15th Nov 2008, 12:27

I'm the original reviewer, providing a 1-year update. I've put almost exactly 10,000 miles on my 2002 Explorer since I posted the last update, almost one year ago. It now has 99,200 miles on it.

I have experienced no problems and needed no repairs on the vehicle in that time, only performing the following items of routine maintenance:

A few months after the update, I changed the rear differential fluid, replacing it with 80W-90 gear oil. Because it had been run low prior to my acquisition, I wanted to make sure that there was no sludge or metal shaving paste, so I removed the differential cover and wiped out the housing before refilling with gear oil.

I also changed the fluid in the transfer case, as per the recommendation in my Haynes Manual. The Mercon ATF was pretty gray, rather than bright red.

Recently, I changed the front differential fluid and refilled it with new 80W-90 gear oil. Because of the presence of the radiator brace, it is impossible to remove the front differential cover with the axle still in the vehicle, so I used a suction pump to draw out the old gear oil and refill it.

I also changed the air filter at the Haynes Manual recommended service interval.

When I reach 100,000 miles, I plan to change the spark plug wires and spark plugs as routine maintenance.

I still get 20 mpg driving to work, in the conditions I described before. I generally get 24 mpg on the PA turnpike doing 65 mph, which has lots of big hills. On two occasions I've gotten what I consider exemplary mileage for an Explorer. In September I managed to get 26.3 mpg, and in July I got an amazing 27.6 mpg!

The Explorer still looks and drives like new, despite approaching 7 years old and 100,000 miles. This was my first Ford, and I continue to be very pleased. I would definitely consider buying another Ford, although the way things are going, it looks like I won't need another vehicle for several years.

8th Nov 2009, 17:23

I am the original reviewer, providing a yearly update for my 2002 Ford Explorer. My Explorer now has 110,422 miles on it, so I've put 11,222 miles on it in the past year (minus one week).

Other than changing oil every 3,000 miles, the only other maintenance was changing the air filter, a brake job, replacing shocks, and replacing a sensor. I also did have the spark plugs replaced about two days after my last update, which I said I was going to do.

At about 105,000 miles I had the shocks replaced, and a full brake job at the same time. When I bought the car at least one of the rotors had grooves, so I knew it would need a brake job eventually. The rotors were starting to chatter on hard braking, so I had all four rotors turned, and the pads replaced with new ceramic pads. The ride had gotten rougher, and the front end was starting to plow a bit, so I had new gas shocks installed at the same time. I believe the brakes and shocks were original, so I had no complaints about that service. It really did make a huge difference, and the ride is really nice again. Smooth and no bouncing or swaying.

The only unexpected repair was when the "check engine" light came on at around 107,000 miles. Apparently it was the DPFE (Differential Pressure Flow - EGR) sensor. That cost less than $200 to diagnose and replace.

The Explorer still runs great, and I'm very pleased with it. It is my feeling that my gas mileage may have dropped a bit, on average. Driving to work, I had a couple of tanks that only gave me about 17 mpg. That is the lowest I have experienced with this vehicle --- so low that it makes me suspicious about the quality of the gas, the gas station, something. Before that, I would have continued to say my lowest reading was 19 mpg. It does seem as though highway mileage has decreased to about 21-22 mpg, although just today I recorded 24.8 mpg. I don't understand the lack of consistency.

I have also noticed that the computer does a better job of running the engine than I do. Which is to say, when the cruise control is set the engine seems to work better with the transmission, especially downshifting to maintain speed up hills. In contrast, when I drive without cruise control, I really have to mash the foot pedal into the floor in order to force a downshift, and the acceleration seems sluggish. It just seems as though the computer knows where to find more acceleration and power than I can obtain with the foot pedal.

I'm still very pleased, and since there is nothing wrong, I'm hoping that this will last me another several years. We'll see. It still feels like a new car to me.

11th Nov 2010, 13:57

This is the original reviewer, with a yearly update for my 2002 Ford Explorer Sport. The Explorer now has 119,769 miles on it, so that is 9,347 miles since the last update a year ago. During the past year, the routine maintenance has included changing the air filter once, and changing oil three times.

An unplanned repair involved having the front passenger wheel bearing replaced at 118,680 miles. That was expensive, at about $550 with most of it for the part because the bearing incorporates a sensor for the anti-lock brakes. It definitely left me thinking that, while anti-lock brakes are nice (I suppose, since I've never had them activate under any driving conditions), a wheel bearing for my old Ramcharger would have only cost about $20. Such is the price of progress, I guess. We'll see when the other shoe drops, but I would assume that if one side needed to be replaced, the other side won't be far behind.

I also had to buy new front brake rotors at 119,317 miles, despite having had all 4 rotors turned, with new pads, only about 15,000 miles before. That was about $330, while the ceramic pads were exchanged for free thanks to the lifetime warranty. The front brakes seemed to have deteriorated very rapidly within the couple months before changing them. Either the brake rotors are just so thin now, that after you turn them once their days are numbered, or the bad wheel bearing was causing something to wear unevenly. Alternatively, I have heard that with the popular use (or overuse) of impact wrenches, over-tightened lug nuts can cause warping of brake rotors.

It did seem as though the brakes started pulsing late this summer, a month or so after the mandatory vehicle inspection, during which time they remove two wheels to check the brakes. The same place did the brake repair, and with that suspicion in mind, I decided to check the lug nuts with a torque wrench, and found that the lugs had been tightened unevenly, such that some were loose enough to easily take off with a t-handle lug nut wrench, while others were so tight that it required jumping on the wrench with a breaker bar to loosen them. That had to be far more than the specified 100 foot-pounds!

Would that be sufficient to warp a brake rotor over the course of a couple of months? I don't know. But I do know that I needed to stack concrete blocks up in order to brace the end of the lug wrench, and then stand on the cross piece in order to break them loose, and would never have been able to change the tire if I'd had a flat out on the road. Perhaps I'll have to tip the technician 10 bucks to not use the damned impact wrench on my car.

While getting the new rotors installed, I was informed that a ball joint is getting loose and will have to be replaced within the year. So, is this the point where everything starts to fail? We'll see.

Other than the bearing, which I suppose is not wholly unreasonable at nearly 120,000 miles, and the repeat repair of the brakes, which might not be the car's fault, I've remained very happy with the Explorer. It is still comfortable to drive, and feels nimble.

At nearly 9 years old, the step bars are pretty rusty along the joining seams, and two rust spots have developed inside the body on either side of the tailgate. Also, the fuel filler cap door hangs part way open, so some sort of catch must have broken. Although it's getting to be an old car, it still runs and drives like a new car. The interior has held up well, no seat tears, no knobs falling off or broken, and there is no rust on the body, and the paint still polishes up nicely. All of the electronics still work, as do the power windows and power locks.

Last winter I had an episode that really illustrated how much better the drive-ability of the Explorer Sport is compared to my old Ramcharger. The hill on the way to work had been covered with wet, heavy snow that caused a semi and large rear-wheel drive sedan to get stuck, creating an obstacle course to weave through. The Explorer was the right size to remain on the narrow road while avoiding stalled cars and the ditch, and the 4-wheel drive effortlessly pulled up hill through the several inches of wet snow. Even the front-wheel drive car behind me had a very difficult time, spinning the wheels all the way up, riding that fine line between keeping the forward momentum going and losing traction by giving it too much gas.

So as I said once, even though my off-roading days are over, the Explorer seems better suited to these every day little driving emergencies than my old 4x4 truck would have been.

So, we'll see how things are going by next year's update.