1997 Ford Explorer 4x4 4.0 liter from North America


Refuses to die, even with very poor maintenance


This is a review of my cousin's Ford Explorer. He bought it for $600 about 8 years ago. It's never once left him stranded and always starts and gets you where you need to go, so he refuses to let go of it.

Over the past 8 years it's only needed a new battery once. He lost his license for a year, the truck was sitting, started right up with a new (used) battery.

Brake pads were changed a few years ago too.

Oil changes are done sometimes, but probably not often enough.

Still driven daily. I borrow it sometimes when he needs my pickup truck, so I'm quite familiar with this Explorer.

Current issues:

Leaks oil and coolant. Both require top ups every few weeks.

Driver's window stuck in up position. Cousin too cheap to fix it.

Makes loud vacuum type noise when driving. Annoying.

Stereo stopped working, but was fixed with a new fuse.

Tires are pretty shot.

ABS brakes problematic.

Windshield cracked.

General Comments:

My cousin bought this Explorer from a middle aged woman who maintained it quite poorly for $600. He's had it for 8 years and it never failed to start or broke down. He has also maintained it quite poorly; he does oil changes maybe once a year and bought a used battery for it once, brakes were done once, that's about it.

Gas mileage isn't great, but then again it is RWD and 4x4, what do you expect?

Rides OK, kind of truck like ride similar to a Ford Ranger. Seats aren't super comfortable compared to my own cars (89 Chevy Silverado, 91 Buick LeSabre).

Visibility is really good, no blind spots. 4x4 still works great . Rear hatch window that pops up is great for hauling lumber in the back, roof rack is handy too.

Engine is super reliable despite leaking a bit of oil. I'm sure it could be fixed, owner just does not care to spend money on it.

I keep telling my cousin to buy something nicer, but he loves the reliability of this thing and all the space it has in the back for camping and hauling work materials around.

I'd recommend a Ford Explorer if it was well maintained, or if you just need a cheap beater to get around in. Fuel mileage is average at best, but I guess the reliability makes up for it. I still see tons of 90s Explorers chugging along every day, most in pretty crappy shape, but people are still driving them for a reason. The 4.0 engine is unstoppable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th October, 2016

13th Oct 2016, 22:16

A guy round the corner from me has a '96 model. It's tatty and ratty but just trundles on... he says it's likely the body will fall off the engine, and he will then - to his regret - have to put it up against a wall and shoot to put it out of its misery.

14th Oct 2016, 18:32

You comment the car is a "cheap beater", but it is basically cheap because you are refusing to fix any of its faults.

1997 Ford Explorer Sport 4.0 from North America


Piece of gunk


My complaint is with the 4.0 SOHC engine. Even with a properly tuned engine, the fuel mileage is horrible. These motors produce excellent power, but with gruesome consequences. The weakness in SOHC engines are the guide plates that the timing chain runs on. Typically around 100k, depending how hot and hard the motor was run, the plastic guide plates wear down and actually break, causing the timing chain to loosen up enough to throw the motor out of time, which results in bent valves. There is after market upgrades for the guide plates. Bad years are 96-01; Ford upgraded after 01.

If you have one of these ticking time bombs "EXPLODERS", you should hear a slight ticking noise before your bomb goes off.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 13th September, 2011