What year 4.0 manual - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 05-13-2016
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What year 4.0 manual

I have a son who will be driving soon so I thought to get rid of my Toyota Sienna and get him a Ranger. I used to have 1992 Explorer (three transmissions, three torque convertors, two transfer cases) so I am familiar with the 4.0 engine. I'd like to get an extended cab Ranger, 4x4, manual with the 4.0 engine. What are the good years? Any to stay away from? Looking in the $5k to $10K range.
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Old 05-13-2016
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Rangers had the very reliable 4.0l OHV engines from 1990 to 2000, 160HP
With the M5OD-R1 manual trans and BW1354 transfer case it was pretty bullet proof.
One failing in the 4.0l OHV was it couldn't be over heated, if it was overheated then head would crack, but only if overheated, which can be avoided.

Automatics need to be kept cool, 175-195 degF is normal operating temp, and they will last, always add a 2nd trans cooler, not just as an option for towing, I even add one in my cars.
At 220degF and up ATF gets too thin and slipping starts, valves leak and don't recover well.
Couple of times doing that and life of trans is shorten, $100 trans cooler gives you some room.
Ford Automatics are no better or worse than anyone else's, heat kills any automatic.

1998-2000 Ranger 4WDs had pulse vacuum locking hubs(PVH) these were a bad idea, and Ford dumped them as early as 1999 on some Rangers.
You can swap PVH out for manual hubs, so '98-'00 are still good Rangers with that change.

By 2001 all Ranger 4WDs were "live axle", no hubs, front axle always turned, which didn't effect MPG much, .3MPG.
There is no option for manual hubs with Live Axle.

In 2001 Rangers got the 4.0l SOHC engine, 205HP, but these had a bad timing chain design.
They were first used in 1997 Explorers.
And until about 2003/4 the timing chains were an issue, there is a newer design that retrofits the older and once installed they are a good engine, or 2005 and up would have the newer designed chains and cassettes.
Engine must be pulled out to change these timing chains, 3 of them and one in the rear of the engine, so not a small project.

The 4WD "shift on the fly" transfer cases used an electric motor for shifting the transfer case, these generally failed from disuse, IMO lol, I had to rebuild mine and since that time I shift it in to 4high and 4low just sitting in the driveway once a month.
Never had a problem since, close to 10 years ago.
Manual shift transfer cases are out there but very rare in Rangers.


1998 is the start of 3rd Generation Rangers, small changes after that but pretty much same truck body and frame until end of production in 2012

1983 to 1992 is 1st Gen
1993 to 1997 is 2nd Gen

1995 was the year all Rangers got the new EEC-V computer that uses ODB2(II) to communicate, same computer is still used by Ford
1994 and earlier used EEC-IV and OBD1(I)

Last edited by RonD; 05-13-2016 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 05-14-2016
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I'd like to go manual hubs but if not possible beyond 2001, not a deal breaker. Local guy has an FX4 but I cannot get ahold of him.
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2002 FX4 had same upgrades as 2003 and up FX4 Level II
2003 and up FX4 didn't have all the upgrades unless Level II package was added

Ford dropped the Manual transfer case in 2005, there were some issues with it.

Just FYI when shopping, not even the sellers know the difference sometimes, so you can get a deal on a Level II or pay too much for an FX4, lol

Ford Dealers offer used vehicle inspections, usually a 2-hour shop charge, so say $200, they are often less than that
For a $5,000 purchase that is 4%

And I have found most sellers are fine with it, if not then be wary
And usually there are some small things that cost money to fix and you can negotiate that off the price, so inspection can save you a few bucks.

Last edited by RonD; 05-14-2016 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 05-16-2016
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I don't think you will find a factory installed manual transfer case after 2003. I don't know what issues the manual transfer case had. I had an issue with mine and it had to be replaced under warranty but it had nothing to do with it being manual. The basic transfer case is essentially the same as the electronic shift. It is just the shifting mechanism is different. I have heard of people converting electronic shift transfer cases to manual but it is not easy. The manual shift case has mounting points that are not included in the electronic shift case.

Most of the SOHC timing chain cassette problems came in the 2001 model year. Ford must have made some kind of change for 2002 because you hear of less problems with them, although it still did occur. I don't want to jinx myself but mine have been trouble free for over 194K miles. I did replace the timing chain tensioners as preventive maintenance but the old ones I took out were still good. It seems the use of synthetic oil helps the life of the cassettes. I have always run synthetic oil and that may be part of the reason they have done well so far.
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