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New Owner - !Really! With Questions

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by GWSteppin, January 10, 2019.

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    1. GWSteppin

      GWSteppin New Member

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      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      97 Sport 4wd OHV M5
      I just purchased a 1997 Explorer Sport. I have never owned, driven or (the the best of my recollection) ridden in a 2nd Gen Explorer before.

      This one is in really good shape. It has the 4.0 OHV engine and M5OD transmission with 167,087 original miles. Everything on it works, and the body is almost perfectly straight. The paint and trim have some fade, but there is absolutely nothing about this vehicle that would dissuade me from driving it coast-coast. I am the third owner and bought it from a guy who had owned it since 2003.

      That said, there are some issues/questions I have about it. Some of these might be answerable with a thorough search, but I'm hoping y'all will cut a noob some slack.

      In no particular order:

      The seats in this thing suck. Back in the day everyone was doing soft squishy foam, but I don't want to drive from my living room sofa. Any suggestions as to firm seats that can go in with none-to-minimal modifications?

      Transmission. My understanding is that the OHV engines all came with the M5OD-R1 transmission. It is my further understanding that the R1 has a 3.72 first gear. Some quick RPM/speed testing tells me I have a 3.40 first gear which, again, my understanding is found only in the R1HD. The trans code on the door tag is M, and the VIN decoder on the FTE site (is it OK to reference them?) returns 3.40 as the first gear for the manual transmission. Is it possible I have the R1HD trans? Or is my understanding in need of correction?

      Is there a thread somewhere telling how to adjust the parking brake? I have a slight incline on my driveway and would prefer not to park it in gear to keep it on my property. Haven't owned/driven a manual transmission since 2002.

      The steering seems to have some play in it. Haven't yet checked the front end components yet - is there anything specific to this vehicle I should be looking for?

      Is there a way to defeat/remove the annoying lever you have to push to remove the key from the ignition?

      It came with 2 keys but no remote door openers. I'm rather surprised - were the remotes optional back then? Can they be added? Can I add the keyless entry pad on the drivers door?

      Will a 3rd gen steering wheel fit on these?

      The alternator appears to be identical to the one on used on 7.3 Powerstrokes. I haven't measured/compared yet, can anyone confirm. I have a nice 200 amp alternator from my old Powerstroke (more about that at the bottom) that would be sweet to swap over.

      Any other foibles common to these I should be on the lookout for?

      I'm downsizing from an 02 Excursion with a (now-dead) 7.3 Powerstroke. Anyone looking for a fair Excursion with a dead diesel should contact me before everyone else does.
       
      Last edited: January 10, 2019
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    3. imp

      imp Elite Explorer

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      @GWSteppin "Any other foibles common to these I should be on the lookout for?"
      I can't answer too knowledgeably regarding your more menial questions like seats, steering wheel (first thought would be no, differing cruise control buttons, air bag connection, slip rings, etc), or the relative merits of the two M5 transmissions.

      I CAN tell you that you have an older version of the Ford PATS (Passive Anti-Theft System) which uses the ignition key to deactivate the security system watching over the vehicle. Idea is to discourage knowledgeable thieves who usually jam big square-shanked screwdrivers in the ignition cylinder, and break it with a break wrench, thereby starting the vehicle. Won't work without that special "chip" key. You said you have two. Check that they both work. Maybe you know all this already, re the Excursion.

      Having the OHV V-6 is decidedly an advantage over the OHC, as MANY on the forum attest to. Having the manual trans. is absolutely scrumptious. I had a '99 with the M5OD and loved it, but was 2WD, and got it stuck in snow one too many times!

      Ain't Glenwood Springs somewhere near the headwaters of the Colorado River? I happen to live along it down near Laughlin, NV.

      Welcome to the forum! Tell us more! imp
       
    4. masospaghetti

      masospaghetti Well-Known Member

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      The stock seats DO suck. I find the 98+ Eddie Bauer style seats are relatively comfortable, but they are hard to find in decent condition. These are the ones with the lumbar wheel on the side instead of the electric pump. They have reasonably good support, much better than the stock Sport seats.

      The stock M5R1 transmission with the 4.0 came with the 3.4 first gear. The smaller motors with this transmission in the Ranger (2.3 and 3.0) had the steeper 3.73 ratio. The old transmissions behind the 2.9 also had the steeper ratio.

      There is an adjuster inside the parking drum, but you'll need to remove the rear disc/drum to get to it. Be prepared to replace the parking shoes.

