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New to Me 2003 Excursion

 
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Old 09-23-2018, 08:43 PM
Red_Snow
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New to Me 2003 Excursion

Hello all, just recently purchased a 2003 Excursion, 4x4, 6.8L as I needed a vehicle capable of hauling 2+ car seats. Previous owner installed a 10 inch lift (measured from centerline of the hubs to verify) and 37 inch tires. Its going to be a long road back to reliable with it, but with only 116,000 miles on the clock it was well worth the $3,500 I paid for it.

Previous owner has no idea on if the plugs have ever been changed, and informed me of transmission issues where reverse doesn't work 100% and it has a random vibration at 2500 to 3000 rpm at certain speeds. After driving it for the week I also found the following wrong with it. Rear hatch lock won't actuate electronically or manually. Rear washer line is broken and causes a waterfall out from the passenger b-pillar when the tank is full. Passenger rear seat won't fold and the handle is stripped out on the splines. Idles smooth when first started, but develops a stutter after its warm. The EVIC is dead, but hand calculated 7.5mpg mixed city and highway.

Plan is to lower it a net 8" (6" suspension, 2" tire), have a good tuneup performed, fix all the minor mechanical issues, and drive the wheels off of it. And I need to find an OEM intake to get rid of the POS oiled filter that came on it. I have no use for those in the desert where fine dust runs through them like water. It will be getting Buckstop bumpers front and rear, with the rear swingouts to carry my full size spare and recovery gear.

The Mrs. has decided she would rather have me spend time with the kids than wrench on it myself, so to the dealership it goes to pay out the hind end for all the work. At least she said she is fine paying for the work until we hit the book value on it since its looking like $4,500 for everything to be completed.

Picture the day I picked it up and put the first tank of fuel in it:

 
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Old 09-24-2018, 06:22 AM
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Welcome to the EX forum!
Do you know what gears the EX has? With 37" and a 6.8 the gearing becomes VERY important, even after your planned work and going down to 35"s the gearing is still important if you want the best performance, and who doesn't want the best performance?
Also, how did you calculate that gas mileage? I believe 37"s are too large for the PCM to fully correct, so the speedometer/odometer would be a bit off on the reported miles driven on the low side, maybe that MPG was a little better than 7.5. Unless you used a GPS for your miles driven for the calculation.
I know said that you will be sending it to the shop for everything (that will eat up the budget quick!) but here are the best parts for the plug change'
Plugs = Motorcraft SP-479
Boots & springs = Denso #671-0001 (you want new boots as they do age out and bleed voltage which can lead to a miss).
COPs = Denso #673-6000 (COPs only really need to be replaced when proven to have failed and typically live long lives, but having a spare on hand is nice).
Denso is the OEM manufacturer for Ford on these item and they run about half the price of Motorcraft parts.

What are your plans for the suspension?
 
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Old 09-24-2018, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
Welcome to the EX forum!
Do you know what gears the EX has? With 37" and a 6.8 the gearing becomes VERY important, even after your planned work and going down to 35"s the gearing is still important if you want the best performance, and who doesn't want the best performance?
I haven't dug into it yet, previous owner stated that it has the factory limited slip 4.30's. My plan is to have 4.88's in it in the next 12 months or so. Or to coincide with a transmission replacement when this one blows up, whichever happens first.

Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
Also, how did you calculate that gas mileage? I believe 37"s are too large for the PCM to fully correct, so the speedometer/odometer would be a bit off on the reported miles driven on the low side, maybe that MPG was a little better than 7.5. Unless you used a GPS for your miles driven for the calculation.
I used the odometer for the mileage as I am okay with uncorrected fuel economy, that way it will be a bigger improvement on paper once the work is completed. It all goes back to the saying about lies; there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
I know said that you will be sending it to the shop for everything (that will eat up the budget quick!) but here are the best parts for the plug change'
Plugs = Motorcraft SP-479
Boots & springs = Denso #671-0001 (you want new boots as they do age out and bleed voltage which can lead to a miss).
Sending it to the shop wasn't my first choice, and so long as the Mrs. isn't going to get upset about spending a ton on labor I'm okay with it.

