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Looking for someone who can fix the legendarily bad timing chain in my '98.

Prince_Polaris

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All right, I know this sounds a bit dramatic but my poor girl is gonna have to be sold if I can't find someone. I live in Western Maryland, somewhere around the Cumberland area. Does anybody perhaps live nearby and know of a mechanic or shop who is able to fix my broken timing chain guides and hopefully replace them with the better, reinforced guides?

I would also like them to fix my blend door while the engine is out, and realign my driver's side door so I don't keep getting rained on, but the timing chain is the most important part.

If I can't find someone, then that's okay, I'll be getting something else I suppose. Am I allowed to ask for a recommendation on something that will work good in the snow but also be cheap/reliable?

And preferably without major problems that require complete engine disassembly....
 


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boominXplorer

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Plenty of shops could do the chains but the engine has to be removed to do it correctly. Expect $1500 or more for this.

Blend door can be done yourself by using a Dremel and short cut instructions
 




CDW6212R

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It sounds like you are ready to move on something, and not tied to that truck. I would suggest the 4dr Explorer if you like that body style. The 98-01 4dr with the 302 V8 is the most reliable truck you will find in that price range. Those range from $1000 on the low or rough side, to $2000 or more for nicer versions. I'd go look at a few of those in your area. Pick the one that you like the colors and options the most, which also seems well cared for. The high optioned Limited etc, should cost no more, and the past owner's care of the truck is ten times more important than features(other than the SOHC V6 you know about).
 




koda2000

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To be perfectly honest you truck isn't worth fixing. especially if you have to pay someone to do the repairs. Even if you put $1500-2000 into it when all is said and done it's still a 20 year old vehicle with other problems, a poorly designed engine and less than stellar transmission. It's time to let it go and move on to something else.
 




Prince_Polaris

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Yea, you guys are right I suppose.... I guess I'll keep it for now, and hope it doesn't die, while I try saving up for something new... I had a friend offer to do it for $300 in labor and more in parts, he's the one who fixed our red van, but I guess I keep hoping to find another offer like that since he had to pull back, he got back surgery and is down for the count for a long while.

The V8 explorer would be just as old as mine though, is it worth getting another old car? or is it really super reliable? If it is then I like the idea of it :)

What a mess though, got my first car and everything has gone wrong :/
 




CDW6212R

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I bought my 98 Limited last year, and began delivering mail with it in November. At 158k when I got it, now it has 177k and it's doing well.

My truck wasn't taken care of very well before, it was a young lady's first car(she had it for seven years). I recognized that and that the tires were mismatched, the front driveshaft had been removed long ago. So I new the front drive parts(diff, axles, hubs) were suspect, and I first thing swapped those from my 98 Mercury. With those equal(205k miles) changed parts, it has driven trouble free since then. Nothing is perfect, and maintenance is super important. But the 98-01 302 trucks are very reliable at any age, if they've had decent care.
 




chefduane

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You are on the same situation I was in about a year ago. My Gen2 was in great condition other than the timing chains. I eventually had to cut the cord and sell her. As much as I hated to see her go after 15 years and 213k miles, a $1500-$1800 repair bill was more than the truck was worth (see above).
 




koda2000

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As far as finding someone who will replace your timing chains and other components for $300... That's not going to happen. Anyone who tells you they can do this job for $300 is crazy or flat out lying to you.

The Explorer V8's are much more reliable as compared to the SOHC V6 and have a stronger transmission than the OHV/SOHC V6's, but they're still 20 year old vehicles at this point. Many of us here giving advice do our own repairs, have owned multiple Explorers and can keep our old trucks on the road. You do not do your own repairs and lack the skills/experience to assess the condition of a used vehicle, so I do not recommend you buy another old Explorer (especially an AWD) as it will likely quickly turn out to be a money pit.

