How to: - ecoboost_xsport consolidated build/maintenance thread | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How to: ecoboost_xsport consolidated build/maintenance thread

Prefix for threads which are instructional.


Mad Scientist
Elite Explorer
March 29, 2015
Reaction score
City, State
Orangevale, California
Year, Model & Trim Level
2015 Ford Explorer Sport
So, I decided to make a central location for all things pertaining to my build. I have literally thousands of photos that are doing nothing but sitting in a photo album, what's the fun in that if I can't share 'em? This is basically a data-dump so others can use what they need if necessary.

I've done quite a bit to the rig since I bought her brand new in 2015. She's been promoted to weekend warrior/no-daily driver status so I can park her when needed for as long as needed when doing modifications. It's definitely evolved over the years and is now pretty much a full-time project car.

I enjoy doing the write-ups on all the mods I do for a few reasons. Mostly to share what I've learned from the rest of the community such as yourselves, but also, honestly, possibly even receive a bit of notoriety, LOL. Many of the mods I discovered by interacting on this forum and just taking them to new or different levels, so I figured what better way to give back then to showcase my work so that others can take what I've done and take it even further. need to make the same mistakes I did, LOL.

Anyway, up to this point, I've taken many of the threads I already posted in this forum and, admittedly, re-posted them here. However, I've made sure to title each post, link to the original thread and many I've even updated to reflect new information, photos or corrections. All my work will still be search-able via the search feature of the forum. Going forward however, I'll only be posting mods here, so check in from time to time to see where I'm at with it. This is not all-inclusive of every mod I've done, but is pretty darn close. If you notice something I didn't write about, feel free to hit me up about it. Also, feel free to mimic the work, provide insight and ideas, criticize and poke fun or just live vicariously through me, LOL.

I've gone back and done some write-ups on some of my older modifications so this will generally be chronological, but not necessarily.


You'll notice the running tally of my weight reduction modifications in some of the posts. It won't be completely accurate as it isn't always taking into consideration some of the modifications that required me to add back some weight. This was usually minimal and the running tally is a decent approximation of the weight loss.

I've also tried to give credit where credit is due, but if I've left someone out or need to correct the information, please feel free to let me know.

Anyway, thanks for checking it out! Follow the build on Instagram, Facebook, or my blog website if that's your sort of thing. I also add content to my YouTube channel from time to time.

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Red Front And Rear Ford Emblems

So, this was my very first modification I ever did on this car after I bought it in 2015.


Black & Red has always been my favorite color combination and I felt this car would've looked better with red Ford emblems as it was, at the time at least, their performance version of the Explorer. Anyway, it's hard to find QUALITY non-blue oval Ford emblems, believe it or not. Most places that make them get shut down pretty quick by Ford for copyright issues, so when you find a good set, if you're not doing it yourself, scoop it up!

I got this particular set from Custom Truck Solutions. I don't think they are in business anymore as the website(Custom Truck Solutions) goes nowhere and their Instagram (CTS) hasn't has a post since July of 2018. But I'm sure there are others making them. As for the color choice, I wanted to keep it OEM "looking". You know, if Ford had done it, how would it have looked? I think keeping the logo's font chrome and changing only the oval background is how Ford would have done it. So I did that instead of blacking it out or changing font it more of an OEM look and feel to it.

I felt they were of high quality at the time, and fast forward 5 years...they still look GREAT! No chips or dings at all, especially in the front one.


Rear (please excuse the dirty car, lol):

It was a small modification, but I like it a lot. IMHO, it looks almost factory in the way it was made and quality of work.

TCE Wilwood Big Brake Kit Installation Part 01

This was a project that seemed daunting at first, but thanks to Todd over at TCE Performance Products, it turned out to be tedious, but altogether simple. A great company with great customer service, BTW. I highly recommend them.

A few caveats: you WILL lose usage of your emergency brake with this kit. Currently there is no way to mount a Wilwood ebrake caliper to it as the mount is not provisioned for it. I may hit Todd back up to see if he is willing to entertain designing a new mount that may allow for the installation of Wilwood's ebrake caliper, but since these aren't "flying-off-the-shelves" I'm not sure there is much energy going to go into that. The kits require 19" diameter wheels at a minimum and if you're running the stock 20" wheels, you'll need a 10mm spacer. All these things were taken care of with my aftermarket wheels, so no worries in my case. I am very appreciative that there is even a kit upgrade at all.

Keep in mind this kit was designed for the Taurus SHO, but since the Explorer and Taurus share so much of their parts, it was virtually plug and play, keyword being "virtually". We discovered some subtle differences.

It's a shame that Ford decided not to go with some Brembo (or even Wilwood) brakes on what would be considered it's "performance SUV". It already has the updated heavy-duty setup from the PIU from Ford, and there are a few bolt-on disc upgrades out in the aftermarket. But I wanted to go a step further, probably overkill, but it performs as good as it looks...

Anyway, I will denote what side the photo came from, but bear in mind that what is needed in the front goes for both driver and passenger side, and same for the rear, regardless of what side I took the photo on.

So, starting with the front. This is the initial OEM setup after removing the front wheel (driver's side):

To ensure the brake lines would be similar to OEM in the way they flexed while turning, I took some "before" shots to compare to when install is complete.