Previous owner supplied me with 10 Motocraft plugs and 10 Denso boots, he was too afraid to perform the change himself because of the horror stories he had heard about the plugs turning into rockets.

Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
COPs = Denso #673-6000 (COPs only really need to be replaced when proven to have failed and typically live long lives, but having a spare on hand is nice).
I plan on picking up 2 for spares.

Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
Denso is the OEM manufacturer for Ford on these item and they run about half the price of Motorcraft parts.
Good to know, thank you.

Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
What are your plans for the suspension?
For now I'm going to try the BDS 4" all spring (I hate suspension blocks) excursion specific kit with Fox shocks. I'm more concerned about shock quality and valving than I am about springs, but it was the most economical full replacement setup I could find and is going to be cheaper than going back to stock. Long term plan is to spec out some custom leafs from Alcan Spring in Colorado along with custom valved King or Fox shocks once I can gather real world weights for what will normally be in/on the rig. Coilover front is being considered, but not seriously yet.

Edit:

At this point its all about priorities. Top priority is to lower it and have a mechanical tune up performed so the Mrs. feels comfortable driving it long distance as that is what it was purchased for. Second priority is to improve the mechanical reliability by performing more intensive maintenance to include the axles and transmission. Third priority is performance upgrades, if any. Bottom priority is interior and exterior repairs for aesthetics.

Bumpers fall somewhere towards the bottom of second priority, but with how much time we spend in Wyoming driving at night they might jump up to sooner rather than later.

We have also already set aside enough money to purchase a new 2v 6.8l directly from Ford just in case.
 
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Old 09-24-2018, 07:15 AM
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For what little it may be worth, my transmission was doing the same thing...failing to go into reverse sometimes. I could put it in drive and then reverse and no problem. I pulled the valve body and re-torqued the three center support bolts that have a tendency to work loose. Mine were not loose that I could tell. Problem persisted until I did a complete fluid change. There's a post on here by Mark Kovalsky...in the tech forum I think...detailing how to do it. My trans has not failed to go into reverse one time since I changed out the fluid.
 
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Old 09-24-2018, 10:22 PM
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Drove some stop and go commuter traffic today southbound to visit family, roughly an hour. Started running extremely rough and smelled of burning oil after about 30 minutes. Picked up brake drag bad enough I had to stop after 45 minutes to make sure things weren't getting too hot. Also noticed that when in 3rd gear, about 1750 rpm (35-40mph on speedo), is when the transmission has the most noticeable shudder since I spent so much time in traffic around that speed. The second time it picks up the shudder seems to be 4th gear around 2500 rpm.

I'm going to be replacing the PCV soon in hopes that it is my source of the burned oil smell.
Not looking forward to the path I will have to take about the brake drag. Hoping it will be something simple, but having read other threads about it, I'm going to start with the booster and make sure everything is adjusted correctly and work my way downstream to the calipers. Planning on replacing the calipers and disks with Power Stop Brakes anyway, so might have to move that up the priority list.

Right now, critical path is still the suspension and drivetrain, hoping a simple transmission service will alleviate the shuddering issues, and spark plugs are still floating at the top of the list.

It was scheduled to go in for plugs, trans service, oil change, rear hatch assessment (not necessarily repair at this point) and washer fluid plumbing repair Thursday but found out the suspension shop wants it up there Thursday so time to shuffle schedules around.

I'm fine pushing the general service until next week, and might just have the suspension shop do the plugs if they are game since I already have them in hand.
 
  #6  
Old 09-25-2018, 06:04 AM
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Have whoever does the plugs determine if you have the early '03 heads with only 4 plug threads or the later '03 heads with 7 threads, the design changed mid-year '03. Factory torque for the early heads was only 11 ft/lbs and the updated heads was 17 ft/lbs, both are too loose in the minds of many DIY owners around here, including me and those early values may be a contributor to the plug ejection issue on those early motors. Many owners here have had good luck with torqueing the early plugs to 26/28 ft/lbs and I went with with 32 ft/lbs on my 7 thread '05.
I'm thinking a "simple transmission service" sounds like a dump and refill operation, which will only replace about 6 quarts or so, a complete change can be achieved by doing the Mark K trans flush, which is pretty simple but lots of shops really cant be bothered with it.
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:06 AM
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Brakes drag all the time on these from the caliper slide pins sticking and binding... and aftermarket reman calipers aren't very reliable so if they've been replaced there's a good chance one of them is sticking too. Cheap infrared thermometer will tell you which wheel it is. Just drive it a bit and take the temps at the rotors.
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by M*A*S*H View Post
Brakes drag all the time on these from the caliper slide pins sticking and binding... and aftermarket reman calipers aren't very reliable so if they've been replaced there's a good chance one of them is sticking too. Cheap infrared thermometer will tell you which wheel it is. Just drive it a bit and take the temps at the rotors.
Good thing I have access to a FLIR IR Camera! I'll take some images and upload them around lunch time today unless things get crazy on the refinery.