Even with experience and doing our own repairs there comes a time when our old Explorers just don't justify the expense of repairing. I wish I could advise you as to what you should look for in the way of a replacement used vehicle, but with your physical size and lack of income you're going to need to be very lucky to find a good used vehicle you fit in and can afford.
 




Prince_Polaris

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As far as finding someone who will replace your timing chains and other components for $300... That's not going to happen. Anyone who tells you they can do this job for $300 is crazy or flat out lying to you.

The Explorer V8's are much more reliable as compared to the SOHC V6 and have a stronger transmission than the OHV/SOHC V6's, but they're still 20 year old vehicles at this point. Many of us here giving advice do our own repairs, have owned multiple Explorers and can keep our old trucks on the road. You do not do your own repairs and lack the skills/experience to assess the condition of a used vehicle, so I do not recommend you buy another old Explorer (especially an AWD) as it will likely quickly turn out to be a money pit.

Even with experience and doing our own repairs there comes a time when our old Explorers just don't justify the expense of repairing. I wish I could advise you as to what you should look for in the way of a replacement used vehicle, but with your physical size and lack of income you're going to need to be very lucky to find a good used vehicle you fit in and can afford.

Yeah, you're completely right. I'm an IT guy, I can do basic things, check on the oil, refill AC, replace fuses, but all these problems are beyond me. My family refuses to trust private sellers after this, and honestly I won't either, so I'm kind of betting on the fact that I can take it to a dealer, tell them "Fix that chain and you have a perfect explorer" and hope to make something good turning it in. Does that sound like a good idea, or....

Edit: also, the dude who was gonna do it for 300 was a family friend, so yeah, I guess that skewed my expectations :c
 




Turdle

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If you are at the point in your life you need good reliable transportation, you should probably trade this in on something else while it still runs.
 




CDW6212R

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If you are at the point in your life you need good reliable transportation, you should probably trade this in on something else while it still runs.

Ditto, the right used car can go a log time, but a poorly kept car will cost a fortune relatively.

My first 2nd gen was my 98 Mercury, it went for over ten years with nothing needed but a front driveshaft, a CV axle, and two hubs. I rebuilt the front suspension by choice after that, and the engine/trans(302,4R70W/AWD) have had no issues. My "new" 98 is running equally well, but I have plans to do things, upgrades and rebuild things to return them to new condition.

You can find similar vehicles, but it takes time to locate, plus the knowledge to know what needs to be done. That's when maintenance records are precious. With those you can justify spending money on older parts, and ignore recently serviced items. If you go to a service "shop" of any kind without records, they will assume everything is original, and try to convince you do replace tons of parts, which is where the big dealer estimates come from.
 




koda2000

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Whoa! I wouldn't take it to the Ford dealership to have the timing chains changed at this point. You'll end up spending $2300 on a vehicle that, even in good condition, is only worth maybe $1500-$2000 private sale and probably 1/2 that as a trade-in. I suggest you cut your losses, sell it and get whatever you can for it. Otherwise you're just throwing good money after bad. An honest dealership will even tell you this up front.

As far a not buying from a private party again, I bought all my Gen II's from private sellers and generally was very happy with each purchase. Mind you, almost all of them had some issues, but I was aware of what they were and knew I could make the necessary repairs inexpensively. I also used the issues to get the seller's asking prices down. If you want to get ripped off, buy from a used car dealership (which typically will cost you more and will not come with any warranty or repair history). Whoever you buy your next vehicle from, have it inspected by a qualified mechanic before you hand over your money. Live and learn life's lessons. You're still very young.
 




Prince_Polaris

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Whoa! I wouldn't take it to the Ford dealership to have the timing chains changed at this point. You'll end up spending $2300 on a vehicle that, even in good condition, is only worth maybe $1500-$2000 private sale and probably 1/2 that as a trade-in. I suggest you cut your losses, sell it and get whatever you can for it. Otherwise you're just throwing good money after bad. An honest dealership will even tell you this up front.

