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FORD EXPLORER 1991-1994Ford Explorer 1993

The Station Wagon for the Nineties

Remember the Country Squire station wagon? Along with similar offerings from GM and Chrysler, they were wildly popular in suburbia in the 60's and 70's. Fake woodgrain, whitewalls, chrome everywhere. They were big, versatile and could handle large families with all their stuff. Comfortably. Equipped with huge V8's, they could tow a big trailer too.

But as the 80's wore on, a new trend was developing. Consumers were ditching their wagons for two newcomers: minivans and well-appointed sport utility vehicles (SUV's). Popular offerings included the V8 Grand Wagoneer, Cherokee, Land Cruiser, Blazer and Bronco.

The category, particularly the "compact" segment, was exploding. Just as it shifted into high gear, Ford launched the new Explorer. Sales were phenomenal and it quickly established itself as the sales leader by a wide margin.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Overall competence
Room
Reliability
Value

Heavy off-road stuff
Emergency handling
Vague steering

What's Available
Both 2-door and 4-door body styles were produced. Each could be had with either rear- or four-wheel drive. Initially there were four trim levels, the base XL, the mid-range (and most popular) XLT, and the upmarket Eddie Bauer (4door). A Sport version of the 2-door was also available.

In mid-1993, a new top of the line Limited version was added. It was fully loaded and had only three options -- a JBL audio system, a towing package and a flip-up sunroof. One engine, a 4.0-liter OHV V6, came with all Explorers. A 4-speed overdrive automatic and a Mazda-built 5-speed manual were your transmission choices, but the 5-speed is a tough find, especially on the four-door.

Exterior Design
When introduced, the Explorer was one of those rare vehicles that looked just right. Clean, uncluttered and contemporary looking from all angles, the angular body practically shouted "sport utility vehicle". The 2-door version, with its slanted rear-pillar and short wheelbase even managed to look, well, sporty.

A chrome grille with rectangular headlights on the XLT and Eddie Bauer adorned the front, while the XL and Sport made do with black plastic. Chrome was splashed liberally around the XLT and Eddie Bauer, much less so on the XL and Sport. The Limited sported its own monochromatic paint scheme.

The rear hatch is one piece and swings upward. The window works independently of the hatch, a plus.

What They Said When New

"The ride feels smooth only on the best roads. Large bumps caused bounding, and a full, 900-pound load made matters worse, especially in the rear. The ride is about as quiet as in most sedans.".......Consumer Reports 9/90

"The nicely laid-out interior and comfortable seating for five are just a few of the reasons why the Explorer is outselling the competition two to one.".....Automobile 9/91

"Complementing the Explorer's outstanding interior comfort is a softly tuned suspension that provides a plush ride over most road surfaces, making it an excellent choice for around-town driving.".......Motor Trend 10/93

Interior Design
Again, the Explorer's interior is clean and contemporary in its design and well laid out. For its time, the Explorer was clearly the class leader. The dash houses a complete display of easy-to-read gauges. The typical late 80's, early 90's Ford stereo is difficult to use, but everything else is logically placed and easy to operate.

Bucket seats (or "Captain's chairs") and a steering column shift come with all Explorers. A console with cup holders resides between the seats.

The four-wheel drive is engaged by a handy push button ("touch-drive") on the dash.

Materials for the most part are well coordinated and have a look of quality, but there are a few plastic pieces that could use some upgrading.

Room & Comfort
One of the Explorer's strengths is that it delivers car-like comfort. While almost all SUV's can do that today, in 1990 it was unusual and it undoubtedly contributed greatly to the Explorer's success. Statistics show that 90% of SUV's never make into the rough stuff, so Ford clearly tuned the Explorer for paved roads.

Stepping into an Explorer is not the difficult proposition that it can be in many other SUV's. Foregoing the raised suspension, big fat tires and a "macho" look, the door sills sit relatively close to the ground, allowing easy entry and exit. Running boards, an option, further assist shorter passengers, but tend to get in the way of taller folk.

Once in the cabin, you'll find that it is bright and airy, allowing the driver a great view of the surroundings, although short drivers may have difficulty seeing over the tall dash. Most Explorers were equipped with a full complement of power accessories.

There's plenty of room for the driver and front seat passenger. The seats are comfortable on all but the longest trips where the overall softness of the seat begins to take a toll on your lower back. The Eddie Bauer and Limited versions with their multi-adjustable power seats allows you to custom tailor seat support.

The rear is large enough for three and is as comfortable as most good sized sedans. The bench seat is not contoured however, and lacks lower back support. As you would expect headroom is ample front and rear.

