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Ford Ranger Maintenance and Repair

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  • In February of this year I purchased a 1999 Ranger XLT extended cab with a manual transmission. I loved the look of the truck and bought it even though the shifting seemed a bit "notchy" in the lower gears when I went for a test drive. I thought that it would just take awhile to get used to the new shifting mechanism and the RPMs required to synchronize, but it is now December and I'm still having troubles getting the truck into the lower gears. I have always driven Ford manual transmission vehicles (1965 Mustang and 1988 Bronco II) and it has never taken me this long to get the shifting down. The Mazda dealer suggested that I put in a high-performance transmission fluid, but the Ford dealer refused and said it would not help anything and that there was absoutely nothing wrong with the truck, even though they only drove the thing around. I don't know who to trust on this and thought that maybe you guys could give me some advice. This is my first almost new car and it is still under warranty. The Ford folks will not do more than drive it - is that normal since taking out the transmission is such an undertaking?
  • I found a lot of info on the Internet with regard to Ford Blend Door problems. Long-standing problem with an improved part designed in 97-98.
    I called Ford Customer Service and pleaded my case and asked for help in paying for the repair. (truck is out of warranty).
    The next day they agreed to pay half of the repair. Not bad and I thought it was pretty fair.
    Mileage on my 6cyl 3.0 is 20 in Summer and 18 in Winter.
  • eharri3eharri3 Posts: 645
    Since its a modern transmission and it's synchronized. I had a problem like that with my 95, though I dont know how similar it is to yours. I was sometimes locked out of 1st and reverse, and when they did work it was quite difficult to get it into gear without grinding or stripping a bit. Solution: was low on clutch fluid. Have you checked that?
  • Can anyone suggest what key items to check out on a used 99 Ranger XLT 3.0? A check of the history on line came back spotless, makes me wonder. It has nearly 64,000 miles, a lot but it looks well kept. Tires seem evenly worn, but well worn. Can I trust a dealer not to swap out tires? It had a little shake in the steering accelerating between 60 to 70. Dealership salesman says it's sat for a while(45 days)and perhaps the tires have a flat spot that will work itself out. Is a shimmy in the front end a typical Ranger feel. Note, I've never owned a truck, is it just a rougher ride then my 94 Escort GT? I'm listening to you Ranger owners out there, speak up.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Posts: 172
    i have a 2000 ranger, and i have no shimmy. i feel the air conditioner compressor come on, through vibrations in the steering wheel, now and then but i never have a shimmy where the vehicle is actually vibrating.
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    ...with Firestone F480 tires has been about impossible to align and/or balance to eliminate all the shimmy, shake, bounce.

    So, it could be tire problems, especially if they are orginial with 60,000+ miles. New tires, balance, alignment might solve this problem.

    I don't know of any other problem with this year, except the long standing 3L pinging problems.

    There have been lots of problems with chimes and various warnings not stopping when the doors are closed because the 'door open' switches are bad. And these switches are inside the doors, not in the jam. I think these might have been fixed by 1999.

    With extended cabs, there sometimes are problems with the split driveshaft and the center bearing. I've haven't had this problem. This can also feel like tire balance problems sometimes.

    The 3L pinging problem - goes back 10 years or so. Many, many 3L ping, and nothing can be done about it. There is a TSB and dealers can change out the 'coil pack', not sure what years might be effected by this. One trick I've heard dealers will do on a used truck is fill it up with premium so it will not ping on your test drives. Running mid or premium grade is about the only solution to the ping. So, you might think about either living with ping, or buying higher grade gasoline in a motor that should run on regular grade.

    Other than these issues, I think the 3L, and Ranger is a great truck. And, it of course is a truck and will not run like a car. And gas milage will suck.

    At 60,000+ miles, I would replace the plugs, wires, fuel filter, air filter, transmission fluid, antifreeze (unless you have receipts this has been done already). You should then be ready for another 40,000 miles...

