8th Jan 2011, 06:27

Thanks for your comments over the years, muchly appreciated!

8th Jan 2011, 11:19

Yes, indeed! The review and comments are exceptionally well written. This man does a great job of maintaining his vehicle!

The under/over tightening of the lugs was certainly enough to cause the rotors to warp. Remember, they go through heat cycles and that is when the warp occurs. If you have alloy rims, you should re-torque the lugs after a 100 miles or so. You could loose a wheel if you don't.

The slow drop in fuel mileage may be caused by carbon deposits. I gave our vehicles a "Seafoam" treatment, and all of them improved in throttle response. Another reason for dropping fuel mileage could be a vacuum leak after the MAF sensor.

Thanks again for your attention to detail!

16th Nov 2011, 17:43

This is the original reviewer, and owner of the subject 2002 Ford Explorer, providing my yearly update.

As of today, my Explorer has 133,487 miles, so I have added 13,718 miles in the past year since my last update. That reflects a bit higher than normal use, since my average had previously been just under 11,000 miles per year. The extra use was mainly a result of a driving trip to Nova Scotia, during which the Explorer ran great and got pretty decent highway gas mileage, like 24, 25, 26 mpg. Actually, the word "superlative" is probably more appropriate than "decent", given that the EPA estimates are around 18 mpg.

During the past year, routine maintenance included changing oil several times (every 3,000 to 3,500 miles), checking the fluid level in the front and rear differentials (every 12,000 miles), changing the air filter (every 12,000 miles), and buying new windshield wiper blades. I also bought a new battery, and in preparation for the long trip to Nova Scotia, had the cooling system flushed, had the fuel filter changed, and had the transmission fluid changed, all at 124,421 miles. Those items were coming up as part of routine maintenance, anyway, so I wanted it done preemptively.

In my previous update, I noted that the front passenger side wheel bearing had needed to be replaced. Well, the driver's side bearing needed to be replaced as well about 12,000 miles later, at 130,665 miles. One minute it was fine, then I drove over a curb, and it must have been the final straw in changing the wheel's aspect on the spindle, because it immediately started making this horrendous grinding, snapping noise as the roller needles in the bearing were broken and ground apart. No further worries about the ball joints, though, as suggested in the previous post, so those fears at least appeared groundless for now.

I finally experienced some "check engine light" hell, fueling my deeper fears about what happens to new cars when they become used cars. The CEL came on at 132,805 miles, and was diagnosed as an EVAP code, and the garage replaced the fuel cap and reset the code. Less than 400 miles later, the CEL came on again at 133,163 miles with the same code. The garage admitted that they just routinely replace the gas cap because it is, in their words, "the problem 98% of the time." So this time, they did a smoke test on the vapor capture system, and discovered a loose fitting on a hose that connects or snaps into the evaporation canister. Rather than replace the canister or hose, which they thought would cost up to $500, they were able to clean and replace the fitting at 133,315 miles. We'll see how long that lasts.

I plan to drive the car for as long as it will go. It still runs and drives well, and there don't seem to be any other looming problems. Rust holes on the insides of the tailgate are getting more pronounced, but haven't actually rusted through yet, only bubbled up severely. Everything else is still working fine. Now I just need to buy new tires before winter. The way things look at present, I have hopes that the Explorer will be able to be around long enough to get the full use (50-60 thousand miles) out of a new set of tires. It is still a good running, good driving car, and still looks good, no visible rust and good paint despite the fact that it's about to become a 10 year old vehicle. We'll see where we are next year.

15th Jun 2012, 15:11

How much do you think the total annual cost is for the maintenance and upkeep of this car?

25th Jul 2012, 17:45

Hello, 15 June, I usually don't check this site but once a year when I give the update, but happened to notice your question.

I have been driving the Explorer Sport for almost exactly 5 years, and during that time I have spent $5,650 in repairs and maintenance (including oil changes, air filters, routine maintenance, and outright repairs). That gives an average of $1,130 per year. That rate has not been constant, though. For the first 40,000 miles, up until about 120,000 miles, repairs were few and far between. The rate has increased somewhat since 120,000 miles (I'm now at 143,000 miles). So if you were going to buy a used one, your experience might differ, depending on which side of 120,000 miles the odometer is.

I put an average of 11,000 miles per year on the vehicle. If we assume gas is $3.50/gallon at an average 22 miles per gallon (I get 18 driving to work, which accounts for only a few thousand miles per year, and the majority of driving is on the highway where I get 22-24 MPG), that comes out to about $1,800/year.

So, repair and maintenance plus gasoline gives $1,130 + 1,830 = $2,960 per year as an average.

27th Jul 2012, 19:11

I am floored by these repair costs!! They sound horrible to me!! One of our Fords went over 300,000 miles with less than $500 in total repairs. My last Dodge made 240,000 miles on less than $800 in repairs. My brother's Buick made over 270,000 miles on less than $700 in repairs.

At present we own a GM vehicle with 105,000 miles on it, and a Ford with 70,000 miles on it. At this point neither has cost us one cent in repairs (not even brake pads yet). I'm a mechanic and do my own repairs, but even if I had paid a shop, they wouldn't have been half (or even a fourth) of the figures I'm seeing here!! Someone is making a bundle off you guys!!

28th Jul 2012, 16:45

There is a very easy way out of "check engine light" hell. Put black tape over the light. I have worked on cars for 50 years (literally). One thing I have learned is that fear is a shop's greatest tool to use to get your money. Check engine lights are basically designed to frighten people into going to a shop. I recommend the "two week" test. After the light comes on, drive the car for two weeks. If there is no drop in fuel mileage or performance, you can probably drive another 300,000 miles without worrying about the light. Two cases in point:

The CEL came on in my wife's car nearly SEVEN YEARS ago. It codes as "EVAP system". That usually means absolutely NOTHING. In 7 years and (now) over 100,000 miles that vehicle is running as good as new. I'm not even bothering to try to find the cause. There is no reason to.

Case two: My personal car. The CEL came on about three years ago. It codes as "engine running too cool". According to the heat gauge it is running 5-15 degrees cooler than normal. I live where our long summer has many 100+ degree days. My engine running cooler is definitely NOT a concern for me. It puts less stress on the engine and decreases oil breakdown. I have no plans to replace the thermostat... EVER.

If your car is equipped with a heat gauge (or light) and an oil pressure gauge (or light), and these are in the normal safe range, it indicates your engine is not in any danger. The CEL is a catch-all for anything or nothing, and in 99% of cases means nothing.

Sadly, some municipalities have made a "Devil's pact" with shops and dealerships, to fail cars in their inspections if the light is on. This costs car owners thousands in unnecessary repairs yearly. Luckily our local inspection authority received so many complaints from irate car owners about this scam, that our city is revoking that part of the inspection. Since I live outside the city, I was fortunately, never required to get the inspection anyway.