The Explorer's cargo capacity is tops in the "compact" SUV class. In fact, it will hold more than many larger SUV's such as the Toyota Land Cruiser and Mitsubishi Montero. The rear seat is split 60/40, allowing the extra versatility.

All that cargo room does come at a price. The spare tire is mounted underneath the vehicle, making tire changes difficult and decreasing ground clearance.

Ride, Handling and Performance
Under everyday driving conditions, the Explorer delivers a smooth and comfortable ride. Body motions are controlled, response is good and the cabin remains quiet. The steering is rather vague.

This a truck with an antiquated suspension, however (it's based on the Ranger pickup of that era) and poor roads transmit plenty of harshness and body shudder to passengers. Emergency handling is controllable but sluggish -- slow response with plenty of body roll and pitch. Unlike some other SUVs, however, it doesn't feel "tipsy".

All Explorers housed a 4.0-Liter 6-cylinder engine generating 155hp (160hp in '93 & '94). It goes about every day chores unobtrusively but makes a rather coarse racket when pushed. It moves the Explorer adequately.

The auto transmission is typical Ford - smooth most of the time but possessing certain gear/powerband combinations that feel anything but refined. A least they're infrequent. We could not locate an Explorer with a manual transmission for this report.

Braking distances are somewhat long, (typical for the class) but are uneventful.

Mainly due to its soft suspension, the Explorer has a modest cargo load capacity of 900lbs. Depending on which rear axle is installed (standard or a 3.73 performance ratio), you'll be able to tow anywhere from 3500 to 5200 pounds.

For a big rectangular box, Ford did a good job of keeping wind noise at bay. There's little intrusion, even at highway speeds.

Safety
As was customary in the early nineties, (the Jeep Cherokee was the first SUV to get a driver airbag in 1993), the Explorer has no air bags. It does however, have front and rear shoulder belts. Initially, anti-lock control resided solely on the rear drum brakes. A proper 4-wheel ABS system with four-wheel disc brakes had to wait until 1993.

Government crash tests on a 1994 model resulted in a three star (good) rating for the driver and a five star (excellent) rating for the front passenger. That's a pretty good rating on its own merits and exceptional for the SUV's of the period.

Service
Normal maintenance charges are low for an SUV and about average for all vehicles. The ohv engine has no need for a timing belt replacement. As with any 4-wheel drive vehicle, transfer case and differential fluids should be replaced if you are in deep water for any extended period of time.

1991-93 models used the old R12 a/c refrigerant. A recharge will run you about $150-$200. Conversion to the new 134a refrigerant will run $300-plus.

Reliability
Overall, the Explorer has proven to be a reliable workhorse. The few problems it has are minor and easily repaired. Major systems have held up well, with the exception of spotty performance from the automatic transmission.

A common complaint is radio frequency interference with the sound systems. Ford has issued a TSB for this and can provide you with an inexpensive filter kit (part# E7PZ9B357A) to rectify the situation. It was covered under warranty, so it's likely to have already been taken care of. Just listen for hiss coming from the stereo.

Rough engine operation frequently crops up after 50,000 miles or so. Often this can be traced to the Mass Air Flow Sensor (MAF). Before replacing it (about $200), try having the sensors cleaned -- usually that will do the trick. The procedure is detailed at a terrific website: www.4x4central.com/tips.htm.

Summary
Value pretty much sums up this Explorer. No, it doesn't excel in any one area. Others ride better, are more comfortable, tackle the trail better, or go faster. And newer versions of almost all sport utes (including the Explorer) have gone well beyond this Explorer in all of these areas.

But the Explorer is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It does just about everything well, and at a reasonable price to boot. That adds up to a pretty attractive package.

Best bet? A '93 or '94 model with the upgraded brakes and slightly stronger engine.

Running Changes

1991:  New model arrives in 1990

1992:  Dark tinted glass available on 4-door models

1993:  Limited model introduced mid-year; JBL audio option added; 4-wheel disc brakes with new 4-wheel ABS standard; power bump to 160hp

1994:  No major changes; all new model arrives for '95

 

General Specifications

General

Trim Levels: XL, Sport, XLT, Eddie Bauer, Limited

Body Styles: 2dr, 4dr Wagon

Dimensions & Capacities

Weight: 4000-4100 lbs

Length: 2dr 174.4"; 4dr 184.3"

Wheelbase: 2dr 102.1"; 4dr 111.9"

Width: 70.2"

Height: 2wd 67.5"; 4wd 68.3"

EPA Class: Utility

Interior Vol: n/a

Cargo Vol : 4dr (seat up) 42.6 cu. ft.

