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Time to make a decision

Number4

"I'm counting to 3, then I'm getting your dad."
Elite Explorer
Joined
March 16, 2013
Messages
4,285
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249
City, State
Woodstock, GA
Year, Model & Trim Level
04 Ford Explorer 4.6l
I have an ‘04 XLT, 4wd, 4.6 with a 3.73.

It has 292k on it and it’s original Tran’s.
• I last did the timing at 150k and it needs it again.
• I believe it has a rear main seal leak.
• I’m getting a binding noise/sensation at low speed, after it’s been sitting. Which I believe is the rear end. If I park with the rear end down hill, it leaves a small “puddle” of what looks like cv boot grease on the ground. Both diffs are covered in oil.
• it has the diesel rattle and has for some 100k+ miles. Some say it’s the flex plate. Oil is always clean.
• the trans occasionally acts up. Not going into first or reverse. Sometimes sounds like it skips 2nd or 3rd.

I’d consider pulling the engine to do the timing and fix the rear main seal, as well put on a new oil pan gasket. But I’d hate to do that and have the trans go out, or the rear end.

I’d still drive it across the states in a heart beat. But when is it time to move on?

Since 135k (when I got it), it’s had two alternators, three water pumps, all four bearings twice, all four shocks, timing, various sensors, AC and misc. items replaced.
 



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The time to move on is when you no longer desire to work on it. I'm at the same point with my 99 Grand Cherokee. Has been great to me for over 25 years but the repair list is getting way too long and I'm not the energetic with it. If you were to get something else, what would replace it?
 






The time to move on is when you no longer desire to work on it. I'm at the same point with my 99 Grand Cherokee. Has been great to me for over 25 years but the repair list is getting way too long and I'm not the energetic with it. If you were to get something else, what would replace it?
I’m actually looking into a 78-84 Mercedes Diesel, or a modern Passat/Golf TDI. I drive a lot with my job and gas is killing me.

My wife has an ‘05 Explorer. It’s a V6 but can tow my 12’ 2x axle trailer. As well, if I ever fix my ‘85 F150, it can too.

I have an ‘08 750il, and it’s a blast to drive, but also isn’t the greatest in fuel economy. Really want something in the 40 MPG’s. Hell, at this point, I’d take a Prius. Don’t really care what it is as long as it gets good mileage.

Thing is, I have too many cars to get another and keep the ‘04.

08 750il (needs stupid $5 alt. gasket)
05 Explorer R’s & D’s
04 Explorer, in question
03 Centennial Explorer 4.6 (needs engine)
03 Mountaineer 4.6 (needs fuel pump)
94 Explorer (had since new)
85 F150 runs, but not drivable after carb r&r
79 F250 460 (gas out, project truck)
78 F150 (project truck)
 












Wow, that's a lot of cars. You have four 3rd gen explorer/mountaineer vehicles. I'd drop one and simplify life a bit.
 






I'd take that engine out, rebuild it, and drop it in your centennial. Then I'd do a swap to the engine of your choosing, taking longevity, fuel economy, etc into account as well as transmission options. Might be cool to see a 3.0 turbo diesel or something. Nice going to town rig, lol. These vehicles aren't worth much to anyone anymore but us, but we know how great they can be. I'll hang onto mine and motor swap or rebuild it however many times until I total it or it rusts to pieces I guess. I currently have 3 3rd gens, since I traded off my 4th (4.0). I'm thinking about rebuilding my engine from my NBX and dropping it into my 04 limited, then dropping a 4.6 DOHC and a 6R80 in my NBX with a rear SAS. It's time to love it or leave it.
 






Move on. I've found it easier to find the same truck cleaner and half the miles on Facebook and compare that price to what yours needs and then ask yourself if it's worth it. It's worth knowing what you got but these trucks are dime a dozen. Almost bought a clean 2001 2wd 5.0 mountaineer last week for 2k with 140k. Then I thought of the 20 other vehicles I have and I just don't need it.

Side note, my raptor is at 275k. Original water pump, alternator and still haven't pulled the valve covers off because it doesn't make a noise or leak a drop of oil. I have done valve body and rebuilt the rear axle. The 3rd gen just isn't reliable enough to run past 300k without meticulous maintenance and repairs unfortunately.
 












I'd take that engine out, rebuild it, and drop it in your centennial. Then I'd do a swap to the engine of your choosing, taking longevity, fuel economy, etc into account as well as transmission options. Might be cool to see a 3.0 turbo diesel or something. Nice going to town rig, lol. These vehicles aren't worth much to anyone anymore but us, but we know how great they can be. I'll hang onto mine and motor swap or rebuild it however many times until I total it or it rusts to pieces I guess. I currently have 3 3rd gens, since I traded off my 4th (4.0). I'm thinking about rebuilding my engine from my NBX and dropping it into my 04 limited, then dropping a 4.6 DOHC and a 6R80 in my NBX with a rear SAS. It's time to love it or leave it.
Thought it would be cool to put a 4BT Cummins into it, but try finding one of those for less than 3k.
 






Thought it would be cool to put a 4BT Cummins into it, but try finding one of those for less than 3k.
I found the ISB170 is a little easier to find cheap. I wonder if a VT365 would fit?
 






A lot of people don't know that there was a 3.0 Powerstroke, a 3.0 Duramax, and a 3.0 EcoDiesel released for half ton trucks in the US (around 2018-2022). Ford, GMC, and Dodge (RAM) respectively. You can get some good power out of them (some more than others) and some great (really great) fuel economy if you dropped one in a 3rd gen.
 