Front wheel in straight position (driver's side):

Front wheel in full chock left position (driver's side):

Front wheel in full chock right position (driver's side):

When I removed the front caliper and rotor, I also measured the stock brake line length to compare with the provided TCE brake lines (passenger's side):

After removing the front brake line, you're left with this setup (passenger's side):

Before moving onto installing the new stuff, the aluminum hats had to be installed onto the front rotors:

Big ass 15" front rotor!:

Before I installed the new rotors, I knew my aftermarket wheels had no center cap, leaving the hub nut and end of the axle exposed (by choice, the wheels can come with center caps if chosen) so I wanted to clean up the rusted hub nut and axle end. I used a wire brush to get as much rust off as possible and then I sprayed some rust inhibitor onto the exposed portions:

I then installed the rotors onto the front wheel hubs. I used a 1" spacer and a lug nut to keep the rotor pressed tight against the hub while doing the rest of the installation:

This image also shows the hub centering ring installed:

One of the first differences I noticed was, the end of the front brake line that attaches to the vehicle side was nowhere near the type of connection I got from TCE:

After contacting Todd about it, 1 week later I had the proper brass fitting to adapt the new lines to the OEM connection point:

Installing the caliper mount is pretty self-explanatory. When mounting the caliper to the mount itself, keep in mind, you don't want to use loctite of any kind. You will want to be taking these off when changing pads, so you don't want these things seized onto the studs. Instead, use some anti-seize so the threads don't gall while tightening and it helps to lubricate the threads to attain a more accurate torque at the same time:

Caliper mounted (front driver's side):

The first set of brake lines were a little long. I didn't discover this until it was mounted. The lines were initially about 19" end-to-end:

Mounted, straight (front passenger's side):

Mounted, full chock right (front passenger's side):

Mounted, full chock left (front passenger's side):

As you can see, the lines work, but they are a bit too long for my taste. There was too much potential for the lines to rub on the inside of the wheel or some other part of the wheel well as it travels in various positions while driving. This is where some experimentation came in and I gotta say, Todd came through in a big way on this one. He dealt with my picky-ness and multiple length requests as we nailed down the perfect length. And he sent every single set for free! Now that's customer service!

About 2 weeks (and about 3 sets) later, we had finally nailed down that 16" end-to-end was the perfect fit:

TCE Wilwood Big Brake Kit Installation Part 02

Mounted, straight (front passenger's side):

Mounted, full chock right (front passenger's side):

Mounted, full chock left (front passenger's side):

This arrangement allowed for the necessary amount of flex, but wasn't too "loose" that it was in danger of rubbing on something.

That completed the installation of the front brakes, now onto the rears. Now, while removal of the stock front dust shield was a simple affair, the rear dust shield was a different story. Because of the way it was installed, the entire wheel hub would have to come off in order to remove it properly. I did not wish to do that, so I took the easy way out...I cut it off. Seeing as I wouldn't be using it anyway, it wasn't too big of a deal:

14.25" rear rotors:

This is the OEM setup (rear driver's side):

Here is the OEM setup from the inside. Note the angle and positioning of the brake line. I attempted to recreate this angle while the suspension is in its normal, compressed state (rear passenger's side):

When removing the rear caliper, the emergency brake will have to be disconnected and the line secured somehow. When I disconnected it, I took the loose end and used a metal zip tie (normally used for exhaust wrap) to secure it in a location that will not interfere with suspension travel (rear driver's side):


Before you can mount the new rotor, you need to install the caliper mount. Well, before you can do that, for the rear, you'll need to trim (flatten is a better word) a small amount off of the wheel hub, as denoted with the black sharpie lines (rear driver's side):

I just used my trusty angle grinder with a sanding flap-wheel, worked like cutting into butter:

Finished product (rear driver's side):

After mounting the rotor and caliper (rear passenger's side):

Well, it again came time to ensure the brake lines were of the correct length. The ones Todd sent were 19.5" long end-to-end which included the custom adapter piece on the end:

There were multiple issues with this line. It was far too long and the fitting that secures with a clip on the vehicle side was the proper one and the clip was very loose. This length would create issues as it would rub on the inside of the wheel, a potential hazardous scenario. Turns out, a hose that was 17" long end-to-end to include the now-integrated proper end fitting was what was needed:

Here you can see that angle I attempted to recreate, in order to keep the line from rubbing the inside of the wheel (rear passenger's side):


And that was it...last thing to do was bleed the brakes and then go break them in. There is a break-in procedure that is very important to stick to given in the instructions.

Looks good!!!

And finally, to illustrate how much Todd was willing to go out of his way to make this kit fit right, all the brake lines we went through to get it right:

TCE Wilwood Big Brake Kit Installation Part 03

Some weight comparison photos:

Front rotor:

Front caliper:

Front pad:

Front dust shield:

Rear rotor:

Rear caliper:

Rear pad:

Rear dust shield:

Weight Reduction Running Tally: ~40.0

Weight Reduction: Aftermarket Wheels v1.0

After running stock 20" Sport wheels with 25mm spacers for a few years, I decided to step up my weight reduction game while also putting some new shoes on the rig.



It looked good, but I felt I could improve on performance. Trying to maintain the outside diameter of the wheel was important for me so that minimal changes, if any, would be needed in the tune for speedometer correction.

I also wanted to increase width of the wheel for traction as well as add some "stance" to her. I spent a lot of time on thisWheel-Size Calculator comparing various wheel and tire combinations along with various offsets to try and maximize what I can fit within the confines of the wheel well.

I was focused on the lightest wheels out there and currently those are, generally, the Volk Racing or Advan Racing wheels, so that is where I put my focus.

OEM Ford Explorer Sport wheel and tire specifications:
  • Wheel size: 20" x 9" with 44mm offset (with 25mm spacer - effective offset of 19mm)
  • Color: Contrast cut black with silver
  • Centerbore size: 63.4mm
  • Tire size: Hankook Optimo H426 255/50-R20
  • Wheel and tire combination weight: ~72lbs.

