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Old 02-03-2016
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sluggish 3.0 4WD

In all the searches I've done I haven't been able to come up with an answer, so here ya go.
I've had my current truck for about 5 years, and the entire time it's been very sluggish. This is my first 4x4 Ranger, so I don't know if it is a common issue-my last 3 (2 whd's) were all very peppy.

It's a '95 4 spd manual+OD, 3.0 engine. 165k (started with 120k)

The problem I'm having is it is very sluggish. Slow from a dead stop, slow on acceleration. I practically have to red-line it if I want to get up to speed somewhat quickly. Additionally, I have to practically keep it floored at speeds above 45mph or so. Highway driving is a pain as it takes forever to go from 60 to 75 or 80. It bogs down quickly on even the slightest incline and I have to drop it back a gear or two.

Haven't towed anything yet, so I'm not sure how it would react in that instance.
I usually just drive around town, so higher speeds aren't usually necessary.

Anyone have any ideas what I can do to improve performance? Or is this something I just have to live with?

Thanks for the ideas!
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Old 02-03-2016
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First look at the drivers door sticker and see what gearing it has, AXLE code: Ford 7.5 & 8.8 Inch Axle Tag & Door Codes

And on the same label will be stock tire size it came with.

"normal" gearing(axle ratio) would be 3.73
4.10 has better pickup/acceleration/towing, but lower MPG at speed
3.45 has better MPG at speed but lower acceleration and towing power.

Original buyer may have wanted best MPG for commuting so ordered truck with 3.45 or even 3.27 gears

Larger diameter tires lowers axle gearing, and the lower the gearing the less acceleration power you will have.
If someone installed "taller" tires then that could account for some loss of low end power.


Restricted exhaust, usually it shows up at higher RPMs, like the old "potato up the tailpipe" but more subtle.
Vacuum gauge can test for that, vacuum gauge can also tell you about compression, 3.0l ran 9.3:1 so should see about 170psi on compression test.
You are above 2,000ft elevation which will reduce intake vacuum and compression a bit but not too much, and because of this higher elevation all engines can seem sluggish, which explains why every other car is a turbo when you drive in citys above 2,000ft.


Restricted air intake, check air cleaner and the CAI(cold air intake) tube that runs to rad support.

The 1996 and '97 had the lowest torque rating for the years of the 3.0l 162ft/lb, 1998 had 172 and 1999 and up 190ft/lb
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Old 02-04-2016
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Thanks for the info!

It's a code 86
open 7.5" 3.73
I'm not well versed on gearing so I'm not sure what this really means. Looks like it's the run of the mill package.
Aslo, I'm running 30x9.5 x15 LT tires.
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Old 02-04-2016
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Those tires are a bit bigger than stock, so it will take more power to turn them, especially from a dead stop. Also, the 3.0 is known quite well as a 3.slow for a reason. It's a long lasting engine, just not that great on power or fuel efficiency.
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Old 02-04-2016
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OK, sounds like like its normal then. Maybe I'll drop down to the regular sized tires next time and see what that does.
Thanks for the info!
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Old 02-05-2016
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Stock tire size was 28", a change to 30" makes the 3.73:1 ratio into a 3.45:1 ratio.
The 1 in the ratio is the axle and since the axle is bolted directly to the wheel, tire size matters.
A 28" diameter tire will roll 88" in one revolution, 720 revolutions per mile
A 30" diameter tire will roll 94" in one revolution, 674 revolutions per mile
So speedometer will be off(low), as well as axle ratio

Gear ratio is all about torque and torque is leverage.
The more leverage you have the easier it is to move something

That is what transmissions do, they give the engine more leverage to get the weight if the vehicle moving.
1st gear is usually 3.5:1, so engine spins 3.5 rpm for 1 rpm of the drive line, this gives the engine more leverage to get going but couldn't go very fast even at maximum engine RPM.
4th gear is 1:1, so for example 2,000rpm of engine would be 2,000rpm of drive line, this gives better top speed but little leverage.

Axle ratio is the same but fixed, well some trucks do have 2 speed rear axles, lol, but thats another story.

Lower axle ratios have less leverage but better top speeds, the closer you are to 1:1 the less leverage you have but the higher speed you get.
OD(overdrive) is .75:1, so NO leverage at all, lol, but with lower engine RPM at 65mph you get better MPG.

So a 3.08 axle ratio would get the best MPG at speed, but would have less torque to get going up to that speed.
4.56 axle ratio would have better torque to get up to speed(or towing), but engine RPMs would be higher at top speed so less MPG.
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Old 02-21-2016
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Just a thought, check your throttle cable for excessive slack. Its possible you aren't fully opening the throttle plate due to stretch in the cable.

The zip tie trick works well enough to solve this.
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