If you could get an OM606... an OM606 powered Explorer would be the most epic thing ever. There was that one guy who did the 7.3L Powerstroke 3rd gen Explorer, which he recently sold to a new owner by the way. I contacted him, interested in possibly buying it from him. I didn't buy it, obviously, but I did snag the swap details, so if a 7.3 lands in my lap, I might do that, but the 4.6 DOHC and 6R80 are looking pretty nice lately.
 






A lot of people don't know that there was a 3.0 Powerstroke, a 3.0 Duramax, and a 3.0 EcoDiesel released for half ton trucks in the US (around 2018-2022). Ford, GMC, and Dodge (RAM) respectively. You can get some good power out of them (some more than others) and some great (really great) fuel economy if you dropped one in a 3rd gen.
There's finally support for the later 3.0 VW diesel. A tune gets you 300 hp and 500+ twist
 






There's finally support for the later 3.0 VW diesel. A tune gets you 300 hp and 500+ twist
Lol, look up the OM606.
 






Lol, look up the OM606.
Great motor if you have the engine bay for it. It would fit a 3rd gen, the VW 3.0 would fit almost anything
 






Sounds like you have to decide if you want to continue working and spending money on it. I thought about making mine a project vehicle (it kind of already is, just trying to keep it running for my son to drive) but my impression is that they just aren't robust enough to bother. I'd rather get a volvo 240 with that legendary 4 banger or maybe an old toyota with a 22r.
 






I have an ‘04 XLT, 4wd, 4.6 with a 3.73.

It has 292k on it and it’s original Tran’s.
• I last did the timing at 150k and it needs it again.
• I believe it has a rear main seal leak.
• I’m getting a binding noise/sensation at low speed, after it’s been sitting. Which I believe is the rear end. If I park with the rear end down hill, it leaves a small “puddle” of what looks like cv boot grease on the ground. Both diffs are covered in oil.
• it has the diesel rattle and has for some 100k+ miles. Some say it’s the flex plate. Oil is always clean.
• the trans occasionally acts up. Not going into first or reverse. Sometimes sounds like it skips 2nd or 3rd.

I’d consider pulling the engine to do the timing and fix the rear main seal, as well put on a new oil pan gasket. But I’d hate to do that and have the trans go out, or the rear end.

I’d still drive it across the states in a heart beat. But when is it time to move on?

Since 135k (when I got it), it’s had two alternators, three water pumps, all four bearings twice, all four shocks, timing, various sensors, AC and misc. items replaced.
The only way I would keep it is if I would be doing all the labor and just buying parts. I don't know the history of your transmission, but it sounds like it is on its way out considering it is a 5R55. Another consideration for me would be if it has rust issues as this is something that can't be fixed, IMO. Since you live in GA, this might not be a concern. Also, at nearly 300k miles, there will likely be more issues that need addressed that you aren't currently aware of. Additionally, it seems to me that you have done multiple repairs of the same parts over the last 160k miles and this seems out of the ordinary. Even for the miles it has on it. For me, it would be an easy decision to move on.

If you move on, I highly recommend getting a V8 4th gen if you are wanting another Explorer or Mountaineer. They are far better than a 3rd gen for reliability of the drive train and creature comforts.
 






The only way I would keep it is if I would be doing all the labor and just buying parts. I don't know the history of your transmission, but it sounds like it is on its way out considering it is a 5R55. Another consideration for me would be if it has rust issues as this is something that can't be fixed, IMO. Since you live in GA, this might not be a concern. Also, at nearly 300k miles, there will likely be more issues that need addressed that you aren't currently aware of. Additionally, it seems to me that you have done multiple repairs of the same parts over the last 160k miles and this seems out of the ordinary. Even for the miles it has on it. For me, it would be an easy decision to move on.

If you move on, I highly recommend getting a V8 4th gen if you are wanting another Explorer or Mountaineer. They are far better than a 3rd gen for reliability of the drive train and creature comforts.
Did those v8 4th gens have the 6 speed trans? And was that transmission more reliable than the 5r55?
 






Did those v8 4th gens have the 6 speed trans? And was that transmission more reliable than the 5r55?
Yes. It is the 6R60 for 2006-2008 models and the 6R80 for 2009-2010 models. They are basisically the same except the 6R80 has a slightly greater torque rating. These two transmissions were used in full size Ford trucks for many years (the 6R80 after 2008) and are one of the most reliable ever found in a Ford vehicle. They are miles more reliable than the 5R55 transmissions.Typically, all they need to last hundreds on thousands of miles is a pan drop fluid and filter change every 60k miles. Don't flush these transmissions. It would be wise to change the bulkhead sleeve at 120k mile intervals during a service as these tend to leak at some point. They cost $20 and takes just a few minutes to swap it when the pan is removed.

The 4.6L 3V engines in the 2006-2010 models are very reliable when maintained. I do 5k mile oil change intervals with full synthetic and at 150k miles mine, and the transmission, runs like a top. The combination of this engine and the 6R60/80 transmissions make for a very reliable drive train. I get way better mpg from my 2010 than I did from the two 3rd gen V8 models I owned. This is even with the 4th gen making 50 more horsepower than the 3rd gen V8s. I could never get more than 17 mpg on the highway with my 3rd gens. I get anywhere from 18-22 mpg with the 2010 depending on terrain and speed. I got an average of 19 mpg on a recent round trip from Virginia to Indiana going though the Appalachian Mountains while traveling 70-75 mph. If possible, I suggest buying a 2009 or 2010 model since these have the 6R80 transmissions, updated engine cylinder heads and updated intake manifold.
 



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