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Bulletproofing a 3rd gen

goodlander

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Hello!

I'm looking for a midsize family hauler that can do double duty as an long distance overland rig. On paper the 3rd gen looks pretty good. It's still somewhat narrow for getting around in the city, available with 3 rows, real 4x4, and the awesomely reliable 4.6 V8 that manages to run forever in police cars, taxi cabs, and large trucks.

But after doing some research I have concerns. Apparently Ford saw fit to pair a different, much less reliable transmission to this 4.6. Apparently the suspension chews wheel bearings and rear diffs. Apparently the rear hatch is made of cheese or something.

How valid are these concerns? Anything that can be done to make a 3rd gen round-the-world worthy?
 
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Mbrooks420

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Replace it as a choice with a 2nd Gen :laugh:. If you want a 3rd Gen and plan to run bigger tires and use it rough you should just plan on replacing wheel bearing regularly, and keep it on your radar that a transmission rebuild could always be in your future. If you drive it with your head, and not just the skinny pedal you might get a fair life out of the transmission.
 
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87350gta

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The v8 and v6 have the exact same transmission with a different bellhousing. If you get the transmission rebuilt properly and the case sleeved, should be no problem. Wheel bearings go out on everything eventually, 3rd gens do have them go out a little more often, but nothing crazy. The rear diff on the other hand, might be a little kore common. The good thing is that 3rd gens are so cheap now, it’s well worth it. I have owned 6 of them and will be buying more. I might be biased since I am a ford mechanic though. Don’t let someone fool you, a 2nd gen has a whole new set of problems.
 
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Mbrooks420

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The v8 and v6 have the exact same transmission with a different bellhousing. If you get the transmission rebuilt properly and the case sleeved, should be no problem. Wheel bearings go out on everything eventually, 3rd gens do have them go out a little more often, but nothing crazy. The rear diff on the other hand, might be a little kore common. The good thing is that 3rd gens are so cheap now, it’s well worth it. I have owned 6 of them and will be buying more. I might be biased since I am a ford mechanic though. Don’t let someone fool you, a 2nd gen has a whole new set of problems.
I would have zero doubts of a 2nd Gens V8 reliability against a 3rd Gens. You certainly wouldn’t have to worry about getting a specialty built transmission, and chewing up wheel bearings.
 
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goodlander

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The v8 and v6 have the exact same transmission with a different bellhousing. If you get the transmission rebuilt properly and the case sleeved, should be no problem. Wheel bearings go out on everything eventually, 3rd gens do have them go out a little more often, but nothing crazy. The rear diff on the other hand, might be a little kore common. The good thing is that 3rd gens are so cheap now, it’s well worth it. I have owned 6 of them and will be buying more. I might be biased since I am a ford mechanic though. Don’t let someone fool you, a 2nd gen has a whole new set of problems.

They are cheap now. Cheaper than the cost of a rebuilt tranny. Has nobody ever documented a successful transmission swap on a 3rd gen? Maybe the 4 speed from an F150? Or better yet the manual from an F150?

Exactly what is the issue with the rear diff?
 
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87350gta

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Last trans I built for mine cost $500 and half of that was a shift solenoid pack. The problem with a swap is the transfer case, it has a unique flange. If you had a 2wd or used a different t-case it probably wouldn’t be too hard. I have considered a 6 speed auto swap from a 4th gen. The early 3rd gens has a gear whine issue. The rest are mainly carrier bearing failures and halfshaft seal leaks. 2002 has a manual trans option, but they are pretty hard to find, and only v6. I have seen several posts on here about manual swaps from f150, it can be done.
 
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shitohdear

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goodlander - to your orig question. Faithfully flush the trans fluid every 30K miles and the trans will last a long time. I have 224K on my '02 that I purchased new. Learned the hard way at 70K to flush the fluid. I replaced the trans and do that maintenance now and it has been great ever since. Amazingly, all four original wheel bearings on mine are fine, but 1) it is garaged every night and, 2) the roads are not salted here and I think that makes a BIG difference. I also have an '03 project Explorer purchased for cheap at 199K. All four wheel bearings are shot and the torque converter is slowly failing, but I knew what I was getting into and bought it anyway. The plastic "applique" on the rear hatch snaps on all of them due to thermal expansion/contraction. It's not a mechanical issue and a pre-painted replacement can readily be purchased for $100 online in any color (except for the one color - Estate Green - that I need . . .)
 
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davidmmm69

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HELL FOR HOW CHEAP IT IS FOR A TRANSMISSION FLUID SWAP AND FILTER WITH 6 OR 7 QUARTS OF MERCON V. I HONESTLY DO MINE ONCE A YEAR.. NOT JUST IN MY MOUNTAINEER, i DO THAT IN MY MUSTANG ALSO. JUST WORTH IT IN MY HONEST OPINION.
 
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imp

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They are cheap now. Cheaper than the cost of a rebuilt tranny. Has nobody ever documented a successful transmission swap on a 3rd gen? Maybe the 4 speed from an F150? Or better yet the manual from an F150?

Exactly what is the issue with the rear diff?
@goodlander
Only real difference between 2nd gen and 3rd. gen rear diff is that 2nd. is iron, solid-axle, 3rd. is aluminum alloy center section, independent suspension.

Front hub bearings (4X4) are the same damned thing. Rear hub bearings of course are soimething else: 2nd. gen are in the axle housing, no separate hub. Different type of bearing altogether. If wheel bearings need replacing, buy good name brand, and you can "sleep" on them.

4-speed what from F-150, automatic? Manual swap into 3rd. gen. not easy if it was an automatic-equipped. Few 2002s came with them. Then they were gone. imp
 
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