AAA Car Doctor Q&A: My 240,000 Mile Sport Trac Blew Up. Should Ford Fix It?

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The sad truth about mechanical devices is that sometimes you get a bad one. But sometimes they last 240,000 miles and John Paul has to be diplomatic.

Q. I have a 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac with 240,000 miles on it. The nylon guides for timing chains failed and the engine blew. I found 15 similar cases online and I also discovered that the design was changed by Ford.

Do you think I have any recourse with Ford if I replace the engine? I put about $3,000 in the truck within last few years. I don’t think it makes sense to fix it without some financial help from Ford. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


A. I did find a technical service bulletin (TSB 04-15-4) that describes a weak valve guide that would make a rattling noise at less the 4,000 RPM. The repair involves replacing the timing chain guides.

The issue is that the TSB only applies to 1999-2002 vehicles.

The other issue is the mileage on your vehicle. Although engines last longer than ever at 240,000 miles and 13 years old, I don’t believe you would get any warranty assistance. My suggestion would be, if the truck is otherwise mechanically and structurally sound, to replace the engine with one from a salvage yard. You are looking at 10-12 hours labor plus the cost of an engine.

John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. A certified mechanic, Paul tests dozens of new cars each year and also hosts a radio show on AM 950 and 550.