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Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by memeco50, February 12, 2019.

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    1. memeco50

      memeco50 New Member

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      City, State:
      Reseda CA
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Ford Explorer
      I'm not an enthusiast of any car. I've always bought and driven old used cars that I buy from $1000 to $1500 still running but no a/c or good looking. Try buying a first pre-owned 2005 GT Mustang and it got repossessed in the 2008 recession, so back to old cars.
      My 1996 Ford Explorer started acting up. It was misfiring on cylinder #3. I has more than 186K mi. So I'm not interested in fixing the engine. It's time to get the CA tags. So I'm thinking of retiring it for $1500. No can't do cause I already did a car a year or so ago. Tune up was already done but not the ignition coil. So I changed it and nothing. Could it be an injector? Put some cleaner, nothing, a whole bottle of Lucas, nothing. Sea Foam or whatever thru the air intake, nothing.
      Today I removed the spark plug. It was dirty on the thread with some oil and little pieces of deposits mostly on thread. Got a more expensive spark plug, double platinum. Ok, before all that I went to AutoZone and they checked if for me. I got the codes P0303, P0102, P0171. So I cleaned the MAFs with some CRC. Disconnected the battery and the engine light went off. Knowing the it wouldn't pass the smog check. I said what the hell and took it to my trusted Asian guy. He tells me the oxygen sensor have gone to sleep. Go drive the car for 25 minutes on the freeway at 60 mi/h. I go I come back, he does some of his trickery and .... it passes. Car is running great. I would buy it again. I could sell as running condition and somebody would buy it for a $800 or so.
      I'm happy because I don't want to spend money. I have other plans right now, a trip somewhere. I also have a 98 Honda Accord. I like having to old cars.
      OK, OK I know this is not the way to fix it. I don't know if I read it hear or somewhere. It's like kicking the can down the road... I know. But for me it's fine. Two more years and I can sell it to the State or even throw it away before that. Buy another piece of junk from CL or an auction. It's OK if I have to clean or replace the spark plug every 6 months or so.
      So my question to you knowledgeable mechanics, techs and people who know. What's going on? How can a car I thought was done be running good and passing the smog check? I'll probably will drive it 20K more or less miles. Can it last? I would drive it with 5 cyl. I don't care. I just wanted to get the tags. It's not smoking or anything. I put new tires a year ago because I couldn't find used tires that size anymore. That's one of the reasons I want to keep driving it. Not interested in really fixing it. But it I take it to my mobile working on the street mechanic, how much do I expect to pay? What could it be.
      Thanks

      Also I read a lot of this cars lose coolant. Mine does too. I also hear they have problems with transmission. Mine got replaced with a used one some time ago. A/C clutch burnt, now I use a shorter belt. But in all it's a good car.

      Last edited: 55 minutes ago
       
      Last edited by a moderator: February 12, 2019
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    3. Mbrooks420

      Mbrooks420 High Voltage. Elite Explorer

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      Might be as simple as a bad plug wire. I’d only run Motorcraft platinum plugs in it, and I’d change the other 5.
       
    4. 96eb96

      96eb96 Well-Known Member

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      99% it is the cracked head issue. One last hail Mary is K-Seal, worked for me, 10K miles on it. Took a bit of effort, even running with the spark plug out. Not 100% assured but worth a try. Other option is new heads, but at that age that it is a decision.
       
    5. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Welcome to this forum! Both of your threads were merged together. I also think that it could have a bad spark plug wire. Check the resistance of the wire with an Ohmmeter, and compare it to the other wires.
       
      Last edited: February 12, 2019
    6. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      My guess would be you have a cracked cylinder head, which is fairly common to your V6 engine. Try the K-Seal. Other's here have had success using it. Can't hurt and it'll cost you only $12-$15.
       
    7. memeco50

      memeco50 New Member

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      Thank you all. The "cracked head issue" comment made me laugh. It reminded me of a girl I once met and had to ditch.
      K-seal will do.
       
    8. EB4X

      EB4X Member

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      Not having a head issue your particular engine can / is known to last to 300-400K! Do things mentioned....good luck..
       
    9. 96eb96

      96eb96 Well-Known Member

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      You can remove some coolant from the radiator, start it up and see if the level rises. Also, a compression or leakdown test could pinpoint that. You know what cyl to check.
      Certainly Worth trying to save! If it was an SOHC we would say push it off a cliff! I would have fixed mine right but the truck has rust on it.
       
