Ford newbie's Ressur-wreck-tion of an '05 Sport Trac XLT | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Ford newbie's Ressur-wreck-tion of an '05 Sport Trac XLT

March 29, 2019
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Year, Model & Trim Level
05 Sport Trac XLT 2WD
Hi all! Yes, I'm a Ford newbie. But thanks to a friend of mine who is a total enabler, I ended up with a little (ok, pretty big) Blue Oval project of my own.

We both hang out with the Gambler 500 crowd and do runs with them, as well as a similar crew from Jalopy Journeys. We're not under the category of the $500 extremists, but we do like taking older, beat up cars and playing with them.

Now, here's where my Ford Newbie story gets a bit weird. I used to actually work at a Ford dealership (in sales) for a brief stint 10 years ago. That is where I started to develop my love of the Sport Trac. I suppose this is an off-shoot of my deep and long-term love of the Subaru Brat.

In any case, today my buddy helped out by coming to look at a junkyard '05 Sport Trac XLT 2WD with me. Little was known about it beforehand, other than it existed, it was 2WD, and it had a broken taillight. Thank you, terrible internet postings, for that.


So what did we find? A surprisingly solid start. No death rattle. A bit high on the miles, but smooth operation of the motor and trans. Body mount bushings look good. No cancer anywhere that we can find. Gauge cluster appears fully functional. Ice cold A/C. It looks to be there as an accident total, with a broken taillight and some gouges along the driver's side of the bed. Entirely cosmetic, but probably enough for the insurance company to total it out.


So I floated an offer to the yard, and they took it. Basically half of what one would go for from a private party here.

Once we got it out of the yard, we got to go for a more extensive drive of it and look deeper into it. So far here's what we've found wrong with it (and none of it is really that bad):

1) Center console looks like an angry Yeti had its way with it. I'm gonna need a new one, no doubt.
2) The fold-down compartment cover behind the driver's rear seat has a broken hinge-peg.
3) There is a slight smell of coolant only when sitting at a stop for an extended period of time. There appears to be some dried, rusty water stains on and around the thermostat housing, so this seems to be the likely source.
4) Taillight broken. Duh.
5) Scrapes on the driver's side of the bed.
6) Broken passenger mirror assembly
7) Hood struts won't hold the hood up
8) Brake light never goes off. Brake fluid is dirty, but that doesn't seem like it should cause that (will obviously be flushing the fluid as soon as we get a chance)
9) Left rear tire leaks. Also, three different brands of tires on the truck.
10) Alloy wheels seem to be badly corroded. Possibly why #9 is occurring.
11) The floor mats looked like year old half-unrolled burritos. Fortunately, the all-weather mats from my totaled Subaru fit the Trac perfectly.
12) The radio tunes and plays, but the backlight is almost gone and the clock won't set.
13) Cruise control system will not turn on at all

I'll have a tail light and mirror assembly on order by the end of the night. Hood struts may end up in that same order, then we'll go from there.

Any suggestions of easy/cool feature upgrades that can be added or adapted? This is a pretty base 2WD XLT. My friend is looking to change out his D4 for a D2 axle on his '02 Sport, and if he does that I'm going to upgrade my open 46 for his D4.

In the mean time, enjoy a picture of my Trac in front and his Sport in the background.


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Hey careful now you might make me internet famous or at least my 02 ExSport

Any suggestions of easy/cool feature upgrades that can be added or adapted? This is a pretty base 2WD XLT. My friend is looking to change out his D4 for a D2 axle on his '02 Sport, and if he does that I'm going to upgrade my open 46 for his D4.

In the mean time, enjoy a picture of my Trac in front and his Sport in the background.

View attachment 168860[/QUOTE]

This weekend I cleaned up the outside (ooh, shiny paint with lots of little dents and scratches!) and did a little bit more poking around with some of the problems.

I was wrong about the clock not setting on the radio; the clock is simply not there anymore. What I thought was the clock was actually the frequency display (it was set to 1000AM, which it only dawned on me yesterday was the radio station it was tuned into... not a time). The clock portion of the display is where the backlight is gone, so effectively have no clock. No worries, was going to put in an aftermarket mechless receiver anyway.

The one that's got me a little puzzled is the cruise control. It appears the system turns on, but never engages. I hit the "on" button and I get no visual indication it's working, but if I then go and hit "set" the speed control light turns on for just a fraction of a second, then turns off, and the truck doesn't hold its speed. If I hit Off then Set, the light doesn't illuminate at all.. so it seems the on/off buttons work at the very least. I've used search to look for the problem, but after reading a couple dozen threads, my issue doesn't quite seem to match the symptoms in any thread I could find. Anyone have any tips for me on this one?

Hey Ever how fast were you going when you tried to set it? I believe my 08 wont set under 35and how does it set speed?

35. Wasn't able to get up very fast yesterday due to traffic. But if it was under the minimum, would it even flash the light at all?