    For my 94, a 4L, 'I Love My Truck'!
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    my dad has an '88 2.3 with 4x4. it has 195,000 miles on it. runs great. no engine work at all. just oil changes. it hauls wood all the time. 4x4 still works perfect. a little rusty, but blame that on iowa winters.
  • frey44frey44 Posts: 230
    ..if you want a reliable, low-maintenance ride for a HIGH MILE holding period. A Ranger is no real comparison to a Taco for reliability..sepecially if you're talking 4 bangers. The Toyo 4 cyl. is the most bulletproof small truck motor around. I have a Ranger with the pushrod 4.0. It is a decent truck, but a Toyota it isn't by a LONG shot (and, it was 4000 bucks cheaper which was why I bought it. So I didn't EXPECT it to be the same quality as a Taco, and it isn't. A BIG mistake NOT paying up for the Taco, IMHO). These trucks are aimed at different types of buyers, I think. Whatever you do AVOID the 3.0 liter "pinger" snap, crackle pop motor in the Ranger. Either get the 2.3 or the OHC 4.0. If you get the 4.0 just be prepared for 16 to 17 mpg. Good luck. Both the Ranger and Taco are good trucks. The Taco simply has the edge in engine reliability, smoothness and refinement. And, the Taco will also have a higher resale value (as I am finding out trying to sell my 2000 Ranger...I am gettting KILLED on depreciation).
  • tbundertbunder Posts: 580
    are your claims frey. where are the facts that back up what you say? 200K on a stock 2.3 with still stock clutch is pretty "reliable" if you ask me, especially if those are on a 4x4 2.3, like my pop's. and if you look in the manual, or go to any ford service tech., the knocking is NORMAL on the 3 and 4 liter engines, and causes no damage. also, who does ford aim to sell a 4x4 to that toyota doesn't? people who want a more powerful engine? more standard features? if you check the 2001 kbb prices for retail value, the ranger is more than tacoma. loaded up im talking. and what do you expect trying to sell a 2000 ranger so soon. you're gonna lose your [non-permissible content removed] unless you aren't very motivated and don't really have to sell. ALWAYS try and get your payoff. there are a lot of deciding factors on resale value- miles, condition, features and options. you just can't say the things you did without some facts to back them up.
  • mjbwrtrmjbwrtr Posts: 172
    my truck was making some "hot" smells and so i checked my fluids and realized that my tranny fluid was low. i filled it to where its supposed to be...but could i have done damage to it by driving it with it low?
    the dealership, i thought, would have maintained it, and so i checked the oil and steering fluid, and i smelled the tranny fluid but didnt check the level since it shifted fine. any thoughts? i am used to a stick and this crap is a little annoying.
  • Nobody should go through what problems he was having, but that can be avoided with taking any purchase out for a test drive first.

    1993 2.3L Regular cab, A4LD Automatic. 137,800 Miles on the clock.

    Repairs to date:
    Rebuilt Transmission
    2 New Thermostats
    1 New Water Pump
    1 New Radiator.
    1 New set of hoses.
    2 New front rotors.
    2 Timing belts
    about 40 spark plugs (8 plugs remember)
    1 New Muffler

    Well my transmission was probably my fault, because having the truck since I was 16, I thought it was cool to rev the engine in neutral, and then drop it into gear for a little peel out. Trans replaced about 110k, and I learned that Transmission filters should be replaced about every year. (Never did it until then).
    The radiator and water pump and t-stat just got a little rusty and filled with scale. Heater core still good. All this done at around 120k miles.
    Muffler rusts from my short commute to work, about 10-15 minutes. The exhaust just starts to get heated up by the time I pull in to park. Merlin's lifetime warranty replaces it about every 3 years or so(for free).

    I no longer drive like a nut, and I do all the maintenance myself. Given all the trials and tribulations I've put my truck through, I know what "Built Ford Tough" means.

