Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ford Explorer = POS

5.5 years ago, after our dimwitted SIL totaled our 1992 Chevy we were forced to upgrade. We bought an uncertified pre-owned 2000 Ford Explorer from some kid in Brooklyn. All told we paid $11,000 for it.

We knew from day one that Explorers were total POS. That was the unanimous opinion from everyone we asked or read. Yet we still made the purchase because, if memory serves me, the more reliable stuff like the Toyota Camry (with 50k miles) was going for $17,000. That just always seemed like a lot of money to spend to get us from point C to point H. Myself, I was always far more comfortable wasting large amounts of money on calls and puts!

Actually, we were living in NYC, being green BEFORE it was trendy with walking and subways, only using the car on weekends, and parking it on the city streets. Only a Moron in our position would buy a shiny new car.

Anyways, our Explorer is just about kaput. The transmission is in all likelihood shot.

My mechanic told me to go to his *tranny guy* - YEAH, HE REALLY USED THAT CHARACTERIZATION! - and see if the problem could be solved by *taking a solenoid out* and repairing it. That might be $400-$500 versus an entire new *tranny* for $2,000.

Now even though this car made it down to Charlotte, NC and back a few times, it had been running poorly almost since the get-go. Engine light always on; power fading ever so often; frequent misfires; etc. The latest symptom has been more problematic - it won't accelerate from a stopped position. Let's just say it fires up like a drunken 80 year old man! Neither of which can safely cross a busy street. What reference did y'all think I was making here anyway?

About a month ago, the *overdrive* light started flashing during transit. My mechanic told me that usually indicated a *tranny* problem. He tried to soup it up with some fluids and other bio-organic, holistic remedies but it was to no avail.

Not excited about putting serious money into this proven money pit....I asked the Google mechanic.

On web forums, like this, I read the testimonials of numerous Ford Explorer owners who had this very problem. They all went to mechanics who first tried a *solenoid*, then a *whole new tranny*, replaced sensors, etc. I read a bunch of them and pretty much not a single complainant had a happy ending. There's definitely an engineering flaw on these models from Ford - of which the company has refused to acknowledge, no less address with a fix or recall.

I was reluctant to get any work done in the first place, but what I read online put any thoughts of car rehab to rest. It just didn't seem right to me to inter a car after only 88,000 miles. Heck my parents' cars from 25 years ago, Oldsmobiles mostly, all withstood well over 100,000 miles. Some further Googling today revealed that 75k is all that could be expected of these Fords....because of inferior transmissions.

So that settled it.

Bye, bye Explorer.

Hello Minivan!

$11,000 divided by 5.5 years divided by 12 months...

The cost of the POS = $167 per month.

Yeah, it was a bit of a maintenance hassle....but we also had very low insurance premiums and we didn't have to worry about it getting dinged or stolen.


armybrat said...

we spent $1600 in repairs last month on a Jeep we bought brand new 5 years ago and now has 35000 miles on it. new front suspension, new brakes, new tires all around, oh yeah, and opening the air conditioning system to pull out what ever rodent ate it's way up while you've got things torn apart put on all new belts and hoses. I feel your pain.

panner said...

minivan. sigh, i think i'm with you on that one soon... what's the research on used ones?

CaptiousNut said...


Jeeps are POS too, right?

It seems like our choice is simple - either pay up for a Toyota/Honda or deal with the cheap clunkers.

I say it's a wash - though admittedly I've never owned a new car so my opinion is somewhat biased.

Anonymous said...

My Honda Accords have 150k and 240k miles on them and i just had to replace the timing belts and the tires. They are well worth the upfront costs.

CaptiousNut said...


Well, you definitely got your money's worth.

I am thinking about buying a Camry or something fuel efficient now with the plan to buy the minivan when the Suburban dies (150k on it now).

I'm partial to the idea of buying a new car and running it into the ground. But even if you get 10 years out of 35k car....that's still $3,500 per year.

Alright, maybe that's not so bad.

Glen said...

Explorers are extremely reliable vehicles, they go for many miles without needing major work. Right now the one has 176k on it and everything is stock except for ball joints, breaks and tires the normal stuff that needs maintenance. The only bad explorers were the 2002's.

Anonymous said...

I have 15y old Honda with over 100k and rust is the only visible problem. Mechanically this car, I think, can go next 15 years without major breakdown. It's european civic model with manual transmition. In Europe Honda is a more expensive car then Toyota, and not without the reason. If prices in US of this cars are similar- choose Honda

Anonymous said...

Find a good used Saturn. Mine is ticking over just fine at 96k with lots of life left, my friend's has just turned 300k! There are still some of the old Chevy Astro vans around too, although most owners won't give them up. You'll get the best prices in rural areas. Best of luck, Dd

Unknown said...

My 1992 Explorer, reached 485,000km before I retired it. that is almost 300,000 miles. Original engine, original transmission, both never opened except for proper services.

I believe you need to learn more about vehicles before you start trying to smack talk.

How many Ford Crown Victorias are used as police or taxicabs? They all reach or exceed 500,000 km.

Maybe if you did any maintenance your cars would last longer?