01 2wd 5.0 performance upgrades... where to begin. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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01 2wd 5.0 performance upgrades... where to begin.


New Member
April 1, 2020
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City, State
Piggott Ar.
Year, Model & Trim Level
2001 2wd explorer with 5
My name is Eric, and I'm from NorthEast Arkansas. I just bought my first explorer about a week ago I guess. It is bone stock, and has only 103,000 on it. Where should I start, as far as performance mods. I want to turn this little rig into a monster. Have around 500-1000 for my first mods. Any help would be appreciated.

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Torque monster headers :)

A 2000 5.0 with 103K!!! I'm in love!!


The reason I say headers is because the factory exhaust manifolds are choking the power your gt40 5.0 can make RIGHT NOW

Welcome to the forum Eric. Listen to 410Fortune he knows what he is talking about.

410Fortune, I plan on adding headers when I tear the heads off it to redo the valves. The guy I bought it from cut the exaust off it at in front of the first cat And burnt a valve. I scabbed two magnaflow turbo mufflers and enough pipe to turn it down just before the rearend to keep from causing any more damage. So thanks for the recommendation for headers. This is the very first performance build and want it done right. Any opinions on header back exaust. I want it to have a real deep tone, not crazy loud at idle but want it to scream deep and loud when I get on it. Mike65 thanks for the feedback, I will take all the advice I can get. I want my little explorer to be all it can be. Today I actually bought another explorer today. It's a 97 Eddie bauer' edition. AWD 5.0 with 160000 for 1700.00 I'm happier than a fat kid with a ice cream cake.

I put the factory wheels that come with the the awd on the 2wd. Made it look a little better....

Welcome, Eric, and congrats on fining two solid Explorers to work with.

As 410Fortune said, the factory manifolds are terrible. The whole stock is exhaust is bad, 2.25" dual into a single 2.25" muffler/tailpipe is too small for a V8. It's all fine for stock factory goals, but that doesn't apply to 99% of owners.

The 2WD has no front diff, so you have plenty of room for 2.5" pipes back to mufflers. Since you have a low cost system now, figure in the small headers available, and then have cat pipes made with 2.5" pipe, leading to two 2.5" mufflers. You can turn the outlets down there to make it louder, but lots of mufflers are already loud. So pick your favorite mufflers by sound, trying to find two that are relatively thin to fit them top/bottom together, side to side etc.

There is muffler space for about 9" high and two feet long, typical width for any mufflers. I like the Cherry Bomb Vortex because they are relatively thin and flat, they easily stack and fit without hanging low.

Larger pipe outlets usually are louder and deeper, so a 2.5" tips or bigger will get you the louder sound. Fitting two tailpipes is a whole different deal though, I suggest ending the muffler outlets to the side or just ahead of the rear diff, but one will easily fit on the right side. I'm going to make one fit on the left also, still to figure out, I've seen one done just barely going below/around the spare tire left side. But any shop is going to talk you out of that, or say no, or charge you too much.

Better exhaust manifolds and bigger cat pipes(one pair only), plus two mufflers, will make you happy. It might then require new PCM tuning, which should be a step you want in the near future anyway.


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I agree, Torque monster headers for the win. The stock manifolds are very restrictive thus you get more out of the headers than on most applications. Spendy, but one of the best mods for these, dollar spent to power gained. The more I look at mine the more I see the quality and time spent building them.

those are some nice trucks!
With an explorer do not dump the exhaust underneath = bad idea with windows down you will get gasses in the cabin
Plus most states require the exhaust to be dumped after the passenger compartment, with an explorer that is the rear hatch so you should exit the exhaust out the side after the rear tires......

Welcome to the forum, nice trucks for sure.

What do you eventually want to do with the explorers? What are your expectations?

Track times? Street beast? Noise maker?

The 2wd I want to have a 1/8 mile monster. I dont care to go 180. But I want it to get to 60 at the drop of a hat. I'd like to lower it and add wide wheels and tires. I like the idea of a low and wide. But not low rider low. Repaint it black, tint the windows, smoke the head and tail lights. I wasnt people to say "there is no way in hell that can be a ford explorer".lol

Headers, Exhaust, intake and a 100 shot of n2o will get you into the low 9s in the 1/8. My best in my old awd mountaineer was 9.02 at 85mph with a 1.6 60'. Probably put 15 bottles through it through a whole summer of racing back in the day (10 years ago)