2nd Nov 2016, 18:24

This is the original reviewer, posting an approximate 1-year update for my 2002 Ford Explorer Sport. Since last year's update, I have driven 15,084 miles and the odometer now stands at 201,004 miles. The odometer turned 200,000 miles during a 3,000 mile road trip through the upper Mid-West, somewhere in western Ohio on the Lincoln Highway. That was the second such long road trip this year at high mileage. Despite the miles, the Explorer still achieved up to 24 mpg during the road trip, and for regular driving to work turns in around 18 mpg.

The past year saw only routine maintenance aside from the need to replace a sticking rear brake caliper that was prematurely wearing the brake pads. I also had the brake pads and rotors replaced on both sides in the rear, which was a 50,000 mile interval since the last brake job.

Routine maintenance included the following items:

* 5 oil changes at approximate 3,200-mile intervals.

* Added 8 ounces of 80W-90 gear oil to the rear differential after checking the level, which I do routinely every 10,000 miles. The rear pinion seal continues to leak, as it has since I acquired it, but the 10,000 mile fluid check seems to be adequate to stay on top of it.

* Lubricated the spare tire winding mechanism to prevent it rusting to the point of freezing. The carrier yoke had begun to rust onto the spare tire rim and required some hammering to loosen.

* The transfer case fluid was changed at the recommended 50,000 mile interval. The old fluid was synthetic and drained out perfectly clear, and might not have needed to be changed.

* The air filter was changed at the recommended 12,000 mile interval.

* The spark plugs and plug wires were changed at the recommended 100,000 mile interval, at 199,587.

The body is beginning to become rust-eaten beneath the vinyl kick panels under the doors, which is not noticeable from the outside, but is apparent underneath. Last year's rust hole repair has held without a reoccurrence of damage, but surface rust continues to appear around the rear passenger's side wheel well, the drive wheel. That will require some wire brushing and re-painting. As expected, rust will likely bring this vehicle down before mechanical failure. I had assumed that the car would somehow disintegrate upon reaching 200,000 miles, but it seems to run the same as always. I'm now curious to see just how far it will go, and nothing about the way it runs is telling me to stay within 20 miles of home. When I first acquired the Explorer, I remember thinking it was nicer in every way than my previous Dodge Ramcharger, but unlikely to reach the 260,000 miles that the Ramcharger did. Now I begin to wonder. So, I'll continue driving and using it normally, and performing the regular maintenance, and we shall see if I will be posting another review next November.

19th Apr 2017, 16:40

This is the original reviewer, posting the final summary review for my 2002 Ford Explorer Sport. I poignantly report that I've traded my Explorer, and in many ways it was a sad day because it really was the greatest car I had ever owned. I loved that car and I was really sad to see the dealer drive it away. It still ran without any issues, but this seemed like the right time, from a practical standpoint, to make a change. I anticipated the need to spend nearly $1,500 in the coming month in preparation for the vehicle inspection (new tires and shocks, windshield), and even at that, one must consider what the long-term expectation of a 15-year-old vehicle with over 200,000 miles would be. I noticed from tracking expenses on a spreadsheet and graph that there is a stairstep in cumulative costs about every 30,000 miles, and indeed the steep positive slope that began to be defined beginning at around 200,000 miles suggested that I was due for an outlay of several thousand dollars in the coming year or so. I decided to allocate that to a new car instead of keeping the old one going.

Since my last update in November 2016, I changed the oil twice and changed the air filter. I was having a problem with a coolant leak, which first caused me to get the upper and lower radiator hoses changed. The garage reported a pinhole leak in the upper radiator hose where the snap ring had worn through the rubber. This did not solve my coolant loss, though. I next had the thermostat housing and heater hoses changed. This is where costs began to mount because changing the heater hose required dashboard disassembly. I had this done over 2 months ago and thought this had solved the problem, as I no longer smelled anti-freeze. However, I recently checked the radiator fluid level and the overflow reservoir and discovered that the overflow reservoir was empty and the radiator was not full. It seemed that the overflow reservoir must be leaking and this was the final straw. We are taking an extended road trip, and this made me realize how easily the engine could have seized in the middle of nowhere. It didn't because I routinely check fluids, but it made me consider what else might be quietly leaking away without my knowledge -- the rear pinion seal for instance, or the water pump or starter, both original. I think the Explorer would have lasted another 2-3 years for local driving, but that limitation just doesn't meet my requirements any longer. Keeping it made no sense, as I would still be paying the same amount to keep it going.

So, let this serve as the final tally. I traded my Explorer at 207,882 miles. I've owned it for 10 years, during which time I put 128,202 miles on it. Not including the $3,500 purchase price at a repo auction, the average monthly maintenance cost was $89.57 while driving an average 12,412 miles per year. I was very sad to say goodbye to my Explorer, and I hope it will go to a good home where somebody will take care of it as I have. I'm just blown away by my new 2017 Ford Explorer, though, and hope I will have many good years with it.