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  #1  
Old 08-26-2010
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newbie buying ranger for light towing

Hi! I'm new to these here parts and had some questions about wtf I'm doing. Hope you guys won't mind helping out.

I'm currently riding a Focus, but I'm planning on selling that and picking up a used Ranger. I'd like the functionality of moving furniture into the new place, but mostly this'll be for carrying my motorcycle (track days, etc). And eventually, I'll probably pick up a small trailer so I can haul two bikes behind and my stacks of dirty mags in the bed. I'd like something that's capable, but not huge (hassle of parking, gas mileage, etc.) or unfun to drive, and the Ranger seems to fit the bill.

So, I've found a couple on craigslist that I'm interested in, but I want to make sure I'm going about this the right way. I've found a '98 with 90k miles and an '04 with 170k. Both have the 3.0L, manual trans, access cab/extended. Pardon if this stuff has been covered elsewhere in the forums - either I didn't find the answer, or I didn't understand it when I found it....Here are my questions:

1. I know these things are more durable than Yugos (and I plan on having someone qualified check it out pre-purchase), but are these within the general limits of age/mileage?

2. I can drive manual, though I'm not expert. Is auto highly advised for towing, or will I come out ok since I'm not towing huge loads or riding the clutch?

3. Should I be looking for a Ranger with the tow package?
3A. How do I know if the Ranger has the tow pkg?
3B. If it doesn't have one, can it (or similar parts) be retrofit reasonably?
3C. Are there any other upgrades I'd want to do for light towing?

4. What else do I need to keep in mind?

Thanks in advance, guys! Assuming this all pulls through, I'll likely be involving myself in the community more here.
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  #2  
Old 08-26-2010
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The 3.0 you will find to be a bit under powered , even when empty.
They also have an issue with the cam syncros , that , if not changed out in time can damage the engine.
For what you are going to use it for , I'd hold out for a 2WD extended cab with a 4.0.
Installing a hitch is no big deal and if you look around you can find one for a reasonable price.
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Old 08-26-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRtech View Post
The 3.0 you will find to be a bit under powered , even when empty.
They also have an issue with the cam syncros , that , if not changed out in time can damage the engine.
Really? I thought I heard the 3.0 was one of the best engines, and bulletproof compared to the 4.0.

As far as power goes, I won't exactly be racing with it anyway. I hear people on these forums talking about towing 2500lbs with a 2.4 (or 2.3?) and my load won't be more than about 1500.

I don't mean to come in as a newbie and start shooting down your response. I just need some clarification from the things I've heard so far in my limited research.
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Old 08-26-2010
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I don't feel as though my response is being shot down , my hide is a little thicker than that !
The 3.0 is a tough little engine , but not without its faults.
For its size it is a bit under powered. Esp when loaded. I've had 4 cyl engines that pulled as well.
Now i have only had one with a manual trans , maybe the autos pull a little better.
The cam syncronizers have a bad habit of failing , which destroys the engine internals as it also drives the oil pump.
On any used 3.0 that would be the first thing to change.

But don't just take my word on this. Go back through the older posts on the 3.0 forum and check for yourself.
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  #5  
Old 08-26-2010
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Go ahead and get the 3.0, it'll tow what you listed in reverse but im not sure about the dirty magazines. I tow 3k pounds regularly, without a problem. Look for a ranger that has a tow hitch and trans cooler, if not found the hitch can be installed and im pretty sure the trans cooler can too.
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Old 08-26-2010
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I have a 95 xcab, 4cyl 2.3 i got off craigslist for 1500 bucks with over 130k miles on the *broken* odo its ran like a champ since iv gotten it with no more then basic maintenance and a part here and there but just like he said even when its unloaded, going over a fairly steep bridge or trying to accelerate on the open highway there is almost zero pickup unless your on a flat or downward surface, if i had the choice to do it over again i would have held out for a 6cyl model for sure, at least then i could get out of my own way.
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  #7  
Old 08-26-2010
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I have a 99 3.0 extended cab with a stick. And its at about 120k miles. I cant complain about power. its not fast though. 3rd gear with my foot to the floor if i want to get to 70 before I merge on the highway, lol. But Ive towed a 30ft trailer fully loaded with furniture a couple times and i cant complain. I never see 5th, lol. But a little extra skinny peddle and it takes off just fine. If you can afford the gas Id get a 4.0 though. I get about 25-26mpg when all highway driving and about 21 when mixed 70% highway and 30% city.
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  #8  
Old 08-27-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by offroadn_redneck View Post
I have a 99 3.0 extended cab with a stick. And its at about 120k miles. I cant complain about power. its not fast though. 3rd gear with my foot to the floor if i want to get to 70 before I merge on the highway, lol.
I assume you're talking about pedal down in third while towing, right?

For the most part, I'll probably be hauling one motorcycle in the bed. I'd still like it to be capable of trailering two, since that might end up happening in my future.

Can an upgraded cam synch be installed for preventative maintenance?
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Old 08-27-2010
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I got a 2000 3.0 that I use to tow my racecar with. Car and trailer combo is right at 3k pounds and it handles it fine. I was able to do 70 mph down the freeway with no problem. Only think I would advise is running a heavier duty shock in the rear, or an air shock so you can stiffen them up when you tow, and soften it up when your not.

