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(2nd gen)98 explorer LOWERED and aggressive

I have a lowered 98 explorer awd, (2 inches) What's the most aggressive wheel set up wheel size,width,offset,backspacing? Considering 18s or 19s as this will be for street/drag. I want to get as much width as possible without rubbing front and rear as well. Not running slicks more like nitto 888r or something similar because I want to still corner lol....
 



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swshawaii

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After more research my alignment shop got mine dialed in very well. Rather have straight tracking than a perfectly centered steering wheel and smooth return to center after turning. 1-5/8 degree or higher camber kits are a must for a 2-3/4" to 3" front drop to get within factory (green) spec.
 



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The high camber adjustment kits are the big item, I wish they made one that got a little more camber. I've tried three or four brands, and they all seem identical.
 






blakshukvw

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The high camber adjustment kits are the big item, I wish they made one that got a little more camber. I've tried three or four brands, and they all seem identical.
I have camber correction bolts now. They are the max adjustment they sell. I specifically always buy them when I lifting or lowering an X. The least camber I could get on the driver side was -.9 degree. Any lower and the camber will only get more negative. I don’t wanna she’ll out $700 for custom arms so I guess I’m stuck at this height.

I run stock size tires up front on my marauder so a 235/50zr18. I’m sure you could easily run a 255. Maybe even a 275. The issue will be wheels with the right offse to accommodate it so they don’t stick out of the Fender. Of course in your application, that may or may not be an issue.
 






blakshukvw

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We are guessing of course, but I do think the 25mm offset is a little too much for the 9" wheel and 275mm tire. The 20-25mm offset is in that range of being so close you have to test fit it to know. If you find a wheel that you really love in the 25mm offset, and you are set on it, I'd get it and be prepared to need a small spacer.

Higher end wheels will be stronger and lighter, plus the hub thickness should be thick(strong) enough to allow a spacer without longer studs. My low end brand 18" wheels are too thick at the hub. I should measure that the next time I can, to post it and say avoid a wheel which is that thick at the hub area.
On a 9” wheel up front, I’m running a 255/45. I have roughly 1/2” between the tire and ball joint. 275 wrapping outside the edge of a 9” would most likely rub the ball joint, imo. If you’ve done 265, CDW6212R, on a 9”e24, then that’s a proven combo that is probably the max.
 






blakshukvw

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Good info Don. I had the same issue as @blakshukvw not getting the three inch drop I wanted with the torsion bolts removed from the stock keys. Years ago AirBagIt was one of the only sources to get re-indexed lowering keys, but now there are several choices and they're cheaper too. I've been riding without front bump stops since installing and have never bottomed out.
I too had to remove my front bump stops at the height im at now just so it didn’t hit them under compression. I don’t think I’d like the rear as low as it needs to go with my wheel tire combo I have now as it would have almost no suspension travel in the rear and be nearly on the bump stops all the time. I’m at a point now where I stop where I am and deal with some fender gap or just put it all back to stock and just drive it. I don’t feel like spending a lot of money on 19’s and tires to actually fit it better. I’m kinda over it now.
 






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On a 9” wheel up front, I’m running a 255/45. I have roughly 1/2” between the tire and ball joint. 275 wrapping outside the edge of a 9” would most likely rub the ball joint, imo. If you’ve done 265, CDW6212R, on a 9”e24, then that’s a proven combo that is probably the max.

My combo then was on 18 x 8.5" wheels and with the spacers effectively a 24mm offset. That cleared inboard well I thought, those tires lasted under 30k miles. The 255/55 tires fit better with the smaller diameter and nothing rubbed or was even close. So the 275mm tire might just fit on a 9" wheel as the last member stated with his truck above. I think that's all about a difference in clearance between over 1/2" and down to barely fitting.

If you cannot get the front down enough with a decent camber, then it's really frustrating to try to work big tires under it. My black truck wouldn't go down far enough with the full front rebuild I did. But it was for work temporarily, so I lived with it up near stock height for the time being. I'll get more serious and make it go down properly when I go at it again.
 






blakshukvw

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My combo then was on 18 x 8.5" wheels and with the spacers effectively a 24mm offset. That cleared inboard well I thought, those tires lasted under 30k miles. The 255/55 tires fit better with the smaller diameter and nothing rubbed or was even close. So the 275mm tire might just fit on a 9" wheel as the last member stated with his truck above. I think that's all about a difference in clearance between over 1/2" and down to barely fitting.