I ended up picking some Volk Racing TE-37 Ultra wheels as they are some of the lightest 20" wheels on the market. And instead of using spacers, I decided to put some additional offset to make up for the wider stance I was looking for.


Volk Racing TE-37 Ultra wheel and tire specifications:
  • Wheel size: 20" x 10" with 30mm offset (with 6mm spacer - effective offset of 24mm)
  • Color: Dark bronze
  • Hub size: 73mm
  • Tire size: Hankook Ventus ST RH06 275/45-R20
  • Wheel and tire combination weight: ~58lbs.

I picked everything up from Vivid Racing. It would take a few weeks to get as the wheels had to come directly from Japan. I also ordered some TPMS sensors from them so that I could mount the new stuff and be rolling, and leave the OEM wheels as is, in case I wanted to throw them on for something.

Got some goodies!!!


Couldn't wait to mock them up, LOL:

It's very important when getting aftermarket wheels that you don't forget the hub centering. In this case, Vivid provided the centering rings free of charge. But if you need to get yourself some, they aren't usually very expensive. You just need to find out your OEM centerbore and aftermarket hub sizes.

Lot's of OEM information is here: Wheel-Size. Just do a search on your make and model and it will show lots of information for the OEM wheels that came with your vehicle.

Wheel weight:

Tire weight:

Comparing tires:

Yeah, they are the real deal...LOL.

When I finally got the wheels mounted, in all honesty, I was still a bit dissatisfied with the offset. Loved the wheels, just didn't get the "stance" I was after. So I ended up having some 6mm spacers custom made by Motorsport Tech. I had them have those spacers have the hub centering ring machined as part of the body of the spacer. That made the installation of the hub centering rings unnecessary. I took them to a local anodizer and they hard-anodized them black so that they wouldn't be easily seen.



A few months later, I ended up putting some Tire Stickers on as I was liking how they looked on other cars. I was apprehensive at first, but it ended up growing on me:

(photo courtesy of AutoHoffs)

Weight Reduction Running Tally: ~104.0 lbs

Improve Direct Airflow To Air box

Original Post: How to: - Improve Direct Airflow To Airbox Inlet

So when I pulled off that piece of plastic that covers about 15% of the stock IC behind the front grille, I started thinking about the flow of air into the airbox. I noticed that the opening doesn't get direct flow. It comes in from behind the front grille indirectly. I'm sure Ford does this in order to keep debris and water from entering directly into the airbox.

I thought maybe I can get just a bit more air if I gave it more of a "ram air" effect. After all, the SHO and F150 have this coming into the airbox more directly anyway.

So as I had the front grille and bumper off for some other project I was attempting, I decided to tackle this at the same time.

Although it's possible to do this without removing the bumper (or so I've heard), it's tough to reach some of the hardware. As I had the bumper off, it was a breeze to get the grille separated. Now the grille is actually three pieces on top of each other in the Sport. On the outside, you have the three horizontal "bars", then underneath that is the plastic "mesh" layer, and beneath that is the main barrier piece. This was the piece that needed trimming.

There are a lot of small clips that hold these various levels together. I didn't get a photo of it, but what worked liked a charm without breaking these tabs was some plumbers tape I cut into tiny squares and just wedged those into each clip. Once I had all them wedged, the pieces just fell apart super easy. Best part...nothing broke.

I wish I would've taken a picture of it, but apologies. Maybe when I take the grille off again, I will update this post to show it.

Anyway, here's a pic with the bumper and grille off. You can see the opening for the airbox...


Here's the inner barrier piece that needs trimming:

I took it off and on a few times to get the exact shape and opening size I was looking for. Here you see the final hole size I was happy with:

Mesh layer over it:

And finally, the three "bars" mocked up onto it:

As you can see, it's very well hidden and is virtually unnoticeable:


Now, how much better flow is it, you ask? I can't really say, tbh. It's kind of a small mod that may or may not help out some, but the logic is sound, so I'm going with that, LOL.

Of course, this may not be for everyone; however, it's been 2 years with no detrimental effects nor have I gotten anything significant into the airbox. I've driven in rain as well as having gone through multiple car washes throughout the years. So, I'd say it was a decent modification since I had the bumper off anyway.

Weight Reduction: Lithium Ion Battery

One of the heavier components of the engine bay I felt could be improved upon was the actual battery. I learned from my Harley-Davidson build, that Anti Gravity made some pretty high quality, lightweight lithium batteries. I started researching and turns out, although they seem to have the motorcycle industry taken care of, it's Braille that leads the way in the automotive world.

I had used a Braille AGM battery back in my Evo days and really liked it. I looked up their new lithium ion stuff and it was impressive. I had to make sure I had at least the same amount of cranking amps, as well as a decent amp-hours rating. Called Braille up and the Intensity i25x was the ticket. Their Intensity line of batteries is the go to line for direct drop-in replacements. They sent me free Li-Ion charger with it as well. Don't get me wrong, this stuff is pricey, but it's miles ahead of current battery technology and the charger is high quality as well.

OEM battery is a Group 65 and this is a Group 25. OEM battery is rated at 810 CA and 650 CCA, whereas the Braille battery is rated at 1250 PCA, different measuring method, but needless to say it's WAY more powerful. However, reserve capacity for OEM is 130Ah versus the Braille battery at 75Ah. Less, but I don't ever have the key on for extended periods of time without the vehicle running, nor do I have a high powered stereo.

