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Old 04-08-2009, 10:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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$350 Ford Explorer

I recently bought a 1994 Ford Explorer for my son. It isn't planned to be anything more than a grocery getter. But it is a small gift from me for his 21st brithday, and a bit of an early wedding gift (he is getting married in August) It was an inexpensive purchase because, it has a dead transmission. I am rebuilding it myself.

So my question, while I still have the thing apart. WHAT sort of modifications can I do to an automatic (it is a Ford A4LD) that MIGHT help it get better mileage. I have purchased some parts in the better interest of durability and HD usage. I still have less than the purchase price in the trans and will probably have it buttoned up this weekend to put back in the truck. Any FE ideas now while its open would be good.

And when this transmission goes out (if it goes out), we will decide what to do with the truck. It currently has 194,000 miles on it, but the motor is tight and has great compression across all cylinders. No smoke and it sat for over an hour running and didn't overheat. We almost put in a 5 speed manual instead of rebuilding what we have. That is a viable option for later. But likely, with the mileage on it, it will get recycled when the trans dies next...

YES, I know it isn't a very fuel efficient rig. On the other hand, it goes to my son with no strings attached, no car payments and its old enough that insurance won't be a big issue for him and his soon to be bride. It is large enough to be a safe vehicle if they start a family right away too. And with functioning 4x4, it wil be a safe winter vehicle. And the boy knows how to drive for FE. Who do you think has been getting such good numbers from my Neon?

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Old 04-08-2009, 11:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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That is a great gift from you to get them started. Hopefully they will appreciate it.

For the A4LD you might try to find a controller that will allow adjustment of the shift points. An earlier shift may see some gains. Also use a good synthetic (I like Royal Purple) trans fluid. While you're at it, change the diff oil to synth as well.
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:10 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zjrog View Post
It is large enough to be a safe vehicle if they start a family right away too. And with functioning 4x4, it wil be a safe winter vehicle.
This is just wrong. Large, high-centered vehicles are not safe. See for instance here: Are S.U.V.’s More Dangerous Than Minivans? - Wheels Blog - NYTimes.com Nor is 4WD safer in winter - ever watch some flatlander in their shiny new 4WD hit the brakes on a snowy road, and do 360s until they're out of sight?.
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
This is just wrong. Large, high-centered vehicles are not safe. See for instance here: Are S.U.V.ís More Dangerous Than Minivans? - Wheels Blog - NYTimes.com Nor is 4WD safer in winter - ever watch some flatlander in their shiny new 4WD hit the brakes on a snowy road, and do 360s until they're out of sight?.
He already bought it. Berating his decision is not productive.

Also I have driven supposedly "dangerous" SUV's such as a ford bronco2, a mitsubishi montero, and two isuzu troopers - more than a combined million miles in every possible kind of condition in North America and not once did any of them roll over or even put me in danger. Maybe luck? Much more likely is that I keep the nut behind the wheel tight and don't drive them the same way I drive a sports car. 'tis a poor musician who blames the instrument.

Zjrog - as you probably are already aware, the A4LD is a failure prone transmission. To prolong its life, install an aftermarket transmission cooler and an auxilliary transmission filter. - plumb the cooling lines from the transmission to the filter (fluid still hot from trans so it goes through easy), then to aux cooler (so it looses a lot of heat) then to in-radiator cooler (so it doesn't get TOO cool, and so it warms up faster at startup) and then back to trans.

Increasing line pressure to shorten shift duration should help fuel efficiency a bit, with the reduced overlap.

I can't say enough good about synthetic ATF.. mmmmmmm damn i wish it was less expensive.
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shovel View Post
He already bought it. Berating his decision is not productive.
I wouldn't use the word "berating". Causing him to question his apparent belief that the mere size & 4WD will provide safety IS productive, if it causes appropriate changes in driving behavior - in your words, to tighten the nut holding the wheel. We've probably all seen too many drivers who think SUV translates to invulnerability.
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:54 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
I wouldn't use the word "berating". Causing him to question his apparent belief that the mere size & 4WD will provide safety IS productive, if it causes appropriate changes in driving behavior - in your words, to tighten the nut holding the wheel. We've probably all seen too many drivers who think SUV translates to invulnerability.
I can see that, you're right.
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Old 04-09-2009, 12:19 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I was already planning to use a synthetic, but I want to wait until the first filter change after the rebuild. I'm also going to use synth in the transfer case and the differentials. Just like I do in my Jeep and in my daughter's Jeep. I'll look for a shift controller and see if its something that will help, I did look at different weights on the governor to change the OD kick in point. We will change that when I do a filter/fluid change, because I want to see where it shifts to begin with. Remember, I brought this truck home without being able to drive it. I know the brakes work, as they hauled my F150 to stop from 30 MPH (F150 was towing it home). I bought heavier duty parts where I could to prevent further issues.


Not bad looking for a $350 truck... And the interior is MUCH nicer!

Now, the OTHER comments... Simply wow. Self righteous much? If the Explorer is driven in a reasonable manner, it can be as safe as anything else on the road. My almost 21 year old son is very familiar with driving FWD and 4WD in inclement weather. I'd really like to think I've done a good job teaching my adult kids how to drive so they don't NEED 4x4, but with it available, they have an advantage. I'll tell you what I've seen over the years as an accident scene photographer. Fewer fatalities in larger vehicles. This Explorer isn't that tall. Its not a Hummer H2 or whatever you are truly afraid of. If I didn't think my son was responsible enough to drive something like an Explorer, I wouldn't have bought it. Yes, you really rubbed me the wrong way. I'm going to guess you've never driven a 4x4 in bad weather, or had the pleasure of exploring trails far from a paved road. If you'll go back to the original post you might notice I'm trying to resurrect an inexpensive vehicle (a form of ECOnomy) and see where I can MOD it for possible improved FE. Does that not fit the ECOMODDER sensibility? And as a gift to my son, and his bride to be... Some people can find fault with anything. I ADMITTED it isn't the most fuel efficient vehicle out there... Care to comment on the lightly used furniture I saved from a landfill for them?
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Old 04-09-2009, 12:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
I wouldn't use the word "berating". Causing him to question his apparent belief that the mere size & 4WD will provide safety IS productive, if it causes appropriate changes in driving behavior - in your words, to tighten the nut holding the wheel. We've probably all seen too many drivers who think SUV translates to invulnerability.
My "apparent" belief is borne of actual real life experience. And my "apparent" belief doesn't include thinking that 4x4 is the answer to everything. Beyond that, I had written more but I choose not to include it as I may be suspended. Please take a moment to re-evaluate your stereotyped thinking... Not everyone with an SUV is evil.
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Old 04-09-2009, 12:32 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beatr911 View Post
That is a great gift from you to get them started. Hopefully they will appreciate it.
THANKS!!! And yes, they do appreciate it. And if my son didn't have classes and tests, he'd be doing this work, not me!!!
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:25 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Nice truck! And nice recycle!

It gets okay mileage for a full-blown truck. And since you probably get a lot of snow in the winters, it will be nice to have then.

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