If you cannot get the front down enough with a decent camber, then it's really frustrating to try to work big tires under it. My black truck wouldn't go down far enough with the full front rebuild I did. But it was for work temporarily, so I lived with it up near stock height for the time being. I'll get more serious and make it go down properly when I go at it again.
I don’t see how a 275 on a 9” would fit the front. Like I said I only have about a finger width between my 255’s and the ball joint. 20mm is nearly an inch. That is on a 17” wheel though.

I suppose I could buy the custom upper CA’s to correct the camber. Id need to install taller blocks in the rear though still. I checked where 2.5” blocks would locate the axle and I would be right at the bottom of he foam bump stop. That’s no good. I need a 3” block. That would have the axle right below the bump stop bracket. Do people remove the metal bump stop bracket when going that low? What other option is there?
 






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The Explorer Express suspension kit they had 20 years ago was made for 2 3/8" lowering, their specially made blocks fit very well. I have that on my Mountaineer, unfortunately EE went out of business over ten years ago. They made the best/biggest rear sway bar.

Their rear bump stops were from Energy Suspension evidently, and you can buy those from Summit for about $73 last I looked; Energy Suspension 9.9109G Energy Suspension Bump Stops | Summit Racing
Those will give you more clearance before bottoming out, but you have to cut them down part way. The EE part was already sized down for what they wanted, the unaltered ES part is urethane and has two levels, there's two big holes in it. You can just shorten it by taking off the top level.

I'd hunt around and see if by chance anyone else makes a lowering block for the rear, which is over two inches, and ideally not square(the proper shape is angled to fit the leaf springs better). I have a pair of 1.5" lowering blocks under my 99, they were a generic brand and all square 90* corners, they worked okay but the bump stops were stock too.
 












blakshukvw

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The Explorer Express suspension kit they had 20 years ago was made for 2 3/8" lowering, their specially made blocks fit very well. I have that on my Mountaineer, unfortunately EE went out of business over ten years ago. They made the best/biggest rear sway bar.

Their rear bump stops were from Energy Suspension evidently, and you can buy those from Summit for about $73 last I looked; Energy Suspension 9.9109G Energy Suspension Bump Stops | Summit Racing
Those will give you more clearance before bottoming out, but you have to cut them down part way. The EE part was already sized down for what they wanted, the unaltered ES part is urethane and has two levels, there's two big holes in it. You can just shorten it by taking off the top level.

I'd hunt around and see if by chance anyone else makes a lowering block for the rear, which is over two inches, and ideally not square(the proper shape is angled to fit the leaf springs better). I have a pair of 1.5" lowering blocks under my 99, they were a generic brand and all square 90* corners, they worked okay but the bump stops were stock too.
Good info on the bump stops.
I have a set of 2.5” blocks at home too. I could barely get the 2” installed and the trailing arms bolted back up. It was a huge pain in the ass. The 2” blocks are tapered. I can’t imagine trying to install the 2.5” blocks.
 






97Sandbox

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I ordered a set of 17x9+24 Saleen replica rims for my Sport and they look awesome! Too bad they don't fit over the front rotor/hub... It looks like it's the outermost section of the 2WD rotor that's just barely hitting a lip on the wheel where the center cap snaps in. The lip could be machined down, or a thin spacer would stop the rotor/hub from reaching the lip in the wheel center bore.

I'm going to try 1/4" spacers which I'm pretty sure will eliminate the rotor interference, but from my measurements, I still don't think that'll be enough to clear the upper ball joint if I go with 275/55 tires. The 0.25" spacer/24mm offset/9" rim width/275mm tire calculation I did suggests the setup will come inboard 30.4 mm compared to stock 235 tires and I only have 33mm between the 235 tire and ball joint now -- 3mm is well within my expectations for tire flex so it's probably a no-go. I do think 255/60R17s would fit fine with the+24 offset, but I'd really like to go wider.