As far a not buying from a private party again, I bought all my Gen II's from private sellers and generally was very happy with each purchase. Mind you, almost all of them had some issues, but I was aware of what they were and knew I could make the necessary repairs inexpensively. I also used the issues to get the seller's asking prices down. If you want to get ripped off, buy from a used car dealership (which typically will cost you more and will not come with any warranty or repair history). Whoever you buy your next vehicle from, have it inspected by a qualified mechanic before you hand over your money. Live and learn life's lessons. You're still very young.

Yeah lol I'm learning these lessons now. What I meant by what I said was, if I took this and tried to trade it in on a different car, Maybe I could tell the people at the dealership "Hey, this thing will be in perfect condition if you fix the timing chains" and I can get a lot for it. I dunno though... How exactly do I get something inspected though, don't I actually have to have the vehicle first or am I supposed to ask the person I want to buy it from to get it inspected?
 




CDW6212R

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It's not uncommon for a buyer to ask the seller to arrange that kind of inspection. It's easier to do it if you are close together, to meet where you can have it looked over. Maybe you might find a forum member in your area or near where a vehicle might be. It doesn't have to be a trained mechanic. I'd trust a bunch of people here to inspect an Explorer, way more than most mechanics.
 




Prince_Polaris

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It's not uncommon for a buyer to ask the seller to arrange that kind of inspection. It's easier to do it if you are close together, to meet where you can have it looked over. Maybe you might find a forum member in your area or near where a vehicle might be. It doesn't have to be a trained mechanic. I'd trust a bunch of people here to inspect an Explorer, way more than most mechanics.

I doubt any of you are close to western Maryland though... and my location means that cars everywhere are ****in covered in rust, ugh.
 




1998Exp

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Yeah lol I'm learning these lessons now. What I meant by what I said was, if I took this and tried to trade it in on a different car, Maybe I could tell the people at the dealership "Hey, this thing will be in perfect condition if you fix the timing chains" and I can get a lot for it. I dunno though... How exactly do I get something inspected though, don't I actually have to have the vehicle first or am I supposed to ask the person I want to buy it from to get it inspected?
Anybody in his right mind will agree to have the vehicle that they are selling inspected by a pro (at the buyer's expense). If the sale falls through, they learned something for free about their merchandise. Of course, I wouldn't spend the money or waste the time to do that unless it seems to be a good prospect to begin with. My advice would be to study first and narrow your choices to one or two models (and years) that are promising. There is plenty of information on the internet to help you figure that out - at any price range. Spending $20 on a book about buying used cars is not a bad idea either. When you found one, don't just go there and kick the tires. Run the VIN through Carfax first. If that passes muster, use a checklist to screen for basic issues. You don't need any specific automotive knowledge to identify a badly worn engine, a transmission that doesn't shift properly, loose steering, bad brakes, inoperative a/c, or a rust bucket pretending to be a car. Taking a friend with you helps, even if they are not much more knowledgeable than you are. If that's all OK, spend the $150 or so on a pro inspection. It's all petty cash compared to what you will pay for even a modest repair. One last comment: in my opinion, if you can't do your own repairs, you cannot afford to buy anything that goes for less than $5000. Good luck!
 




CDW6212R

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When I was hunting my Explorer last year(Spring), I was after a specific model, the 98 Limited. I didn't want the fender flares of the 99-01's, and I wanted all options. So my search was kind of easy, just to make sure a truck had the 302 and AWD. I called about 10 or so trucks over three weeks, looking in the TN or just below areas. I missed on a 109k green model in NC, it snowed for four days and someone got it two days after I called. That one was $3500, but nearly perfect they said.

That's what you would want to find, a reasonable mileage(100-150k) 98-01 Explorer or Mountaineer, 302/AWD, and apparently in nice shape, everything working. Then you can talk about an inspection, and an appointment to go see it, discuss price etc. The inspection can be worked out by phone in locations far from you. The possible rust is a whole other matter. That was my rub, zero rust, I had to go see it and climb all around(under) it, to verify no corrosion. You can do that also, but it's best to find one from the South(below about Virginia etc), and then that can be part of the inspection.

