1997 Ford Explorer 4wh Sport 4.0 SOHC V6 from North America


Good vehicle for good price


Transmission at 100,000 miles.

Oxygen Sensor.

Plastic seat recliner.

General Comments:

Very good towing power with SOHC V6 motor.

Very versatile for hauling, even for such a small vehicle. Back seats fold flat.

Transmission is okay. Shifts are very smooth, but mushy feeling. Prefer firmer shifts.

4 wheel drive with control track is okay. The Control track system is supposed to sense slippery conditions in 4 whd auto, but does not do it very well. 4 whd high works well, and engages with a flip of the dial.

Gas mileage averages 15 mpg combined city and highway.

A lot of rattles inside the cabin.

Brakes perform very well, but are mushy.

I have had no problems with rotors wearing fast. I commute up and down the San Bernardino mountains every day, and after one year, my brake pads showed very little wear.

My gear ratio is 3.55, I would prefer the 3.73s for going up and down mountains.

Get rid of factory shocks. My Explorer Sport had lots of body roll.

I got Monroe Sensamtic shocks, and now it handles much better. I give the handling a D+ with factory shocks. With the Monroe Sensamatics, I give it a B-.

I can tow a 3000 lb tent trailer 65mph up a 6% grade with the SOHC V6.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th August, 2003

1997 Ford Explorer XLT 4.0 SOHC from North America


Very fast depreciation for a mediocre SUV.


Dual side oxygen sensor failure.

Timing chain tensioner broke.

Transfer case failure.

Exhaust bracket weld failure.

Warped rotors.

Check engine light w/o codes.

General Comments:

Generally this vehicle is powerful, nimble and full of features. It has been best on winding mountain roads in moderately bad weather (heavy rain, wind and light snow/slush). It's highway manners are mediocre and generally not comfortable over long distance driving.

Severely affected by highway crosswinds in excess of 70 mph. Prone to over-steer and dramatic response to sudden steering input. Don't swerve!

Sudden failures without prior indication of trouble have made it untrustworthy and very inconvenient.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 15th July, 2003

8th Mar 2006, 20:19

Sounds like you got the ONE that rolled off the assembly line dutring a strike when "temp" workers had to fill in, it happens!!! My '97 XLT with 4.0 is an excellent truck with NO problems. It has 150 K miles and still runs like it's "almost" new. I've taken really good care of it, but have never babied it. The key is MAINTENANCE!!!

9th Mar 2006, 09:36

Well, given the Explorer design has been linked to thousands of deaths it's not surprising these things roll any chance they get.

I wouldn't put my worst enemy in one of those deathtraps.

9th Mar 2006, 14:12

Its not just ford, but ALL suvs which are prone to rolling.

Of course the truck is going to move in crosswinds seeing as the sides of it are rather tall and flat... Does that make any sense? Plus it has a lot of weight up high on a narrow chassis so its very probable that it will flip when swerving.

Its just a given with this type of vehicle.

21st Oct 2008, 22:26

I bought a 1997 Explorer March of 08. The first problems that started were the rear inside door handles breaking. Then both the front window motors went out. Then in the summer on really hot days it wouldn't start, just turn-over. Other than that, it is a good ride.

1997 Ford Explorer Sport XLT from North America


This vehicle is a true lemon


The air conditioner failed at 29,000.

Ball bearings needed replaced at 32,000 miles.

Serpentine belt broke at 35,000 miles.

I took the SUV to the Ford dealer at 41,000 miles because the car would start sometimes and not others. After 3 trips to the dealer and $840.00 later they found the problem, a $26.00 camshaft sensor. Needless to say, they lost my business.

I had to replace the front ball joints at 44,000 miles.

The vehicle was towed yesterday at 51,000 miles. The starter needs replaced.

Not to mention the stack of recalls on the vehicle for the throttle body plate which has been replaced twice already, the tires, front cam chain guide assembly, lower intake manifold gasket and front cam chain guide assembly to name a few.

General Comments:

This vehicle is comfortable, which it should be considering the amount of time one will sit on the side of the road awaiting a tow truck.

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

Review Date: 30th June, 2003

14th Dec 2006, 08:16

I wrote this review - UPDATE: The Cam Chain Tensioner broke at 81,000 mile. Engine is a total loss. Vehicle will be taken to salvage yard. I will never buy another FORD as long as I live. The 1997 Explorer was a lemon. I have opted to purchase from a reputable automaker - Hello Toyota - Good bye Ford.

14th Oct 2009, 14:43

I strongly disagree, it's how you treat it. In my opinion it's the best Ford ever made.

14th Oct 2009, 19:07

"I strongly disagree its how you treat it, in my opinion its the best ford ever made."

Any car should be able to go 81,000 miles even with some neglect. And a timing chain tensioner should NEVER break. If it does, then it was a faulty part and not the owners fault. So this car really was just total junk.

15th Oct 2009, 11:01

Well, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. We had a '97 Ford Explorer at work with the 4.0L pushrod, and I thought it was a cheap, spartan, underpowered tin can. I really felt sorry for anybody that actually paid 25 grand for one. But then, when my truck wore out, I needed a new 4WD and it just so happened that a 2002 Explorer Sport had the right price. Wow, it has been the best vehicle I ever owned, and it is soooo much nicer than the '97 we had at work! We still have Explorers at work, and the 2005 and now the 2009 have improved even more. Honestly, I don't think you would be disappointed if you got a newer Explorer.

3rd Sep 2012, 14:52

For the guy going to Toyota, that will be a huge mistake. No one is perfect, and Ford is the best auto maker out there. Things are made and things break; it's also how it is taken care of; that goes for any make and model. I have had 3 Explorers, 2 Rangers and 2 F150s, and they have all been great.