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1993 XL Rebuild project


New Member
March 29, 2010
Reaction score
City, State
Lacey, WA
Year, Model & Trim Level
1993 Explorer XLT 5 speed
Greetings. I've got a 1993 Explorer XLT that has become a "project". A little background on it: It was bought new by an aquaintance for his bride. Has the 5 speed, green paint, grey interior. He made sure it was maintained per specs, but in and about it 2004 he thought the rear end was going out. He had just spent a bunch of money on it, so he said the heck with it, and parked it in his back yard. We both ride, and I would see it collecting moss every time I came by. Finally, in 2009, I asked him if he wanted to sell it. "Ask my wife" was his reply. Fine. I ended up getting it for $300.00. 126k miles on it. Drove it for about six months w/o a problem, then the tranny blew up. I guess it wasn't the rear end after all. Replaced the tranny with a junk yard unit, and have put about 15k on it since. Well the other day the starter died. No problem. $150 later and the new one is in. I start it up and "KNOCKKNOCKKNOCKKNOCKKNOCKKNOCK!" WTH? I get out and start looking around. There was a pool of oil spreading on the ground under the area of the oil filter! Found the filter loose, and the gasket looking like it had been blown out. LSS, replaced the filter and the oil and started it up. Same thing, except I have new oil on the ground now. I failed to add that for the last year and a half this thing has been drinking antifreeze. Could NOT keep the radiator above half full. It still ran, the oil didn't look milky, and it's kind of a #3 car, so I just ignored it. Well now it's time to pay the piper. The body doesn't have a spot of rust on it, the interior is 8/10, all the glass is good, brakes are fairly new as are the tires. I think I'll keep it, but I have to decide which way to go on the engine.
1. Rebuild it myself. Least favorable alternative: I'm good with a wrench, but don't have the "high end" tools and experience to rebuild a engine correctly. Besides, this thing has been bathing the cam and crank in anti freeze for the last two years, so I think it's toast.
2. Have the engine rebuilt by a machine shop. Got a quote for $1,900.00 (includes new heads) from a local shop. No.
3. Buy a long block. $1,700.00 and a lot of work.
4. Buy a used jy engine. I've had good luck with the jy tranny, but the engine concerns me, especially with the rep the 4.0 has for cracks in the heads. I still have some research to do on this option, but price and labor wise, I think it's still an attractive option.
Enough yacking, here's the obligatory picture offering.

In better days


I could have picked the whole rig up with this lift

That doesn't look good.

Strippin' it.

Getting ready to pull it.

Gee, it comes out pretty easy when you take the top two bolts out.:fire:

Kid from church who's interested in cars. Nice to see someone his age showing an interest in something not related to the internet.

I'll post more pics of the engine, but here's a sample.

So, I'm open to suggestions. Again, I'm starting to lean towards a junker, but I'd appreciate the counsel of experience. Thanks.

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I would look for a JY engine, usually they will give you a month warranty etc. check with your local guy. If it has good looking oil and the antifreeze is in good shape you should be ok. Maybe you can find another junker with a good drivetrain with the body rotten? Then you can hear it running prior to buying. Best of luck.

The thing about the 4.0L is the 93-94 versions are better than the ones from a 91-92, and due to known issues like the rocker arms wearing, heads cracking, gaskets leaking, etc. you are actually better off rebuilding, even if it's just replacing the top end and only a cleaning and oil pump replacement on the bottom end. Also a good idea to replace the timing chain and everything else associated with it while the engine is out.

It can also be a good idea to rebuild the original engine if you have a 5-speed since the camshafts in the engines that came stock with 5-speeds are different than those that came with automatics. Minimal difference, but it's worth the extra torque and what it does for driveability. Of course you can always salvage the camshaft and use it in whatever engine you throw in.

Sure, if you can get a low-mileage replacement out of another '93, maybe it'd go to whatever 200K is on the replacement without much issue. But in terms of the 'ideal' 4.0L to put back in, it'd have aftermarket heads (thicker, stronger, less prone to cracking than the stockers), new rocker arms (complete assemblies from Ford are the way to go) and pushrods, cleaned valve lifters, etc. etc. Any 4.0L is going to wear down the stock rockers and get valvetrain noise, it just depends on which motor you want to put the new parts on.

$1700 for a long block doesn't sound too bad, but generally I find those are just thrown together with cheap made-in-China parts, they are not the same as a quality rebuild. $1700 for a properly rebuilt long block with OEM or top brand aftermarket stuff would be a bargain for the savings in time and labor.