Pretty sure the brake light and cruise control issue are connected. There is a pressure switch on the brake master cylinder, also the brake light switch on the brake pedal. Both are used to turn off cruise control while braking.

Good to know. Is that pressure switch on the master cylinder the same one that's the big ol recall item?

Alright, well... I've had a couple days in a row to work on this, thanks to weather timing and time off.

Yesterday was a Toolkit members exclusive presale before this weekend's general 50% off weekend sale. Between my finds there and things arriving from RockAuto, it was like Christmas.



Junkyard parts included a Gen 1 high console, pair of two-way visors from a 98 Mountaineer, a driver's visor from a ST in case the Mountaineer ones don't fit, a replacement panel for behind the rear driver's side seat, a post-recall cruise pressure switch, a center stack trim bezel with the proper holes for extra switches, and a pair of switches with (hopefully) enough pigtail left to wire in.


The RockAuto shipment included new hood lift struts, left taillight, and passenger mirror.

My oldest kid (11) has been looking forward to starting this project. He wants to learn more about fixing cars, so I gave him the task of replacing the taillight last night.


And a fine job he did, even figuring out the bolt size on the first try. We were running out of time, so didn't get to anything else last night.

Today it was raining hard, so all I could do was concentrate on projects in the interior. First up? Replacing my broken driver's side visor (clip and mirror cover broken). A couple weeks ago when 08 BlackAndTan and I were stripping apart a '97 Sport, we found the 2-way visors. I had never seen anything like that before. We snagged those for him, but I decided to grab a set from the junkyard for myself and see if I could get them to fit. It was pretty easy.


Not 100% plug and play in my case. The mount for my old clip doesn't have a hole for this locating pin. So I snipped it off near the base. The only other hitch was that the screw that held in the clip on my old one was too fat for the replacement clip assembly. Of course, I grabbed all the screws when I removed the J/Y unit, so that wasn't an issue. Just a minor footnote.


Installed and folded.


Both sets fully deployed.

I had a little more time this afternoon, so I attacked the replacement console to pull it apart and thoroughly cleaned that grotesque mass of plastic.


(In Cleveland's voice) Oh that's just nasty...
(That didn't even include the cup holder, which was worse)


All cleaned up and ready for the next time I have an hour or so to kill.

Still raining this morning, and my slate is full of non-car stuff today. But still had just enough time after breakfast.


Goodbye, destroyed bag console without the bag.


Hello, Gen 1 high console. I've put it in with the dual fixed cupholder from the '94 I pulled it out of, but I'm keeping the original flip cup holder from the Trac, because I'd like to eventually have the cupholders not physically touching the seats. But the back side of the Trac's cupholders hang down too far on the inside, I'd need to cut back some of the liner of the cargo console. I don't have tools to do that at the moment.

And yeah, the armrest is still kinda nasty. I have a rug cleaning machine with upholstery attachment, so eventually all the cloth inside will be cleaned as deeply as I can.

It's awesome to see a Trac saved from the grave! Welcome to the forum and I agree with Turdle as far as your cruise/brake light issue. The cruise in my F350 wouldn't turn on and it ended up being the brake switch on my pedal.

I can’t believe the body bushings were fine. I’ve also never seen that center console before. Looking good!

I can’t believe the body bushings were fine. I’ve also never seen that center console before. Looking good!

The body bushings have obviously been replaced. They're not orange foam like the originals, they appear to be black urethane. They also have some mileage on them, they're not shiny and new. Probably got replaced a few years back by the previous owner.

As for the center console, it came from a '94 Explorer 4-door. It was a direct bolt-in replacement for the crappy bag-style console that came on lower-end Tracs. Because the seats are a little wider than the Explorer it came out of, the side-by-side cupholders rub a bit on the fabric. I'm probably going to put the flip-style cupholder that came in my Trac on this console, but I'm going to need to trim a bit of plastic out of the storage bin to make it fit. That project is pretty low priority right now.

Alright, a couple more things have been done in the mean time. One of which I didn't catch in the initial shakedown.


Yup, 3rd brake light seal leak. After the first good rain, I found I was having a puddle form on the trim panel below the rear window. New seal, a little time scraping off the old one and cleaning up the part, and problem solved.


So that explains the leak in this tire...

Now on to a little optional bit. I had a roof basket left over from my old Subaru, but of course no way to mount it.


Yes, those are cheapie Amazon generic cross bars. They fit... barely. I did read on the other threads that people have had problem with the locks freezing, rusting, so I'm looking into some method of protection, perhaps grease in the keyway or securing a grommet over the keyhole. Not that I really intend to remove these between seasons.

And today I got to test fit the basket.



Fits pretty well. I might have to shift one of the bars a little bit for optimal load distribution, but that's it.

What's coming up soon:

Replacing wheels and tires (hopefully this week)
Replace passenger side mirror and hood lift struts (when the damn rain goes away)
State salvage vehicle inspection (next week)
Replace cruise brake switch (1-2 weeks?)
Replace cruise control wheel switches (1-2 weeks?)
Install CB radio (next month?)

