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Explorer Intake Install

Article by: GTRaptor Profile | E-Mail


One of the most restrictive parts of the 5.0 engine is the intake. There are many aftermarket intakes available for you to choose from starting with the basic Cobra intake manifold by Ford Racing.

Edelbrock, Holley, TFS, Saleen and a few other also offer long runner intakes for every need and engine size .

All the above intakes start around $400 and for those on a budget that could be a problem.

This is the time for you to check out the Ford Explorer 5.0 intake.

This piece came in all 5.0 Explorers, and even if it is a truck intake this baby can get you a decent HP increase. Don't be fooled by the idea that this is a truck intake, it is not. Basically it follows the same design basics as the Cobra intake. The lower intake is just the same, and the upper though slightly different externally, it's almost a Cobra intake. And best of all it flows almost as much.



To start our little project we had first to find one intake in good shape and www.Bishopengine.com had one ready to ship. For $200 the Explorer intake is a bargain.

The intake came with the explorer rails and injectors, TB, some hoses and the stock explorer temp sensors, all of which will be discarded since they are not compatible with the 5.0 Mustang engines.
It also had to be cleaned as it originally came from a used Explorer.


At the underside of the upper there are several vacuum lines that wont be used specially those found on the front side and one at the front of the plenum tank. We removed them and then inserted a plug in them.
At the plenum tank the upper has a little mount that we removed using a hand saw and then smooth it down using our dremel.

We cleaned the intake using some detergent and a scotchbrite pad prior to painting.

Since our car is a SN95 Mustang, we also installed an elbow adapter that will make it fit perfectly. The elbow adapter is designed to be used in a GT40 or pre 95 Cobra intake but it just fits fine to the Explorer upper. There are several sources for the elbow: FRPP, Edelbrock and MAC, the last being the cheapest for around $60.

We also gave the intake a coat of aluminum heat resistant paint.

Some people think the explorer upper is a bit ugly, but you be the judge, i say it beats the hell out of the uglier Edelbrock intake (ugly but one of the top performers).

This intake has a feature that might make it work cooler than the cobra, at the upper intake tank there are a series of fins that will act like a heat sink reducing air charge temperatures.


More preparation work, this time we hook up the necessary vacuum lines and PCV to the rear of the upper intake. You will need to do a few adaptations to fit all the lines. The most important being the EGR and Fuel regulator vacuum lines. Also reinstall the thermostat elbow.


Now is time to start removing all the lines, throttle linkage and electrical connections to the TB, EGR, etc. If not experienced enough with the engine, tag all lines for future reference, or use a digital camera or camcorder to trace all your steps.

First step is disconnecting the battery negative terminal, then remove the passenger side spark plug wires, coil wire and distributor cap, leaving the wires hooked to the cap, and toss them to the drivers side of the engine bay.


Remove the thermostat to get rid of most of the coolant inside the lower intake. This is very important to do at this time, else coolant could get into the lifter bay under the intake and into the oil pan.

Now you can start removing the stock upper intake, complete with throttle body, make sure all lines and connections are removed first.

Place the distributor rotor pointing to the #1 cylinder, that's around 1 o'clock. Mark the relationship of the rotor to distributor using a marker pen. Remove the retaining bolt and lift the distributor out. Remember NOT TO CRANK the engine !!

Get the fuel rails out by first removing the rails bolts, if you don't have a fuel rail disconnect tool don't worry it is not needed. The injectors get out easily, just pull them out of the lower intake. Get the rails with the injectors out of the way just by moving them to the passenger side.

Next remove the lower intake bolts and use a pry bar to pull the lower out, it could take some force to get it out. At this point you can see the lifter bay, and probably some coolant got in there, get it out with a sponge before it goes into the oil pan. If that fails i advice to change the oil after you finish the setup. This is actually the best thing to do since gasket leaks could also let coolant into the engine and only an oil change can tell you this.

Once the lower is removed you will see the exposed head intake ports and coolant passages, make sure NOTHING gets into the ports or you can ruin a valve or worse. Use a lint free cloth to cover it.
Now it is also a good time to clean the engine valvecovers, inspect and/or repair damaged wiring insulation, etc.

Clean and remove any gasket material left on the head intake ports, this is very important, you want a perfect seal, else coolant and oil could mix or you could get vacuum leaks.

Next is time to install the cobra lower intake, install the intake to head gaskets, use some dots of silicone sealant just to keep the gasket in place, you don't need to cover the gaskets with sealant, they should be installed dry. On the center seals use a thin coat of sealant and a bit more where they connect to the side gaskets. Let the silicone dry around 5 to 10 minutes and then carefully place the lower intake into position. Use a flashlight or other light source to check gasket alignment. If all is right install the lower bolts.

Here is the lower intake bolt tightening sequence :

7 8
3 2
11 10
9 12
1 4
5 6

Torque in 3 steps: 8 - 15 - 25

Re torque after running the engine.

Cover the intake ports so that nothing could get into them by accident.

Reinstall the heater core line, temp gauge sensor and fuel rails, use a bit of engine oil to lubricate the O-ring injector seals. Connect the injector wiring harness. Reinstall the distributor making sure the alignment is ok.

By now you are just around 30 minutes away of starting the car, inspect all your work before proceeding to the upper installation.
Install your new or stock throttle body into the upper intake, we did this when we prepped the upper intake. Make sure the gasket aligns perfectly. Install the bolts and tighten starting with the center ones working your way outward. Torque to 30 pounds.

Hook all the rear vacuum lines: EGR, Fuel regulator, Cruise Control, etc. Connect the temp sensor wiring, TPS, IAC, etc. Reconnect the plug wires, distributor cap and coil. Take a look around and check for any missing or loose connection.

Now you can connect the negative battery terminal and start filling the radiator with your preferred coolant mix. I use 70 water/20 coolant mix on summer and 50/50 on winter.

Start the engine and keep it running until in reaches operating temperature, check for coolant leaks all around the lower intake. And check for oil inside the coolant. If all is normal proceed to changing the oil and filter. As we said this is a good safety measure as probably a bit of coolant got to the oil when you removed the lower intake. If there is just too much coolant in the oil you could have a leak in there.

Also important is to retighten the lower bolts after the engine has warmed up.

A regular oil inspection is advised after a few days, just untighten the pan bolts a bit and if coolant keeps showing then you have a problem and you should go back and check the lower intake gaskets.

The complete procedure takes an experienced mechanic around 3 to 4 hours, it took me around 6 but that included some cleaning and detailing of the engine.

The HP gain of this modification is around 15 hp if you keep the stock 60mm. By all means get a 65mm TB to get the full potential out of your new intake. Aftermarket heads are 100% recommended, this is the biggest restriction of the 5.0 engines.

Here's a chart showing flow numbers for several intake types:

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