Just pick what you feel like doing or spending money on. If you have the space, you could always consider keeping the original engine to rebuild, while putting a cheap replacement from the junkyard in so it drives in the meantime. Be sure to check your local ads as well, sometimes you can get a complete Explorer for less than the price of an engine, pop out the engine, pick off anything else you need or can sell, and salvage the rest, maybe even making a profit in the process.

Replacing heads on a 1st gen is a breeze. There is a good write up here somewhere that I followed. I got my from Alabama Cylinder Head in 09. I don't know if they are still around.

Why was it puking oil on the ground?

Why was it puking oil on the ground?

I think the return/feed of the oil filter was clogged. When I drained the oil the first time I saw a crouton sized carbon booger in the pan. The oil was a lot dirtier than it looked on the stick. It's like the PO never changed the oil or he used non-detergent oil. I may have compounded the problem because before I did my first oil change I put a can of SeaFoam in it.

I have a picture of the oil filter gasket that I'll post tonight.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Found a jy engine today; Off a '93 X, also a 5 speed, but has an EGR (CA Car?), less than 110k, and tested for smoke/knocks. $450.00 with a $75 core. From what I've found the blocks for a EGR and non-EGR are interchangeable, but I have to put my intake manifold and other bits on it. I'm thinking this is the way to go. If I can just wear out the new tires this thing has on it I'll be satisfied.

Thanks again for the input.

Pictures tonight

Part shots

As promised:

What a mess


Manifold bolts


Filter gasket blown out. This was the one I put in after the first one blew out.


Well, you are lucky that your motor was smoked before you changed the oil. It's a good lesson to always start it up, let it run for a few seconds then check for leaks. Did you over tightened the filter? Anyway, I guess you are changing the LIM so my suggestion to do the gaskets while you are at it is unnecessary.

Keep us posted with your future success!


Yeah it's been a while...

Last I posted I was considering my options on how to get the Explorer fixed. I decided to go with the local yard that was selling a used engine for $300 with no core charge. No info, no miles; a shot in the dark. The guy seemed confident that it had life left in it and said they run all their engines before they pull them and put them on the shelf. If I had any problem in 30 days I could take it back. Uh huh.
Well here are some pics.

Here is the yard engine ready to be stripped down. It has EGR stuff; mine didn't. I was pleased that it came with the alternator and compressor. Looks like it'd been sitting for quite a while.

Here it is ready to go in sans the clutch and pressure plate.

I picked up a jack from a buddy-beats not having to deal with the rental I used to pull the old one. Though the rental was a beast, at least I had plenty of clearance. I could have put the engine on the roof with it. This jack was a little tighter fit.


I took the day off to take advantage of the nice weather. Bad part was doing the job by myself. Lots of crawling under and out of the underside of the rig.





Finally in. Quite the challenge. This was pretty much how it looked at the end of "day one". The next day I mounted the brackets and extras.

Ready to fire up. Started on the second try. Ran rough for about thirty seconds and then smoothed right out. No knocks, no smoke. I just had to retighten the right exhaust donut ring and things were dandy. All the fluids were double checked and topped off before the maiden voyage to Costco for gas. Threw a bottle of Lucas fuel additive in the tank to work on the injectors. Runs great. More power, and much smoother.

It was 86+ so I parked it under the shade tree to give it a good cleaning. I forgot how much I liked this rig.

OK, so the last thing I'm working on is the AC. I am in the process of converting it to R134. I have a new dryer bottle, and have replaced all the o-rings and upgraded to the R134 connectors. So I start the rig, put the AC on high, and the compressor isn't kicking in. Per the AC kit instructions I try to fill one can of R134 into the low side. The gage on the bottle goes right up to the correct pressure, but the bottle doesn't get cold. I'm not getting any circulation. I'm really close, and want the AC to work. Any suggestions? All the connectors are correct. I'm looking at the schematic trying to see what might be keeping the clutch from kicking in. Any help would be appreciated.

It lives! Great job, saved another from the crusher. Brooklyn Bay is pretty good with A/C.

Thanks Wood1
That makes it two times it was saved from the yard. The first being after the original tranny imploded. I have a feeling this one's going to be around for a while.

After I posted my AC question I realized I had broken rule #1 of forums: Use the "Search" before asking a question! Duh. Lot's of good info on AC problems here, and this morning I'm going to "jumper" the the AC clutch to engage. Should be easy. More later...