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Ford Explorer Steering Rack Buyer’s Guide

The Jeep Cherokee (among several others) was first, but many people credit the Ford Explorer with turning the sport utility vehicle from a hobby vehicle to something you could use every day, and eventually, the default option when buying a new car. More than half of all new cars sold today are technically considered “light trucks”. The CR-V and Rav4 outsell the Accord and Camry now, and Ford has discontinued all “cars” except for the Mustang. We all got pretty good at spotting a Crown Victoria in our rearview mirror, but now we have to check if the Explorer behind us has roof rails to determine if it’s a cop or a soccer mom. It has survived the Firestone tire debacle, high gas prices, economic crises, and attacks from the T-Rex in Jurassic Park.

The Explorer has now been around for over 30 years and gone through countless iterations in that time. The original from 1991 was little more than a 1982 Ranger with a station-wagon-shaped body, hastily created to respond to both bad press from rollover incidents involving its Bronco II predecessor, and new competition in the compact 4-door SUV space from the Chevy S-10 Blazer, Toyota 4Runner, Mitsubishi Montero and more. Today, it has taken on the form of a minivan without sliding doors, based on a platform expected to be shared with the next-generation Mustang.

 

As you can see in the table below, most of the steering rack options are for 2011 and newer models, when it first moved from a truck-based body-on-frame construction to a car-based unibody. A big part of that has to do with the switch from hydraulic to electric power steering, which allows the engineers to more accurately tune steering feel and performance to match the rest of the vehicle, as well as integrate with features like lane-keep assist or automated parking systems.

From what we have seen, the electric motor on this steering rack is not insulated well enough from the factory. When water or debris gets into the electric motor, it can get jammed internally, preventing it from providing any assistance in turning the front wheels. This is a very heavy vehicle that was always designed to have that electric motor on the steering rack, so it’s almost impossible to drive without it. You may get lucky and notice a noise from your steering before it gets bad enough to change your steering performance, which gives you some time to proactively fix the issue before it leaves you stranded. You will most likely get a warning message on the dash telling you to service the steering and AdvanceTrac system, as well as warning lights on the dash for your traction control, and as a side effect, you will no longer be able to select different 4WD modes. Vehicles that see regular off-road use or severe winters are more vulnerable to this issue. Our remanufactured steering racks have brand new silicone boots with rust-resistant clamps on them, to hopefully be a little more reliable.

 

As part of our mission to make it easier to buy auto parts, as well as address some of the frequent questions we get from people looking for the correct part, we have created the following guide to link you to the correct part. If you have any questions about what you find, check out the glossary of terms below, or contact us for knowledgeable assistance in finding quality replacement parts for any vehicle!

 

Year Model Order Link
1991-1994 All Models (includes Mazda Navajo) Order Here!
1995-2001 All Models (includes Mercury Mountaineer) Order Here!
2001-2002 Sport & Sport Trac - w/ Prod. Date of September 2001 or later Order Here!
2002-2005 Right Hand Drive 4-Door Order Here!
2002-2005 4-Door V6 (includes Mercury Mountaineer) Order Here!
2002-2005 4-Door V8 (includes Mercury Mountaineer) Order Here!
2003-2005 Explorer Sport (2-Door) & Sport Trac (Pickup) Order Here!
2006-2010 4-Door SUV (includes Mercury Mountaineer) Order Here!
2007-2010 Explorer Sport Trac Order Here!
2011-2012 w/ Automated Parking System Order Here!
2011-2012 w/o Automated Parking System Order Here!
2013 w/o Automated Parking System - w/ Prod. Date Before September 4th, 2012 Order Here!
2013 3.5L EcoBoost V6 - w/ Prod. Date After September 4th, 2012 Order Here!
2013 2.0L EcoBoost 4-Cyl - w/ Prod. Date After September 4th, 2012 Order Here!
2013 Non-Turbo V6 - w/o Automated Parking System - w/ Prod. Date After September 4th, 2012 Order Here!
2013 Non-Turbo V6 - w/ Automated Parking System - w/ Prod. Date After September 4th, 2012 Order Here!
2013 2.0L EcoBoost 4-Cyl - w/o Automated Parking System - w/ Prod. Date Before September 4th, 2012 Order Here!
2013 Non-Turbo V6 - w/o Automated Parking System - w/ Prod. Date Before September 4th, 2012 Order Here!
2013 Non-Turbo V6 - w/ Automated Parking System - w/ Prod. Date Before September 4th, 2012 Order Here!
2014-2015 3.5L EcoBoost V6 Order Here!
2014-2015 2.0L EcoBoost 4-Cyl Order Here!
2014-2015 Non-Turbo V6 - w/o Automated Parking System Order Here!
2014-2015 Non-Turbo V6 - w/ Automated Parking System Order Here!
2016 Base, XLT or Limited w/o Automated Parking System Order Here!
2016 Base, XLT, Limited or Platinum w/ Automated Parking System Order Here!
2016 Sport Order Here!
2017-2019 Base, XLT, Limited or Platinum Order Here!
2017-2019 Sport Order Here!

 

Glossary

Explorer Sport: This is the 2-door version of the Explorer SUV. On 1991-2000 models, the Explorer 4-Door and Explorer Sport 2-Door are mechanically identical and use the same steering parts. They were separated beginning in model year 2001. The 2001-2005 Explorer Sport has more in common with the previous 1991-2000 models than the 2002-2005 Explorer 4-Door & Mercury Mountaineer. The Explorer Sport came back in 2013, but instead of being a 2-door, it was just a trim level of the 4-door with some performance improvements.

Explorer Sport Trac: The Sport Trac is a 4-door pickup truck. 2001-2005 models share most mechanicals, as well as front end styling, with the Explorer Sport 2-Door, while 2007-2010 models are based on the 2006-2010 4-Door. There is no 2006 Explorer Sport Trac.

Production Date: This is the date your vehicle came off the assembly line at the factory, and is sometimes helpful to know if the automaker made a change part way through a model year. You can find it on your vehicle by checking the VIN label on the driver’s door jam.

Automated Parking System: This is a system where the car will parallel park itself for you, as long as the cameras identify a space large enough. Follow the prompts on the screen, and the car will do all the work for you!

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