Car Review: 1991 Ford Explorer
July 25, 2010, 01:43 PM
Parents bought the car when I graduated 6th grade and gave it to me end of college. Had 94,000 at that time (brand new when they got it), and now has 224,000. Still going strong all around almost 20 years later!
Changed the transmission for the first time at 166,000 miles. Was having a hard time getting from 1st to 2nd. Clutch plates all worn out. Got a rebuilt from Ford, and they damaged the replacement by not securing the vaccuum line, so I got a third one week later. No problems since.
Does not under most scenarios like to rev, shifts earlier then 4,000 even under moderate to heavy load, which is okay since the girl doesn't make much power at the top end anymore. Awesome torque off the line to 3,000, so is very drivable even with a load through anything.
Very comfortable to drive, even cross country for hours and hours at a time. TONS of space throughout, front and back. They don't make cars this spacious anymore, the newer ones even with similar wheelbases push the engine further back and the dashboard with it, infringing on interior space in all sorts of ways.
I put a Flowmaster 40 series two chamber exhaust and racing cats with 2.5" stainless steel pipe. Saw much more power, easier to get up hills, and my mileage every tank is 17.5 or higher with lots of city. Cross country avg with the air on was 21, which for an oldie pushrod is I think impressive, kept the avg at 72. Any more and kiss your mileage goodbye. It's not built for speed, both in the gearing and the aerodynamics.
Original engine, had the timing chain replaced around 160,000. Flywheel done at same time due to damage from multiple bad starters. Noisy power steering pump plagues all Fords from this era. Makes a mess under the hood - fluid leaks through the cap if you turn the wheels while the engine's not running for instance.
Somehow since the beginning there's been a leak in the reserve radiator fluid tank, but I can't find any fluid in the driveway or in the bay. Put fluid in, it's gone within a month. Leave it alone and the radiator's still full, so nothing wrong there or with those hoses...
Original R-12 A/C was never impressive, replaced with an all new R-134 setup in 2000, works like a champ now. Just recently had to have my rear wheel cylinders (brake fluid regulator for the shoes) replaced for possibly the first time.
Ride is never supple, it's a truck, but it is smooth enough to not be punishing. New shocks never seem to last, but the wheels don't hop at speed, and control is surprisingly good when pushing the car hard on asphault. Body lean is noticeable, but predictable. Springs are tough as nails and still don't bottom out when pushed off-road.
Electrical in the car's been solid, no sensor failures I can recall. I have platinum +4 Bosch spark plugs and 8mm wire in there, which seemed to make a minor difference in idling and they generally last longer.
Replaced all fuel injectors and saw no difference in performance, changed at 120,000 miles, was an expensive decision.
Leather inside of course cracks and needs replacing in multiple areas, has not been cared for as it should be. What pieces I've replaced so far have held up well. Driver window regulator and rear window regulator both failed within a couple years of each other. Expensive to fix. Multiple door lock and window switch contacts rusted out, simple to fix. Wiper fob internal contacts also corroded and was replaced. Intermittent setting wasn't working reliably. Rear wiper motor now gets stuck when first used if it's been a while since last tried.
Motor for years has also had lifter noise when cold or extremely hot and under a load. Am told not to worry and the power's still there. I just baby it any time I can during these times. I change the oil every 3,000 miles with non synthetic 10w40. Used 20w50 for a few years while replacing every worn gasket under the sun (CA eats those things up). Rear main twice, intake manifold, oil pan, both valve covers, and something else.
Brakes don't last long in the front if you tow, rear is only drum, so the fronts get the short end of the stick and they have a lot of steel to stop. Rear diff supposedly only needs fluid changed every 100,000 miles, I do it more frequently, no real rhyme or reason.
Interior has on the whole held up well, some pieces are rattling now naturally and the panels in some cases are missing small trim pieces which aren't deal breakers. Not ever enough time for me to get to the junkyard looking for replacement pieces. Steering wheel last year had the button for Cruise ON fall out, I have to use a small screwdriver now to push the recessed contact.
It's never left us stranded anywhere, has been everywhere, sounds great, can take any load (huge cargo capacity and all the right dimensions), and is easy to work on. I love it very much, and hope to hold onto it as long as it still keeps running!