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Ford Explorer Mercury Mountaineer 2005 and earlier



  • I had as a company truck, a `98 Ford F150 with Firestone tires. I don't recall what the tread wear rating was, but I didn't have to replace those tires until about 89,500 miles. They were original equipment and still had about 1/4-inch of tread on them. We only replaced them at 89,500 miles because a 2-inch wide by 6-inch long strip of tread came off the left rear tire. They were excellent tires!
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Yes, if the tread doesn't come off, Firestones wear forever.....
  • I just traded my 02 Explorer XLS 4x4 for an 03 MM V6 AWD Luxury Package. First, the fuel difference: They both had the v6 engine, but my Explorer got 18 city and almost 20 highway, and the Mountaineer is getting 15ish city and 18ish on the highway.

    The noise difference is dramatic. The cheapo XLS interior was much quieter than the MM interior. It seems that there's a wind noise in the MM that I can't quite track down. From the driver's seat it sounds like its coming from the passenger side. My wife, however, says it's coming from the middle. I don't have a sunroof.

    I also have the Goodrich tires on the car and they are way noisier than the OE Explorer tires.

    So, what problems can I look for in the MM? And how do I fix this wind noise, or is that something that we all live with?

    Note to all you Explorer buyers. I had the 02 XLS 4x4 for a year. Loved it. The only problems were a bad wheel sensor which caused the ABS light to come on, and the cruise control would go out or not function from time to time. Could never get it to do that at the dealership though. Gas mileage was great. I never thought I'd own one, but I wouldn't rule out another.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    I would say the main reason for the reduction in gas mileage from the Explorer to the Moutaineer is that the Mountaineer you have is AWD, and is on all of the time. Where the 4x4 of your previous Explorer was on only when you turned it on, or if A4WD was selected and wheel slippage was detected. As for wind noise, I would take it back to the dealer and see what they can do. It may be an improperly sealed windshield, or door seals that aren't sealing completely. Goodluck and enjoy your new truck!

    BTW, I think Ford has done a commendable job working out all of the new Explorers/Mountaineers first year bugs. So your 03 should be even better than your 02 in terms of mechanical reliability!
  • I am looking to either purchase an Eddie Bauer Explorer or the MM luxury. Leaning towards Mercury because of AWD. Ford's web site says that Explorers have the option of AWD v. 4WD, but the dealers in the Wash DC area do not stock them. I have a '96 XLT with AWD and it drives like a tank in the snow. Any comments on Explorer v. MM and AWD v. 4WD would be appreciated. 0% financing on both.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,854
    the 4wd system has awd (4x4 auto) and 4wd (hi and low range). best of both worlds. the 4x4 auto mode doesn't slip much before engaging. i think the default mode is mostly rwd, until slippage is detected.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • I have owned an 03 MM Premier for about 9 mnths and had a 98 MM prior to this. I feel my family of 3 + (one on the way)is safer in the AWD. My wife primarilary drives the trucks (98 and now the 03). She doesnt want to have to think about how to change to 4 wheel drive high/low etc. She wants to get in and drive, thats it. The AWD is perfect for her and me as well. I took the 03 on the beach this summer and had no problems what so ever. The 98 was a monster in the snow, havent had the 03 in the snow yet but I am sure it will be even better. Sometimes you cant see dangerous road conditions and its nice to know that you are running AWD all the time...Hope this helped in your decision between the MM and the Exploder!
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    There's a bit more involved as to the mechanisms of AWD and 4WD. It's paramount to know how each system works since they all are designed differently. Find out if the AWD system has a closed or open differential. That itself will make the difference between "give" and "correcting" upon the differential.

    I won't mention which vehicles/brands, but there's a few that are supposedly AWD and are the first to get stuck in snow. I've been able to defeat some AWD systems (on closed testing facilities) and hae an 4WD system. There should be a programmed ratio for each differential to correct a slip. The easily defeatable AWD systems are those that run ALL wheels, at the same time while 1, 2 or 3 wheels spin endlessly seeking traction, chances are the 4th won't recoupe, therefore you'll see them hit a snow drift or curb.