The reason I suggested another Explorer is that the price range is low for these 98-01's, far below their value given the reliability. I would not give a bunch more money for a 3rd gen, or 4th gen, those are less reliable. I would pay less for those than a 2nd gen 302 truck. So who will sell me a 2008 Explorer for $2k? (I wouldn't pay that so don't offer)
 




1998Exp

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When I was hunting my Explorer last year(Spring), I was after a specific model, the 98 Limited. I didn't want the fender flares of the 99-01's, and I wanted all options. So my search was kind of easy, just to make sure a truck had the 302 and AWD. I called about 10 or so trucks over three weeks, looking in the TN or just below areas. I missed on a 109k green model in NC, it snowed for four days and someone got it two days after I called. That one was $3500, but nearly perfect they said.
That's what you would want to find, a reasonable mileage(100-150k) 98-01 Explorer or Mountaineer, 302/AWD, and apparently in nice shape, everything working. Then you can talk about an inspection, and an appointment to go see it, discuss price etc. The inspection can be worked out by phone in locations far from you. The possible rust is a whole other matter. That was my rub, zero rust, I had to go see it and climb all around(under) it, to verify no corrosion. You can do that also, but it's best to find one from the South(below about Virginia etc), and then that can be part of the inspection.
The reason I suggested another Explorer is that the price range is low for these 98-01's, far below their value given the reliability. I would not give a bunch more money for a 3rd gen, or 4th gen, those are less reliable. I would pay less for those than a 2nd gen 302 truck. So who will sell me a 2008 Explorer for $2k? (I wouldn't pay that so don't offer)
I have owned this very vehicle for the last 17 years, since it was less than two years old and still in warranty. While it's definitely been a reliable ride, it is far from perfect, especially as it gets older. Those "bullet proof" V8s will almost invariably start leaking from the timing cover at some point between 100K and 150K. Not a simple, but doable repair for a shade tree mechanic like me (and may I assume, you?), but many hundreds of $$$ if you have to pay someone. Also, the Ford 8.8 diff will develop its infamous whine at some point in that mileage range. This is a lot more ambitious for the do-it-yourself crowd, and will part you from $1000 or better if you take it to a shop. And that's assuming you find one that's been taken care of lovingly for all its 20 years of existence, no mismatched tires were installed to damage to transfer case, the engine never overheated, and so on and so on.
As much as I love my '98 Limited, I would not recommend that trim to a novice who can't work on his own vehicle. For one thing, the air suspension is probably dead and needs expensive repairs or a downgrade to conventional springs and shocks. And then there are all these extra gadgets: EATC, power seats, steering wheel controls, etc. -- all of which are likely to fail (if they haven't yet). A basic trim would be a much better deal. Still, if I were to buy one of those, I would make sure to have $2000 or so in the bank for first-year repairs. And by the way, if the OP needs this vehicle for driving in the snow, he better check that the front driveshaft is in place and make sure all four tires match perfectly.
 




chefduane

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Sound advice in re; Limited Trim. Yes, you get all the bells and whistles and happy doodads, but that means there are that many bells, whistles and doodads that can go wrong. In the Edge Limited I'm in now - whew!! I have never seen so many tech features in an automobile! Not to mention the PTU issues that may come up. It's great to have a top of the line trim level, but just understand that all those features need to be fixed when they croak and maintained to stay in operation.
 


