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1997 Ford Explorer Limited V8 - Project


June 7, 2004
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City, State
Columbia, SC
Year, Model & Trim Level
96 EB AWD 5.0
When I was 15-16 learning to drive, my boss had a 96 Explorer Limited V6. Orthopedic beige inside and out. It was a nice truck, remember it having the special front seat headrests, JBL audio, etc. Always thought to get one but had an assortment of other Ford stuff once I bought my own car at 21 (a 2000 Taurus SEL).

Fast forward to a month ago, I saw a black 97 Limited V8 2WD pop up on Copart in Atlanta GA. The damage it took up front was body panel replacement and hammering the Limited/Sport only bumper bracket welded on the front.

So for the cost of it, plus transit to my home in Columbia, SC I had a new project. Transit cost more than it did lol

Carfax had impeccable maintenance history at local Atlanta Ford dealers. The oil cap underside backs it up. Has newer lower ball joints and upper a arms with ball joints. Recent AC compressor & accumulator. Also has barely 2 year old Pirelli tires. Two layers of floor marts. Recent upper/lower hoses and radiator. It's a super nice respectable ride. The leather isn't ripped - but it does need treatment, its dry. Driver side leather is worn a bit much sadly...maybe I'll find some nicer 95-98 gray limited leather one day. The roof paint is dead, all clear gone. Steering wheel foam under leather is dead. Cruise buttons are mint oddly?

First order of business was replacing body panels. So courtesy of the wonderful self service junkyards, I sourced a replacement OK painted black hood, a correct Limited fender from a 95, a replacement OK header panel, and a Limited bumper. I ordered a new Limited grill. After I have the bumper and grill painted painted, I'll leave it at that for body stuff this year - prove its worth before I have the roof painted lol I installed mostly everything. Had to hammer back out the corner of the metal welded in core support, it was a little crunched in next to the body mount - nothing structural behind it except a pass through for wires and some wire clips hand on there. Also the fender brace. Big deal.

The oil pan does look a bit damp towards drain plug - maybe lower intake gasket seeping oil? I'll have to look more. Thinking to do a drain/fill on the trans and install a Dorman pan w/drain plug.

All the door striker bushings were gone ...so were the tail gate ones. Got some junkyard door striker bushings and a couple dorkman hatch bushings and installed those. Now the doors close properly and don't rattle/click. Diagnosed why the rear doors don't open from outside - disintegrated clips (new ordered from eBay). Front driver outside door handle is very "floppy". latch clips are there. Some rings are hooked on the backside of the outside door handle. Not sure what's going on there?















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the "rings" on the handles are springs that keep the door handle from flopping around. go back to the salvage yard and find a handle that dosent flop around. front or back door, passenger or drivers side. they are all the same. drill the rivets unclip the handle from the latch mech. inside the door and its off

Good start to a project! Looks exactly like my 1998 Limited!

I have a parts rotbox 96 Explorer. So I’ll rob the handle from it - thanks.

Yea you and I have almost the same car! Crazy. Both black v8 2wd Limiteds from metro ATL!

You have a parts explorer? Do you happen to have an extra cap that I'm missing from this photo:

drill the rivets unclip the handle from the latch mech. inside the door and its off

To make removal easier, use a bungee cord. Run it from the top of the door and use it to keep the door handle up during removal. Less risk of cosmetic damage from the drill, hammer, punch, etc. The first one I removed, my drill caused some minor paint damage. After using a bungee cord, no damage, and it was faster.

I do! In 90s green!! All yours.

PM me your mailing address!

Thanks for the tip/hint on the door handle.

I do! In 90s green!! All yours.

PM me your mailing address!

Thanks for the tip/hint on the door handle.
I didn't know they made these things with green interiors! LOL
Let me know how much you want for it and how much shipping will be.
Thank you!!!

I didn't know they made these things with green interiors! LOL
Let me know how much you want for it and how much shipping will be.
Thank you!!!
$0. I’ll drop in mail.

Shoot me your mailing address.

Well the car has a front bumper that's been painted. And a new "Limited" grill. Some new lights. Junkyard fender, hood, and header panel.

I'm removing/replacing all the coolant hoses, water pump and thermostat. Radiator is recent. Water pump is original. Don't want risk it puking on a trip so replacing it. AC is still cold. Still need to double check front end suspension, front/rear brakes too. Drop the trans pan, filter, and change fluid (installing Dorman one with drain plug). One oil change and it'll be ready to go.

It was a busy weekend for me.

What a pleasure it is to work on this truck compared to my older 5.0 vehicles - the 89/90. I can remove the timing cover with the accessories in place short of belt tensioner and a idler.

I started witg the fan clutch - no big deal. Then moved on to water pump. All but two bolts were a pain in the a$$. Pictured below. Called a friend who worked in Massachusetts at a Ford dealer in the 80s and 90s. I tried to move them - no luck. I didn’t want them to snap off. After thirty minutes of persuasion each he got them out - complete!!! Learned someting new.

Witg water pump off, did the timing cover next. Got those bolts out - that’s when I discovered the oil pan is cast not stamped steel like my older cars ... crap no flex. So removed all bolts except the 4 over the rear main. Half loosened those. Dropped the pan down. Used a razor to cut it. At the front crank seal. Walked cover off. Revealed a nice tight double roller chain and a super clean inside :-)

Then spent hours cleaning the cover and the block. Took probably 3-4 hours to make it like new.

Then bolted It back up. And was getting annoyed with the BS oil cooler design. Reading through y’alls Site found how much of a POs they are. So used my 19mm and removed that POS and put in the scrap metal pile. Went to pull a part. Found a 2000 mountaineer v8. Yanked the late 98-2001 L snapped oil filter housing and bolt. And that’s where I stopped. I’ll finish when I get back from my trip.

I’d love to see if I can jack the motor up, stuff wood blocks under exhaust manifold above frame and drop oil pan down to replace the leaky old gasket. On my old 5.0s I’ve done this four times when doing an oil pan gasket to replace the crap ones ford used in the 80s and early 90s. Rubber with no steel inserts. The felpro one is a nice design.

I wonder if I get the exhaust manifolds off the 2000 Mountaineer if that’s a better design. I can hear mine ticking.





Oh yea I wire brushed and made all the bolts and threads in the block like new. Globed then all up with tons of anti seize to keep things kosher.

Installed a NOS motorcraft water pump stamped from 2000. The ORIGINAL was still on there from 1997!!!

Nice project you have there!
"Revealed a nice tight double roller chain and a super clean inside :)" However, :mad:(it's not a roller)

Just ordered a replacement oil pan gasket as i'm sure the original is now going to leak. Air, fuel, and trans filters. Ordered a lower rad hose and a the curved S bypass hose that goes from WP to the metal pipe too - all Motorcraft stuff while its still available. Ordered exhaust manifold gaskets - going to grab the manifolds off the 2000 Mtn'er from the yard.

Already install the motorcraft plugs - someone did wires already.

Have a Dorman (yuck) transmission pan with drain plug on it. Ford wants $100 for the U-Haul one 4R70W, kinda strong.