Our 1995 Ford F-150 XLT 4x4
Taken July 23, 2004, after all-new aftermarket lights were installed.
September 4, 2004: So a few weeks ago, that ‘slight delay’ in the transmission when going into drive results in the truck refusing to move forward under it’s own power at all. The forward clutch was wasted. I had it towed to my mechanic and he did a complete rebuild of the transmission, as well as took care of a couple of other lesser items- mainly more bushings and a rear leaf spring mount repair. She almost feels like a new truck, now…which, after another $1000 invested, it should!
Also, the tail light assemblies were replaced about a month ago with Altezza-styled units. I thought they might look way too ‘Tuner’-ish, but they actually look pretty good. Still, all the original lights are in storage, in case I decide to go back to ‘stock’ someday.
July 23, 2004: The truck has run about 1000 miles since it’s repairs three weeks ago and no new troubles to report.
Last evening I installed all new light assemblies in the front of the truck. I ordered them in pairs from different sellers, based on price, weeks ago. The last pair, the headlamps, arrived yesterday morning.
I wanted to update the appearance of the truck and make it look a few years younger than it is. I didn’t want a ‘boy-racer-tuner’ look. Rather, I wanted lights that evoke the appearance of recent Mountaineers and Navigators. I think these ones did the job.
The installation was a convoluted horror as Ford decided we owners need protection from ‘S.H.E.S.’, or ‘Spontaneous Headlamp Ejection Syndrome. How many times have you driven a vehicle down the road, and for no apparent reason, the headlamps simply flew off? Never, you say? Well, Ford thinks it is bound to happen to someone, someday, and has taken every precaution to assure it won’t happen to this truck. That’s why they devised a very annoying clip to retain the headlamp assembly, a clip that requires, of course, a specialized ‘spreader’ tool to remove. Checking with local tool sellers, no one had it available when I needed it, and no one had one to borrow. Did the factory-issued Ford Service CD mention the need for this thing? No, because they only sell vehicles to clairvoyants, it seems, and their mechanics have no need for such info as they are ‘all-knowing’. In the end, brute force, strength of will and some loud cursing removed the clips and the installation now looks absolutely spiffy!! Don’t agree? Get new glasses!
All the lenses are without any texture. What texture there is is that of the reflector behind each bulb. The headlamps came with a pair of ridiculously bright replacement bulbs, while the corner and signal light assemblies came with regular amber bulbs. For the signals, I replaced the supplied bulbs with Sylvania’s silver bulbs (which look chromed and have an oil-slick-type rainbow effect when off, yet emit amber light when on). They look awesome. I just wish the smaller marker bulbs were available this way (but then, at $20 a pair [YIKES!], do I really want them??). The headlamps were $110 delivered, the signals were $43 delivered, and the corners were $33 delivered. With the silver bulbs, total for the conversion was $206 (in case you’re considering a similar swap).
July 6, 2004: As of today, the truck has logged about 250 miles since the repairs of last week. Thus far, no more leakage is evident and the front end is significantly improved. Still, I feel a wheel alignment is in order as there is a mild ‘pull’ to the right that forces me to hold the wheel slightly left to keep the truck headed straight. Further, the steering wheel itself is at a 10:30 position when it is rolling straight ahead- another reason to get the alignment. Also, the trans has a slight delay when placed in Drive, which I hope is a matter of being slightly low on fluid (I haven’t checked it yet).
Yesterday, I installed my Bazooka amplified 8” tube subwoofer and wired dash controller (both also removed from my ’95 Tracer). The sub is behind the seat on the passenger side, the controller is at the bottom of the dash, below the ashtray, using a pre-existing screw. I also added a few ‘cop repellant’ stickers on the rear window (State & Local PBAs and NJ State Employee Union decals, etc). Next I plan to scrape and paint the hitch assembly as it’s entirely rust colored now.
July 3, 2004: Well, the truck was dropped of at my brother’s shop about five weeks ago, and after two weeks, it seemed his bosses were never going to let him get to it (full-price work takes precedence over family-discount-type work). So three weeks ago he sent it to his buddy’s shop- another Ford dealership a few miles away. This would end up costing me more, but still not ‘full price’…and being a buddy, I wouldn’t be sold stuff I don’t need…so it still saved me big money. Still, it was ‘off-price’ work, so it kept getting put-off there, too. I finally picked up the truck last evening. All the front ball joints and universals have been replaced and the front end woes seem to be gone. Also, the transmission was pulled out along with the transfer case and all the seals for both were replaced. A mere $800 (not $3400) later, she’s seems ready to roll.