Thanks to 08 BlackandTan finding a nice(r) set of 16" BrightCasts than his own, I had the opportunity to buy his old ones, which are still 100x nicer than the corroded crap that came on mine. Then we hit up a clearance on some AT tires at Discount.


My daily has the same overall diameter tires as the Trac came with, so here's a comparison. Went from 235/70/16's to 265/75/16's (32's). Beefy. Really beefy. Still have a good amount of vertical clearance in my wheel wells, but of course a slight rub at full lock when turning because I haven't done a TT yet. Now, when I was out and about today, something strange happened. I was going through a school zone with a radar station, and I noticed that my speed *matched* the radar's readout. Now that the tires are 10% taller than before, I would expect my speed to be 10% higher than my speedo readout. Well, that also happens to be the difference between a 3.73 (which my door tag says I'm supposed to have) and a 4.10. So I'm now going to get under there and look, just to see if someone at some point decided to swap out the diff for something else.

A few days ago the weather cleared just long enough that I was able to replace the smashed passenger side mirror.

But the big news came today...


Yup, that's a license plate! My appointment with the State Patrol finally rolled around today. Got 'er in and out, then got the title transfer, plates, and insurance. She's now 100% legit to drive on the roads!

Revised to-do list:

Hood lift struts (Likely by the end of the week)
Oil change (Friday)
Install running boards (Friday)
Change out brake switch (Friday)
Inspect suspension and find the p/n tag on the differential (Friday)
Replace cruise switches (near-term)
Thermostat housing (near-term)
CB install (Hopefully 1-2 weeks)
Obtain tonneau (before August)
New stereo (before August)
Passenger front power lock actuator (low priority)

Awesome posts. Your truck is going to be awesome. Looks very similar to mine

I did the same sun visors but I got mine from a Limited that had the garage door opener buttons built in. I wired them up by tieing them into the always on overhead console power.

Buy one of the Bissel Green Machines spot carpet cleaner. This is a handheld carpet cleaner and will make that armrest look brand new. You can also do the cloth seats (just have to be conservative on the fluid) if they have stains. I have one and use it to clean carpets in my vehicles and is great for the house for dog/baby pee & throw up, spills, and other stains. Worth every penny.

One recommendations I would do is to paint the front and rear bumpers and side panels with black Krylon Fusion paint. Totally transforms the truck especially when the gray bumpers are faded.

I have similar sized tires on my truck but mine has stock 4.10 gears and the Speedo is more accurate now then with the stock tires.

That's what I was wondering. Door tag says it should have a 3.73 open, but with the speedo being accurate with the oversized tires, I'm wondering if the rear end isn't the original. Truck will be up in the air in another 24 hours (rented lift time at a self-service garage for an oil change and to inspect the whole suspension) so we'll see how that goes.

I actually already own a rug machine with an upholstery attachment. Something about owning a bazillion pets and having 3 kids made it worthwhile. So I'll get around to that sooner or later.

I'm not investing any time or labor into aesthetics at this time. This is going to be my Gambler car, so it's gonna get beat on a bit. Besides, there's something to be said for patina...

(minor side note: hood lift struts are in now. Had a few spare minutes and managed to drag my kid away from video games long enough to get him to hold up the hood for me)

So Friday rolled around and I got a little lift time to do some stuff, then helped 08 BlackandTan on his project Sport as much as I could before I got an unpleasant call from my kid's school... *sigh*

Oil change is now done, 5w30 full synthetic hi-mileage. Nothing concerning came out of the old oil or filter. Good, good. Got the running boards thrown on as well. And earlier in the morning I affixed the basket to my rack.


I ran out of time pretty quickly because the u-nuts for the running boards were giving me fits (this is what I get for cheaping out and reusing the junkyard ones instead of dropping $35 on a new set). So I didn't have a lot of time to inspect things on the underside, and simply forgot the brake switch at home. From the groan/creak it makes going over bumps, I'm pretty sure it will need ball joints (shocker). And I managed to snap a quick pick of the diff tag.


It was very dirty and partially worn off, but enough of it was intact to see that it is, indeed, a 3.73 open, just as the door tag said it would be. Still a little baffled as to why my speedometer is now accurate after putting on so much taller tires. Oh well.

Both front seat-back adjusters have failed. I grabbed a pair in good shape from a Trac out of a junkyard, but I'm not 100% sure if they will fit because the seats I grabbed them from had integrated headrests, mine don't, and the levers look slightly different. If they don't fit, I might look into getting really creative about seats, since I can't find correct generation Explorer seats of any kind in overall decent shape.

Revised To Do List:

Change out brake switch (near-term)
Inspect suspension (near-term)
Replace cruise switches (near-term)
Thermostat housing (near-term)
Replace failed seat back adjusters (near-term)
CB install (Hopefully 1-2 weeks)
Obtain tonneau (before June)
New stereo (before August)
Aussie locker? (TBD)
Passenger front power lock actuator (low priority)