Fuel: 19 gallons

Mechanical

Layout: Front-engine, Front- or four-wheel drive

Engines: 4.0L (6cyl-155/160hp)

Transmission: 4-speed automatic w/overdrive; 5sp manual

Brakes: Front disc/rear drum (91,92) front disc/rear disc (93,94)

Performance (auto trans)

0-60mph: 11 seconds 1/4 mile: 18.4 seconds Top Speed: 95mph (governor limited)

EPA Mileage: (city/hwy) 15/20 (a/t)

 

Safety

ABS Brakes: Rear wheel only (91,92) 4-wheel (93,94)

Air Bags: None

NHTSA Safety Rating:

Driver *** Passenger *****

Key:

Best: ***** No or minor injuries probable

Worst: * Serious injury probable

IIHS 40 mph Crash Rating: Not tested

Original Warranty:

1991: 12mo/12,000 mi bumper to bumper; 6yr/100000 powertrain and corrosion

1992-1994: 3yr/36,000 mi bumper to bumper; 6yr/100,000 corrosion

 

 

1991-94 Ford Explorer Safety Recalls

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 90V098000

Potential Number of Units Affected: 2500

Model Year: 1991; Manufactured From: FEB 1989 To: MAY 1990

Year of Recall: '90

Summary: IF SUNROOF GLASS IS REMOVED AND REINSTALLED BY VEHICLE OPERATOR, HINGE ASSEMBLIES CAN BE ACCIDENTALLY IMPROPERLY MATED.  SUNROOF COULD DETACH FROM THE VEHICLE WHILE BEING DRIVEN, CREATING A RISK TO FOLLOWING VEHICLES OR PEOPLE IN THE VICINITY, OR TO VEHICLE OCCUPANTS IF THE GLASS SHOULD FALL INTO THE CABIN. INSTALL REVISED SUNROOF HINGES THAT WILL ADEQUATELY RETAIN SUNROOF ASSEMBLY.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 91V024000

Potential Number of Units Affected: 25000

Model Year: 1991; Manufactured From: FEB 1990 To: NOV 1990

Year of Recall: '91

Summary: THE FRONT HEAT SHIELD MAY CONTACT THE FRONT OF THE PLASTIC FUEL TANK, CAUSING CUTS OR OTHER DAMAGE TO THE EXTENT OF PENETRATION. THIS PENETRATION OF THE FUEL TANK CAUSES VAPORS TO ESCAPEAND POSSIBLY FUEL TO SPILL, WHICH COULD CATCH FIRE IN THE PRESENCE OF ANIGNITION SOURCE. RELOCATE THE HEAT SHIELD; INSPECT AND REPLACE DAMAGED FUEL FUEL TANKS.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 91V025000

Potential Number of Units Affected: 18000

Model Year: 1991; Manufactured From: JUL 1990 To: AUG 1990

Year of Recall: '91

Summary: THE HOT PLATE WELD WHICH ATTACHES THE VAPOR VENT VALVE CARRIER TO THE TOP OF THE PLASTIC FUEL TANK MAY PARTIALLY FRACTURE, ALLOWING VAPOR OF FUEL TO ESCAPE FROM THE TOP OF THE TANK. THE ESCAPED VAPOR OR LEAKED FUEL COULD CAUSE A FIRE IN THE PRESENCE OF A SOURCE OF IGNITION. FUEL TANK WILL BE REMOVED AND INSPECTED FOR WELD INTEGRITY. FUEL TANKS WITH INADEQUATE WELDS WILL BE REPLACED.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 91V026000

Potential Number of Units Affected: 220000

Model Year: 1991; Manufactured From: FEB 1990 To: JAN 1991

Year of Recall: '91

Summary: REAR BUMPER REINFORCEMENT MAY BE SUBJECT TO FATIGUE CRACKING UNDER EXTENDED TRAILER TOW SERVICE WHEN USING A BUMPER-MOUNTED TRAILER HITCH BALL. UNDER EXTREME CONDITIONS, BUMPER COULD SEPARATE FROM THE VEHICLE WHEN USING A BUMPER

MOUNTED TRAILER HITCH BALL. INSTALL TWO BRACKETS TO REINFORCE THE BUMPER. NOTE: BUMPER MOUNTED TRAILER HITCH BALL ASSEMBLY SHOULD NOT BE USED UNTIL REPAIR PROCEDURE IS COMPLETED.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 91V189000