    The better AWD systems are those that send power to the wheels that grip, while the spinning one's regain traction, in whatever methods need be (some use brake intervention to do so, and these are the more advanced versions).

    One example, is the Jaguar X-type sedan, which is AWD, but uses a rear biased AWd system, directing around 60% of it's power towards the rear wheel, while the front receive the remaining power. On dicey situations the system is able to compensate for lost traction on one wheel, but becomes a bit riskier when more than 2 lose traction on the same axle.

    Most car-based SUV's such as Escape/VUE/Highlander/Pilot, will use an AWD systems that's quite easy and simple. Since it's FWD, their weight over the front wheels, allow them to use a simpler version, BUT many times in AWD optional form, might not work as well on black ice for example.

    In those simple systems, they are FWD biased, and will only switch to AWD by transfering their traction to the rear wheels when front slippage is detected. Chances are if the front wheels are slipping (considering the weight overthem) chances are the rear wheels MIGHT help, but don't expect a miracle. And all this needs ot be accomplished by a very active and fast computer programming management system to switch the hydraulics for the rear wheels to compensate.

    On the other field we have 4WD, that allows for more choices based on driver input. From 4WDlow, to 4wdAuto, or 2WD. These can help few economy, but most times are a bit more complex over AWD, and require a bit more mechanicals. Ford's Control Trac by far is one of the better 4WD systems on vehicles. Not only because of it's grip and ability, but it's durability as well.

    Not stating which is better over AWD/4WD, just stating each system is vastly different from manufacturer to manufacturer, finding out which system and how it works, is what will make the difference. Have peace of mind that either of Ford's system is ahead of the competition.

    And even better, are vehicles that incorporate an Anti-Skid Stability System onto their AWD/4WD. This can make good driver's, better. But doesn't make up for the bad one's that feel invisible either.
  • Thanks all for responding to my question.

    brast69: Your situation sounds very similar to mine. The new Exp. or MM will be my wife's daily driver, we have one child and another on the way. I, too, just want her to get in and drive and not think about whether or not the 4WD is engaged, so I'm leaning towards the MM. Glad to know the AWD does well at the beach as that is the only "off-roading" I would do as well. If I did a lot of off-roading and needed the 4WD low, I would either get the NBX or 4runner or Jeep for that matter.

    I test drove the Explorer last weekend, my first time feeling the new suspension. Great improvement over my '96. Haven't seen the inside of the MM yet, but have read it's nice as well.

    Still curious why I can't find an XLT with AWD, sales guy said it has to be special ordered from the factory? Then again, I want the heated seats/mirrors, upgraded stereo, so I'm back to the MM.
  • Just found this from a review of the '02 MM right here on

    "Take our 2002 Mercury Mountaineer test vehicle, for example. Why should someone buy this SUV over a Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer or Limited? For the exclusive all-wheel-drive system? That Control Trac automatic four-wheel-drive setup on the Explorer is a slick piece of work, transferring power when the wheels slip so quickly that the driver barely even feels the system working its magic. So the Mountaineer's AWD, which distributes engine torque in a 35 percent front/65 percent rear split under normal conditions, is no reason to choose the Merc over the Ford.

    Basically, it comes down to styling. Do you like the way the Mountaineer looks better than the Explorer? Then buy it. That AWD system isn't going to kill your fuel mileage; during two tanks drained on the mean streets of Detroit, we averaged 16.5 mpg with our V8 test truck, and that was with a reasonably heavy foot on the throttle."
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    I have an 03 MM, that was one of the very first to roll off the track in the spring of 02. For a first production model, it has performed very well, and I'm frankly surprised. It's my wife's daily driver, and although some people have had some nightmares with theirs, we are really happy with ours. 30,000 miles so far, only problem has been the water pump pulley, had to be replaced for squeaking twice. It's the 3rd MM we've owned, and sometime soon, we'll be getting the 4th, I'm sure. My wife won't consider anything else.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    If all you want to do is not get stuck in many feet of snow the MM AWD system works quite well. Coming from a QuadraDrive, which can deliver 100% torque to any one wheel, I was pleasantly surprised during last years monstrous snow storms in the NE.

