2002 Ford Explorer Sport

     So, I sold my Pontiac Solstice, and this is what I got instead. I still had a balance left on my loan, and I really wanted something more utilitarian. I figured this would work well. This is a 2002 Ford Explorer Sport with a 4.0 V6 SOHC. They made this particular generation / body style for only 3 years from 2001-2003. The Explorer Sport has been around since the beginning of the Explorer platform and was originally meant to be the replacement for the Ford Bronco. It's been pretty decent so far. Fuel economy is about average for a vehicle this size (although I think there are things I can do to improve upon it). This particular vehicle only had 36k miles on it. It's in pretty immaculate condition, so I'm led to believe it was probably sitting in a garage for some time, most likely from someone who's retired. I ended up getting 13 thousand for my Solstice and paid $7,000 for this so it was deficit neutral (not like the health care bill). Below are some pictures from the auction. I'll take some of my own when I get some time.

- Gone but not forgotten. I donated my car today to a friend of my neighbor. The Ford Explorer Sport (affectionately known as "Dora" to my daughter) had over 183k miles on it. The car still runs perfectly. With the exception of a couple of little issues (rear wiper not working, rear hatch shocks not holding), the car still runs as perfect as it did the day I got it. It's a sad day, but it's finding a new home with a Junior in high school who has straight As. I sold the car for $1, and he promised to take care of it.

He came back a couple of days later and had completely buffed out the paint, changed the tires, changed the oil, etc. The kid is already taking good care of it. The car burns no oil, and has no issues, so I expect it to last another 50k miles without problems.

- Changed the fuel filter today. It was the original and had not been changed since the car was built. It's not that old, I only have 43k miles on the car at this point, but it's still an 8 year old car.The picture on the left is the old filter, and that fluid mess in the upper-right corner of the picture is what poured out of it. The new filter (in the box) is on the right. I used the cheap plastic quick disconnect tools. Wasn't too difficult, sure beats using a bunch of flat-head screw drivers like I used to use in my Grand Am!!!

- I went to a game the other weekend and had to drive on a bumpy / gravel road. On the way home, I noticed my car leaned much more, and made a popping / clanking sound. I pulled over and discovered that my anti-sway link ends were trashed! Really the only complaint I've had on the car so far. It seems like these end-links were designed for a much smaller vehicle. The replacement parts came out to just under $70 bucks for the set of new MOOG end-links. They installed without me needing to remove a wheel, or jack the car up. Took me all of about 30 minutes to replace both sides. The truck handles much better now, and no suspension noises. Everything else looked good! Check out how the old bushings just crumbled.

- I was looking on a car parts site for maintenance items for my Ford Explorer, and I ran across a MagnaFlow "Direct-Fit" Catalytic Converter. The one in my car wasn't bad, but this replacement one was almost 75% off. I got it, brand new, for about $85 dollars shipped. I couldn't pass it up. The amount of money saved with the freer-flowing exhaust of these catalytic converters would allow them to pay for themselves within half a year anyway in fuel savings. The piping is all mandrel bent, and the replacement went in a lot easier than the old one came out.

- I'm not sure, but I think these tires might have been original. The mileage could certainly support that. I ordered (and received the very next day) a set of new tires from Tire Rack. I ended up getting a set of GOODYEAR FORTERA TRIPLETRED, 235/70/16s. They're pretty decent because they have excellent wet / dry adhesion. They also have pronounced teeth on the sidewall so they should do well in soft sand. The rear end of the truck is also sagging a little bit, so I also ordered a set of Monroe Air-Shocks so that I can control the height a little bit better.

UPDATE: Tires and shocks came in. I installed the Goodyear Fortera TripleTread tires and I'm very pleased with them. Max PSI is 44, and I've kept them at 37 in front and 35 in the rear. They make the car feel much more stable. I also got around to installing the new Monroe Air-shocks this afternoon. So far I'm pleased with them as well. The installation went very easy. It's great having an SUV because I pretty much never need to use a floor jack again. I installed everything with the truck on all fours. The shocks went in easily, although I had to lower the spare tire and drop the fuel evaporative system to make room. Installation was a breeze with the hoses. The air fill is easily accesible from the rear, and I adjusted the rear to maintain proper ride-height. I'm hoping it'll give me a slightly stiffer but comfortable ride. The next thing I may buy is an electronic locker for the differential. Oh, since I had a spare rim, and I had the tire shop put the nicest of the old tires on the spare wheel, I decided to swap out the steel spare under the car with the nicer alloy wheel (felt a little lighter too).

- Below are a series of pictures of my 02 Explorer that were taken prior to me picking it up. These were the auction pictures that were shown on eBay with the car on their showroom floor. I like looking at these from time to time because it reminds me how clean my car CAN be. Since it's my daily driver, it gets a little messy and I use this to motivate myself to get outside and clean it on the weekend.