After I lifted my truck I installed Ford Explorer springs and the extra leaf really helped with the control of the trailer. Its much better to tow with now.
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  #10  
Old 08-27-2010
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1500pds isnt much at all for a truck to pull,and no ranger is gonna have alot of power when you stomp on it loaded or not,no matter what size motor you got,i've got the 4.0 and i've hauled around 2000pds hundreds of time and i've pulled a loaded 6x10 trailer on a scale before and the total truck/trailer weight was just shy off 10,000pds,it pulled it fine,needless to say if it's gonna be your dd/weekend toy hauler a ranger is perfect
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Old 08-27-2010
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Ive had a 03 2wd 3.0 and 04 4.0 4x4. Just get the 4.0 the first time its worth it.
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Old 08-27-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo1271 View Post
1500pds isnt much at all for a truck to pull,and no ranger is gonna have alot of power when you stomp on it loaded or not,no matter what size motor you got.........needless to say if it's gonna be your dd/weekend toy hauler a ranger is perfect
That's what i was thinking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MothMan999 View Post
Ive had a 03 2wd 3.0 and 04 4.0 4x4. Just get the 4.0 the first time its worth it.
Is there much point if i really won't ever be hauling more than the 1500lbs of motorcycles? Extra power would be nice, but i'll mostly be using the truck for bad-weather commutes and occasional moto carrier. Hopefully a weekend thing, but i'm trying to stay realistic.

And if i can upgrade the cam synch in a 3.0, that would make it more reliable than a 4.0 ranger, eh? I don't want to have to worry.
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Old 08-27-2010
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hey. dont waste time with a 2WD truck either, get a nice 4x4! even if you dont think you will need 4WD, its better to have it and not need it then to need it and NOT have it!!
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  #14  
Old 08-27-2010
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4.0 4x4 is the way to go! but then again i have the cute little pushrod :)
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  #15  
Old 08-27-2010
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Oh, that was the other thing i wanted to ask about....

Would i have much use for 4wd? Is it just extra weight and another thing that can possibly break? the '98 that i was looking at has 4wd (3.0 engine), and i don't know about the 2004. I don't go off-roading, and the worst weather we get here is usually about 2" of snow.
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  #16  
Old 08-27-2010
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The only time I have ever NEEDED 4x4 was when i was driving down a muddy road looking for trouble. Other than that ive never had a need. Just a little more gas and maybe some tire smoke and im up the trail too :)
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  #17  
Old 08-27-2010
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i also have 4wd,i use it but that is because i play around on trails,and it is nice to have in way but it's just more stuff that could break of course,but since you live where you get some snow it might be worth it to get a 4wd ,but 99% of the time you probaly wont use it,seeing how you said you don't go off roading
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Old 08-27-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atrocity View Post
Go ahead and get the 3.0, it'll tow what you listed in reverse but im not sure about the dirty magazines. I tow 3k pounds regularly, without a problem. Look for a ranger that has a tow hitch and trans cooler, if not found the hitch can be installed and im pretty sure the trans cooler can too.
I thought all manual rangers have trans coolers??

They don't have oil coolers though for sure.
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Old 08-27-2010
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Originally Posted by Masteratarms93 View Post
I thought all manual rangers have trans coolers??
ive never heard of a manual with a cooler. its using gears not the fluid to put the power down
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  #20  
Old 08-28-2010
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Another thing to consider is that I get on average 23 mpg with the 3.0 in the city. I think the 4.0 is worse. It sounds like you would be fine with the little 6. No real reason to get the 4.0 unless you just have to have the big engine. The 3.0 is bullet proof tho. You only need to replace that cam sync once, if ever. I love my little engine that could. It's got great torque down low for being a small 6.
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Old 08-28-2010
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i pull an enclosed trailer with 2 450 sport quads no problem with my 3,0. but since its an edge it has 4.1- gears so that helps lol
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  #22  
Old 12-19-2010
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yea... hes wrong, in those years of rangers the 3.0 was by far the more reliable. a bit underpowered compare t the 4.0. from my opinion if i was you i would go for a 3.0 or a 2.3.. both of them are good engine and are no gas guzzler...if you dont offroad and you dont get more then 2 inch of snow... then never buy a 4wd. no use, the truck cost more itself.burn more gas and parts are more expensive 2...good luck and good choice ford ranger are tough little truck!!!
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  #23  
Old 12-19-2010
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there as never been a manual truck with a trans cooler made to my knowledge.... there is just no use a manual trans does not get hotter when towing.and doesnt generate a 1/4 of the heat a auto makes
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  #24  
Old 12-19-2010
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i forgot to post that i ended up finding one. now i need to sell my focus so that i have money in my savings account again.

but i found one that was almost exactly what i wanted. 4.0L (still wanted 3.0, but i'm happy), auto, access cab, 4-door, black, tow package, and even came with a nice Leer bedcap. a couple of quirks (driver's seat spring is broken & electric mirrors don't work are the two big ones). already have my old stereo head unit and 12" sub hooked up, but no pics of that yet.

i was excited when my first tank got 24mpg. but the next 4 or 5 tanks have gotten about 14, and it's having a lot of trouble starting (just replaced the battery with an Odyssey, so i know that's not it). so i need to get that checked out as soon as i can afford it.

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  #25  
Old 12-19-2010
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Nice lil truck? how much did he go for?
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