1997 Ford Expedition
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By Bob McHugh
The big and brawny Ford Expedition is a favourite target of SUV haters.
However, many people love this vehicle and find it a perfect fit with their
lifestyle and vehicle requirements. In fact, and unfortunately for buyers,
Expedition’s tend to move fast when they are offered on the used vehicle
If you need a vehicle that can pull a heavy trailer (up to 3,600 kg – 8,000
lb.) or carry up to nine people around, an Expedition could be the ideal
When launched as a ’97 model year vehicle, Expedition came in XLT and
Eddie Bauer trim levels and 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrains. It’s a little bigger
than its’ primary competitors, GM’s Yukon/Tahoe and smaller than the really
big Chevrolet/GMC Suburban.
From the front windshield’s A-pillars forward, an Expedition is basically an
F-series pickup truck. The front body parts (hood, fenders etc.) are all
interchangeable, except the grille. So is the front suspension and front
part of the chassis, but that’s where the similarity ends. The Expedition’s
rear suspension has tapered rear coil springs, upper and lower control arms
and a stabilizer bar. The optional load-leveling suspension, ideal for
pulling a trailer, has an automatic kneel-down feature that lowers the
vehicle about 3 inches, when stopped, to allow easier entry and exit.
Two modular Triton series engines were the power choices. A 4.6 litre V8 was
standard and an optional 5.4 litre motor, with more low-end torque, was the
other one. Both of these engines have a fail-safe cooling system feature
that allows you drive (more like limp) up to 80 km (50 miles) following a
total loss of coolant. Fuel consumption is high but perhaps not as bad as
you might expect. Even a 4×4 with the 5.4L engine gets 14 l/100 km on the
highway and 18.3 L/100 km in the city.
The Control-Trac 4×4 system has 4 settings, a 4×2 mode and three 4×4 modes.
The AWD mode allows continuous on-road 4×4 use and has an auto-lock feature
engages the transfer case in a locked 50/50 drive-split condition if the
system senses continual operation in high-slip conditions (i.e. snow, sand
etc.). You can also select the 4×4-high mode (locked 50/50 drive split) or a
4×4 low mode, when the going really gets tough!
The front air bags were de-powered in ’98 Expedition, to reduce the risk of
injury in low-speed collisions. Engine horsepower was boosted in both
engines (4.6 to 240 (from 215) and 5.4 to 260 (from 230) and towing capacity
also went up to 3765 kg (8,300 lb.), in ’99. An complete interior upgrade
included a new adjustable pedal system for the bake and accelerator in all
versions of the 2000 Expedition. Side air bags and a reverse sensing system
were also added as new options.
Although Expedition is generally rates well in consumer surveys, electrical
repair problems are above the norm. Some transmission shift problems and
driveline noise problems also show up fairly often in Ford technical
bulletins. And also check the list of safety recalls (attached), which, if
applicable, will be corrected for free by a Ford dealer.
Whether it’s all dressed up or in just basic attire the Ford Expedition is a
tough and durable full-sized sport utility vehicle, with the emphasis on
- 97-00 (23,801) – Trailer hitch rattles due to loose attachment bolts.
- 97/98 (14,1580) – Loose wheel lug nuts and potential wheel separation from
- 97/98 (72,763) – A shift cable problem may cause the transmission to stick
in gear, even though the selector indicates “park”.
- 97 (1630) – The rear axle lower control arm bracket may separate due to
inadequate weld penetration.
- 99/2000 (114791) – A faulty resistor may cause a loss of daytime running
- 99 (2824) – Vehicles equipped with 17-inch chrome steel wheels may have
lose lug nuts.
- 99 (106) – Improperly installed or missing retainers can cause the brake
pedal arm to disengage from the brake master cylinder and result in loss of
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.