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  #1  
Old 05-24-2014
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Considering buying a Ranger.

Hello, everyone!

I joined this forum expecting to get some advice in purchasing a used Ranger. I've never been a truck guy and have owned only one car all my life... a 2010 VW GTi. For reasons good or bad, I've gotten into motorcycles and doing track days, and paying off the car is not really an option with how expensive track is. Also, I figured a beater truck would do very nicely with pretty much the only purpose of hauling the bike to track (5+ hours away in Texas)... a few months from now, I'll be back in school in Wisconsin and won't have the need for a daily driver anyway.

As far as trucks go, I need something small and fairly reliable... and the Ranger seems to fit the bill. I don't want to be stuck by the side of the road on my way to track with a broken down truck. I believe I'll have about 3-grand to put down on something used... what should I be looking for in terms of age and mileage? Anything I should go out of my way to avoid? I'd also really like to get a manual transmission.

I hate selling the GTi, but the bike comes first.

Since I have nothing helpful to offer you guys so far and am already asking for quite a lot of help, I hope some pictures will make up for it

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My current track set up

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I enjoy driving the car, but I love this even more!

Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 05-24-2014
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Well if you are driving 5+ hours for the track trip then you will want a 4cyl engine.
Pick up trucks, big or small, do not get great MPG because of their higher stance and basic design, a brick with 4 wheels.

The high miles/low miles, IMO, can bite you either way, high miler can need regular maintenance items like a timing belt and water pump, brakes, tires, ect....
Low miler could be low miler because it spends alot of time in the shop, a lemon, or it was only driven on short trips(kills the engine quickly) or was left sitting for months at a time so seals have dried out and engine was started dry more often.

A good average miler for it's year is, IMO, the best buy.

You can often get a Mazda B2300(4cyl) pick up for less than a Ranger 2.3l(4cyl) of the same year and miles, these are the same truck, outside of the body insignias all parts are interchangeable.

2WD Regular Cab would get you the best MPG, and unless you go 15+ years old the 4cyl only came in regular cab.

I think 2001 was when the Duratec 2.3l(4cyl) engine was first offered, previous years had the Lima 4cyls(which were good engines).
The Duratec has been holding up quite well, 200,000 miles easy, even 300,000 is not unusual.

The Ford/Mazda "rangers" are good high mile drive trains, my '94 4.0l is over 300k now, and outside of the standard water pump, battery and starter motor changes it is still running well

Pick up trucks rarely drop below $1,000 if running, just the multi-purpose usefulness.
And prices vary alot by area.
I would check Craigslist in your area then check some other areas to get an idea if it would be possible to save $500-$1,000 by traveling a few hours.
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  #3  
Old 05-24-2014
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Thank you so much for the reply. I'll look into the Mazda pickups as well.
And I wasn't thinking about the super low miles being an issue... good to know as well!

I was told that there were issues with the 3.0 six cyl motor, and was asked to avoid it at all costs and get either a 4cyl or the 4.0 V6. How much truth is in that statement? And will I be okay with hauling the bike (~450 lb) plus some stuff with the 4cyl when I head back north... maybe hitch a trailerl?
Another worry for me are vehicles affected by Katrina... any tips on how I might be able to avoid ending up with one of those?

I'm fine with doing basic maintenance as long as the engine and transmission hold out. Do you think I could be at some risk if I chose to get the manual instead of the automatic transmission? Is there a rule of thumb as to when transmissions begin going out (I realize it could be really specific, but there must be a way to tell if a problem is lurking around)?
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Old 05-24-2014
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For the number of 3.0l Vulcan engines on the road, the casualty rate really isn't that high .
3.0l was first used in 1986 in Taurus and Sable cars.
Ranger got them in 1991.

Only common problem was the Cam synchronizer, it should be replaced every 80k-100k miles or earlier if it starts to squeal, same as swapping out a distributor, so it needs to be timed but not a hard thing to change.

Number of posts about 3.0l problems is more related to the number of 3.0ls in Rangers, I would image the percentage of problems would be about the same for any engine.

You don't get a "do over" if you over heat it, but that's the same for the 4.0l.

Around 2000 to 2004 the 3.0l did have valve seat issues but those were usually repaired when still under warranty.

MPG for 3.0l is not much better than 4.0l

Early 4.0l SOHC engine had timing guide issues, 2001-2003, if upgraded then they are OK now, if not you need to pull the engine to fix it.
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  #5  
Old 05-24-2014
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So what model would I try to find and have to put in minimal work? I've been coming across a few for sale, 2007-ish I4s, with 100,000+ on the ODO for about 7-grand (dealer price).
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Old 05-24-2014
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Manual trans will get better MPG.
Automatics are getting better in lasting but when they do fail it is never cheap.
Manuals rarely have problems but clutch needs to be replaced every 100k-150k, $700-$900 at a shop.