      My guess is that your tie rod ends and/or ball joints are worn out. At that age it wouldn't surprise me if they are original - seems like most people never change out their suspension parts until they are ready to fall off the car.

      I had a 96 XLT with keyless entry but I have no idea if it can be added.

      I had a 2000 Sport and now have a 1998 XLT, both with the 4.0 OHV and M5R1 transmission. I think it's a great powertrain. The Sport in particular was well taken care of and gave me almost 100k of trouble free miles (gave it to my brother at 190k, he drove it until 230k until recently replacing it). It only stranded me once due to a bad battery cable.
       
    5. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      No PATS in 1997, no chipped keys. 1998 was the first year for PATS.

      As far as slop in the front end... You'll need to get under there and see what's worn out. Likely candidates are:
      - Ball joints
      - Inner and outer tie rod ends
      - Control arm bushings

      It's also likely your front sway bar links are toast (or even missing).

      If your vehicle has a RAP module in the rear cargo area jack storage compartment you can add remote key fobs (look for '97 compatible fobs on eBay. They're around $10. IDK how much trouble it would be to add the key-less entry key pad to the driver's door on a vehicle that didn't come with it. That may be more trouble than it's worth.
       
      Last edited: January 11, 2019
    6. masospaghetti

      masospaghetti Well-Known Member

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      If there's no RAP module, can it be added?
       
    7. Turdle

      Turdle Has Pleasure Chamber Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    8. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      Not easily. Only the lowest trim level (like fleet vehicles) seems not to have come with a RAP module. Remove your jack storage area cover and look forward in the area. If you don't see a tan colored plastic box with relays around it you don't have a RAP module.
       
    9. imp

      imp Elite Explorer

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      @koda2000 "No PATS in 1997, no chipped keys. 1998 was the first year for PATS."

      In Explorers, correct. Ford introduced it in almost the entire line in 1996, but excluded Explorer. Dunno why. imp
       
    10. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      Well, we are talking about Explorers here. No?
       
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    11. imp

      imp Elite Explorer

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      @koda2000
      Sure. And I have been known to make mistakes. Often. You? imp
       
    12. toypaseo

      toypaseo Flunked daycare Elite Explorer

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      [​IMG]
       
    13. koda2000

      koda2000 Explorer Addict

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      Ha, all the time imp.
       
    14. GWSteppin

      GWSteppin New Member

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      97 Sport 4wd OHV M5
      Thanks for all the replies.

      Since I'm posting this from my phone, no quoting here.

      Yes, Glenwood Springs is about 100 or so river miles west of the source of the Colorado over in Rocky Mountain National Park. We're 115 miles from the Utah state line. Mountains east, high desert west. Denver 150 miles east, Aspen 40 miles southeast, Vail 60 miles east, and for mountain bikers (like me), Fruita is 100 miles west.

      I think we've firmly established my Sport has no PATS, but I'm still wondering if there is a way to eliminate the annoying lever to remove the key from the ignition.

      Been driving it a bit the last few days and had forgotten how pathetic headlights were back in 97. I did an HID conversion on my Excursion and will need to do something similar to this.

      I've noticed that in the morning, when cold, the transmission is somewhat reluctant to go into 2nd gear, either from 1st or 3rd. It warms up fast and is just fine after a few miles.

      The heater on this thing is awesome. I get heat and defrost in about 2 miles after a cold start.

      On those cold starts, the engine starts right up, but then idles very low for 2-3 seconds before settling into a normal idle. Anything to be concerned about? I've been driving a Powerstroke the last 14 years, so I'm very rusty re: gas engines.

      Was thinking this thing really rides like a truck (HA!) - found the previous owner had the tires inflated to 47 PSI. I only ran the Excursion at 58 so thinking 47 is just a wee bit excessive. Reduced the pressure to 38 this morning, will see what that does.

      Was concerned the engine would be a weakling, but I really like the powerband.
       
    15. imp

      imp Elite Explorer

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      @GWSteppin "I've noticed that in the morning, when cold, the transmission is somewhat reluctant to go into 2nd gear, either from 1st or 3rd. It warms up fast and is just fine after a few miles."
      Probably sticky shift solenoids, possibly time to drain and refill with nice, fresh, stinky fluid. Whether the detergent and additives and such deteriorate in ATF I don't know, but suspect it.

