internal differences between a 2002 2.3 DOHC and a 2003 DOHC - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


DOHC - 2.3L Duratec / Mazda L Engines Discussions and Topics specific to the Duratec 4 cylinder engines

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Old 01-27-2016
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Icon5 internal differences between a 2002 2.3 DOHC and a 2003 DOHC

Hey guys,

I just recently bought a 2002 Harvest Gold Ford Ranger that had a 2.3 DOHC. I say "had" because the engine was removed by some con-artist mechanics in Knoxville and they just ripped this guy off ... but anyways
When I went to buy a replacement engine, a 2002 2.3 was pretty much impossible to find. So I just figured a 2003 would work just fine, but that wasn't the case because every salvage yard I called with a 2003 2.3 told me that their interchange system said a 2003 2.3 would not work.
I would like to know why a 2003 2.3 would not work in a 2002 and if there's any internal differences like the cams or the crank. I know that there's external differences like the exhaust manifold, but all that stuff can be switched around. I even called the dealership and they told me there was a difference, but nobody could tell me what the difference was.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-28-2016
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Mazda L 2.3l DOHC came in 2 versions, 23EW for front wheel drive cars and the 23NS for RWD Ranger
23EW was built in Mexico, 23NS was built in Michigan
EW = east-west, NS = north-south, lol.
Ford branded them Duratec engines, but they did that with a whole lot of engines not just the 23EW/23NS, lol, so 2.3l Duratec is the Mazda L 2.3l DOHC engine

As far as I know any 23NS could be used in your Ranger.

23EW had a different cam, less torque more HP, and head gasket was different for coolant flow in transverse mounting, but it could also be used in a Ranger(changing intake).

So any low mile 23NS will work, not sure why a Ford Dealer would say that, official listing for the 23NS in Rangers is 2003-2011, which could be why.
Rangers were switched from the Lima 2.3l/2.5l SOHC engine to the 23NS starting in 2002, maybe there was some confusion in the years you were asking about.
8th digit in VIN should be D for 23NS, A or C for the Lima engines
So check your VIN number to be absolutely sure about what the original engine was.


One heads up, because 2.3l DOHC engine was designed from scratch to be mounted transversely, it has a coolant connection on what is the back of the engine when mounted in a Ranger.
Only way to get to this connection is to remove the transmission.
So make darn sure this connection is GOOD, if in any doubt replace it with new.
Also when an engine is out it is always a good idea to install a rear main seal, another hard part to get to.

Last edited by RonD; 01-28-2016 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 01-28-2016
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Thanks for all the info Ron. That was very helpful.
The 2002 PCM is currently running the 2003 engine, so I don't know why they're saying a 2003 engine won't work in a 2002.
I know all about that crazy coolant hose on the back of the engine. I learned about it the hard way when I went to fill the coolant system and 1.5 gallons of anti-freeze leaked onto the floor. I seen how the hose was pretty much impossible to get to, so I had a shop fix the hose.
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Old 01-29-2016
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Thanks and glad new engine is working out.
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