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Old 07-02-2009
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I am: Jim Johnson
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Vehicle: 1992 Ford Ranger STX 4x4
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Icon4 92 Ranger won't move when warm! No overdrive, weird problems...

I have a 1992 Ford Ranger 4x4 with 180,000 miles with an automatic tranny (not sure which tranny it has). I just got it 10,000 miles ago and have taken exceptional care of it myself, I am never hard on it.

Yesterday I was driving down the road at 45 MPH and increasing, usually it shifts into 3rd gear around 45. Instead of going into 3rd gear, it didn't go anywhere and I found myself in neutral, I let the speed drop down a little and pressed on the gas (hoping it would at least go in 2nd or 1st)... and nothing, it would not move! My buddies and I pushed it across the highway into an abandoned parking lot.

We let the truck cool down with the hood open, came back 20 mins later and tried it again, it wouldn't move anywhere. Then one of my buddies got the idea to see if it would move in 4x4, and sure enough it did, so we were able to get it home but on the way back home it had to be manually shifted because overdrive would not work (yet 3rd, 2nd, and 1st all did).

We got it into my driveway and tried maneuvering it there, where it died again. It didn't matter if it was in 4x4 or 2x4, the truck would not move. So we let it sit a little while, a couple hours later we went outside to get it going. We had to start it in 1st gear and it had to be revved up to 4-5k RPM just to barely move it, but then after going about 10 feet it it gained normal speed at normal RPM and we were able to drive it around to my buddy's house a few miles away, no problems. On the way to his house we were even able to put it into 3rd gear and it would downshift/upshift just fine (it wouldn't do this in overdrive though). Then we got to a stop sign a few miles down the road, came to our 3rd complete stop on the way back to my friend's house (let me mention the last 2 complete stops we made, we didn't have any problems driving the truck normally), and once again, it WOULD NOT move unless it was in 1st gear at almost 5k RPM and it went like 3 MPH at that. The next 500 feet to my friend's house, we had it in 1st going very slowly at almost 5k RPM (that sucker was hot), finally we got it into his driveway.

We let it cool down at my friend's house for a couple of hours and decided to drop it back at my place. We started it up and weren't sure if it would move or not. To our surprise, it drove JUST FINE going home (with the exception of having to be manually shifted). We were even able to put it into overdrive when we got up to about 55-60 MPH.

A few things I should mention:
  • I've only driven the truck the last 10k miles. When I got it, it shifted hard from 1st to 2nd, I would always lay off the gas around 14-16 MPH to help it shift easier.
  • Sometimes my tranny would noticably shake/vibrate if the truck was still warm and had been turned off for like 10 minutes and then restarted to go elsewhere. The shaking/vibrating usually stopped after a few minutes.
So what is the problem? I have talked to several people around me, all of whom are very intelligent when it comes to vehicles and everyone is saying something different.
  • Transmission going out? Why does it upshift/downshift in 3rd just fine as long as it's cold?
  • Torque converter going out? Is it possible for the torque converter to work up until the engine gets warm?
  • Transfer case? A few times it did help get it going when we put it in 4x4, after getting into 2nd gear we could disengage the 4x4 and it would run normally. Sometimes it doesn't need the 4x4 to get it going though, it will take off just fine in regular 2x4.
  • A computer issue?
Needless to say, I am very confused. It would be nice JUST to be able to pinpoint the problem so I don't get charged for like 10 hours of labor. I also have no idea who I should bring it to. A tranny specialist? A normal mechanic? I don't have the slightest idea what's going on and I need to bring it to the right person. Maybe it's something REALLY simple and everyone is just overlooking all of the bigger, more-costly items to replace?

Please, ANY help/insight would be extremely appreciated.
This vehicle is the only thing I have to get to-and-from everywhere I go!
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Old 07-02-2009
FullThrottle02's Avatar
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I am: Jason .......
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: McHenry,IL
Vehicle: 2002 4.0 Ford Ranger 4x4
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The first thing is: What level is the fluid at. Check it on a level surface, in neutral. Use a piece of wood so it doesn't roll. If the fluid is good. The trans may have lived it's life. Now it is time for a rebuild. It sounds like the clutches are worn causing the slipping. Also the pump could be bad causing too little or no fluid flow. This will effect shifting.
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Old 07-28-2009
cma88's Avatar
I am: Chris Arquillo
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Valdosta, Ga
Vehicle: 1993 Ford Ranger 4.0l 4x4
Posts: 11
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I would definitely check your fluid, if it is dark with a strong odor, it needs to be changed as well as the filter. If it is bright red, it is still good. There is also a vacuum diaphram that does your shifting, it may be bad or you may have a vacuum leak.
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