Edit: The brake drag directly followed being cut off by a little sedan, I can still feel it dragging but it isn't so hot I can smell it anymore. It is going to have to wait until this weekend before I can dive into it. Still planning on just replacing all the calipers with something different.
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
Have whoever does the plugs determine if you have the early '03 heads with only 4 plug threads or the later '03 heads with 7 threads, the design changed mid-year '03. Factory torque for the early heads was only 11 ft/lbs and the updated heads was 17 ft/lbs, both are too loose in the minds of many DIY owners around here, including me and those early values may be a contributor to the plug ejection issue on those early motors. Many owners here have had good luck with torqueing the early plugs to 26/28 ft/lbs and I went with with 32 ft/lbs on my 7 thread '05.
I'll see if I can't find the casting number, I'm assuming you are refering to what Timesert calls the "Romeo Head Problem"? Or could it be as simple as looking at the build date of the truck to determine if it was early or late 03?

Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
I'm thinking a "simple transmission service" sounds like a dump and refill operation, which will only replace about 6 quarts or so, a complete change can be achieved by doing the Mark K trans flush, which is pretty simple but lots of shops really cant be bothered with it.
After reading about the Mark K method for the last hour or so, and after finding this thread, I will be performing the transmission flush and service myself one of these next weeks before the snow starts to fly.
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:44 AM
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That bumper upgrade you were considering can reduce the number of incidents of being cut off by little sedans. At least by the same one twice.

Nice rig, good plan for the future. Welcome, and enjoy.
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by PrescottIce View Post
That bumper upgrade you were considering can reduce the number of incidents of being cut off by little sedans. At least by the same one twice.
I had a Ranch Hand on my 2008 Ram 2500 that used to make the little cars swerve when they looked in their mirror and all they saw was iron. Like you said, limits the repeat offenders.

Originally Posted by PrescottIce View Post
Nice rig, good plan for the future. Welcome, and enjoy.
Appreciate the welcome, thank you.
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Red_Snow View Post
I'll see if I can't find the casting number, I'm assuming you are refering to what Timesert calls the "Romeo Head Problem"? Or could it be as simple as looking at the build date of the truck to determine if it was early or late 03?
Sorry, I do not know the date of the change in '03, but I think it was a Romeo engine plant that was building them, or at least some of them.

After reading about the Mark K method for the last hour or so, and after finding this thread, I will be performing the transmission flush and service myself one of these next weeks before the snow starts to fly.
It's not too bad of a job, get enough ATF (MERCON V, I used Motorcraft) to also flush the power steering while you are in there.

What type of refinery work do you do? I've been an Operator for the past 33 years and have been part of the ERT here for more than half of that time, currently working inside as the Control Console Operator counting down till retirement.
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 11:03 AM
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servicing the slide pins on your caliper is a simple 15 minute task.
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by WE3ZS View Post
What type of refinery work do you do? I've been an Operator for the past 33 years and have been part of the ERT here for more than half of that time, currently working inside as the Control Console Operator counting down till retirement.
Reliability Inspector. My units are the "Oil Movements Division" such as tank farm, loading racks, sulfur recovery, etc.

Brake temps will be uploaded once images are edited for lat/long removal.

Edit:
Engine Bay because why not:


Passenger Front:


Passenger Rear:
 
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Old 09-25-2018, 06:49 PM
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Huh, drivers side images didn't upload from my work computer and I had to take care of some drama at work. Will reupload tomorrow.
 

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