BeerWagon Build Thread | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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BeerWagon Build Thread


January 7, 2015
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City, State
Tampa, FL
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Explorer Sport XLT
I probably won't make any outrageous modifications, but I'd like to keep track of the progression of my new Explorer. Aside from the occasional adventure, my new ride will be used for carting me to work and buying beer.

It is a 2003 Sport XLT 2wd with 43,000 miles. It's got some paint scrapes from being sideswiped and various scratches from some sloppy parking maybe. I haven't decided whether to have the paint professionally fixed or just buying some touch up paint and doing an amateur fix.


If you guys have any suggestions on the paint touch-up, feel free to let 'em roll.

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I went ahead and bought some Ford Motorcraft touch up for my Redfire Metallic paint.
I'm not sure if this will work, or look good for the larger areas.
I think I'm going to check with Maaco and see how much they would charge me to fix it.
If anyone has any experience with Maaco fixing paint areas and matching factory paint, let me know what I should expect, quality and price wise.

Well, if this is just your daily driver, I would just use touch-up paint to fill. I think DupilColor makes that color in spray can. Who knows, you might put some fender flares on later, and some of the damage would be covered up.

As for the scuffs, you could try Meguiar's Cleaner Wax and some elbow grease. I have had good results on scratches, scuffs, and overspray removal on other vehicles.

If you do get it redone, consider "mom and pop" places. I have seen good jobs for decent prices.

One guy I used to work with got one of those quickie in and out jobs from Maaco, Earl Scheib, or whoever. Looked great for the first year. After that, anywhere it was "hard" to prep around, the paint flaked off. Like around the door handles, antenna, emblems, and whatnot. Looked like crap since it started out light blue, and was repainted a shade of maroon.

Each Maaco is independently owned, and I have heard of cheap killer paint jobs, and have heard of crappy jobs. It all depends on the employees.

Thanks Toy. You're right I was thinking I may be able to rub some of that out on the one side. And showing it to some mom and pop body shops won't hurt. Good suggestions.

Well, part of getting this thing back to where I want it before I start doing any customization is getting some things back to factory, including restoring a few things.
I found a cargo shade at the junk yard and had to clean it up a bit.

But I remember having an Explorer Sport years ago, that having the cargo shade was nice, either for concealing things in the back, or just for making the original ride complete. A bucket of soapy warm water later...

Nice man, like your style.

Looking forward to this.

I've already gone on a few adventures with the new Explorer since buying it.
I've hauled bikes for a cycling trip through a state forest, taken the grill and all the necessary gear for an elaborate picnic at Honeymoon island State park (pictured), and went across the state for a weekend at New Smyrna.


The Explorer has performed well, and so far has backed up my scheme of always buying used cars that are at least ten years old, allowing all the depreciation to occur first. I got my girlfriend to order me the Bug Shield and Vent Shields from Amazon, and they were very easy to install. I actually checked out the in-channel style on an old explorer at the junk yard first, yanking it out of its channel and testing how secure they are, since I have been happy with the stick-on style of vent shield that came with my old Blazer.


The in channel VentShades use double sided tape to secure them. I've bought several sets/pieces at the salvage yard. Sometimes they charge me a couple of bucks, and sometimes they don't charge me at all. The 3M tape cost more than the VentShades! I carefully run a thin screwdriver blade between the shade and the weatherstrip to loosen them, then carefully pull them out. Warmer weather is best as the plastic is more flexible, and far less brittle then.

I really haven't liked the tires that came with this thing, because they just look and feel too small for the vehicle. Also, my ride quality hasn't seemed quite right. It's strange, I think the PO must have never rotated the tires, because one of them is very worn and the other three have plenty of tread left.

I remember that with my 1986 S10 Blazer, it was a 2wd that I had put the size Goodyears that were intended for the 4wd model , and even though I had to trim some wheel well, the look and ride quality was a huge improvement. I just couldn't make any sharp turns on the way home from the tire shop.

So I used the same formula and ordered Goodyear Wrangler RTS 255/70/16s from I had them shipped to a store, and made an appointment to have them installed, but they found a manufacturing defect while balancing the first one.
I didn't want to wait until my next day off to have new ones shipped in, so I talked them into giving me the Wrangler Trailmarks of the same size for the same price.
(only $5 off per tire). I am glad I got these instead actually, because they seem pretty good so far.

The old Coopers 235/70/16


I found very little feedback on the Trailmarks on this forum, but I have always had success with Goodyears, so I'm not too worried. Anyone know what kind of fuel efficiency differences I may expect getting a tire with a bit wider tread and larger diameter?

Gear ratio was the determining factor in tire size for the Sport Tracs. 3.73 gears got 235/70/16 and 4.10 gears got 255/70/16s. My '02 has 235s and I agree they look too small, especially the Firestones that are on the aftermarket wheels that were on it when I bought it. The Goodyear Wrangler SRAs on the Ranger wheels that are on it now look bigger, but they aren't really. Just less worn. The SRAs will be going on the American Racing wheels soon. My '01 has 255s and they look much better even though there's not a huge difference in diameter and it sets higher than the '02 (with the tires not being the reason).

I went from 235s to 255s on my '78 F100 a few years ago - entirely for looks - and didn't notice any difference in mileage, but you don't concern yourself with mpgs in a '78 F100 shortbox with a 400. I think tread design and rubber compound can make a big difference in mpg.

I was looking at the Trailmarks at WalMart just yesterday. Good looking tires.

I haven't been doing much with the Explorer lately, I just had to pay $3,000 to have a new air conditioning system installed in my house.

I have been able to touch up my previously mentioned scrapes with the Motorcraft touch up paint. Not good as new, but not bad for $9.
I'll have to get a picture of what it looks like close up after the second coat.

But here is what the whole truck is lookin' like right now.

I think I'd like to take off the running boards, the only problem is my girlfriend uses them. So I don't know. Maybe I'll just take them off and see if she notices.

My daughter is 5' 0", and gets in and out of my Sport Trac without them, and did so right up until the day she had her baby. My truck looks to sit a little higher than yours.