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Immediate upgrades, maximum results


Well-Known Member
January 25, 2000
Reaction score
City, State
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Year, Model & Trim Level
93 Sport, 92 EB

thanks for the info!

93 Sport 4X4, 150k Mi, Llumar Metallic Tinted Windows, GTS Taillight Covers, Sony CD and Boston Acoustics drivers
Bosch +4's. Modified Airbox, Allied 8.5mm wires (Splitfire wires on order)

Bottom line - if you use your Explorer offroad, you don't need to do anything extreme to get a significant benefit from immediately getting new tires and shocks.

Background: My wife's 98 XLT SOHC was pretty darn good out of the box. Great power, good handling, surprisingly good off-road (surprises everyone who rides in it, including me). Yeah, the stock Firestone 235's suck, yeah the shocks feel floppy, but wait for them to wear out before replacing them, right? WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!

We got her truck 12/98, by 8/99 it had 1000 miles offroad. Not hard through the brush, but in 4Lo and drive slow offroad, and all the paint on the front crossmember was polished off.

My wife learned to drive in a 68 Toyota FJ40, so her expectations were that she could drive where she wished. The truck did as directed. ONE time it wouldn't crest a steep hill (with 5 people on board), and that was b/c the tires couldn't grab on the loose Sierra dirt. Had to back down that hill VERY carefully, but it was plenty fun.

In a way, the Firestones are fun; they fill up with mud so quickly, you get all squirrely and slide around, which is a good rush. Hydroplaning on the freeway was much less fun; my Ranger has old-style BFG AT's and no weight on the rear axle, and doesn't hydroplane nearly as bad as the Firestones. BUT, they're not worn out yet, right?

3/2000, tax return in hand, time for real tires. No, the Firestones aren't totally worn out, but two months of rainy roads and hydroplaning make it worth it. Shop around for BFG AT's, find out the new KO's have a minimum price policy, so everywhere has the same deal on them. Winston has a road hazard that's not pro-rated, go with them. Find out a rear shock is leaking already (26K), but since I just ordered Monroe's from NAPA, that's cool. Had to air down the 31x10.5 tires from 50 LB to 32 LB (door says 26 LB for Firestones).

Tires on Friday, drive around, AMAZING. Sticky around corners, seriously, surprisingly quiet, not a harsh ride at all, but they feel STICKY in corners, completely unlike the Firestones. I put old style AT's from my Ranger on once to see if they would really fit (they did), much noisier, not nearly as much grip, they do look a lot different up close.

Offroad on Sunday - HUGE difference. Went up muddy, eroded destroyed dozer roads, no sliding, no squirrely, almost BORING. They worked great, my wife is stoked.

Following Sat, new shocks. Offroad on Sunday, another big difference. Whoop-te-whoops are much smoother, pounding across washboards / cat tracks much less abusive, no "porpoise" effect from washed out chunks. Go through a stream/swamp to get to another road, she has to keep her foot in it, the truck powers on through and up a steeeeep grade - BEAUTIFUL. Mud everywhere, but the tires cleaned themselves really well.

Driving back down the hill, twisty roads and accelerating/braking are smoother and less lean-y b/c of the new shocks.

Her: "Why didn't we get these when we bought the truck?"
Me: "Ummmmmm, what are we doing for dinner tonite?"

Tab: $99.95 for 31x10.5 BFG AT KO's (each), $34.95 for NAPA/Monroe Sens-A-Trac's (each).
Result: MUCH improved on/off road performance, happy wife.

A bargain, and something any new Explorer would benefit from.

Best Regards,
Brian in CA