Take any truck you might want to buy to a Ford dealer, they have a 100+ point used car check list they go thru, about $100-$150, well worth it.

prices vary too much by area for any one to say what is a good deal
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Old 05-24-2014
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
Manual trans will get better MPG.
Automatics are getting better in lasting but when they do fail it is never cheap.
Manuals rarely have problems but clutch needs to be replaced every 100k-150k, $700-$900 at a shop.

Take any truck you might want to buy to a Ford dealer, they have a 100+ point used car check list they go thru, about $100-$150, well worth it.

prices vary too much by area for any one to say what is a good deal
Appreciate it, mate! All good information... if I find a manual truck with over 100,000 miles, I'll make sure the clutch has been replaced, or at least, haggle for that. Aside from that, I'll look for lesser miles.

Thank you for all of the helpful information!
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  #8  
Old 10-31-2014
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Hi RonD,

I think I found a 1994 with 200,000+ miles, and he wants ~$1500. It is the 4-cyl manual. The thing that is really leaning me towards this is that the seller is a friend of a really good friend of mine. It gets driven daily, and hauls the bike to track days, and apparently been very well cared for. I don't think they've said there are any problems, except some rough interior. Sound like something I should go for?

What should I look out for? Have these trucks known to last awhile? What kind of costs can I expect to look out for in the next three-odd years. I plan on putting on around 5,000 miles per year, tops.

Thank you! I have a good feeling this might work out. The GTi is gone, sold long ago, and I only have the bike for a commuter now... getting pretty chilly soon!
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  #9  
Old 10-31-2014
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Originally Posted by badger View Post
Hi RonD,

I think I found a 1994 with 200,000+ miles, and he wants ~$1500. It is the 4-cyl manual. The thing that is really leaning me towards this is that the seller is a friend of a really good friend of mine. It gets driven daily, and hauls the bike to track days, and apparently been very well cared for. I don't think they've said there are any problems, except some rough interior. Sound like something I should go for?

What should I look out for? Have these trucks known to last awhile? What kind of costs can I expect to look out for in the next three-odd years. I plan on putting on around 5,000 miles per year, tops.

Thank you! I have a good feeling this might work out. The GTi is gone, sold long ago, and I only have the bike for a commuter now... getting pretty chilly soon!
timing belt and water pump is first priority
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Old 10-31-2014
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The 2.3l is a good engine, it does need the timing belt replaced every 70k-90k, so you will be looking at that in your future, not an expensive repair but is labor intensive, so as long as you DIY it cost will be under $100 with new coolant, water pump, t-stat and rad cap.

It is a non-interference engine, what that means is that the valves and pistons don't share any space in the cylinder, so if timing belt gets loose or breaks there will be no bent valves or holes in pistons, but you will be walking home, lol, so ask when it was last changed.

The '94 2.3l will have dual coils(8 spark plugs) and an ICM(ignition control module), the ICMs can give some trouble and have to be replaced($100+) but they can be test with volt/ohm meter or at most parts stores.

'94 fuel pump is at 20 years old, my '94 is still working but......it is 20 years old, lol.

Manual trans is great, however they do need the clutch replaced, at 200k it may still have factory clutch disc, you can ask, but clutch is self adjusting so hard to tell how many miles left without eyeballing the disc thickness.

$1,500 for a running pick up truck seems a fair price

Last edited by RonD; 10-31-2014 at 06:33 PM.
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  #11  
Old 11-03-2014
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Thank you, guys!

The seller said he had replaced the water pump, timing belt and the plugs recently. Fuel pump was replaced about five years ago. He's assured me that the trans isn't slipping at all. The interior is a bit rough, but that is to be expected, and not a biggie for what my needs are.

I asked him about the ICM and he had no idea what it was. I will check it when I buy the truck. The clutch is stock, as far as I know. I can set aside some money and work on it next year should something come up. So far, it is in good running condition and should fulfill my temporary needs... haul the bike to the track this month, and haul my stuff (and the bike) up north. I might hook up a small UHaul trailer with gear, kitchenware, clothes, etc. Probably would be doing slightly shy of the speed limit, lol!

Thanks for the insight on the price as well, Ron. He was willing to meet me halfway if I paid for gas. Sounds fair to me.

I'm thinking of doing it sometime this week. Looks like I'll be around here a lot more with questions about working on it!

Thank you once again!
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Old 11-03-2014
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2.3l is not great for towing, neither is manual trans as far as legal rated capacity.
U-haul will have a strict limit as to which trailers they can rent you, so call first or go on their website and enter the trucks data.

When you first turn on the key make sure the CEL(check engine light) comes on and then goes off, I know it is a friend of a friend but people often disable this bulb because of problems.
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Old 11-03-2014
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I see. I'll be sure to check for the CEL. Thanks for that tip!

Yeah, it might be a tough deal wrt the trailer. I probably won't mention about having the bike in the back... at this point, it would be a bit of a gamble, and I don't really have a ton of options. The same friend had hauled her bike (same as mine) and a trailer with an old Mitsubishi Mighty Max, which gives me some confidence. I might not be able to do the speed limit, but I just want to be able to make this trip. Once! Then I'll go easy on her afterwards.
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Old 11-03-2014
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Because of the legal requirements U-haul has to calculate load limits on truck and trailer based on them having maximum load, otherwise they could get sued.
This is why they limit the size of the trailers they rent based on the vehicle, they have to assume you will have the truck bed loaded down with stuff, lol, and are adding more stuff so need the trailer.

