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The dreaded broken crossmember bolts....

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by Lodogg2221, March 6, 2014.

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  1. Lodogg2221

    Lodogg2221 New Member

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    City, State:
    Kokomo, IN
    Year, Model & Trim Level:
    2005 XLT
    So I see a bolt hanging down off the Wifes 05 Explorer and go to investigate.
    Seems that in 07 when the dealer worked on it for a transmission issue, they broke off two of the bolts on the passenger side on one on the drivers side.
    Their solution? Reuse the one good one on the drivers side and drill a hole in the frame in the middle of the two other bolts on the crossmember and use an 8mm bolt.
    That 8mm bolt was the one I saw hanging down, stripped. Pulled right out.

    Yeah, they didnt do anything about the actual broken bolts, just this. Impressive stupidity I guess. First I was REALLY PO'd. I was going to make the dealer fix it, but then thought better of it.

    Since they had it for over a month to replace a front seal, and then another seal, and then the torque converter and seal, and the problem after the first seal was an overfilled tranny, I dont trust them to check the air in the tires, so Im going to fix this one myself.


    Is there a known good fix for this? Ive seen options such as drill/remove old bolts which was my plan, but Ive read its nearly impossible.
    Ive seen others mention just drilling new holes and inserting bolts or tapping the frame.

    I had intentions of grinding a flat on whats left of the bolt (there is a bit protruding), then drilling it, then welding a nut to it and backing it out that way, then re-tapping the hole to clean up the existing threads. Ive had good success with that method in the past, so I thought it would be the best way here.
    The downside is, Id have to remove the one good bolt, and it will probably break, and remove the crossmember itself to have clear access to the old bolts.
    I assume this would be the best overall fix.

    Drilling new holes would be simpler, but I cant see how tapping the hole in the frame would hold up for long. Maybe its thicker than I think it is.

    I can see the bolt/nut method working, but those access holes are tiny, so Im sure the hole would have to be in the right place, and Im not sure where that is to avoid the old weld nuts already in the frame.


    Thoughts and ideas GREATLY appreciated!
    I need to get this done this weekend.
     
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  3. Explorer0204

    Explorer0204 Active Member

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    Year, Model & Trim Level:
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    If you could post pics that would help a ton!
     
  4. Number4

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

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    I'd do all I could to gain access the the original mounting system.
     
  5. FordFool2

    FordFool2 Active Member

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    It is a bad design on these bolts. Corrosion gets in and weakens the bolts just below the head.

    I snapped all 4 when I loosened the crossmember to lower my fuel tank. I took the Ex into a small shop and they drilled out and replaced all 4 of the bottom mounting frame bolts for $100. I thought it was worth it.

    No re-tapping was required.
     
  6. ponkotsu

    ponkotsu Active Member

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    Should be able to drill them out. The key is to drill as close as possible to center. Start with a small drill, like 1/8" and work your way up. Usually you will end up drilling slightly off center and the crescent shape remains of the bolt will just about fall out. Or like Fordfool said, just take it somewhere and they should be able to take care of it for you. I wouldn't drill new holes, better to do it right so you know it's not going to be a problem in the future.
     
  7. barfrog

    barfrog New Member

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    When taking mine out I had three break. I heated them up with a torch till they were red hot and used a vice grip and they came right out.
     
  8. Lodogg2221

    Lodogg2221 New Member

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    City, State:
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    Hate to resurrect an old thread, but I hate it even more when the OP doesnt follow up with the solution...which in this case is me.
    Sorry for that.
    No pictures, unfortunately, but I did end up welding nuts over the broken off bolts and backing them out.
    Its a PITA to do, but having the original mounting system is, I think, essential to proper long term operation.
    I did attempt to drill them, but drilling by hand isnt easy, and drilling hardened bolts makes it worse.
    For me, the easiest was to weld a washer to the bolt, if it was recessed below flush with the frame, then a nut to that, and work it back and forth slowly, using liberal amounts of penetrating oil.
    Once they were all out, I replaced them with new bolts.
    Hopefully I never need to find out how easy the new ones come out.
     
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  9. Cashcrazy

    Cashcrazy Active Member

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    For future reference you can heat the area with a small propane torch to loosen things up. Always be aware of fuel lines and other flammable areas. Consider yourself lucky if there is enough bolt that you can grab on to with a pair of vice grips. I heat the bolt until it's starting to turn red and the get the vice grips on. You can also drill the bolt and use a large ease out but be careful not to break the ease out and use the biggest one possible. Heat is the same with this method. I have removed countless broken bolts over the years using heat.
     
  10. IndianaKenny

    IndianaKenny Member

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    Been there, done that.... repeatedly.....
    The quickest, cheapest, fix I found was to drive over to the local muffler shop, and have them weld a couple of tacks on the front and rear edge of the cross member, to the frame. Make sure they DO NOT weld in the old bolt holes, thats a real B---- to get apart IF you ever have to do transmission work again. Welding on the edge of the cross member allows you to use an angle grinder, to cut the welds, IF, you ever need to drop the cross member again.
    Cost, minimal. I think I gave them a $20, to buy their lunch that day.
     
  11. Drewmcg

    Drewmcg Elite Explorer

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    2002 XLS 2WD
    Or this . . .
     
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  12. Bobbylew

    Bobbylew New Member

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    Well, it's June of 2019 and I have the same situation with my 2004. First, I have to get the tranny out. The engine was ready to go in, but I had to pull it with the Torque Converter attached, due to one of the nuts rounding off. When I went to try and put the converter on the tranny, I couldn't get things lined up. Everyone said to stand the tranny on its tail and get the converter in that way. That's where I am now. There are two bolts on the inside of the frame on the left (Driver) side of the crossmember and only one on the right. There is a "bump", or something where the rear bolt would be on the right end. The left end of the crossmember is down partially, but the right doesn't want to budge. There is a plastic "box" or some kind of housing on the outside of the frame on the right that I was able to pry out of the way and look through the hole. I see the end of a pin or something through the hole and I sure hope it's not a bolt!

    Does anyone have any idea of what the heck is going on?

    I would love to get my hands around the throat of the guy who designed this nightmare!!!

    Any ideas would be most appreciated.
     

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