    Still get over 20 MPG in the city. Very reliable, especially since this truck was dogged hard when I was a teenager. I'm thinking of waiting until the 2003 redesign to purchase my next Ranger because this one is paid off and running fine. Hopefully they will offer the 4.0l in regular cab 4x2 again!

    So I'm writing again to remind the casual readers that people with car problems are more likely to [non-permissible content removed], and those without car problems are more likely to just drive happy. Hopefully my experience can be yours as well.
  • frey44frey44 Posts: 230
    Rebuilt tranny at 130 K ? Wow. Better ge a Nissan. I have an 89 Nissan with 167 000 miles on the clock. No need for a tranny. It sounds like yours was abused. A tranny should go longer than that.
  • You're right Frey. I'm 24 now, and had the truck since I was 16. I think that may explain an early failure. Also, it was way earlier than 130,000 miles, more like 110,000 miles.

    "I thought it was cool to rev the engine in neutral, and then drop it into gear for a little peel out. " Plus I never did ANY maintenace on it for about 5 years. This includes trips to South Padre (racing Wranglers on the beach) and Arkansas (Going up and down the Buffalo River area Mountains). Takes a licking and keeps on ticking... or proven Built Ford Tough in my mind's eye.

    but like we're talking in the other Ford Ranger thread, the transmission needs new filters and fluid every once and a while...

    Now I know... and knowing is half the battle... :)
  • I have an 01 Ranger XL 112" WB. It's a 5 speed with AC and cloth seats and now has about 3400 miles; I purchased it brand new 5 months ago. I do like this truck; with the optional cloth seats it's quite comfortable. I use it as a commuter vehicle and as a supplement to my Honda S2000. I just took it to the dealer for some warranty work: air bag light is on (sensor for air bag), rear springs squeaking (they're having to replace both rear springs), have noticed coolant leaking in my garage (they are replacing the radiator due to leaking seems), they performed the seat belt recall and are addressing a rough and uneven idle. Needless to say, I'm very concerned with having problems like these develop on a brand new vehicle. What do you guys think, is this the norm or do I habve a lemon? Should I consider another truck or stick it out with this? I do like the truck but it's a major hassle if I'm going to be having to have repairs done all the time, eventhough Ford is picking up the tab
  • frey44frey44 Posts: 230
    <<Nobody should go through what problems he was having, but that can be avoided with taking any purchase out for a test drive first.>>

    You are indeed correct about the text drive. I did NOT drive it near long enough or FAR enough on SMOOTH pavement [hence I did not notice the driveline vibration as much]. As for the OTHER problems I've had, NONE of them would have shown up on a test drive: Bad turn signal switch, shorted left front headlight, defective right door window motor, right rear door seal came off, rear slider leaks in the upper right corner, an exhaust hanger bolt missing [it evidentally came out], and very rough shifts on 5 speed auto tranny [this makes me real nervous..perhaps it is the SOURCE of my vibes problem ??? The dealer is too incompetent to trouble shoot it..or..UNWILLING]. All of these had developed over time in the 14300 miles I have driven it. I still basically WANT to like the truck. Unfortunately, I got stuck with a "Blue Oval" dealer [Ford's idea of a joke !] Yes, it is a 20 000 dollar lemon. You are correct. I just wonder how many OTHER ones there are out there. If I can sell this thing, I will buy a Tundra. Happy Holidays.
  • Was everything fixable(aka replaced/repaired) by your dealership except that vibration?
  • frey44frey44 Posts: 230
    All of the problems were fixed except the most important ones: the driveline. My word of warning: For ANYONE who buys a Ranger made from 98 to 2001, particularly, DRIVE it in the manner that you will most likely use it and if you drive it on the highway a lot, take the Ranger out to a LONG stretch of SMOOTH highway, put the cruise on at various speeds from say 55 to about 75 or 80 (if possible) and see if it SHAKES. Many Rangers do [some 98, 99 models have TSB's on bad driveshafts]. You may not like the ride; it can be VERY fatiguing. Good luck. If you don't mind the shakes, then it doesn't matter perhaps. Or, if you are using the Ranger offroad and trashing and thrashing it anyways, it also is perhaps irrelevant. Perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.
  • I had a 97 mazda with the shakes and was told by the dealer that it was the front I-beam suspension causing the problem; however, when I got rid of the FireRock tires, the shakes went away completely. FireRock, of course would accept no responsibility. My 2001 with firerocks fortunately does not have the shakes.
  • frey44frey44 Posts: 230
    I replaced the Firestones with Michelin LTX's. It is possible that these tires are ALSO causing the problem, but I highly doubt it. I think it is a "dirty little secret" about the Ranger. It is more common that I had realized. A lot of Ranger owners I have talked to have this problem. They just tolerate it better than I do. Good luck with your truck. I STILL like them, and am looking for one that doesn't shake. Otherwise, I will go for a tundra.
  • abhairabhair Posts: 8
    I have read all the threads on this problem and been to a good mechanic. There seems to be 3 common leaks. 1. Oil drain plug. I have found this is a problem in many Ford vehicels. Rangers improved the old drain plug after my 96 model. I have seen threads who recommended fiber washers so I have installed one today.
    2. The rear engine seal may be leaking. It is very hard to tell if this is the problem or pan gasket. I am told both can be a probelm on the 4.0 Ranger engines.
    3. The pan gasket may break down over time and "squeese" out and allow a drip.

