Mazda 5 Speed Manual
(Frequently Asked Questions)
TIRE OPTIONS '91-'94 | TIRE OPTIONS 95+ | SPRING OVER CONVERSION
VIBRATION PROBLEMS | ADVICE FOR 16 YEAR OLDS
Options for the '91 -'94 Explorers
and Tire Options for the '95 and Later IFS Explorers
At this time adjusting
the torsion bars for a slight lift, adding a leaf to the rear spring pack
and a good body lift are the only ways to get larger tires under the late
over Axle Conversion
Fix for Explorer Vibration Problems
Drivers who received this 'fix' report mixed results. The lateral stiffness in the rear is better (higher), but it may be too harsh for boulevard drivers. I agree with this assessment after installing the back half of the kit on my 'boulevard' '92 4dr.
Since the initial in-warranty offering, all the affected '91 to '94 cars have slipped out of warranty. The motor mounts are not available as separate pieces, and may not now be available at all. Ford has stopped offering the kit as a cure, since the dissatisfaction rating is so high onit. The engineering is rumored to be done by Porsche, with the mounts coming out of a Mercedes parts bin with custom engine brackets. FWIW.
My Experience So Far: Eibach Springs has been working on a kit to minimize the shake. They are looking to get Ford to offer it through dealers, so some of the pieces are off-the-shelf bits from Ford where possible. So far the mod list has--
(1) A set of full-size Bronco radius arm bushings to soften the front-end impacts. These replaced a set of polyurethane donuts I had installed at about 70k miles. Results: definite improvement in impact harshness, but added some washy feel to the front end. A net plus for the road car, though.
(2) We added a custom made rear trans mount that gets rid of a lot of the mechanical noise from under the seat. No direct relationship to the 60'ishcowl shake, but better feel overall without that nagging noise/vibration right under your seat.
(3) The rear springs have the overload
leaves removed so the spring rate is more
predictable in normal driving. Neoprene pads are installed in place of the
steel shims in the spring pack. This effectively lowers the total spring
rate since they are thicker than the metal pads, plus there is some damping
I guess. Net effect-- Better, but the butt is dragging and the springs
won't hold up 4 passengers and/or the boat trailer (150# tongue weight).
I'd think carefully before I did this one again, and may go ahead and install
all the original stuff back in. In the meanwhile I have airshocks in the
inboard positions to help carry the higher loads.
(4) Ford factory "motorsport" shocks are on the car now. The Eibach guys have a spring and shock dyno, and these were the best commercially available shock for what they had in mind. Since then, Ford has stopped production of these shocks, so they are not a real option for the average user. Discussion with several new Edelbrock owners suggests that maybe those are the ones to try next, especially since they are satisfaction guaranteed. The previous shocks were Gabriels, which were poo-poo'd by Eibach.
(5) The rear shocks were moved outboard of the frame in an attempt to get a better moment on the axle. I don't recommend this for any but the die-hard user, since there's a lot of stuff to do to make it work. Net effect was undetectable to me, but the Eibach guys think it helps a lot.
Tires: I have BFG trail T/A's in stock 235-15 size. The now have almost 50k on them, and will probably last another 10 to 20k easily. Replacements will be Michelin LTX M&S instead of the AT tread. I've seen several Explorers with 235 passenger car tires, and they look kind of wimpy. The Michelins look just like the AT's but the tread isn't as aggressive. Same look once you are moving, and same profile. Again, the local tire store honors Michelin's satisfaction guarantee, so no risk trying them. Reports from many users are all positive.
The Car: '92 XLT 4dr 4wd, 128k California miles on it now. Almost all freeway driving so stuff lasts longer than desert bashing or pothole hopping. I'm getting some creaks in the right side, at least that's where I hear them from. The door weatherstrip rubbers and latches need to be replaced to get rid of those noises. Everything else seems intact.
The vibrations: I didn't know there was a problem until I went to talk to the guys at Eibach about the vibrations and cowl shake they are trying to cure. My car was delivered with 20psi front and 22psi rear, and rode OK the way I drive it. Door sticker says 26, which I would put in when loaded and/or towing. I have a sports car, and never expected sports car handling from the truck, by the way. The tires are at 30psi now, and the car shakes in the cowl at 65. I may reduce the tire pressure some, but the shoulders are wearing on the BFG's already from under inflation early in life, so this will promote death a little more quickly. The smoother ride may be wort hit. The original rock-hard Firestones made it to almost 70k before they were replaced chasing the first radius-arm bushing shake, run at 20-24psitheir whole lives.
Conclusions: A good set of new tires, freshly precision balanced, is better than any set of used tires that are unbalanced. I may just pop for the Michelins this summer rather than suffer through another season of the shakes. I will need better tread by the time winter rolls around anyway, so it's a matter of cheapness wrt the miles left on the BFG's. Balancing the old ones is $36 and an hour or more at the tire store. They won't let me help...I promised myself that I'd get the Edelbrock shocks to try within the last couple weeks, but I keep forgetting to go write a check for the $300 they cost. My hand shakes...
That's the situation as I know it today.
Sell your Explorer (which costs over $.60/mile to operate) and get some small, used, ugly econobox with a miserly 4 cylinder (that costs more like $.25/mile to operate) Explorers are great, but they really cost a lot of money, both to buy parts for and feed. Plus the modifications you will eventually want to make on your Explorer can easily run in excess of $15,000
Given your age, we would take all our "spare" money (and all but the basics should be spare) and invest it in school, present and future. Get the hottest computer (Pentium MMX, preferably Pentium II or even newer) you can afford with the newest software, especially C and Java, and learn to program these languages. Take any available money and put it in a growth stock fund until you graduate from High School, then wait for a market high and get out with the money invested in a BBB-grade bond or preferred stock fund (about 8.75%) to provide income while you are in college or trade school.
If you are headed to college, consider this: Double major in college, that is do a full major in something you love (e.g. Art, Photography, Music Classics, History, Anthropology, Biology) and do a full major in something that will always provide you some good income (e.g. Business, Computer Science, Engineering). It will take you 4 years plus one additional semester.
If you intend to be an automotive mechanic, you still need to invest in the training such as Community College, including the computers, to be a good one these days. After this you will need to apprentice and maybe work for a specific manufacturer or dealership. You will be a step up on most toward building and modifying any fine vehicle.
When you get a decent job after all this, you need to save up one full years salary as a reserve. You need to begin to buy a place to live on your own before you buy toys. At the same time you need to be funding an employers retirement fund (e.g. 401k). If you are already working, even at a low paying job, you need to begin a Roth IRA. Fund the entire $2000 per year into your IRA and invest it into a growth stock fund...several after 10 years to spread the risk in several stock funds.
Here's your choices...you can have a really cool Explorer now that will probably be in the bone yard in 10 years and you will be $25,000 poorer and searching for your next "toy" car or you can be a millionaire+ at age 40 and buy any car you want. Go to Costco and buy a book called "The Millionaire Next Door" and read it cover to cover if you don’t believe us.
We’re not your mom or your dad or your guardian, who you probably don't like to listen to anyway. Yeah, we know we have bitchin' Explorers...but we’ve "paid the price" and I don’t mean money…
Sorry to sound so practical, but these are the best modifications you can make at your age…right now...If you are not convinced or are already dripping with money, then by all means start building. Any modification will do wonders.
"The preceding statement has been endorsed by grouchy old farts with thin wallets and big payments."
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