I'm looking at longer studs and hub-centric spacers because bringing the wheel out another 1/4" (beyond the 1/4" I already mentioned) will have me back at the factory offset and give me a safer amount of tire/ball joint clearance. From what I've read, slip on spacers are safe as long as they fit properly around the hub instead of relying solely on the lug studs for alignment. Does anyone have a recommendation for wheel spacers? There aren't may I can find with the proper center bore. These are the best I've seen: ST Suspensions 56050190 ST Suspensions DZX Wheel Spacers | Summit Racing.

Also, does anyone know the factory lug stud knurl diameter? I contacted PowerStop for the lug stud specs for the studs in my drilled/slotted '01 Sport rotors, and they just said "same as OEM" ...ugh. I see 0.550", 0.565", 0.570", .610", 0.618", 0.619", 0.620", 0.627", 0.628" knurl diameters all are listed on Summit as being "for my 2000 Ford Explorer" but I know well enough that a few thou might as well be a mile when you're talking press fits.
 






CDW6212R

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I ordered a set of 17x9+24 Saleen replica rims for my Sport and they look awesome! Too bad they don't fit over the front rotor/hub... It looks like it's the outermost section of the 2WD rotor that's just barely hitting a lip on the wheel where the center cap snaps in. The lip could be machined down, or a thin spacer would stop the rotor/hub from reaching the lip in the wheel center bore.

I'm going to try 1/4" spacers which I'm pretty sure will eliminate the rotor interference, but from my measurements, I still don't think that'll be enough to clear the upper ball joint if I go with 275/55 tires. The 0.25" spacer/24mm offset/9" rim width/275mm tire calculation I did suggests the setup will come inboard 30.4 mm compared to stock 235 tires and I only have 33mm between the 235 tire and ball joint now -- 3mm is well within my expectations for tire flex so it's probably a no-go. I do think 255/60R17s would fit fine with the+24 offset, but I'd really like to go wider.

I'm looking at longer studs and hub-centric spacers because bringing the wheel out another 1/4" (beyond the 1/4" I already mentioned) will have me back at the factory offset and give me a safer amount of tire/ball joint clearance. From what I've read, slip on spacers are safe as long as they fit properly around the hub instead of relying solely on the lug studs for alignment. Does anyone have a recommendation for wheel spacers? There aren't may I can find with the proper center bore. These are the best I've seen: ST Suspensions 56050190 ST Suspensions DZX Wheel Spacers | Summit Racing.

Also, does anyone know the factory lug stud knurl diameter? I contacted PowerStop for the lug stud specs for the studs in my drilled/slotted '01 Sport rotors, and they just said "same as OEM" ...ugh. I see 0.550", 0.565", 0.570", .610", 0.618", 0.619", 0.620", 0.627", 0.628" knurl diameters all are listed on Summit as being "for my 2000 Ford Explorer" but I know well enough that a few thou might as well be a mile when you're talking press fits.

That hub clearance issue is an old posted about problem with some replica wheels. I heard of that in the 2005 range on a site that was more for street/lowered trucks, the Saleen XP8 etc. The 2WD rotors seem to be the problem. If it's not much too small, I'd see about having the four wheels opened up to match the proper hub size of the rear axles, which is the same as front 4WD/AWD hubs. You don't want to be thinking of modifying rotors if possible, or using spacers for that.

I think around the 20mm offset area is about the limit for fitting 275mm tires onto 9' rims on the 2nd gen's. My old math told me 16mm will fit easily, and I think 20mm should clear well enough also. Pushing closer to the 25mm is getting closer, and hand fitting is about the only way to check those.

BTW, I think you can change the 2WD rotor studs, but not the 4WD/AWD. I had that done with my AWD, and the hub bearings were more loose when I installed them(brand new). I don't know the needed size of the 2WD front studs, the 4WD studs are special and have a larger shank that goes through the rotor hats. The 2WD rotor studs are probably more common once you identify the required size. I used ARP studs that had to be cut down, plus different unique rotor hats to fit the 1/2" stud shank.
 






97Sandbox

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If it's not much too small, I'd see about having the four wheels opened up to match the proper hub size of the rear axles, which is the same as front 4WD/AWD hubs. You don't want to be thinking of modifying rotors if possible, or using spacers for that.
I agree. I wouldn't be able to snap in the center caps anymore, but I'm definitely not interested in modifying rotors. However, since I need spacers for tire clearance, this may become a non-issue.

