Most reliable Ranger configuration?


Ultraspontane

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What the most reliable and bulletproof Ranger config out there? I need small truck for work, and drive a lot of miles every week in heavy stop and go city traffic, with the occasional long highway road trip here and there.

Reliability, low maintenance, and running costs are my primary concerns. 4x4 isn't necessary. Good fuel economy is big plus. My budget is limited at $5k.

Looking at local listings, I see a lot of mid-late 90's Rangers in various configurations, as well as mid 00's former work/fleet vehicles.

What's my best bet? Thanks!
 


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rusty ol ranger

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All the engines used in rangers were reliable.

The biggest thing is how it was taken care of. Also, shoot for a manual transmission.
 

Ultraspontane

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Of course the condition, and history of maintenance and upkeep is the most important. Even still, surely some were more reliable than others.

Buying an older used vehicle usually means it's been through a couple owners, and comes with incomplete service records. It's a gamble no matter what, just trying to make the best bet possible so I can get my money's worth.

My hunch tells me, from what I've read over the years is the lima with 5spd is the best choice for longevity.
 

Josh B

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To get what you're needing/wanting there, $5K probably wouldn't even make the down payment.
You can sometimes get lucking finding a used vehicle, but then again, lucky is the key word, and it is very rare.
To consider buying any used vehicle takes a certain amount of experience in knowing what to look for, regardless of the make, the model, or the year. New or used you might get a good one, or you might get a lemon.
Good luck :)
 

Josh B

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Looks like an 74 Pinto might be the ticket :D
 

rusty ol ranger

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Your best bet probably, in those years, and it pains me to no end to say this....

But probably a 3.0/5speed.

The 3.0 is nutless (imo) but is dead stone reliable with no real serious issues bred into its DNA.

The 4 cylinders liked to break timing belts and were even more gutless then the 3.0. The 4.0 is a pretty solid motor but can suffer cooling issues.

My (unpopular) opinion is the 2.9L V6 is the best comprimise in power, MPG, and reliabilty. Others will disagree and they went out of production in 1992. It dont seem like you wanna go that old.

With any ranger the biggest issues are usually automatic transmissions and rust. Other then that you really cant go wrong.
 

wcurtin1962

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I have a 94 2300/5 speed. With 230,000+ miles it still has the oem water pump and the engine has never been opened. The engine electronics are starting to show their age and I have started to replace them. With my Ranger the only problems I have had is the rear axle got noisy at 90,000 miles. I had it replaced with a 95 junkyard axle. It got noisy at 140,000 and still is noisy today. The rear springs broke around 120,000, I had them replaced with 4 leaf springs and front mounts on both ends. I had hauled over weight more then once. The fuel pump has been replaced twice, the oem because the plug rotted out around 120,000 and the replacement 210,000. If you get a XLT I suggest you replace the front motor mounts with solid ones. The fluid ones will break in half destroying your fan and shorting out your main battery feed cable to the frame. This happened at 227,000.
 

91stranger

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You could probably just go to the different v6 forums (4.0, 3.0 and 2.9) and compare what people tend to be dealing with. The 4.0 had timing chain issues and some of those had 3 timing chains.. or belts, which ever it was.. The 3.0 had the notorious camshaft synchronizer (easy if you catch it in time, Bad if you don't ((blown engine))). The 2.9's are just dated and had head/coolant issues for sure. They all had bad leaf spring issues and rust issues most commonly around the front leaf spring bracket and rear of frame and radiator supports. Manual trans are nice but come with their own bag of issues. Auto trans are nice but also come with issues but probably less than the manual. Carrier bearing if it is a 2-piece driveshaft tend to go frequently. Honestly it just depends on what your needs are. Mud truck? Daily driver? Need to haul 3 kids around here and there? These are what you need to ask. Sounds like you need a daily driver that gets decent mileage. I would shoot for the 4cyl 5 speed if you want the mileage. Those are known to get 22-28 highway easy. I think the 4.0 5 speed gets better mileage then a 3.0 auto.
 

RobbieD

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As others said, look for a well-kept and well-maintained truck.

The best one I had personally was a '94 supercab with the 2.3 and 5-speed. I don't have any experience with anything newer, though- I prefer the older, simpler trucks that even I can fix.

Too bad about having to deal with a lot of heavy stop-and-go traffic; I would suggest a manual over an automatic. Regardless, good luck on your search.
 

85_Ranger4x4

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95-97 Ranger IMO is kind of a sweet spot.

OHV 4.0, M5OD, D35 with bolt on calipers, 8.8 and airbags.
 

Dirtman

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Lima was the most reliable engine in a ranger hands down. I'd vote for a 2001 2.5 lima manual trans as most reliable.

In order of most to least reliable ranger engines

#1 - 2.3/2.5 Lima
#2 - 2.3 duratec
#3 - 4.0 ohv
#4 - 3.0
#5 - 4.0 ohc
#6 - 2.8
#7 - 2.2
#8 - Getting out and pushing
#9 - 2.9
 
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bobbywalter

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Lima was the most reliable engine in a ranger hands down. I'd vote for a 2001 2.5 lima manual trans as most reliable.

In order of most to least reliable ranger engines

#1 - 2.3/2.5 Lima
#2 - 2.3 duratec
#3 - 4.0 ohv
#4 - 3.0
#5 - 4.0 ohc
#6 - 2.8
#7 - 2.2
#8 - Getting out and pushing
#9 borrow an s10
#10 phone a friend
#11 hitch hiking in a known serial killer area.
. ...
....
....
#74 - 2.9

Fify.
 

Shran

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95-97 Ranger IMO is kind of a sweet spot.

OHV 4.0, M5OD, D35 with bolt on calipers, 8.8 and airbags.
^this. 2nd gen with those goodies - 91, 92 is a good choice too. Not dogging on other years, just personal preference.

I have a thing for 4 cylinder trucks too. 2.3's in the 90's made for excellent trucks. Not much power but if you can get one with a 5 speed and 3.73 or 4.10 gears it'll get you around well. The 2.5's and Duratec 2.3's are excellent as well.

I try to avoid anything older with an automatic unless it has low miles or good service records.
 

4RingCircus

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If you need reliability and you've zero'd in on a Ford Ranger, you've made the right choice. Hard to go wrong with any of them.

I've had a 1997 4.0 OHV, and now a 1987 2.3Lima. The 4.0 needed new gaskets on the intake plenum.... that was easy. The only real issue was the 5spd tranny (mitsubishu md50 I think?); it needed the throw-out bearing replaced every 80,000 miles. As for the 2.3, its timing belt has given me a little trouble, but that's all. And it's easier to work on than the 4.0.
 

rusty ol ranger

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A legend to the old man, a hero to the child...
Lima was the most reliable engine in a ranger hands down. I'd vote for a 2001 2.5 lima manual trans as most reliable.

In order of most to least reliable ranger engines

#1 - 2.3/2.5 Lima
#2 - 2.3 duratec
#3 - 4.0 ohv
#4 - 3.0
#5 - 4.0 ohc
#6 - 2.8
#7 - 2.2
#8 - Getting out and pushing
#9 - 2.9
🖕
 


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