    I had complete confidence in the vehicle to get me through whatever road conditions were in front of me.

    Unless you are looking to do some serious off-roading the MM AWD system will fill the bill.

    BTW - have 23K miles on the vehicle after a year and a half. Total problems that require a dealer trip - 0. This vehicle puts Lexus reliablity to shame. :)
  • aug1aug1 Posts: 1
    Test drove MM v8. Engine noise was loud and powerful.Has anybody driven v6. Was wondering about noise and difference in gas milage.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    aug1- look at the epa mileage estimates. With these big barges, gas mileage is a factor of the gearing, engine and how hard the vehicle is driven. A "granny" driven V8 can have better mileage than a flogged V6. Get whatever you feel most comfortable with as the mileage difference will probably not be that significant, but take your own driving style into consideration.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    We have a V-6. Engine is smooth and adequate. Mileage is pretty good for this car, 17 in town, 21 on highway. But I prefer the 8. Much more fun to drive. YMMV.
  • gpz1gpz1 Posts: 7
    aug1 - We have a 2003 V6 Premier and absolutely love it. We chose it over the V8 because it was more quiet, smoother and overall just plain seamless in it's operation. We had a 99' MM with the 302 V8 and that motor was real raucous and loud compared to this V6 and the new 4.6 V8. The new V8 is a huge improvement over the old 302 V8. But we still felt the shifts more and heard the V8 rumble in the new V8 in 2 separate test drives of the V8. I wanted the V8, but I am very happy with the V6 for our use. I will never tow anything, so the V6 worked for us. I am a little disappointed with the V6 mileage though. We're getting 13.5 - 15 in pure city and 20-21 on the highway. The highway is where it should be, I had hoped for better city mileage with the V6. I hope the mileage improves with some more miles on the odometer. I noticed that the 2004 MM V8's in PA. have a $895 credit off the sticker for an essentially free V8 upgrade. That may be too hard to pass up - a free proven 4.6 V8 vs. 4.0 V6. Good Luck !!!
  • Hey Im new to the edmunds forum, and had a couple of questions about the explorer. I havent had the oppurtunity to test drive one due to the inclement weather. But first, how does the explorer handle? How does it handle in inclement whether and what is your opinion about the reliablity of fords and their resale value?
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    You can see from my profile, I like Ford SUVs. I think the Explorer is the best design in the class. They drive flat like a car and have a folding rear seat, both thanks to the independent rear suspension, which only Fords have at this time in SUVs. I think the Explorer is the Gold Standard of SUVs, and have had no reliability problems with any of mine. I still have my 94 Eddie Bauer, with 120,000 on the clock. Runs great. No engine or transmission repairs. In fact, only a pulley has been replaced on the engine, and a shift motor is currently out in the 4WD and needs replacement. Not bad for 120,000 miles.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    I waited for my exploder test drive until we had three inches of slush and a little freezing drizzle on the interstate ramps, because that's as close to worst-case driving as we got that winter of 99/00. one little tail-twitch going onto a ramp that hadn't seen any attention since the weather started, and that told me how far I could go. I like to find a nice quiet lonely spot in sour weather and see what's underneath before going far, and that was convenient.

    and that was with the awful >= KILLER TIRES! <= tm that came on it standard at the time. I've kept the memory as my "limit" point, and with the General 660s I got in the Customer Satisfaction tire swap, I have better control.

    the AWD in the 2000 has been stable and consistent. I only feel it going into action on dry loose roadbed like gravel. the 2003 and up top system, offering AWD with on-demand locked gearboxes for 4WD, is what I would really have liked to have on my truck, just in case I had to crawl out through a flooded road with a forest fire behind me.

    get over there before all the parking lots get bladed and sanded and test it. you'll like it.
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    Ford has publically announce their release of Roll Stability Control.