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CDW6212R

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I have owned this very vehicle for the last 17 years, since it was less than two years old and still in warranty. While it's definitely been a reliable ride, it is far from perfect, especially as it gets older. Those "bullet proof" V8s will almost invariably start leaking from the timing cover at some point between 100K and 150K. Not a simple, but doable repair for a shade tree mechanic like me (and may I assume, you?), but many hundreds of $$$ if you have to pay someone. Also, the Ford 8.8 diff will develop its infamous whine at some point in that mileage range. This is a lot more ambitious for the do-it-yourself crowd, and will part you from $1000 or better if you take it to a shop. And that's assuming you find one that's been taken care of lovingly for all its 20 years of existence, no mismatched tires were installed to damage to transfer case, the engine never overheated, and so on and so on.
As much as I love my '98 Limited, I would not recommend that trim to a novice who can't work on his own vehicle. For one thing, the air suspension is probably dead and needs expensive repairs or a downgrade to conventional springs and shocks. And then there are all these extra gadgets: EATC, power seats, steering wheel controls, etc. -- all of which are likely to fail (if they haven't yet). A basic trim would be a much better deal. Still, if I were to buy one of those, I would make sure to have $2000 or so in the bank for first-year repairs. And by the way, if the OP needs this vehicle for driving in the snow, he better check that the front driveshaft is in place and make sure all four tires match perfectly.

Hey, it's nice to know you can damn all like vehicles based on your one vehicle experience.

I have owned a 93 Limited, 98 Mountaineer with every option the Limited has(minus the memory seat), my 99 SOHC Limited, and my newest 98 Limited. I am very familiar with the high option models, my four Lincoln Mark VII's had the same 302 HO/AOD and all options. My vehicles all would qualify as high mileage. None of them have leaked from the timing cover ever, my 98 Limited has seepage at one edge of the oil pan(not worth worrying about).

Seven of these eight vehicles have/had the EATC AC system, with no issues related to it. My Mercury has a blend door issue that I haven't felt like pulling the dash yet to fix. The air ride in all of my Lincolns have been excellent, at 20+ years they begin to need some care, not expensive repairs. The ARC of the Explorers is troublesome if not cared for(you must change the shocks once in a blue moon(nobody does)). Any air leaks will kill the compressor, but nobody bothers to do anything until the compressor dies. Then they conclude the system was poorly designed, and they rip it out.

I added the ARC system to my 99 Limited(not standard from 99-01), and I love it, it maintains the ride height with any load.

All of my many cars have had the 8.8 rear end, none have had any issues besides an axle or bearing(from high mileage). These are very very reliable rear ends, if taken care of. That means the gear oil isn't forever oil, and ignore it. It should be changed as recommended 100k or so, or more often. It costs maybe $50 in parts and oil to do the rear, that's axle bearings/seals, and the oil. Who would argue that's expensive to do at about every ten years? None of my cars have ever had any whine in the rears, none. That's an issue of lack of maintenance, for 10-20 years doing nothing and waiting for a problem to occur.

That is what kills 99% of all Fords, poor maintenance. People think proper maintenance is just driving the car until something goes wrong, and then pay hundreds of dollars for the repair(then do nothing until the next time).

Changing the oil regularly and other fluids occasionally is not proper maintenance. Every vehicle owners manual will have a maintenance schedule in it. Every owner should heed that, it's an excellent source of proper planned maintenance. It isn't perfect, I like to use much better fluids than recommended, better parts if available, cheaper if worthy, and more often as I deem needed. That's why I don't have break downs generally, I put extra effort into my vehicles. In the end I spend a little more(20% maybe) on parts overall, but far far less on labor. And I don't mean paying someone else for labor, I mean the actual time/labor spent working on the car(not the cost).

Please do not bash a car based on your limited experiences, or other's opinions. I have had dozens of coworkers with tons of vehicle problems, and all of these are personal work vehicles(mail delivery). I could endlessly bash various makes or models, but that would be inaccurate, because 90% of those problems were related to lack of proper active maintenance. They drive their cars until they have a problem, and then they work on it. They blame their car problems on the manufacturer, not on the mechanic, or themselves. Don't do that, spend more of your effort taking better care of your cars. Then there will be less trouble, and you can brag about it, while driving trouble free, more. Regards,
 




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