My Check Engine light saga - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 01-21-2011
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Gilbert, AZ
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My Check Engine light saga

I hate that this is my first post... but I joined this forum for help. So hopefully I can get this resolved and continue being a contributing member here.

So a few months ago I picked up a 1996 Ranger 4 cyl manual trans with 187k on it. I drove it a few months, all was ok. Then I got my notice that the tags were due and I had to pass emissions (Oct 31).

Well, about Oct 10, my Check Engine light comes on (of course). Borrowed a friend's OBDII tool. It was a 1443. Evap emissions control valve. So I checked my manual, did some research. There's the solenoid and the control module. I pulled them both, and the solenoid was bad (did the air-blow test on it). Replaced that, reset the light. Couldn't get clear answers on the drive cycle, so just set out driving it.

Got a 0301 (misfire cylinder 1). Pulled the plugs, which apparently a gorilla put them in previously.. one of them had a slight crack in it. So replaced the plugs. Reset light.

0302... misfire cyl 2... ok, plugs again, reset code.

Missed my emissions date because I drove it about 75 miles and it just wouldn't complete that last check. Bought a 30 day permit. Got a 0301 again. Replaced the plug wires on 1 and 2, and one side of 3 and 4 (couldn't get 3 and 4 driver side off) Reset code.

0301 again. OK, since there are about 20 things that can lead to a misfire, I started simple. Checked spark at the coil packs... good. Air filter is good. Replace fuel filter, thinking low fuel pressure. Reset code. Drive. Near end of the cycle... 0301. Did a compression test on it, numbers seem good:
cyl . 1.... 2.... 3.... 4
dry 170 180 130 170
wet 190 210 140 220

By now my 30 day permit has expired and I can only get one of those in a 12 month period. This really inhibits my ability do to the drive cycle. Thought I had it.. truck was running great... so I got a 3-day permit. Got 1443 again, right after a fillup. So got a new gascap. Then I got a 1443, followed by a 0301.

I'm pretty much at the end of my rope with this thing. I'm thinking "fuel pump" but really am not sure at this point. And it will be very hard to drive cycle it with expired tags. I work from home, and don't get the chance to drive it that much anyway. The only other thing that has happened is that it overheated at one point, it was low on coolant. The temp gauge doesn't really get past 1/4 since then. I don't think that has anything to do with the engine codes, but figured I'd throw it out there cause you never know.

So my plan is to see if anyone in this forum has a solid idea of what it might be. Failing that I will either take it into a dealership and have them fix it, but I can't I'm sure I really can't afford that. The other option is drive it out into the desert, set it on fire, and never look back.

Last edited by mweishaa; 01-21-2011 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 01-31-2011
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Location: Gilbert, AZ
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I replaced the other portion of the evap system that I didn't replace the first time I got the code. I was starting to think it was probably an injector. I don't know a good indie, so I called a dealership. They of course wanted $100 diagnostic fee, and $110 an hour for labor. So I'd be $200 out of the gate if I went that route. An injector is $66 which I could replace myself, but I found an easier solution.

I put the damn thing up on craigslist at a good price and sold it fully disclosing the issues. My first and last Ranger, and I only had it about 6 months.
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Old 02-01-2011
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Cordova, TN
Posts: 183
wow, i hate to see you give up on rangers on account of problems with a 15-year old one. I also have a '96 4 banger with 192k miles on it and I've never had problems like that.

Having said that, I understand your decision. Last year I bought a nissan frontier with 164k on it, and a week later a ton of problems surfaced. After messing with it for about 6 weeks, I gave up and sold it. I told myself I'd never buy another Nissan ever again.
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Old 02-02-2011
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Location: aspers, PA
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if its idleing rough too, and your loosing coolant if its not leaking out, then you might have a cracked gasket and coolant is getting into the cylinder and its getting burned off which is why its not running right. Thats all i can think of, my dad's 4.0 was running like that last year and thats what happened to it.
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