    10. masospaghetti

      masospaghetti Well-Known Member

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      To me 186k isn't that much but to each their own...

      If it's in decent shape it's almost certainly cheaper to continue running it instead of buying something else. In CA just the tag fees would eat a few hundred of whatever you sell it for, and unless you are getting something almost new, you're potentially buying someone else's unknown set of problems.

      I would start with the basic tune up stuff - plugs/wires, might try new crank position sensor (known failure point, cheap and easy to replace - $15 and 15 minutes). I've had 2 Explorers with the same engine and they both needed new intake manifold gaskets. Bad gaskets will throw the P0171 code by letting unmetered air into the intake. If they haven't been done before, they are almost certainly bad by 186k. This is also a cheap fix. Have you changed the fuel filter?

      It's certainly possible you have a cracked head or something more serious causing a loss of compression and therefore oil fouling of the plug. Rent a compression tester and see for yourself!

      If you want your A/C back, compressors aren't expensive and it sits right on top of the engine - easy to replace.
       
    11. memeco50

      memeco50 New Member

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      Running very good again. Put that K-Seal thing. I'm not selling it. I want to retire it in two years for $1500. But I hope it doesn't pass smog by then.
      Tuned up last year. Yes, the coolant level did rise when started up. What does that mean?
      I'll do the other stuff.
       
    12. Mbrooks420

      Mbrooks420 High Voltage. Elite Explorer

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      Why would you hope it doesn’t pass smog by then?
       
    13. 96eb96

      96eb96 Well-Known Member

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      If gasses are blowing into the coolant system that is certainly a cracked head. The k-seal should get you going, and prevent fluid from getting in the cyl. You may still lose a bit of compression, maybe gas mileage or power suffers a bit, but nothing really noticeable. My engine is as smooth as some new trucks.

      I don't even know it is in the coolant. I'm sure products like this are added to the initial fill at the factory. The silicates in coolant actually could plug microscopic holes. K-seal could theoretically be removed - but I wouldn't suggest it in this case.

      Once that is out of the way these (pushrod) trucks are as reliable as the fires of hell. 95-96 transmissions seem to hold up well too, good idea to to a fluid/filter service every 30-50k if the fluid isn't too burnt.
       
    14. Josh P

      Josh P Shaggin Wagon Elite Explorer

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      "I'm thinking of retiring it for $1500. Two more years and I can sell it to the State"
      I buy old $400 cars to drive too, but chop them up and recycle them when they are not safe to drive anymore.
       
    15. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      Don't remove the K-Seal. It remains active in system. I had a 5.0L with K-Seal in it to seal a timing cover gasket leak. Later, the bypass hose blew and the engine lost much of its coolant (and K-Seal) and the leak returned. I had to add another bottle of K-Seal to stop the leaking, which worked. It's now years later and still no leaks.

      What exactly do you mean by "coolant lever rising"? In the expansion tank when engine is hot? In the radiator with cap off and engine started? It could rise because exhaust gases are getting into the cooling system due to a blown head gasket or cracked head, but coolant is supposed to rise about an inch in the coolant expansion tank once the engine is hot and go down as the engine cools. It will also spill out of an open radiator cap due to the flow created by the water pump. The OHV head-cracks tend to not push exhaust into the cooling system very much and coolant only seems to get into the cylinder once the engine is hot and is turned off. This is because the cracks are very small and the engine heats up the crack may close. Monitor your coolant level now that you've put the K-Seal in. It should improve.
       
    16. Mbrooks420

      Mbrooks420 High Voltage. Elite Explorer

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      If it doesn’t pass smog they pay you 1500?
       
    17. memeco50

      memeco50 New Member

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    18. Josh P

      Josh P Shaggin Wagon Elite Explorer

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      Reading the requirements, at or less than 225% of federal poverty level income means anyone working 40 hours a week above minimum wage wouldn't qualify for the $1,500 but could get $1,000. When I lived in California, gas was under $1 a gallon and $20 registered the car for a year.
       
    19. memeco50

      memeco50 New Member

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      Gas now $3+ at ARCO and Registration $120+. People live here for the weather. But AZ is hot too.
       
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