    Most tell me it is a $600 job to pull the engine to fix the rear seal and pan gasket. I have disided to put up with slight drip rather than pull the engine. (the truck has 93K miles) I am hoping the fiber washer and new type plug is the problem but looking at oil on the upper side of the pan, I doubt it is the plug.

    It appears to me that it is a poor design to have to pull the engine to change the oil pan gasket.

    Any better advice? Thanks!
    A. B . Hair
  • abhairabhair Posts: 8
    I have read all the threads on this problem and been to a good mechanic. There seems to be 3 common leaks. 1. Oil drain plug. I have found this is a problem in many Ford vehicles. Rangers improved the old drain plug after my 96 model. I have seen threads who recommended fiber washers so I have installed one today.
    2. The rear engine seal may be leaking. It is very hard to tell if this is the problem or pan gasket. I am told both can be a probelm on the 4.0 Ranger engines.
    3. The pan gasket may break down over time and "squeeze" out and allow a drip.

    Most tell me it is a $600 job to pull the engine to fix the rear seal and pan gasket. I have disided to put up with slight drip rather than pull the engine. (the truck has 93K miles) I am hoping the fiber washer and new type plug is the problem but looking at oil on the upper side of the pan, I doubt it is the plug.

    It appears to me that it is a poor design to have to pull the engine to change the oil pan gasket.

    Any better advice? Thanks!
    A. B . Hair
  • I'd hang in there a while, at least as long as its under warranty. I have a 01 supercab 4.0 5spd auto. Its been in for warranty; discolored head lite reflector, chattering right side window (twice) and 10 days ago sqeaking rear brakes (both rear drums replaced). Slight vibration comes & goes at speed, tires rebalanced under warranty. I still love my truck, Just put on a Gibson cat-back & like that also. My previous was a 90 2.3 5-spd. Sold with 172K & outside of routine maintenance (clutch, brakes, tires, water pump, battery, etc) was and is still going strong. My daughter just traded her 95 with 117K (2.3 auto). Only had troubles were broke idler pulley, & vapor recovery box, both under warranty. I think they are great.
  • abhair,

    another place that leaks in a 2.3 is on top of the bellhousing. there are three holes on the back of the engine on top of the bellhousing. there are three rubber plugs that go in these holes. after some time they get hard and start to leak. oil runs down the back left side of the engine and looks like it is comming from the rear seal. it is not. be sure where your leak is. you can get the 3 plugs i'm talking about from ford. they come in a package of three and cost about $6.00 you can install from underneath. they hard to get to in the blind but you can stick a screw driver in the side of the plug to get them out. then take a socket extension 1/4" drive and push in the detent of the plug to get it all the way in. (don't push it so hard it goes inside) It fixed mine, that had started to leak about 100K. It was a 90 2.3L. sold with 179,000 and NO leaks. if you need more info contact: h2csar@aol.com
  • jcc6jcc6 Posts: 8
    To goldranger:

