clarify?
     
  8. EB4X

    EB4X Active Member

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    Not yet.... I'll send you a msg when get something going...
     
  9. gmanpaint

    gmanpaint It's Always Something! Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    The front CV axles only allow 6" of total up & down travel. This is the limited droop I refer too. This low articulation can cause hairy situations in off camber use.

    To me, this is the biggest downfall using the 2nd gen for off roading. Doesn't matter what size, or type of lift you install on the 2nd gen, that number doesn't change. A 1st gen can overcome this easier than the 2nd gen using the same style suspension. The only way to get more than 6" of travel in a 2nd gen, is to remove the stock suspension and install a straight axle.
     
  10. masospaghetti

    masospaghetti Elite Explorer

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    I see, thanks for clarifying.

    You recommended changing the CV axles - how about U-joints? Not sure of the age/mileage on the CV axles or u-joints but there aren't obvious problems with either of them (u-joints don't have any play to them).
     
  11. gmanpaint

    gmanpaint It's Always Something! Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Everything needs to be in great condition, to withstand the stress related to off road use, especially when climbing or dropping off obstacles.

    These rigs are over 20 years old now. While some items have been changed (repaired) over the decades, some items may still yet be stock and worn out. Worn out parts will break easily on the trails, and leave you stranded or in need of repair on the spot.

    I mention CV axles, because too many people don't even think about them as a wear item, and never give it a second thought until it's too late. Go over every part you think might be a weak spot, and do it again, then one more time. Clean fluids in the entire drive train, with proper venting is just as important. Brakes & fluids are extremely important to have refreshed. Stopping can be more important than going, when off road sometimes. I replaced all my stock U-joints with beefier Spicer sealed solid cold forged cross units. Water can't get into these, and ruin the grease. Same goes for all the axle seals. New Dana seals for all four axles installed, and move the vent tubes up higher, to help with water intrusion that break down the diff fluids.

    I can keep going, but you get the point. Slapping tires, shackles, and led bars doesn't make a rig, trail worthy. It just makes it tow truck worthy. :D
     
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  12. Rick

    Rick Pumpkin Pilot Staff Member Admin Elite Explorer

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  13. EB4X

    EB4X Active Member

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  14. 410Fortune

    410Fortune Snow Season Staff Member Moderator

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    The best thing to do with a 4x4 suv is get out there and try it
    As you build up your truck its ability to go further and do more things will grow at the same pace as you do. This makes for a great team, when you get to know your truck and what it is capable of as you build it up to suit your off road needs.
    The worst thing to do is grab a kid whos been in the dirt like twice and throw them behind the wheel of a very capable fully locked 4x4 (like a polaris rzr) this usually ends in problems/insurance claims/hospital...where as if the kid was to start with a simple rig and off road, he may have more respect for the trail and the machine.
     
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  15. masospaghetti

    masospaghetti Elite Explorer

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    Went to big bear yesterday for some off-roading with a group, the rig survived about 7 hours of driving! Granted, this was supposed to be an "easy" trail but there were multiple places that I needed 4-Low, or I wouldn't have made it. 7 of the 10 vehicles in the group were Wranglers. The open diffs hurt me a couple of times, otherwise, I was impressed how the rig could climb steep rocky hills in 4-Low.

    Everything survived, no real damage or wear noted.

    EDIT: Found some "wear" on my transmission mount, a bit of tearing in the rubber. Also found one of my sway bar links missing.

    These were the new Moog Problem Solver sway bar links with the hollow bushings. It seems Moog switched suppliers for these links, I have purchased these in the past and they were USA-made and not hollow. These were made in China. Not too impressed since they were installed in February.

     
    Last edited: August 18, 2019
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  16. Stic-o

    Stic-o Elite Movie Star Elite Explorer

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    Add a rear lunchbox locker, and some good tires and it will go anywhere. They are very street friendly.

    It fact, I'll even help you install it. All you have to do is order one, and drive up to the Valley.;)
     
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  17. EB4X

    EB4X Active Member

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    Good job Maso!
    Hey Stic-o...is this an open invitation to all So Cal Explor owners: "It fact, I'll even help you install it. All you have to do is order one, and drive up to the Valley" .... :) (half serious...my L.S. is working fine at the moment)
    And...where are the trails up there in the S.F. Valley that aren't fenced/ signed off ? ....any left in that area? ...or did the rich developers/county take them all over like down here in Orange county... ?:mad:
     
  18. Stic-o

    Stic-o Elite Movie Star Elite Explorer

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    Sure always willing to help out a fellow EF member. Trails up here, not much. Have to go up to Gorman or Rowler. But I'm perfectly fine going over to Big Bear. Much cooler.

    Haven't been out much lately honestly. Have all these capable trucks but nothing happening:dunno:
     
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  19. BKennedy

    BKennedy Elite Loser Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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  20. EB4X

    EB4X Active Member

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    Never head of Truckhaven......just checked out on Youtube.....niiiice..... keep that in mind......
     
  21. MrQ

    MrQ Fuel Pump Replacer Elite Explorer Moderator Emeritus

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    I wheeled a 98 with 33's, a burnt out limited slip, and a 2" lift and it handled some decent level 3's at Moab without incident. It's all about knowing you and your vehicle's limits. Try it stock and then modify as you see fit.

    I saw a stock gen I run a level 2.5 (Top of the World) with nary a scratch. Still had running boards too. Damn good driver and spotter who knew how to pick his lines.
     

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