Today (Saturday), I gave her a bath, vacuumed and cleaned the interior, and applied generous amounts of Armor-All in all the normal places. I added Ford logo front mats, some Jeff Gordon stickers (to annoy the over-abundant Earnhardt worshippers), and a neat ‘static’ mat on top of the dash (this thing keeps stuff from sliding around, like coins, cellphones, keys, etc, without any kind of glue…very cool). Finally, I moved my AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA deck from my ’95 Tracer to this truck. It still needs a really good carpet and seat shampoo, but today’s clean up did wonders anyway.
I got to test the A/C today and it’s pumping very well. I drove it today for about 2.5 hours total with no trouble to speak of. Looks like she’s ready to go to work Tuesday morning. The current tires were rotated to put the cupped ones on the rear, where they are behaving fine. They are all usable, but very noisy, having that soft-rubber howl that aggressive A/Ts often have. I don’t know if I’ll wait ‘til fall to replace them or do it sooner to end the annoying howl.
May 17, 2004: Yesterday morning I went ahead and replaced the trans filter, fluid and pan gasket. At first, the leak seemed to have been minimized by a good 80%, but after 15 minutes, the leak was massive again, so the pan gasket wasn’t the source after all. It now seems the rear seal of the tranny or the front seal of the transfer case is the issue.
I’d assumed the front wheels were shot, being pitted and rusted looking, but my brother broke out some lung-searing wheel acid and with just a spray and a hosing off, they look like new! That stuff is SICK!
I’ve also ordered replacement lights for all the front lighting. The new ones all have the new-style flat/clear lenses. I’m undecided if I’ll also get Altezza lights for the rear…that might be ‘too much’ for the big, square body style to look ‘right’.
May 4, 2004: I added trans fluid today to check the source of the fast leak it has. It pours out as soon as you fill it, even with the truck shut off. I found the leak is definitely the trans pan gasket, centered along it's rear edge. Hopefully, this is the only leak. The repair will be done this weekend if all goes well.
May 3, 2004: Here are a few bigger, better-detailed shots taken today, in the rain.
I also went through the paperwork that the prior owner gave me with the truck. The following additional info was found:
· Purchased ‘used’ December 22, 1995 with 9,227 miles (lease return or demonstration vehicle?).
May 2, 2004: It’s not an AMC, but it will go to work for their benefit! After some needed repairs, this will become our new parts hauler and tow vehicle. It’s a jade-green, loaded XLT, with a grey cloth bench seat with fold-down armrest and dual headrests.
Unbelievably, this truck was simply gifted to me by a near-total stranger! His wife works with my wife, and when this truck developed a big-time transmission leak, the dealer gave them a $3400 estimate for various work they deemed it needed. They chose instead to buy a newer truck, and his wife asked my wife if I could help them locate a good deal on one. But before I could, they grabbed a 2000 F150 from the same dealer. When I asked what they planned to do with the old truck, they said they hated to see it junked. I asked for a price, and they said ‘take it’. Speechless, I did!
The trans leak is profuse. All signs point to the trans pan gasket, which shouldn’t be a tough job, even with the 4WD system.
The dealer estimate also listed many other ‘problems’, some of which were apparent on the ride home, while others were not. Obvious is the front suspension, which feels odd and off. Not quite ‘loose’ or shaky, it seems to ‘drag’ the front end along, rather than it simply rolling freely….like a front parking brake that is slightly engaged. That’s the ‘feel’, anyway. The dealer’s sheet stated upper and lower balljoints. Once the trans leak is done, the front end will be next.
Also listed were new fuel and air filters, to the tune of $95 installed (youch!) and four new tires (the fronts are cupped a bit from the front end issue). I’ll do the filter me-self, and the front tires will move to the back after the suspension work, where they can slowly wear-even.
Then there’s the oil pan. These seem to be a popular problem for Ford vehicles. They simply rust-thru! While mine isn’t leaking, it has some surface rust. If I can’t just sand-and-paint it, I’ll replace it. But check these numbers: The pan is $171.00! The gasket is $66.00! To replace it and the rear main seal (which I have no knowledge is leaking), the dealer wants a total of $1026.00!!! $560 for the trans pan and two other tranny gaskets, too! Wow, is this Ford’s ‘better idea’?