Potential Number of Units Affected: 792000

Model Year: 1991; Manufactured From: JUL 1989 To: AUG 1991

Year of Recall: '91

Summary: WHEN THE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION SHIFT LEVER IS PLACED IN THE PARK POSITION, THE PARK PAWL DOES NOT ALWAYS ABUT OR ENGAGE THE PARK GEAR. DRIVER MAY BELIEVE THE VEHICLE IS SAFELY ENGAGED IN PARK WHEN THE GEAR IS NOT TRULY ENGAGED. THIS CAN LEAD TO THE VEHICLE JUMPING OUT OF GEAR UNINTENTIONALLY, VEHICLE ROLL AWAY WHEN PARKED ON A SLOPED SURFACE, AND INADVERTENT MOTION WHEN THE VEHICLE IS STARTED. ALL OF THESE CONDITIONS CAN RESULT IN A VEHICLE ACCIDENT. REPAIR THE TRANSMISSION WITH A NEW PARK PAWL.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 92V113000

Potential Number of Units Affected: 565000

Model Year: 1991; Manufactured From: MAR 1989 To: AUG 1990

Year of Recall: '92

Summary: THE RIGID MOUNTED SAFETY BELT BUCKLES ARE DEFECTIVE IN THREE WAYS. FIRST, A FASTENED SAFETY BELT BUCKLE WILL NOT UNLATCH WHEN THE RELEASE BUTTON IS DEPRESSED. THIS RESULTS FROM INTERFERENCE BETWEEN THE BUCKLE EJECTOR FINGER AND THE BUCKLE TONGUE WINDOW. THE SECOND DEFECT IS THE SAFETY BELT BUCKLE MAY NOT LATCH. THE THIRD POSSIBLE DEFECT IS THAT THE TONGUE MAY BE RETAINED BY THE BUCKLE, BUT IT MAY NOT BE LATCHED SUFFICIENTLY TO PROVIDE OCCUPANT PROTECTION. AN INSUFFICIENTLY LATCHED OR UNLATCHED SAFETY BELTINCREASES THE RISK OF INJURY TO SEAT OCCUPANTS IN THE EVENT OF A SUDDEN STOP ORACCIDENT. IF THE SAFETY BELT BUCKLE WILL NOT UNLATCH, IT WILL NOT ALLOW THEOCCUPANT TO GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION.

  FORD WILL REPLACE THE RIGID MOUNTED SAFETY BELT BUCKLES WITH END RELEASE SAFETY BELT BUCKLES DESIGNED TO PREVENT LATCH PROBLEMS . NOTE: ONLY THE END RELEASE BUCKLES ON "RIGID" MOUNTINGS ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO THIS MALFUNCTION, THE WEB-MOUNTED FRONT CENTER BUCKLES INEXPLORER VEHICLES WILL NOT BE REPLACED.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 94V169000/1

Potential Number of Units Affected: 884400

Model Years: 1993-94; Manufactured From: JUL 1991 To: MAY 1994

Year of Recall: '94

Summary: THE PARKING BRAKE CONTROL SELF-ADJUST PAWL DOES NOT LINE UP PROPERLY WITH THE SELF-ADJUST RACHET CAUSING THE PAWL TO SLIP OVER ONE OR MORE TEETH IN THE RACHET. WHEN THE ABOVE OCCURS, IT CAN RESULT IN PARKING BRAKE SYSTEM INEFFECTIVENESS. THE PARKING BRAKE WILL NOT HOLD THE VEHICLE, CAUSING THE VEHICLE TO ROLL FREELY, IF THE TRANSMISSION IS NOT LEFT IN GEAR. A WEDGE WILL BE INSTALLED WHICH WILL SERVE TO LOCK THE PARKING BRAKE SELF-ADJUST MECHANISM PAWL INTO ENGAGEMENT WITH THE RACHET. ALSO, OWNERS WILL BE ADVISED TO RELEASE AND REAPPLY THE PARKING BRAKE WHENEVER TOOTH SKIP OCCURS AND WILL BE REMINDED TO ALWAYS TURN OFF THE ENGINE AND LEAVE THE VEHICLE IN GEAR WHEN THE VEHICLE IS PARKED.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 95I007000