Stock battery:

Here's the weight difference between the two:

Saved ~28lbs...very nice.

So the battery was similar in size, but not exactly. It was a bit taller and unfortunately, the battery hold down wouldn't work, it was about an inch too short (insert joke here) how to hold it down? Well, I decided to extend the OEM rods in order to be able re-use the stock hold down. First thing was, figure out thread pitch of the existing threaded rods:

  • M6-1mm
Then get some threaded rod to match and some sort of coupling nut or threaded standoff. Found what I needed at McMaster (damn I love that place...).

Everything is stainless steel, as usual:


Measured and cut down the existing rods:

Used a metric M6-1mm die to thread the unthreaded portion of the OEM rods:

Then just installed the standoffs about midway down and installed the new threaded portion into the upper half. I used red loctite on these parts as I don't ever expect to need to separate them:

The portion where the terminals are on the Braille battery aren't 100% flush with the top of the body, making the battery management system not completely seated all the way down, but was still enough:


Viola, finished product:

This thing cranks the starter with some serious...vigor! LOL. Very noticeable difference in cranking, night and day difference

As for longevity, well, it lives on a trickle charger when not being driven so that helps. I've no issues for the year that it's been on the vehicle. It must be noted that is NOT a deep cycle battery and is not ideal for those that are interested in extensive audio system modifications (or hydraulic suspension, LOL). It will not perform well in those applications.

EDIT: The negative battery terminal being at an angle like in the previous photo always bothered me. Because the terminal post sat slightly lower than the top of the battery, if I were to put the actual terminal straight, the tightening nut would hit the battery top, not allowing it to seat properly. After first seeing if an aftermarket terminal would solve this issue, I took a look at the OEM one and noticed it can be disassembled. That was an easy fix, just disassemble t and switch sides:

And final install appearance:

Weight Reduction Running Tally: ~132.0 lbs

Weight Reduction: 3rd Row Seat Delete

In my quest to get ever more lightweight, I decided to ditch the folding 3rd row seats. I never once used them while owning the vehicle and thought I could actually make more room (vertically) by removing the deck. I ended up using these write-ups as a starting point, so much respect goes to @jrgoffin and @MikeCallery for them:

It was extremely helpful. Early on in my desire to remove those seats, I hadn't been aware of the structural cross-member that is integral to the rigidity of the body the 3rd rows seats use. It would need to come out if I wanted the seats out...but how do I retain structural integrity? Well, after more research, turns out the x-brace from a PIU addresses that concern. I won't go into re-hashing all the steps written by @jrgoffin and @MikeCallery, but because I only care about weight reduction, I simply used the x-brace and not the rest of the PIU replacement decking or foam inserts.

I also wanted to integrate the fluid tank for my methanol kit into the setup, so this was a parallel project.

Part-way through removal:

Since I'm not going to have 3rd row seats anymore, no need for the Power Fold Seat Module (PFSM), this thing comes out, no issues with it removed:

And to clean up the install, the wire harness can be disconnected farther back as there are some connections that are no longer needed.

Also coming out was the 3rd row seatbelts. Not really necessary, but I wasn't going to half-ass the job. One dilemma was, when the belts come out, the slot that it comes out of in the rear plastic exposes the bare metal underneath. It would bug I covered it as well with some foam I had laying around:

And here is everything I pulled out of the car in a pile. All this weighed 108lbs, a pretty significant weight reduction:

The x-brace comes in raw metal. It's usually hidden under a deck, so no normal reason to beautify it:

But since I was going to leave it exposed, I decided I was going to powdercoat it. However, before I get to that, I needed to figure a way to mount the bracket for the 10L methanol tank that Aquamist offers:


Here's that bracket sandblasted:

Here is what I was going to weld to the x-brace:

And here is the bracket bolted to that piece before I weld it to the x-brace:

I didn't get a photo of the piece welded on, but here is the finished gloss powdercoated x-brace ready for mounting:

Here's the bracket with the methanol pump installed:


Finished rear area installation:

All that stuff I put back in the rear area came to a weight of 18lbs. So, at the end of the day, I still saved 90lbs on this modification. And I love how much more room there is...

Weight Reduction Running Tally: ~222.0 lbs

Stock Sony Speaker Upgrade Part 01

Original Post: 2015 Ford Explorer Stock Speaker Upgrade - Sony System

Did a stock speaker upgrade in my Sport with the Sony Premium Sound System. Simply upgraded speakers, using stock amp. Not the best "write-up" as it's mostly pix, but hopefully it will be a decent jumping off point for those interested in doing more. I just wanted a slightly better system as all my focus is on the performance (I'm not an audiophile, so my interest in this area is minimal). I left the stock center dash speaker alone, didn't feel like taking apart the dash, lol. Hope the pix help folks out:

Subwoofer is a Kicker CompRT 8" 2ohm DVC:



Added some subwoofer box stuffing since I had some laying around and it usually helps some:



Rear hatch area "D" pillar, I changed to some Kicker 3.5" KSC350, ohm value is different as I could not find the speaker size with that ohm value (IIRC it is 6ohm), so it's effecting the output, but it's negligible:






Because I didn't want the full frequencies getting pushed to these speakers, I removed the capacitor off the OEM speakers and added them to the Kickers:



Rear Doors, installed some Kicker KSC650 6.5" coaxial speakers:




I got the rear speaker adapters from Metra, and the 1/4" foam stripping from Amazon:


Stock Sony Speaker Upgrade Part 02

Unfortunately, the adapters that came from Crutchfield weren't deep enough. I had to order some custom MDF adapters from Sound Mechanix to be used in conjunction with the Crutchfield ones to give the necessary depth. Size ordered was 7.5" ID and 11.5" OD in 1" thick MDF:

And the speaker harness adapters also from Metra:





For the front door I didn't get any photos of the tweeter install (I was getting impatient and wanted to just get it done, LOL). But it's pretty straight forward, it doesn't come out easy and there is some permanent removal you will be doing but, it is what it is. I made sure to wire it exactly the way it is from the factory and uses the passive crossover that came with the new tweeter. Yes, the ohm value did change so it's likely putting some small additional strain on the factory amp, but it isn't driving low frequencies like a sub. Tweeters were a pair of Kicker KST25 1" and the 6x9s were some Kicker KSC6930 3-way coaxial speakers:


Front speaker adapters also from Metra:


And some wiring diagrams for everybody if needed! Hopefully they are a decent resolution.








UPR Products Catch Can Installation

Here is my spin, or should I say, variation, on the install for the UPR Products catch can setup. It's pretty straight forward and I think the product is a very well made item. I did have a few issues that I found annoying, so I decided to make some small changes to an already great product.

One of the issues I had was, the way it was designed to be mounted made the can lean very far over because it was pressed against the wheel well. In the following photos you can see what I'm talking about. The bottom of the can hits that insulation on the wheel well:



Believe me, I tried spinning and changing the mounting orientation but nothing really worked. The only way I could get the can perfectly upright while using the provided hardware would put the can directly underneath that AC line, not allowing the top connector to fit:


Now, I'm pretty mechanically inclined and can get really creative sometimes, but this one had me frustrated and baffled. Yeah, sure it would work leaning that way, but it just...looked like ****. I couldn't believe that UPR would allow this so I started thinking I got an incorrect part. It was at this point that I contacted them.

So the conversation started out friendly enough. I told them my dilemma and what I was experiencing and they sounded pretty surprised that I was having this trouble. I sent them photos and we went back and forth for awhile but it was almost as though they couldn't see anything wrong. I told them how much it leaned over and they kept saying that no one's ever had any problems...

...I actually started getting pretty pissed off at this point as they just couldn't understand my issue with the product. They just kept referring me to keep rotating it around a bit. But I had tried every combination of rotation and nothing worked.

They were basically just telling me I was S.O.L. and that they can't see anything wrong with the setup and didn't know how to help. Well, I just hung up at this point and walked it off and drank a beer.

I told myself I wasn't going to let this thing kick my ass, so I started finding what would need to change in order to make it upright. I realized, it really just needed to sit a bit higher and it would clear everything just fine. How much higher? Well turns out to be about an inch. Luckily, I had everything I needed in my "workshop".

I had a leftover piece from a Roland Sands breather spacer off a Twin Cam Harley motor that I never used and it was the right length and looked pretty cool, then I just found an appropriate bolt long enough in the proper thread pitch...and, viola!


Problem solved! Perfectly plumb and all fittings would clear any obstruction. Now that was out of the way, I could proceed to the next set of issues.

The next issue was the fitting that connects to the clean side. I was provided with a large 5" or 6" silicon coupler with a fitting coming out the bottom. This was designed to be used with the stock airbox. Problem was, I had the AirAid box, but the fix was easy. I just took the quick connect fitting out of the silicon coupler and find, to my surprise, that it's threaded with a 1/4 NPT on the end. Perfect! The plastic tube section of the AirAid box is very thick in that same area, so I just drill the appropriate size hole and threaded the plastic. I intentionally made the threads shallow so that the fitting would seal tightly as it was threaded into the plastic:



That solved that issue. Finally, as I was installing the quick drain setup I had added to my purchase, I started thinking about how I could make this draining process even easier. I started thinking...there's gotta be a way for me to drain this thing without taking the can out OR getting underneath the vehicle.

I scrounged through my collection of random fittings and connectors and found what I was looking for. I would remove the bottom plug and install a stainless steel, push-to-connect fitting (although barbed fittings will work too). I like these fittings as they are able to easily swivel even when tightened and connected to some hose.

I also didn't really like their ball valve too much so I went with one of my choosing. Another stainless component, and installed push-to-connect fittings on either side of it.

And here is the hose (high temp PTFE, so don't sweat the temperature issue...I know somebody will ask), along with all the parts I used for this:

I found this area behind the front grille to mount the valve, after drilling some holes in the plastic for the zip ties that will secure it in place:


And all connected:

The hose goes from the bottom of the can to this valve. I can close the valve, but as an extra precaution, I keep a push-to-connect stopper (red piece) always installed.

Now, how the hell does this all work and how does it make it easy you ask? Well, enter my air-operated MityVac fluid extractor.


Normally used to bleed brakes but it has many other uses. I just pull out the red stopper, connect another section of the same hose to my MityVac, connect my shop-air to the MityVac, open the catch can valve and it sucks it out pretty quick.

Problem solved!

XDI-60 High Pressure Fuel Pump And Innovate Motorsports Ethanol Content Gauge Installation

Installed both the XtremeDI XDI-60 high pressure fuel pump and the Innovate Motorsports ethanol content meter at the same time. The goal is maximum e85 capability, so it's good to know what exactly is going in the tank and this meter will facilitate that.

Some of the other parts I bought to facilitate this:
Started with the easy part. Installed the gauge on the a-pillar. It's the lower one, the higher one is the Aquamist methanol flow meter gauge (later write-up on that).

