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Should I rebuild the timing???

Mitchs07explorer

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I’m not sure what to do with my Explorer because of the timing chain rattle at startup. It’s an 07 4.0 advance trac, I just passed 160,000 miles and the start up rattle is progressively getting worse. It takes longer to go away especially on a cold day. The rest of the engine seems to be in good shape, it still runs strong and smooth and it doesn’t leak a thing. Also the transmission only has about 37,000 miles on it so tgg he st makes the vehicle worth keeping especially considering the current automobile market. So I’m considering pulling the engine and replacing the timing components. But at the end of the day that engine still has a lot of miles on it even though the weak link will have been fixed. There’s a complete timing set front and rear made by melling on Rockauto.com going for $618. Plus new water pump, oil pump, gaskets, fluids, needed tools etc… I’m guessing I’ll be spending around $1300-$1500 to rebuild my own timing. I could prob recoup some of that cost be selling the engine hoist after I’m done with it or just renting one at the start.

On the other hand I can order an engine from Fraserengineco.com and have it delivered to my house as well as take my old engine away for around $2500. About the only thing I’d need that I don’t have would be the engine hoist. Still gonna need a water pump plus fluids. So prob around $3000-$3100 for a reman engine and needed tools.

I’ve never pulled or installed an engine before but I’m not afraid too and there’s plenty of help on YouTube. I would just like to hear some different opinion on what you would do if it was your vehicle.
 



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Rick

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You can usually rent engine hoists from local rental companies. 160k isn't too bad at all. They can last to 250k+ when maintained well. If it were mine I would have the cylinder heads rebuilt at the same time. New seals, and a valve job.

A rebuilt engine isn't a bad way to go as long as the rebuilder is reputable.
 






D Hook

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With the current state if of pricing on new/used vehicles, I'd rebuild. Maybe try to make some local connections that might be able to help or at least offer guidance on the pull/rebuild/reinstall.

Either way you go, diy or buy a reman'd engine, it's better than a car payment for years, IMHO. (I really hate car payments but I know we can't avoid them sometimes.)
 






Mitchs07explorer

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Thanks for your input @Rick and @D Hook that’s what I needed to hear. I’m hoping to do this sometime in the spring when it warms up as long as the engine lasts. I’m hoping to accomplish this over a couple of weekends. I have a lift kit and new suspension waiting in my garage as well so maybe I can tackle it all and just be done with it finally :afro:
 






Mitchs07explorer

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Okay! New plan of attack! I can’t determine if my head gasket is blown, block is cracked or not. I’m losing just enough coolant when I drive it a distance that I decided not to rebuild the current engine. I ended up finding a used engine with 71k on it that should be arriving this week. Since I didn’t have to spend the money on a new engine I decided to add to upgrades that will encourage me to keep the rig longer. I purchased an electric fan to replace the old mechanical fan clutch system. I was able to pick up a good quality fan and Davies wiring harness that will allow me to adjust what temps the fan kicks on and off. Second upgrade which has been sitting in my garage since last year is a set of stainless exhaust headers that are a bit more open than the stock ones. And third, I just bought an underdrive pulley from ASP. They ran a 4.0 mustang on a dyno with this pulley and it yielded 16hp with 12 ft lbs of torque! Hopefully those numbers will correlate to the explorer. I figure between those three upgrades I should see significant power gains as well as improved gas mileage. I’m looking at installing the new components and used engine on the 19th of this month, hopefully all goes well. I also have a lift kit and suspension components to install but not sure if I’ll be able to tackle that too. In the end I’m hoping to have a bad ass v6 explorer that will be more capable. I have the 3:73 gears which allow me to pull as much weight as the V8… but let me tell ya, it don’t pull like the V8 lol. Anyway I’ll keep this thread updated as I get the project going!
 






EXFAN

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Late to this thread but have a few comments.

The mileage on your used engine is low for its age. Do you know FOR SURE the used engine has 71k miles? I've purchased more than one that had a lot more mile than represented by the junkyard. Checking the mileage of the vehicle before the engine is pulled is one way to confirm or get the VIN of the vehicle it came out of and run a CARFAX report.

My second comment may be overkill for some but I don't like to pull engines twice due to being optimistic.
The oil change intervals this used engine had is an unknown. With oil changes being critical to timing chain longevity on the 4.0 V6, I would inspect the chains on the used engine before installing. Or at the least, drop the lower oil pan and check for any bits of chain tensioner guides. You may discover your "NUSED" engine may need some work before installing.
 






Mitchs07explorer

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Late to this thread but have a few comments.