Potential Number of Units Affected: 1029380

Model Years: 1991-94; Manufactured From: FEB 1990 To: FEB 1995

Year of Recall: '95

Summary: THIS IS NOT A SAFETY RECALL IN ACCORDANCE WITH FEDERAL REGULATION 573. HOWEVER, IT IS DEEMED A SAFETY IMPROVEMENT CAMPAIGN BY THE AGENCY. THE CAMPAIGN WILL REINFORCE THE BRACKET ATTACHMENTS OF THE REAR LIFTGATE GAS ASSIST CYLINDERS WHICH COULD PULL AWAY FROM THE INSIDE OF THE LIFTGATE. IF A BRACKET AND GAS ASSIST CYLINDER WERE TO DETACH COMPLETELY FROM THE LIFTGATE AND NO LONGER BEAR AGAINST THE LIFTGATE AS INTENDED, THE REMAINING ASSIST CYLINDER WOULD NOT HOLD THE LIFTGATE IN AN OPEN POSITION. PERSONAL INJURY COULD OCCUR. FORD DEALERS WILL REINFORCE THE BRACKET ATTACHMENTS. FORD HAS DECIDED TO CONDUCT A SAFETY IMPROVEMENT SERVICE CAMPAIGN TO REINFORCE THE BRACKET ATTACHMENTS WITHOUT CHARGE. OWNERS CAN CONTACT FORD AT 1-800-392-3673.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 95V164000/1

Potential Number of Units Affected: 364784

Model Years: 1992-93; Manufactured From: JAN 1992 To: MAR 1993

Year of Recall: '95

Summary: THE HYDRAULIC LIFT CYLINDERS ARE ATTACHED TO BRACKETS THAT ARE WELDED TO THE LIFTGATE.THE BRACKET WELDS CAN FRACTURE. WITH A BROKEN BRACKET WELD, THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR THE LIFTGATE BRACKET TO GRADUALLY BEND INWARD ALLOWING THE LIFT CYLINDERBALL STUD TO DISENGAGE. DEALERS WILL INSTALL REINFORCEMENT BRACKETS.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 96V024000/1

Potential Number of Units Affected: 108000

Model Years: 1991-94; Manufactured From: MAR 1991 To: NOV 1993

Year of Recall: '96

Summary: THE STUDS WHICH ATTACH THE BRAKE MASTER CYLINDER TO THE POWER BRAKE VACUUM BOOSTER ASSEMBLY CAN DEVELOP STRESS CORROSION CRACKING AFTER BEING OPERATED FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LOCATION. IF A CRACK OCCURS, IT COULD RESULT IN ONE OR BOTH STUDS FRACTURING. THE MASTER CYLINDER COULD THEN SEPARATE FROM THE VACUUM BOOSTER, WHEN THE BRAKES ARE APPLIED, PREVENTING THE SERVICE BRAKES FROM ACTIVATING INCREASING THE RISK OF A VEHICLE ACCIDENT. DEALERS WILL REPLACE THE POWER BRAKE VACUUM BOOSTER ASSEMBLY. FOR MULTI-PURPOSE VEHICLES AND LIGHT DUTY TRUCKS ORIGINALLY SOLD OR CURRENTLY REGISTERED IN THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COUNTIES OF LOS ANGELES, ORANGE, SAN BERNADINO, SAN DIEGO, RIVERSIDE, VENTURA, SANTA BARBARA, SAN LUIS OBISPO, IMPERIAL, AND KERN.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 97V083000

Potential Number of Units Affected: 610000

Model Years: 1992-94; Manufactured From: AUG 1992 To: NOV 1994

Year of Recall: '97

Summary: A short circuit condition can occur in the remote power mirror control switch circuit board as a result of a separated part of the contact assembly bridging the switch positive battery pad and adjacent chassis ground pad. The current can overheat the printed circuit board and other plastic and elastomeric components of the switch assembly resulting in smoke or fire. Dealers will install an in-line 10 amp fuse in the positive battery feed to the remote power mirror control switch assembly.

NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 97V235000/1

Potential Number of Units Affected: 208000

Year: 1991-94; Manufactured From: JAN 1990 To: JAN 1993

Year of Recall: '97

Summary: Vehicle Description: Multi-purpose passenger vehicles equipped with factory installed sunroof. The sunroof glass panel assembly can separate while the vehicle is moving due to incorrect hinge engagement. This was caused by improper sunroof installation of the glass panel. Unexpected separation of the sunroof glass panel could possibly distract the driver increasing the risk of a vehicle crash or loss of vehicle control. Owners will be provided with an instruction booklet which thoroughly outlines, with illustrations, the proper procedures for the removal, storage, and reinstallation of the sunroof's glass panel. A warning label for attachment to the sunroof's latch knob will also be provided to the owners.