      On the key removal: My '99 with manual and OHV eng. had one, but I forget exactly how it was positioned. My '94 Mustang GT has a small flipper behind the key which is pushed away from you to disengage the key. It's purpose must have to do with locking the steering wheel from being turned when key is removed. That's achieved on the automatics with the selector lever, which of course ain't there with manual. May be possible to defeat it beneath the shrouds. Mind giving up "peace of mind" which keeps the thief from turning the steering wheel? imp
       
    16. masospaghetti

      masospaghetti Well-Known Member

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      I would encourage you to try refinishing the lenses (or replacing the lenses, since they are really cheap) and running some high-efficiency halogens before going the HID route. The housings aren't made for HIDs and will not focus them correctly, and you'll be blinding everyone facing you.

      Have you changed the transmission fluid? Easy to do, takes less than 3 quarts. Be sure to use Dex/Merc and not Mercon V -- Despite what Ford says, it really does make a difference in how the shifting feels. Another hint that Dex/Merc is the right stuff (and not Mercon V): GM rebranded Dex III (which is Dex/Merc) as "Manual transmission fluid". Ford has a similar product.

      The Explorer Sport has a really short wheelbase, which makes the ride harsher. Make sure the shocks are OE stiffness such as OESpectrum and not a high-performance shock (like Reflex) - I tried these on my Sport, and they were a terrible match, way too stiff. The reaction to bumps was borderline violent and crossing speed bumps at an angle was absurd.

      I am not sure if your Sport has the multi-leaf pack - mine had the "monoleaf" which is a fixed rate spring. I believe the multi-leaf pack will give better ride quality due to it's progressive nature. You can tell just looking from under the truck and its obvious. If you have the monoleaf, the 4-door leaf pack is a direct swap and will give you a little bit of extra ride height.
       
      Last edited: January 16, 2019 at 1:25 PM
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    17. GWSteppin

      GWSteppin New Member

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      These were my Excursion lights. I plan on doing something similar.

      Changed the trans fluid today. Engine oil came out - Dex/Merc went back in. Driven less than 10 miles since change, so we'll see. Noticed the owner's manual in the truck had a typo - trans fluid capacity listed as 13.9 quarts.

      Monoleaf.


      Drove it to Denver and back yesterday. Won't pull 5th gear over Vail Pass or up to the tunnels, but with only 160 HP I guess that is to be expected. 4th gear got me 65 mph with less than 3000 RPM, and that was fine with me.
       
    18. GWSteppin

      GWSteppin New Member

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      I checked that link out and it doesn't fit my situation. My steering rack seems to be good and tight. When I turn the steering wheel, the front wheels respond instantly. Ditto tie rod ends. When stopped and at slow speeds, the steering seems as tight and responsive as any car I've driven.

      The issue I have is the truck simply will not carve a constant radius in a curve once it's moving at anything more than parking lot speed. Driving it to Denver and back yesterday was exhausting. No vibration at all, it just required constant steering inputs to keep it in the lane. It seemed that as the turn started and the weight shifted to the outside wheel the turn radius would change slightly - sometimes decreasing, sometimes increasing - enough to make me correct and begin again. I jacked the front end up this morning and wrestled the front wheels wheel around. There was no play in the y-axis on either, but there was some left and right play in the x-axis on both. Maybe my assessment of the steering rack and/or tie rod ends is incorrect?
       
    19. imp

      imp Elite Explorer

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      @GWSteppin

      That occurs when I drive the 6% grade 12 miles long from bullhead City, AZ, to Kingman. Hangs in 5th. gear almost the entire way up, note I said 5th, but with Torque Converter Clutch disengaged. You may actually have been in 4th, however, unless you did not know TCC unlocks first, then 5th. gear down to 4th, if TCC was not enough oomph. imp
       
    20. masospaghetti

      masospaghetti Well-Known Member

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      @GWSteppin

      I drove from Salt lake City to Denver in my 2000 Sport, full of stuff and towing a small trailer with 2 motorcycles. Could only manage 30 mph in 2nd gear on some of those hills.
       
    21. imp

      imp Elite Explorer

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      @masospaghetti
      30 mph in 2nd? Were you burning coal-oil? :rolleyes: imp
       
    22. masospaghetti

      masospaghetti Well-Known Member

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      85 octane, 3500 lbs of stuff/trailer, and 12,000 feet - it was slow, but the Explorer never complained!
       
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    23. imp

      imp Elite Explorer

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      @masospaghetti

      Had a knock-sensor, LOL! imp
       

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