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Old 06-25-2016
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Columbia Heights, MN
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Icon4 Best way forward?

Hi all,

New here, looking for some advice.

Three months ago, after test driving many mid-size pickups I found a 2000 Ford Ranger that ran well, was in my price range. The engine looked great externally. The maintenance reports showed no major work on the engine. I bought for a fair price ($3850). It is my first pickup and I love the truck.

After two months of driving, the engine gave out (popping and shaking) on a long drive. Had it towed to the nearest town with a mechanic. The diagnosis was initially a burnt intake valve, but when he got in there to fix it, he found there was a chunk missing from a piston (see photo). He also noticed the parts had previously been replaced.

Apparently this engine had previously been dismantled but it didn't make it to the maintenance report. The check engine light never turned on throughout this process, which was suspicious. The mechanics is now recommending replacing the engine.

Want to keep driving this Ranger if I can get it running again for under $1500. The dealer has denied any knowledge the engine was previously dismantled, but is willing to possibly help find a used engine. The truck is still 200 miles away in the mechanic's lot.

I'm looking for any advice how to get out of this situation. Where and what to look for a match for my 2000 3ltr auto engine? I have a cousin who has an engine hoist who can possibly help. Thanks.
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Old 06-25-2016
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 7,606
Welcome to the forum

Does Check engine light(CEL) come on when key is turned on?
It should

It looks like original engine, at least a 1999 or later 3.0l Vulcan from the recessed head bolt threads in the picture.

Picture also shows excessive pinging(pre-ignition) damage, at least in that one cylinder, have to see other pistons to see if it was an engine wide issue.
That caused the pitting in the piston top and the broken off piece of piston
That much pitting had to happen over many months, did you hear Pinging/knocking noises when accelerating or going uphill?
That kind of long term damage would be audible over a long period

Google: piston damage from pinging images

So that's the cause of the engine failure, pre-ignition, and you need to know the source of that problem or it will reoccur with new engine.
Pinging is not an engine issue specifically, it can be caused by fuel mix issue, computer, MAF/O2 sensors, fuel injector, fuel pressure, spark timing, coil pack or fuel itself.

I wouldn't think dealer would know about this issue, cold engines don't show pinging usually, they start doing it after they warm up, and test drives are often done cold.
There are no tests you can do for pre-ignition damage outside of putting a camera down each spark plug hole to look for pitting, it won't show up on compression test or leak down test.
The fact that parts had been changed or work was done on a 16 year old vehicle/engine wouldn't be too much of a concern.
If dealer wants to help out then take any help you can get :)

Whatever you decide the current engine will need to come out.
If only that one piston/cylinder shows pre-ignition damage then you could just replace that piston/rings, and the head on that side, also depends on cylinder wall damage.
And check bearing clearances.

If all pistons/cylinders are showing damage then it will be a judgement call, depending on best price for used engine with heads, or rebuild yours with 2 new heads.

You can use a used 1999 and up 3.0l Vulcan engine, avoid 2003-2006 3.0l's, bad heads, it can be from a Ranger/Mazda B3000 or Ford car, but you should change the head gaskets if it is from a Ford car

You can use 1986 to 1998 3.0l as well.

Ford used these engines in many models, read here:

3.0l changes over the years seen here: Ford Ranger II 3.0 liter Engines

Flex fuel or gas only doesn't matter to engine, as you will be swapping your current upper and lower intake to the "new" engine so wiring will match up, only fuel injectors matter for flex fuel.
Also oil pan and pickup tube/screen.

Last edited by RonD; 06-25-2016 at 02:34 PM.
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