    My rear brakes are squeaking terribly. It initially started a couple of months ago. I took the truck to the dealership and they found some rust on the rotors and simply cleaned it off. That stopped the problem for a little while, but now it's much worse than before. I guess my question to you is, did you have to argue w/ them before they replaced your rear drums?? I really like my truck but little things like this annoy me, especially since the truck is only 9 months old.
  • But there is a type of lubricant/anti corrosive/brake squeal spray. That is more or less a temporary fix, something mechanics use to make sure the brakes don't squeal after a brake job. It really boils down to brake alignment and wear. So if a shoe or drum gets a little uneven wear, it usually progresses exponentially, which then causes vibration and then squeal.
    I also think there is alternative composition of pads/shoes that are less prone to squealing.
    I'm not a brake expert by any means, but hopefully you can get it fixed one way or the other.
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    I have a '93 ranger xlt supercab 2wd. (3.0 5-speed) I bought it new, am just about to turn over the odometer and it's never needed anything.

    Is this unusual? I still have the factory exhaust system and factory battery. I had the serpentine belt replaced last year for safety sake, but that is it. The truck was never garaged until 1999. It does have that ping people talk about, but only on hills where I am in too high of a gear.

    It has used a bit of oil since day one, about 2 quarts per change. I hardly drive it now, so I expect to keep it forever.

    The only issue I have is the check engine light comes on occasionally, but I think it is the oxygen sensor. For all the more I drive it, and because performance and fuel economy don't seem to suffer, I'm gonna let it go for awhile.
  • But I chalk that up to my short commutes to work. (About 5 miles). Luckily I purchased a lifetime warranty on the first replacement. Seems the internal ballasts keep on rusting until something starts rattling.

    If it's always been using oil, maybe it was improperly broken in? But as long as you aren't suffering in milage or power, it can't be that bad, just less oil to recycle... :)

    How many miles do you have?

    Check engine light could be about anything, sensor wise. Instead of "check engine" it might as well say, "Pull my Codes"
  • jpelderjpelder Posts: 235
    It now has 99 thousand miles and some change. The paint still has a nice glow to it...I always keep a good coat of wax on it.

    I had the first oil change at 1500 miles. The next oil change, I noticed it was using oil, about 1 quart. I brought it in to have it looked at, and asked them to replace the PCV valve.

    They did this for me, but could find nothing wrong and said the oil consumption is normal. Of course, it says that in the manual too. THis was unusual for me, since my '77 maverick never used a drop even when it went to the graveyard.

    I agree about the check engine light. It will come on for awhile, then go out, then on again later, etc. I will change the oxygen sensor as soon as I figure out how and see what happens.

    Those lifetime muffler warranties are great for people who keep their cars awhile. WHat year and mileage is your ranger?
  • My little four banger doesn't seem to use any oil. I get a little over a gallon (4+ quarts) plus the filter, so that should be 5.
    Good little truck that was my first purchase, and I probably will replace it with the new design in 2003. Driven it since 94, when I was 17, so it's recieved more than it's fair share of abuse. To date, replaced the rotors 100k, replaced trans at 120kish, replaced radiator, h20 pump, at 130k. Very minimal in light of my early driving habits... :) Still getting over 20 MPG in the city.
  • Hi all, just joined today after doing a lot of research on pickup trucks. I just got a 98 Ranger XLT Supercab 3L (yes, I have as little pinging as well) 5sp manual with 36K miles on Wednesday.

    Thanks to all of you, I was able to shop smarter and ask tons of questions.
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