    Available in the following vehicles...
        * 2004 Lincoln Aviator
        * 2004 Lincoln Navigator
        * 2005 Ford Explorer
        * 2005 Ford Expedition
        * 2005 Mercury Mountaineer ke_id=trust
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    them weasels are trying to make me trade before it makes sense again.... ;)
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    between the Earlybird Lease Renewal certificate, and the options, I'm likely to be signing another lease here in a month or so.
  • gpz1 indicated that they found their V-6 more smooth & quiet over the 4.6L V8. We have the V6 in our '02 MM and I find it to be pretty noisy (especially during acceleration and on the highway) and the transmission shifted very hard at times until they finally replaced the torque converter (after the 5th service visit). But we will be purchasing an '04 MM before the end of the year - it has the 4.6L V8 which we thought was much quieter than our V6.
    For those that have driven both engines, what do you think about the noise from the 2 engines??
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    The 4.6L V8 is the quieter one, and because it's larger and more powerful, it requires less intrusive downshifting for effortless passing.
  • gregb5gregb5 Posts: 82
    The 4.6 is the right choice. Rest easy.
  • Thanks for your feedback. I was starting to wonder whether we just happened to have a noisy V6 and tried an unusually quiet V8. Phew!
    Not that the V6 is a bad setup. It did a very respectable job of pulling our boat/trailer this summer which weighs about 5500 lbs (dry) - yes, we were pushing the limit a bit. But the engine noise drove me nuts! Looking forward to the V8!!
  • ANT14ANT14 Posts: 2,687
    I'm a noise freak myself, so many times I'll just ride in friends cars (they force me) to diagnose the issue they might have and such. I'm quite familiar with noises of both V6 and V8. The V6's noise issue mainly stems from the manifold itself... it COULD be made quieter and I could recommend some ideas (Dynamat for one, which I've used on some vehicles) that I've heard other noise freaks use on their vehicles (not just the Explorer, but other noisy engined vehicles).

    The V6 does very well overall. The computer does a good job of keeping the transmission at the heart of the powerband (3000 RPM), for most situations. And it's usually around that level (and above) that you might hear the enginer working harder. It's a raspy voice, but NOT as bad as the Freestars raspiness which sounds like farm machinery on power demand.

    But during cruising, you should be under 2000RPM and at that point it's quieter and non-intrusive overall. The only issue that dissapoints me about this engine is the gas milage could be just as equal as that of the V8 version, mainly because it needs to work THAT much harder, to attain the speed you require, that a V8 will effortly give you without the drama. SO personally, I always recommend the V8 version because of that.

    Sidenote: There are times that maybe the smaller engine might be quieter, depending upon the vehicle, and it's needs/requirements. One example would be the Mustang, whereas the GT V8 is tuned for it's sports car nature, and the V6 is tuned for much quieter refined (to a certain degree) sound. And this is something that happens in other vehicles as well.

    And another thought.... I don't know about you, but even on my friends Saturn (and you know they are somewhat noisy) I never really hear the engine since the A/C is blasting (I'm in FL) and the radio is on. So I guess this is a reason why to some, it's not that much of an issue since they have other noisier that drown it out.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,854
    v8 sounds are good sounds! don't mind listening to them at all. 4.6 is very smooth too.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • I have a 2002 MM, I bought it used and was wondering if it's normal that the headlights won't flash when unlock/locking it using the remote?
  • We have the '02 MM as well. The headlights do not blink in conjunction with locking & unlocking. Unfortunately, you have to be near the vehicle to hear the locks engage - if you're paranoid like me - and want to be sure the vehicle locked...or lock it twice which sounds the horn (annoying). However, when you Unlock the MM, the puddle lamps on the mirrors should come on - to light the way in the dark, and indicate that the door(s) have been unlocked.
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