So wiring it up was kind of a pain in the ass, mostly because it was difficult to find a place to go through the firewall for the sensor wire to come through. Here is a link to the install guide: As for wiring the actual gauge, I found a 12VDC switched power in the fuse box beneath the steering wheel, a ground wire to the chassis somewhere and then tapped into the headlight fuse in order to get illumination/dimming. I left the input connector outside in case I ever need to connect a laptop to it for programming:

After completing the gauge installation, I paused on the remainder of the flex fuel sensor to proceed with the XDI pump. Here is a video made by XDI that I found useful. It's for a Taurus SHO, but installation is identical:

I'll try not to rehash everything in the video and just cover some of the things worth pointing out. Here's the stock pump:

Removal was relatively simple, but just make sure as you loosen the 2 torx bolts holding down, you alternate between the two so the pump comes up straight. Underneath is the roller tappet. Pull that out and replace it with the new one:

Here is the pump after installation and the position of the high pressure line before bending:


As you can see, there is some work to do to get that line connected properly. In the XDI video, you see that the nut holding the line down to one of the valve cover bolt/studs needs to be removed. Well, that stud was still getting in the way, so I removed it and cut off the stud portion of that bolt as it wasn't needed anymore anyway. It gave me a bit more room to maneuver:


Make no mistake, this was the most pain-in-the-ass part of the installation. Getting that thing to seat then seal properly was a nightmare and at first I thought I got the wrong part. I had to contact XDI a few times via text with photos back and forth a few times to get approval from Uwe that all was well. He is the MAN BTW!

FUN FACT: According to service manual, this high pressure line is actually a one-time use part. Once it is disconnected, you are technically supposed to replace the whole line. If you don't want to remove the entire intake manifold and all the shenanigans that comes with, than you will make this work, LOL. Keep in mind, that ball end is supposed to "seal" into the pump in a sort-of "crush" fitting way. This is why it is one-time only. It is difficult to get that seal again once it is broken.

It leaked the first few times I tried it, but after yelling at it a few times, it finally listened to me and sealed up:

Now back to the sensor so I can get the low pressure fuel line installed. I connected the sensor onto the fuel line that comes up from the back of the firewall on the passenger side as well as the -6AN Male to 3/8" Female fitting:

As you can see in the lower part of that photo, the low pressure fuel hose that came with the XDI pump (has the yellow cap on it) was a bit short, so I had to order the RaceFlux one:

Once that was connected...

...the pump was all done and it was at this point I did the test run for fuel pump leaks (I had some as stated earlier). Worked through that issue and finally got it sealed, as mentioned. Now to get the flex fuel sensor wire through the firewall somehow. In order to do that, I had to remove the wiper arms, hood cowl and wiper motor assembly:

Check out the post here to see how that is done.

You can see in that photo how I ran the wire in the engine bay after connecting it to the sensor. Punched the wire through the cowl area using a rubber grommet here:

I made a small slice in this rubber cover and pushed it through here to get into the cabin area:

I then used some RTV to seal it back up. But even through this opening it is still a pain to fish it through. For this job, I used a tool I learned to use back in my stereo install days. A large HVAC zip tie:

It's the perfect tool to feed wires through openings as you just tape it to one end with electrical tape and when it comes out the end you need, just pull it through, undo the tape and you've got your wire fished.

Once it was through here and down into the cabin, I wired it up to the gauge end and tidy'd up the install and put everything back together. Once it's up and running, you can see the ethanol content of whatever fuel you are running, even mixtures, as well as the temperature of the fuel. Now this isn't much other than a tattle-tell gauge but the great thing is, there is a 0-5VDC output signal for both the ethanol content as well as fuel temp the gauge can send if you had some sort of stand-alone fuel system or found a way to integrate this into a true flex fuel system.

I am tuned for 100 octane at the moment, so the fuel has anywhere between 6.5% to 7.0% ethanol in it. 91 to 93 octane typically has about 10% or so:

And a final video with engine running:

Redline Tuning Hood Struts

This was more of one of those gee-whiz mods I decided to do on a spur of the moment. It was a reasonably priced mod for something that was actually an annoyance for me. I always hated the manual prop arm as it often got in the way when doing work on the engine. Plus, it makes the view of the engine bay at shows and meets just a bit less obstructive.

Anyway, nothing too serious here. The struts are good quality and have lasted almost a year now with no loss in lifting capability, so I'm not disappointed. And as mentioned, it's made maintenance a bit easier.

I ended up getting their "Elite" version as it comes in stainless steel. Not only do I like the look of stainless, but it'll last a bit longer in the weather. However, their "Standard" version is also great quality, comes in black and is a bit more budget-minded. I got them from here: Redline Tuning 2011-2019 Explorer Quicklift

It wasn't too difficult of an install. It comes with all the hardware as well as good instructions. It required no drilling or cutting. I won't waste your time doing a write-up as it is all right here and very easy to follow: Redline Tuning 2011-2019 Explorer Quicklift Instructions

Only thing I will say is, it was a pain to get those clips onto the ball ends of the mounts, lol.

A few photos.



Steeda Rear Sway Bar, Toe Link & Trailing Arm Install

Original Post: STEEDA Sway Bar Installed!!

This project started when I got wind of the recall Ford had for the 2011-2019 Explorer rear toe link. Started doing research to see if there was anything good aftermarket and found that Steeda made some stuff! Ended up with not only the rear toe links but the rear trailing arms AND the rear sway bar.