I think around the 20mm offset area is about the limit for fitting 275mm tires onto 9' rims on the 2nd gen's. My old math told me 16mm will fit easily, and I think 20mm should clear well enough also. Pushing closer to the 25mm is getting closer, and hand fitting is about the only way to check those.
Adding the 1/4" spacer will put me at an effective 17.65 mm offset, but from what I calculated, the 275 tires will still be seriously close to the ball joint. Unfortunately it's the boot that sticks out more than the control arm, so a little grinding won't gain anything. I probably just need to buck up and get the tires to test fit -- 1/4" spacers are on the way.

BTW, I think you can change the 2WD rotor studs, but not the 4WD/AWD. I had that done with my AWD, and the hub bearings were more loose when I installed them(brand new). I don't know the needed size of the 2WD front studs
I think I may just have to press them out and measure them. The ABS tone ring needs to be removed first -- it looks like if I pull out the inner bearing race, the tone ring should pull off too. Might have to pick up a slide hammer tomorrow!
 






97Sandbox

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Just ordered a set of General Grabber UHP 275/55R17s. I'm going all-in for the 275s, if I need to swap studs so be it. I'll keep y'all posted!
 






CDW6212R

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You can probably trust the stud size that most parts stores can get, they shouldn't be more than $2 or so and come in a day. Finding longer studs is interesting, the various sizes and brands etc.

Have you already measured for a needed stud, how many threads of a lugnut engage now without a spacer? You need 1/2" worth of threads to engage for safety. None of my wheels had to have longer studs with a spacer except for the 18" cheap aftermarket wheels I bought. My othersw are all Ford though, fairly strong and thinner.
 






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Just ordered a set of General Grabber UHP 275/55R17s. I'm going all-in for the 275s, if I need to swap studs so be it. I'll keep y'all posted!
That was one of my three choices I looked at a couple of years ago. I wanted to see how the Toyo Proxes ST III were like, everything has been scarce and those were about $185 last I looked.
 






97Sandbox

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Have you already measured for a needed stud, how many threads of a lugnut engage now without a spacer? You need 1/2" worth of threads to engage for safety.
I haven't. Sounds like I'll have tires mounted tomorrow afternoon so I'll be able to test fit tomorrow night. For now just using something for 1/4" shims to test fit since my 1/4" wheel spacers aren't here.

If clearance looks better than I expect, I'll check the stock stud threads with the shim in place and see if there's enough engagement. If the threads are too short or the clearance is too little, I'll start measuring studs and order some longer studs and thicker spacers.
 






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The update you've been waiting for!

I could only get 5/16" spacers locally, so that's what I used. With a 275mm tire on a 17x9+24 and the 5/16" spacer, there's about 3/8" between the sidewall and upper ball joint:
PXL_20220827_200946410.jpg


This means with no spacer, there'd only be 1/16" of clearance, which is right about what I expected.

Ultimately, I'm going to buy some 10mm hub centric spacers for a 2000 mustang (same center bore) and use longer studs. With the 5/16" spacers, I only got 4 turns on the nut -- 10 would be needed to have 1/2" engagement given the 20 tpi thread. TBD on what studs I need, I have to pull the tone rings off and press out the existing studs first.
 






97Sandbox

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Here's the look with no flares (a bit of poke):
PXL_20220827_201059180.jpg


PXL_20220827_201048391.jpg


And with the base Sport flares, everything is just about flush:
PXL_20220827_201320916.jpg

PXL_20220827_201324305.jpg


Keep in mind these are all at stock ride height, there'll probably be a little more poke once the truck is lowered.
 



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CDW6212R

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That's really close to what I was thinking it might be, the tire slightly beyond the fender too. That's about what my 16mm wheels I had been aiming for, and I have those front flares ready to put on also.

I drove my Mountaineer with about that same clearance at the BJ with my first 18's, 265/60's. They didn't rub on the BJ's at all, and that was 2007 with Moog UCA's. I like those TTX Mevotech UCA's, I've put about 50k miles on my black 98 with them.
 






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