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The future for my 2002 Explorer Sport

Todd82TA

Well-Known Member
Joined
June 21, 2009
Messages
173
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City, State
South Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Explorer Sport 4x2
Hey guys, not sure really where to go with this post, but I've owned my 2002 Ford Explorer Sport since 2008, and I've been thinking long and hard about buying something else or keeping the car. My car has 118k miles on it, and it's the most mileage I've ever had on a car that is my daily driver. I went to the junkyard this morning to buy some replacement door hinges, and noticed that every single Ford Explorer from my generation 95-01 and the sports, all had minimum 200k miles on them.

My Explorer runs AMAZING... there isn't a squeak or rattle in my car. It's more quiet than my 2002 Ford Crown Victoria LX that has 40k miles on it that sits in the garage all the time. I also can't get over the fact how useful this car is. I can put dozens of bags of mulch in the back, a water heater, I've brought home two huge custom louvered doors (28" and a 32") from Home Depot... I can put long baseboard and door casing out the back glass and through the front passenger window... fence boards, I can fit anything I want on it... and it still looks good, and is super-reliable.

My wife's 2008 Jeep Patriot which has half the miles on it, is totally falling apart, and I'm at the point where I'm probably just going to get her a new car and get rid of the Patriot.


So this brings me to my real question... I love how the car drives, and I don't really want to change that, but I'd like to rebuild the suspension while I have some time, but want to use better / quality components if I can. I've had issues in the past where I'm constantly blowing out the anti-sway bar end-links. I don't off-road, and 90% of my driving is highway, but I would like to replace everything I can with more rugged equipment if I can. Not talking about shocks, but specifically control arms, etc. If I'm going to remove them to rebuild them... then might as well replace them with something better. I don't want a lift, I want to maintain stock ride height, just trying to get a feel for what's out there that I can replace my OEM suspension with. I've also never worked on a car before that had torsion bars... any special tools I need to remove those?

The rear seems easy enough, I have air shocks on there to fix the ride height, but I'll probably just swap out the leaf springs for better ones.


On a side note, I can't express enough how awesome this car has been. I've had 30+ cars since the mid-90s when I first got my license. I've had Porsches, lots of Pontiacs and other GM vehicles, Volvos, etc... and honestly... I think this Explorer Sport is my favorite... which is odd, because I've always been a sports-car kind of person.


Sorry for rambling. But this is my first post on here in like years...
 



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118k miles? Just a baby and getting broke in at 100k.
Take care of the regular maintenance, and it will take you past the 200k mark easy.
Curious which motor you have, what issues you might look for.
Is it the v8 or 6?
 






118k miles? Just a baby and getting broke in at 100k.
Take care of the regular maintenance, and it will take you past the 200k mark easy.
Curious which motor you have, what issues you might look for.
Is it the v8 or 6?


I have the SOHC 4.0. I've never changed the spark plugs (thinking of doing it today), but swapped out the tensioner and idler pulley, even though I don't think it really needed it. Also swapped out the accessory belt. I change the oil regularly, usually use synthetic. Alternator and compressor are both original... the air conditioning is ICE cold... better than in my Crown Victoria, which has awesome air. I run seafoam through the tank every 30k miles or so.

I DID have to replace the transmission... which is a pretty major thing, unfortunately. But other than swapping out batteries, I've never had anything else actually fail, all the sensors are original. Shoot, even the front brakes are original, I've only swapped out the rears. I've got new rotors and pads sitting in the garage, just need to take the time to swap them out.

The transmission I did have, I think I overloaded it. I was moving ahead of schedule for work (before the family and semi-truck came ahead) and I think I overloaded it. It broke down 1 mile from my new house... but really, it was just the overdrive. I had a remanufactured transmission put in (didn't have my tools or anything with me, so paid a Ford dealership to do it, ugh...) and it's been great for the past 60k+ miles on it.

I've changed the transmission fluid once since them, I think I put in Royal purple.

I've changed the coolant a couple of times, fuel filter, etc.

When I change out the rotors in the front, I'll bleed the brake lines too.


I also don't have the timing chain death rattle. The car runs so smooth and so quiet, it's very unlike an SUV that's built off a truck platform.
 






I've had issues in the past where I'm constantly blowing out the anti-sway bar end-links.
Don't know if you're referring to OEM or aftermarket. OEM are failure prone with rock hard neoprene bushings and small hardware. Aftermarket such as Moog K7275 uses great hardware, but thermoplastic rubber bushings that consistently blow out, even when torqued properly. Here's the custom end link upgrade I did over five years ago that are still rock solid with no signs of failing. If you don't want to go through with shaving the bushing nipples, look into the new design Moog K700542 with more robust polyurethane bushings. Brand preferences vary widely on the forum, I'm personally a fan of Moog's very popular "Problem Solver" upper tier parts, especially at the prices Amazon or Rock Auto sell them for.