Awesome and easy! Thanks goes out to @UIN2IT and his install video






Comparison of the stock vs Steeda trailing arms:




Rear sway bar install video:

Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro Foglights Install

Original Post: How to: - Diode Dynamics SS3 Pro Fog Lights Install

So I always wanted to have better lighting on this vehicle and went to HIDs years ago. Lately LED technology has been getting better so figured I'd try out what was on the market. I wanted to stay away from cheap overseas kits found on places like eBay. Did some research and learned about Diode Dynamics (Diode Dynamics). Stuff is either made or assembled here in good ol' US of A.

Anyway, started out looking for foglight upgrades and I liked what they were offering with their SS3 Pro kit (SS3 Pro Fog Lights). It's SAE/DOT legal so that's cool as well.

The kit required some changes as it wasn't plug-and-play (even though it was supposed to be listed for my application). They may now have what is needed though.

Finished installation:

The foglight bracket once removed:

LED housing installed into the bracket:

The issue came up when installing the bracket assembly back into the vehicle, it wouldn't seat properly. Here is how far the bracket is away from bolting up when the LED housing is installed:


There are 3 screws that hold the bracket in place. Here is what it looks like behind the bumper without the bracket (I put my ball cap in the opening so the glare from the sun wouldn't wash out the pic, LOL):


And here's one of the holes on the bracket:

Had to get creative so I found some old hardware and spacers in my bucket-o-spare-hardware, LOL:

Don't ask me where that spacer came from, but they are about 1/2" long to fill in the space needed. I had 6 of them, 3 for each side. Here is how it looks on the bracket:


And everything finally installed, now there is only a very small gap but I was okay with this:


Here is the look on and off:


Holy crap these things light up the road...WAY better than the stock fogs or the HIDs I had prior to these. Now I just wish there was some high end LEDs for the headlights that fit into our housing (I've tried a few sets and most won't actually fit properly).

So here are a few night shots. I did not take any photos of the HID fogs, so this could arguably be an invalid comparison, but figured I'd show at least something. I took four photos at each position. In my attempt at making it equal and fair, I took each photo using my Samsung Galaxy S9+, mounted on a suction windshield mount. All shots where made in Manual Mode:
  • F1.5
  • 1/10s shutter speed
  • 4.30mm focal length
  • ISO400
  • No Flash

Order of shots in each grouping:
  1. Low Beam and Foglights
  2. Low Beam
  3. Low Beam and High Beam
  4. Parking Lights

1st Grouping:

2nd Grouping:

And finally, a light output comparison video:

Anthony DiCunzolo Generation 2 Rigid Transmission Mount Install

Original Post: AD Trans Mount Installation

Wanted to just make a quick (aka, LONG) video of the install process. Going on an Explorer but the process is the same for the SHO. It's really very easy and straight forward. Even with all the unedited parts where I'm away from the cam, the video was still only 30 minutes, so install time on these is actually even less. Oh, and please disregard the wooden block. I thought, for some reason, the trans would drop a bit and was just playing it safe with some blocking. Anyway, turned out it doesn't budge and I didn't need it...

Those of you looking to scoop up a set of these may find it difficult to locate. Well, he only sells them direct and doesn't have much of an online presence. You either have to contact him via email: or through his Instagram page Anthony DiCunzolo.



Front mount comparison:


Rear mount comparison:



Weight Reduction: Spare Tire Removal And Well Modification

So I am always looking at ways to shave weight on this heavy beast. One of the easy ways I did to shave a bit was to just remove the spare tire and tool kit.

Removal saves ~46lbs:

Now, for many of you this isn't an option and that's OK, I don't blame you. I made this decision on two reasons:

  • I have towing with my insurance policy. I get that it may not get me out of every situation, but it's something.
  • Most importantly, this isn't my daily driver. Frankly this has turned into my project hot rod, LOL. So it spends a lot of it's life on a tender in the garage.
Anyway, there where a few small drawbacks to removing it:

  • When the car wash place I take it to from time to time crawls in the back to clean the back windows and interior, they unknowingly step on that thin particle board cover and almost fall through, but definitely cracking it a bit. I didn't realize that the cover physically rests on the spare tire and uses it as a support.
  • And more annoyingly, that bare metal and empty space started acting like a weird amplifier for road and exhaust noise. You can hear it just by tapping on it how it reverberates.
I decided to try and tackle both. Let's just hope I didn't add all that weight back that I saved by taking the wheel out, LOL (it didn't, BTW).

I started out by removing all the foam from the backside of the cover as well as the carpet from the top of the cover. The foam just ripped off. No biggie as I wasn't going to put anything in its place or re-use it. But the carpet I had to be more careful as I wanted to reuse it. I wanted to remove the carpet so that I could hide the hardware I planned on using.

After removal of both materials successfully, I took an orbital sander to it to sand all the remaining glue down and make it smooth again. Now to brace up the underside!

I had some metal bracing laying around in a scrap metal pile I keep that would do the trick. Not sure where it's from, LOL. Here you see the first one installed. I used rivets with washers in order to keep the profile as low as possible on the top side.

Here's a rivet/washer combo from the top side:

Here's the completed bracing:

Top side and close up:


Completed with carpet glued back on using some 3M speaker box carpet spray adhesive:

Now for the sound attenuation. All I did was add some DynaMat and it worked great. I had already put some knock-off DynaMat stuff on the sides of the well a few years ago when I was stilling keeping the spare in there, but when I removed the spare, that open metal created that amplifier, LOL:


Here are some sound file/videos for comparison.



Back in the rear and all done with this part:


Weight Reduction Running Tally: ~268.0 lbs

Fancy Explorer Sport Tow Hook Bling

Original Post: How to: - Write Up: Pretty trick tow hook...if that's your thing...

