I thought I would share my experience with a 1999 Ranger XL 3.0L, Auto, I bought for my son.
I saw the truck setting in a yard in Marion Texas (just east of San Antonio) with a for sale sign, so I stopped. The owner said he was the second owner and it had been setting around the side of his house for about 4 ½ years. It had 135000 miles on it and he said it had started before, but it had “something” wrong with the transmission. He was asking $750. I told him if I could jump it and at least hear it run I would give him $600 even with the tranny problem, he agreed. I jumped it and it started pretty easily and actually sounded pretty good.
The body was pretty rough (lots of peeling paint) the front bumper was mangled, no lower valence and the grille was cracked, but the interior was in decent shape.
I brought my trailer out, loaded it up and took it home. That was Oct 2015.
I started working my way through the truck.
First up, new battery. With that, it was starting and as before sounded pretty good. Before I spent any more money I had to appraise the transmission.
I check the tranny fluid level and it was about a quart low. I added it, started the truck up and put it into reverse. It took what seemed like forever, but it finally went into gear and would move. I shifted to drive and again very sluggish, but it did go into gear.
I took it for a test drive and it had ALL the classic symptoms of a 4R44E. Long delay on reverse, 2-3 flare, no deceleration on downshifting. So I was somewhat relieved, I had already planned on pulling the tranny and doing a rebuild and now I may get by with a valve body rebuild.
I pulled the valve body, text book blow out of the separator plate gasket by the reverse servo. Pretty good one too, maybe 1 and ¾ of an inch. The pan looked good, no metal, not a ton of sludge, fluid looked decent. Bands looked good.
I rebuilt the VB
with a Transgo kit and replaced all the O-rings. I could not find a bonded separator plate so I just replaced the gaskets. All the solenoids Ohm’d out good and I found an EPC on eBay new for $10, so I replaced it. Reinstalled it all, adjusted the bands and voila it snapped right into reverse and now shifts smartly through the gears.
When I had it up on the rack for the tranny I notice that you could turn the rear wheel almost 45 degrees before the other wheel started to turn. I also noticed when I was test driving it did have a pretty loud whine in the rear-end.
I pulled of the diff cover and found the spiders to be worn (both pinion and side gears). The ring and pinion gear looked good. Fortunately the pinion lock pin was not sheared. I found a set of US Gears on eBay for $40, I replaced them along with the wheel bearings (axles looked good) and seals. Buttoned it up. Now it’s nice and tight.
I moved on to the front end. It was not pretty either. The ball joints in the upper control arms were trashed, I don’t know how they stayed in the socket. The lowers looked so-so. I found a set of Moog control arms and lower ball joints on EBay for $65. I found the tie rod ball joints for $20. I got the sway bar bushings and shocks on Amazon for about $60.
Pretty simple job. The lower ball joint are a bit of a pain, you just have to take your time, good ball joint tool, nice impact gun and lots of air and you can push them out and back in.
Brakes looked real good. Cleaned, repacked the bearings and new wheel seals. Found a front end alignment on Groupon, had it done and the front end was nice and tight.
The engine was the one bright spot. I did a compression check and had 125+ on all six. I replaced the plugs/wires and all the filters. New oil. New belt. Cleaned the MAF and flushed the radiator.
It did have a Check Engine Light. Turned out to be the coolant temp sensor (the one to the computer) was bad. I replace both (computer and gauge) along with the thermostat), cleared code.
The only mechanical thing left was the AC. Somebody has yanked the compressor relay and wired a manual switch which hung down by the parking brake. If you flipped the switch the compressor would engage. I was worried that something was seriously wrong or why would someone go through the trouble to run the wire from PDB through the fire wall and all.
I pulled the switch and replaced the relay, kicked on the AC and it was short cycling. I put a set of gauges on it and luckily it had pressure, so the system was not flat. I serviced it up to about 35/175 and it was still cycling. Jumped the low pressure switch and voila we were in business. Replace switch and it now has a nice 48 degree vent temp. The truck is single cab so the AC will freeze you out pretty fast. Also had the classic idler pulley chirp.
Body wise. I pulled the front bumper and grille. I found a guy on craigslist who buys delinquent storage unit contents. He had bought one full of Ranger parts. He had the 4x4 non edge front bumper (textured valance, chrome cap with round fog lights) all for $50. I found a chrome grille on CL for $20.
Since this was an XL it was not wired for fog lights. I bought a kit (wire, relay and fuse) off Ebay for $7. I had to modify it, installed new switch on dash and now the front end was taking shape.
The paint was peeling pretty bad, so I stripped the top of the cab and the hood. Stripped the sides down to the body line and reshot them all. The bed was almost completely peeled, instead of messing with it; I found a bed liner on CL for $40 and covered it all up.
On the inside a couple of issues. It had the classic peeling radio bezel. I stripped it and reshot it. The biggest problem with all the interior parts was the brittleness of the old plastics. Everything wanted to break and I had to do a lot of repair work. The center console lid was nasty and broke. I repaired it and recovered it.
The other problem was the owner only had one key and you could put it in the ignition, start the truck and remove the key. The cylinder lock was completely worn out. I bought a lock kit on eBay (ignition cylinder, door locks and two non PATS keys) for $40.
I pulled the PATS sensor ring off the column zipped tied the existing key to it and hid it in the dash. I replaced the cylinder and door locks and all works as before.
All in all not too bad. I spent $600 for the truck and maybe another $600 on parts, tools and misc stuff. I’ve attached some pics to let you judge for yourself.
That’s my tale. I finished it on the 20th of Apr just in time for my son to get his license. Now the bet is how long all that work will last. I’m personally betting not long. Thanks for reading!