Sway Bar Links (See post #10 )
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=325617

Non-Socket Style Sway Bar Kit
http://www.moogproblemsolver.com/_pdf_en1/MOOG_PS_Bulletin_213006_Sway_Bar_Link_Eng.pdf

IFS Heavy Duty Upgrades!
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=297369
 






Don't know if you're referring to OEM or aftermarket. OEM are failure prone with rock hard neoprene bushings and small hardware. Aftermarket such as Moog K7275 uses great hardware, but thermoplastic rubber bushings that consistently blow out, even when torqued properly. Here's the custom end link upgrade I did over five years ago that are still rock solid with no signs of failing. If you don't want to go through with shaving the bushing nipples, look into the new design Moog K700542 with more robust polyurethane bushings. Brand preferences vary widely on the forum, I'm personally a fan of Moog's very popular "Problem Solver" upper tier parts, especially at the prices Amazon or Rock Auto sell them for.

Sway Bar Links (See post #10 )
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=325617

Non-Socket Style Sway Bar Kit
http://www.moogproblemsolver.com/_pdf_en1/MOOG_PS_Bulletin_213006_Sway_Bar_Link_Eng.pdf

IFS Heavy Duty Upgrades!
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=297369



Hey, I'm sorry I didn't respond to this. I really do appreciate the information you provided. I started drilling down in those other posts and got some great information, I really appreciate it.
 






Wanted to make a few other random comments... since I don't know where I'm going with this post... haha.

Anyway, I went to the junkyard again today, and there was another Sport similar to mine, in the same color (but in bad shape). This one was a 2001, and like the 2001 I saw in the yard a few weeks before (also the same color), the door hinges were perfect. The door hinges on my Explorer are totally shot. The bushings have squeezed out, and the drivers door was becoming a huge pain to shut. I changed out the door hinge on my drivers side door a couple of weeks ago, and the door shuts like it's brand new. I used the USED ones from an Explorer that had over 250+ thousand miles on it!!? I went back a few days later, and the car was gone. :( Crushed. Thankfully, there was another there here today, and just like the other one... the door hinges were perfect.

So here's what I don't get. I have a 2002... the hinges are shot, but all the 2001 and older Explorers I see have perfect door hinges. They appear to be an ever so slightly different design. Is it just my car, or are the 2002+ hinges just not as good?


I also ordered from Rock Auto, a set of new leaf springs.
 






2001-03 Sports have identical hinge part numbers. Earlier TWO door and all FOUR
door models are different. Compare complete Ford part numbers. Also make sure
your door strikers are aligned correctly and the plastic bushings are intact.

http://parts.autonationfordwhitebearlake.com/
 






2001-03 Sports have identical hinge part numbers. Earlier TWO door and all FOUR
door models are different. Compare complete Ford part numbers. Also make sure
your door strikers are aligned correctly and the plastic bushings are intact.

http://parts.autonationfordwhitebearlake.com/


So, I took a picture of the old hinges, and the new hinges.

The one on the left is my original, from a 2002 Ford Explorer Sport. This is the newer design. All 2002 Fords for that matter (rangers, Crown Victorias) had a design similar to this. This one (the one on the left) has 120k miles on it.

The one on the right is the one from a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport. It had 170k miles on it, and has almost no wear. All the other Ford Explorers (older ones) also had the same design.


hinges.jpg


The most obvious difference are the rollers... but the bushings also appear to be a little bit different.

I've now swapped out both hinges, and the doors shut perfectly, no drooping.


EDIT: Just wanted to mention that these are the lower hinges. The upper hinges are totally identical, but the lower hinges definitely appear to be a little different.
 












Replaced my leaf springs...

I replaced my leaf springs this weekend. I don't know what was on there stock, but I know the back-end was starting to sag a little bit. I rectified this several years ago with a set of heavy duty air-shocks. They actually worked really well and I was pretty happy for a while. I decided I wanted to actually replace the springs, so I ordered a set from Rock Auto. They were a pair made in Canada, don't even remember the make. They were rated at 1250lb each though... so I figured that had to be at LEAST as good as stock, especially since the others there were rated at 1125.

Anyway, WOW... what a difference. The back-end is so much more firm / solid around corners, and it just feels much better driving around too. So glad I did this. I kept the air shocks since they still work pretty well.

Next I have to take care of the front suspension.

There is not a SPEC of rust... not even surface rust under the car... totally amazed.
 






Ball Joints and Control Arms

Ok, so... now that my rear suspension is sorted (and feeling awesome), I've noticed a little noise in the front left of the suspension. My first guess, without even looking, was that one of my ball joints is banging around in the socket.

I removed the front left wheel and saw this:

exp2.jpg



So, not thrilled, but I suspect this is my problem.

By the way, I noticed that the upper control arm on the drivers side, is totally different than the upper control arm on the passenger side. Is this normal? I've never seen anything like this. The one on the passenger side is adjustable while the one on the drivers side is fixed. Anyone know if it's supposed to be like this?