The mileage on your used engine is low for its age. Do you know FOR SURE the used engine has 71k miles? I've purchased more than one that had a lot more mile than represented by the junkyard. Checking the mileage of the vehicle before the engine is pulled is one way to confirm or get the VIN of the vehicle it came out of and run a CARFAX report.

My second comment may be overkill for some but I don't like to pull engines twice due to being optimistic.
The oil change intervals this used engine had is an unknown. With oil changes being critical to timing chain longevity on the 4.0 V6, I would inspect the chains on the used engine before installing. Or at the least, drop the lower oil pan and check for any bits of chain tensioner guides. You may discover your "NUSED" engine may need some work before installing.


It was definitely a too good to be true price for that engine with only that many miles on it. I took the last 4 days off thinking it would be plenty of time to get this project done…. Let me tell ya about being optimistic… I shouldn’t have been. My friend came over and we started pulling the old components off of the nused engine. Looks to be from a Gen 3 explorer. We got it on the engine stand and at first appearance it looked promising, they also power washed and painted the block to give it a clean, newish look. We got it on the engine stand and pulled that valve covers and at first glance everything looked okay. Then we noticed the rear cassette was newer looking than the front. Everything was in place and as we started to take a closer look and prod at a few things that’s when it became apparent. I was above to pull a piece of the tip cassette out right away and the plastic was broken in several areas. The rear initially looked to be good and I took a closer look I could see it was broken and crumbling too. When I looked at the rear upper cassette bolt I could see the edge of the sleeve it sits in and part of the head of the bolt had been worn down, so the rear was definitely replaced, the plastic part covering the bolt was intact.

My friends brother is a ford tech and we had been asking him questions. He said at the very least change the guides and tensioners. It was almost as expensive to piece together the guides and tensioners versus buy the cloyes kit so I just bought the kit. I actually bought the kit with the intention of changing out the timing components before I even looked anyway I was just pissed the engine was not ready to go like they promised. But @EXFAN you bring up a good point about the mileage, sure I have documents that say it has 71k mi on it but I don’t have any information about the vehicle it came out of to actually prove that. I’m pretty much done adding the new components and retiming the engine. I was just waiting on my new jackshaft bolts before properly torquing everything down. The process wasn’t actually that bad. But now I’m thinking about just tearing down the engine I know and taking a little extra time and building that one up. It still has good power and runs well other than the obvious sound of tensioners falling apart. Hopefully I can get some money back on the engine I just bought. Not sure how all that’s gonna work. Anyway I’ve learned a lot about these engines and timing them so I’d be a lot more comfortable performing these repairs with the other engine in my EX right now. I think I will pull the heads and have them checked and valve work etc. I’ll still end up money ahead instead of having a shop drop a new engine. Plus I’m learning a lot.
 






94Eddie

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How long have you owned this Explorer? How many of the 160k miles on it have been put there by you?
 






Mitchs07explorer

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How long have you owned this Explorer? How many of the 160k miles on it have been put there by you?
I’ve owned the explorer since 2013 and I bought it with 72k on it.
 






94Eddie

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I’ve owned the explorer since 2013 and I bought it with 72k on it.
I think this might be a reason to do a partial rebuild the original engine. If you have maintained it well and have had it since 72k miles then it is likely good for quite a few more. Especially if it has no sludge buildup in it.
 






Mitchs07explorer

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I think this might be a reason to do a partial rebuild the original engine. If you have maintained it well and have had it since 72k miles then it is likely good for quite a few more. Especially if it has no sludge buildup in it.
Part of the reason I initially bought the used engine was because I was worried about my head gasket or there being an issue with the block and I didn’t want to tear the engine down that far. I think I just had a bad rad cap that was allowing some coolant to steam out but not be obvious, there’s no exhaust in the coolant from what I can see, I even bought a combustion detector but it didn’t detect any fumes in the coolant. Even if I use the engine I just bought I want to take the heads off. So that being said, I’m going to use the engine that’s actually in my EX now and switch the new timing components over. I’ve got a machine shop pretty close to my house, hopefully they’re not booked out to far so they check and resurface the heads of need be.
 






Mitchs07explorer

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It should be a fairly clean engine as I was always on time if not early on my oil changes. Plus I’ve been using full synthetic, should be pretty clean inside the engine. The used engine I bought didn’t have any sludge buildup but it was tarnished to hell. To be fair I don’t know how tarnished an engine should look on the inside for it’s age and mileage. The video I’ve been using to fix the engine was posted by fordmakuloco and the inside of the engine he was working on looked way cleaner, not sure on the miles on the one he was fixing though.
 