We all suffer from the moron who crashed his truck 40 years ago and sued U-haul for letting him rent a trailer that was too big.

Same as the $40 ladder that costs $80 now, we pay an extra $20 for the sticker that says "Place on firm surface" and another $20 for the "This is not a step" on the top, lol.
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Old 11-03-2014
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
Because of the legal requirements U-haul has to calculate load limits on truck and trailer based on them having maximum load, otherwise they could get sued.
This is why they limit the size of the trailers they rent based on the vehicle, they have to assume you will have the truck bed loaded down with stuff, lol, and are adding more stuff so need the trailer.

We all suffer from the moron who crashed his truck 40 years ago and sued U-haul for letting him rent a trailer that was too big.

Same as the $40 ladder that costs $80 now, we pay an extra $20 for the sticker that says "Place on firm surface" and another $20 for the "This is not a step" on the top, lol.
I follow, thanks for explaining that. I don't need a lot of room, to be honest, and I'm hoping that I'd be able to get their smallest trailer... more research is needed.

I read on an Edmunds' review that Ford rates the 1994 2.3 for 1,200 lb towing capacity... can anyone confirm? Also, before I ask any more questions the answers to which I should be able to look up, where can I find a service manual?
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Old 11-03-2014
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If it won't be possible, I'll just have a friend store some of my stuff mid-way and just haul the bike and the bare minimum essentials... swing back down later and pick them up.
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  #17  
Old 11-12-2014
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Got it!

Drives fine... I love pretty much everything about this plucky little truck. There is the CEL that pops up, and the seller says it is due to the O2 sensor on the cat converter that was now a straight pipe and nothing to worry about. There may be a coolant leak somewhere and/or a faulty thermostat. A buddy of mine did a pressure test and it only got up to 13 psi and fell to 8 psi. The coolant reservoir was empty so I filled it up (and the radiator... that was pretty full) and it's been going low slowly! Please tolerate my inexperience... I'm looking forward to getting to know her and take care of her for a long time!

It has 241,000 miles and there isn't a single rattle or creak anywhere. The engine pulls really well and the gearbox feels sure and tight! The interior is messy, with all kinds of stains on the carpets. A friend of mine suggested taking the seats out and spraying bedliner on the floor... is this a good, cheap idea? The interior panels are actually in good shape, and it feels better built than my work truck, a 2011 Dodge Ram 1500, lol!

Overall, I think I'm in love with the little truck, its simplicity and capability. Thank you so much, especially RonD, for helping me through my purchase and getting my first truck!

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I've christened her Olga... a butch female name, in my mind! I rode up to Kansas City... a good thirteen cold, cruel hours, loaded the bike in the back and drove the truck down. A pretty eventful weekend, overall!
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Old 11-12-2014
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Olga looks sturdy

1994 Rangers won't have a Cat O2 sensor, that didn't start until late '95 with the newer EEC-V computers with OBD II.

You would have the EEC-IV computer and OBD I in a '94
Good read here on the OBD I: Ford Ranger - Testing EEC-IV Equipped Engines

Some auto parts stores have OBD 1 readers, but most only have OBD 2, they will read the codes for free if they have one

Most with the 2.3l put something in front of the rad in the winter to keep the heat up.
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  #19  
Old 11-16-2014
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
Olga looks sturdy

1994 Rangers won't have a Cat O2 sensor, that didn't start until late '95 with the newer EEC-V computers with OBD II.

You would have the EEC-IV computer and OBD I in a '94
Good read here on the OBD I: Ford Ranger - Testing EEC-IV Equipped Engines

Some auto parts stores have OBD 1 readers, but most only have OBD 2, they will read the codes for free if they have one

Most with the 2.3l put something in front of the rad in the winter to keep the heat up.
Thank you, Ron. I do like her quite a lot. If I can just get some plates on her now and get around instead of dragging the bike in this 20-degree weather now...

I had a mechanically-inclined friend pull up the codes today and these are what popped up:

Memory code: 332- EGR flow insufficient
Key On Engine Off: 332 again
Key On, Engine Running:
326- Exhaust pressure transmitter circuit voltage lower than expected.
538- Insufficient RPM change during dynamic response OR goose test KOER OR invalid cylinder balance test due to cylinder identification sensor failure
138- Cold start injector flow insufficient during KOER

He also said that the idle sounds really rough. Something we're planning on tackling is replacing the spark plug wires, because those look like the original. That might solve the rough idle. The radiator fins were bent as well, so we'll straighten them out some time soon.

The rest of the truck passed his inspection, and that gives me a lot of faith in taking it to track this weekend. He said the EGR error wasn't something to be too worried about.
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