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Steven Jackson (admin), CSDO Media Limited
This is the original reviewer, posting an approximate 1-year update for my 2002 Ford Explorer Sport. I now have 147,367 miles on the Explorer, so have put 13,880 miles on it since last year's update. During that time I changed the oil four times and changed the air filter once, when it reached the 12,000 mile service interval, as part of routine maintenance. I also bought a new set of tires at about 135,000 miles, gambling that the vehicle would continue to be reliable long enough to get substantial use out of them. My previous set of tires gave 70,000 miles, about 57,000 miles on the Explorer and about 13,000 miles on my previous Ramcharger. They were Dayton Timberline L/T tires, and I was more than satisfied with them and would recommend them. The new tires are Firestone Destination A/T.
I was pleased to see that the Check Engine Light did not come back on. Like some others, I was tempted to think that the CEL is just an automatic money-making device and doesn't do anything. However, unless one lives in the boonies, it is not practical to stick a piece of tape over the light and drive on, and there is no sense pretending that is a solution. For those of us subject to vehicle inspections, it needs to be fixed. I was at least pleased that the garage identified a problem (the loose fitting) and fixed it, and I've not been troubled with the CEL again. So apparently there was an actual problem that was identified and fixed, and wasn't just an arbitrary "pay your mechanic" light. As to how serious the CEL really is, it's a matter of opinion. I know some people who drive old wrecks with the CEL on for tens of thousands of miles. However, I choose not to drive a wreck with the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree, and prefer that things be fixed right.
I had several unexpected repairs during the past year, described as follows. First, the transmission cooler lines, where they thread into the radiator shell, were rusting through, requiring replacement with new fittings and rubber hoses clamped onto the original steel lines. Second, I had to have the newly replaced driver's side wheel bearing replaced when the ABS light came on after about 9,000 miles, indicating that the bearing was already going out of tolerance. This highlights the difference in quality of $150 between bearings. The "cheap" bearing was $250 and the "good" bearing was $400 just for the part. Yes, it sounds high, but that is what the part costs. It is certainly not comparable to paying $20 for a bearing for my old Dodge, and supports my opinion that "new" used cars cost more to fix than old used cars. And finally, I had to have both emergency brake assemblies replaced, and of course because the small shoes dig into the inside of the rotors, I had to have both rear rotors replaced as well. And naturally that means having the pads replaced, although at least I got the pads for free because I buy the lifetime guarantee pads.
My only other glitch, which I have elected to not repair, is that the #3 position on the fan does not work, so you get 1-2-2-4 when you turn up the fan.
Overall, I've paid $9,900 (including the $3,750 original purchase price) to drive 67,000 miles, or 15 cents per mile. I remain very pleased overall with my 2002 Explorer Sport, although it feels like I've had to visit the brakes too often. Like others, I would ask why they can't be turned, why does it feel like I'm always getting brakes? No, it's not because mechanics are ripping me off. I've rebuilt half a dozen small block MoPars with my own hands, and have been driving my Charger and Barracuda for 25 years on engines that I rebuilt myself, and I'm not some clueless yuppie who doesn't know how a car works. But when you look at the rotors, they are very flimsy compared to the massive brake rotors on my '73 Charger or former '85 Ramcharger, and once again, that seems to be why a "new" used car seems more expensive to maintain than the old cars I had been accustomed to driving. One just has to recognize that in the effort to save weight and cut costs, brake rotors are smaller and technology comes at a price. Plus, I had some unfortunate timing, in that I had a brake job, only to realize later that the bearings were bad, and once the bearings were replaced, the brakes needed to be replaced again because of the resulting uneven wear.
Still, even approaching 150,000 miles, the Explorer continues to be dependable, and I plan to keep driving it and keeping up with the maintenance for as long as it lasts. When I bought it, I assumed that I should not have any major problems up to 150,000 miles, and I think that goal has been met. I'll keep it in service and see if it will reach 200,000 miles.
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