So I'm one of those guys who likes the look of those red tow hooks folks have been rocking lately. I'm a function-over-form guy normally so I was apprehensive about a mod like this as it does nothing for performance and it's purely cosmetic. Figured the circles I travel in would laugh at me for "trying too hard" lol...

So, after some thought, I decided to say screw it, lets just go for it. Most feedback has been positive but I do get the occasional hater-ation. Oh well, if I'm not pissing somebody off, I'm doing it wrong, lol.

Final product:

Being the guy that I am, I decided to write this up so you lovely people can enjoy it yourself. There is NO high-end aftermarket tow hook for our platform, so I decided to do some experimenting. It's not a cheap mod. Even though I spent more due to my experimentation, all in, you're still gonna spend about $240 not including any shipping or tax.

So, it all started with the factory tow hook and getting dimensions...






The tow hook I was dead set on is a product by RaceSeng.

They make some decently high-end tuner parts. Their tow hook is a two-piece design so that the hook, which has a short universal threaded end that is M18-1.5...

...and per whatever application you have, order the appropriate tow shaft, which is specific to each vehicle. Well, needless to say, they had no application for our platform. The threaded hole beneath the tow hook cover in the front bumper is M16-2.0. I reached out to them, but they did not seem interested in doing anything for this vehicle. So then I tried to do a TON of research to see if any vehicle they did have had a similar thread pattern and came up blank. It was tough because they don't list thread patterns, but only part numbers. Had to spend a lot of time on Google to research.

So, I decide to see what i could do anyway. I ordered the tow hook, the GoPro mount, and a tow shaft for a Nissan GTR, as their thread pattern is M24 something or other. That was enough meat on the shaft (bring the jokes, ppl!) for me to do some magic on the lathe...I was determined now! LOL.

So the Nissan GTR shaft portion looks like this:

Here is the part machined down:

One issue is, the short M18 threaded part of the hook is too short to machine down and mount in the stock bumper hole, but when you add the tow shaft, it's now too long...I tried to machine it down shorter but would end up compromising the way the M18 threads into the tow shaft.

I thought this wold work, but when I installed it onto the bumper, it just looked ridiculous. It sat so far out away from the bumper. It needed to be an entire inch shorter to be anywhere near good looking. Sorry but I took no pic of that, was too bummed out my machine work didn't work out...

Anyway, I put the whole thing away for awhile and forgot about it. Well one day I was thinking about it again and something came to mind I had used on another application. A heim joint!! It would work, and probably better, but then I just had to find the right one, so I headed over to McMaster, they are the SHIZZLE when it comes to hardware. Especially obscure, hard-to-find stuff.

Well, I pretty much found what I was looking for. The threaded part of the heim joint is a little on the short side but would work well enough. I took some measurements of other parts to see what additional hardware I would need. Everything I buy when it comes to stuff like this is 316 stainless steel or at the least 18-8. Better for corrosion resistance. Below is a pic of the shopping cart:


Since the bolt that goes through the RaceSeng shaft body into the tow hook is an M10 and the hole in the heim joint is an M16, I had to get the spacer and prayed it would are the parts you're gonna need:

Yes, that includes the beer! Here it is assembled:

The only thing that sucks is, I couldn't use the GoPro mount...but oh well..ya win some you lose some. When you mount it, use some blue loctite as a double protective measure in addition to the lock washer. Hell, you could even use red loctite, but good luck getting that off if you need to remove your bumper, LOL. Here are some mounted pics:


The joint itself is very, very tight, so that is perfect! The hook does not swing around banging against the paint. It will absolutely stay whatever angle you put it. I've taken it up to pretty severe highway speeds and it is rock-solid. But it is loose enough to move around if needed. Caveat: I have no idea about actual towing. It's pretty tough but tow at your own risk. As I said, this was purely cosmetic, but I still wanted to have some quality product and not some cheap made-in-China part.

I actually like this setup better than the complete RaceSeng setup for a few reasons:

1) I love the look of stainless parts..they just have that...aircraft-grade look.

2) Since you can rotate it from side to side, you can "lay" it at the angle the bumper sits/flush, so it doesn't look like its hanging off weirdly.

Anyway, yeah I spent a lot of money I didn't need to and for something that really will serve no purpose but to say "Hey everybody, look at me!!" LOL. But, I digress.

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DW300c Fuel Pump Assembly

Original Post: DW300c Fuel Pump Assembly

Just a short (by short, I mean LONG) and unedited video of the install of the DW300c into the hanger assembly. Pretty straight forward but there are a few things not covered in the instructions and some helpful pointers I discovered. Perform at your own risk. Definitely one of those "how the sausage is made" videos and if you have an aversion to cutting into OEM stuff, it might make ya squeamish, LOL. Anyway, just one way I found to skin this cat, I'm sure there are others.

Part 01

Part 02

Part 03

Stock LPFP hanger assembly:

DW300c in the box:

Some comparison photos between stock pump and DW300c:



Comparison photos of the stock filter sock vs. what comes with the DW300c. In the video, I show how you will have to slightly modify this part to make it fit right.




Silicon plug to keep the plastic shavings out of the pump internals when trimming the inside.

Video showing how the DW300c doesn't fit right into the filter sock. This is before modification of the sock assembly.

A few more close ups of the wire connector (Toyota PN: 90980-11080) I modified in the install video.

Links to the pins/splices you'll need:



Here's some extra pics if anybody wants to know details on the fuel pressure relief valve that is inside the hanger.