94Eddie

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I have noticed that a lot of times the head with the PVC valve is more tarnished than the other head. Maybe pulling the crankcase fumes from there stains the head over time?
 






Mitchs07explorer

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Both sides look the same, probably hard to gauge. My 01 BMW 540 looks about as tarnished on the inside. The oil filler cap sits just over the timing chain on the left so you can see the chains and some of the sprockets and it looks about the same amount of tarnish. The 540 just has 120k on it. I’ve only had it for about 6 months though and don’t know the interval of oil changes on it. I’ll pull the valve covers on my EX and it’ll prob look the same.
 






Mitchs07explorer

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This project had to take a back burner but going pull the engine this week and get it done. I decided I’m taking the heads off and going to have them checked. I originally wasn’t going to do that but I can’t stand the thought of going through all that work and not going the extra step to replace those. Also going to install a mellings high volume oil pump. I might be to optimistic about this but I’m going I can get this done over the course of about 2 weeks. I’m probably only going to have a couple hours each night to work on this. I’m glad I have the extra 4.0 engine in case I need an extra bolt or something of that nature. I’m still so pissed I spent the money I did on that used motor but perhaps I’ll still get some use out of it.
 






Mitchs07explorer

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Finally back on this project, engine is now ready to be pulled, I just need to remove the torque converter bolts and I can start to unbolt the bell housing. Then hopefully up and out! Found a lot of exposed wiring at the connectors throughout the wiring harness. Gonna go over it very carefully and repair/patch whatever I find. Some of the weird codes that have popped up in the past make sense now and why there was no real consistency when the cel would pop on. Weird Slipping when shifting too, it all makes sense now seeing all that exposed wire.

I’m sure I’ll see a big difference in economy and performance between the timing and repairing the harness. I only have a couple of hours each day to work on this so it’s been slow going but I’m getting there.
 






Mitchs07explorer

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Finally ready to pull the engine, I got the torque converter nuts off and unbolted 5 of the 7 bell housing bolts leaving the two at the very bottom for ease. Hoping tonight when the kiddos go down I’ll have the engine out and then I can begin the tear down process on the engine. Once I take the heads to the machine shop I’m going to focus on fixing the exposed wiring through the wiring harness. I’m glad I have so much access to it now so I can really have a good look.
 






Mitchs07explorer

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2F96FF40-D019-4532-A680-570B1E9CD43C.jpeg
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Finally go to this point this weekend, hopingbto spend a few nights this week tearing it down and getting the heads to the Machine shop. Can’t wait to have it done…
 






Mitchs07explorer

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Finally got back around to this project, I’ve got the heads taken off and they’re at the machine shop. I’m hoping to get them back later this week or early next week. The head gasket on the passenger side head was blown, it was leaking to the outside of the engine. It must’ve only leaked when the engine got hot and up to full temp because there was never any coolant on the ground. That rear side of the engine was pretty clean as it had been steam cleaning itself. I thought when I pulled that head the leak would’ve been obvious but it wasn’t. So I probably warped the head summer of 21’ I’m guessing. Looking forward to getting it all back together and having my Explorer for the winter.
 



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Mitchs07explorer

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Got the heads back today, they’re resurfaced and still in good shape, valves and everything else all good too. Hoping to get the block cleaned up this weekend so I can get it put back together. The timing kit I bought is a Cloyes, at some point I was led to understand that’s one of the better kits to buy for this timing job. Before I started any of this and I started to hear that startup rattle I purchased a set of Cloyes external tensioners to replace my originals. It was clear the rear cassette tensioner was bad. It wasn’t that it was to easy easy to push down, it was actually frozen and wouldn’t move at all but it was stuck in a mostly out position. I installed the new tensioners and never noticed any real difference so I figured the guides were going bad. When I pulled the guides and internal tensioners out a couple of weeks ago I really didn’t see any evident damage. When I tapped the front cassette out with the engine upside down the plastic shattered when it hit the garage floor. But while it was in place it looked fine, it’s the only part I really questioned to be broken.

I’ve heard aftermarket external tensioners can be questionable but I couldn’t find any motorcraft brand tensioners. So now I’m wondering if the guides were truly fine all along but my new Cloyes tensioners weren’t retaining enough oil when I first started the engine for the day. Either way the engine had to come out because the passenger side head gasket was blown and I would’ve done everything I’m doing now anyway. But I’m wondering if I should really push to find motorcraft tensioners because I don’t want to hear that rattle on a fresh timing rebuild after all this work.
 






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