One last question... just some guesses. Anyone know where this leak might be coming from? The car runs awesome... I don't see any oil on the top, so I wonder if maybe it's a rear-main seal?


exp3.jpg



As always, thanks guys, I really appreciate it.


EDIT: Also found this great video!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9O_cOB2MTI
 






Ok, so this is what I bought from Rock Auto:

I took your guys advice and ordered the "Professional" series rather than just the cheap replacement stuff. Only thing I could find that was what I was willing to spend was the AC Delco stuff, which someone had said was the same as the NPH or whatever it was.

ACDELCO 45D2384 Ball Joint $ 34.79 $ 0.00 2 $ 69.58
ACDELCO 45D1021 Control Arm $ 65.89 $ 0.00 1 $ 65.89
ACDELCO 45D1022 Control Arm $ 65.89 $ 0.00 1 $ 65.89
KYB 341302 Shock Absorber $ 26.79 $ 0.00 2 $ 53.58

Should be pretty decent. Guess I'm going to have to take my Crown Victoria out of the garage and drive that for the next few days... it just sits in the garage. 2002, 50k miles on it... haha, I drive it once every couple of months.


Anyway, question about the suspension. I got the one-piece for the passenger side, since for the life of me, I couldn't find anything that allowed me to replace the inner part of the passenger side. Is it BAD that I won't be adjustable? I can always return that part... and order the outer part... but where is the inner upper control arm for the passenger side?


Thanks!
 






Anyway, question about the suspension. I got the one-piece for the passenger side, since for the life of me, I couldn't find anything that allowed me to replace the inner part of the passenger side. Is it BAD that I won't be adjustable? I can always return that part... and order the outer part... but where is the inner upper control arm for the passenger side?
Upper control arm.... 1pc or 2? (Post #2)
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=273558
The 2 piece is the factory OEM design. You can replace just the outer "half", as this piece has the ball joint in it. The only alignment adjustment that could be affected by this is your caster, as the purpose of the 2 piece design was to allow easy caster adjustment of the passngr side, which in turn allows for adjustment of caster split.

If you are very careful in measuring the postion/number of thread turns on your old bolt, you could probably change the outer piece without needing an alignment.

On the other hand, switching to the aftermarket one-piece design will require removing your entire right upper control arm. In this case, you will need an alignment immediately after installing the part. You would also lose some of the adjustablilty that the front end had from the factory. It may or may not prevent the alignment shop from getting it "perfect". However, what you gain is new control mount bushings, and most of the aftermarket 1-piece control arms have replaceable ball joints, so that in the future you can just replace the ball joint.
^ MANY more threads searching searching "one piece vs two piece".

Ford Truck Upper Control Arm Replacement
http://www.moogproblemsolver.com/_pdf_en2/DYK10_106_En.pdf
 






Upper control arm.... 1pc or 2? (Post #2)

^ MANY more threads searching searching "one piece vs two piece".

Ford Truck Upper Control Arm Replacement
http://www.moogproblemsolver.com/_pdf_en2/DYK10_106_En.pdf



Thanks! I guess I'm ok then with the single piece.

So, am I looking to do the concentric adjustment pieces? There are a bunch of these cars in the junkyard (all with over 200k miles, hah). I could just yank the concentric washers and bolts off of the drivers side and match it to the passenger side if the passenger side doesn't have that. Would that be acceptable?
 












I'm super excited... these came in the mail today:


02_ExpSuspFrnt_1_sm.JPG


02_ExpSuspFrnt_2_sm.JPG



KYB Shocks... AC Delco "Professional" control arms, and AC Delco "Professional" ball joints for the lowers. The only thing I'm weary about is that the lower ball joints I ordered look different. They appear to be similar in casting, but the ball and bolt portion of them are different (as you can see in the picture). I wonder which one is the more durable one? They clearly look different... so I'm wondering if I should just order another one?

Also, got my ball joint separating tool kit. I got both of these "kits" together for $100 shipped, from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A67X888
 






Looks like the ball joints are the "same" but different manufacturing dates. :/... I can't imagine it would make too much of a difference, but kind of frustrating. I've had this problem before when I ordered tie-rod ends for my Fiero from Rock Auto back in the day. I wish they checked to make sure the parts were really a matching pair, rather than just matching box number.
 














Wow, that is totally weird... they literally are the same parts too.

Yeah, basically, when I received the parts, the control arm was wrapped in a big plastic sealed bag, with that sticker on it. I cut the sticker out and taped it to the control arm just so I don't get them mixed up. But that bag (with that sticker) was then stuffed into an AC DELCO box.

Typical...
 



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Wow... that was a pain in the ass. I just did the drivers side. No more clunk. I drove it around after I got everything put back together.

Now on to the passenger side. Hopefully there are fewer "things" in the way. Getting to those little 8mm bolts to get the fuel lines loose enough to get out of the way was a huge pain in the butt.
 






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