1988 2.9 5 spd questions


milkie62

New member
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Points
3
Location
Troy NY
Vehicle Year
1988
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
Hello everyone, I am looking into buying a 1988 2.9 5spd 4wd ranger pickup. Frame is extremely clean for the age. A little bit of sanding and it should be ready for paint. I know the guy selling it. He brought it from down south. Said he thinks the head is bad. (cracked). Wants $1500 for it with 150k miles. For the cosmetics on it for my area I am willing to sink another $1500 into to make it a daily runner for hunting,fishing & trapping to keep the miles off of my 2019 1 ton. I would be planning on taking bed off and do brakes,brake lines, sand and paint frame and any engine work necessary. More of a retirement project vehicle. What could I expect to spend on engine work with me doing the take apart and putting back together ? BTW this is the best vehicle I have seen for lack of rust in my area which is important. NE saltbelt. Thanks in advance, Ed
 


Rock Auto 5% Discount Code: CFB3B5F7F32B37 Expires: March 30, 2020

Josh B

Well-known member
Supporting Member
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Aug 15, 2019
Messages
1,351
Reaction score
383
Points
83
Location
Oklahoma
Vehicle Year
1993
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
4.0 V6
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Hello Milkie (you live on a farm? or a space traveler? ;) ) Welcome to TRS :)
I once got an 87 for free, due to massive rust conditions, but it had an almost new engine in it, almost flip side of your equation. This was roughly 2000/2002. Getting it road worthy cost me about 1500, which was at that time about what I would have paid for it(or figured it was worth) Wish I had kept that truck, but after acquiring a 93 Ranger I let it go for $350(from where it possibly went straight to the scrapyard :/

Things have also changed a bit since then, you'll rarely find as many Rangers at the PicNpay as Explorers since they are much more coveted these days. They also command higher prices.

As long as your estimates are anywhere near accurate, and you run in to no unseen/unexpected serious disappointments, and are able to absorb the loss if worse case scenario developed, I hardly see how you could go wrong :)

Also you'll find some very fine 2.9 experts here on TRS
 
Last edited:

milkie62

New member
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Points
3
Location
Troy NY
Vehicle Year
1988
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
Well I have a 2019 1 ton that I ordered. Loaded it up pretty good. Just do not want the fish,blood & coyote smells in it. I am hoping I can do the engine for around $1k. New nuts & bolts,brake lines,brakes all the way around,POR 15 the frame, and a camo wrap on the body. Home done Rhino liner paint. I do not mind sinking some money into it because then basically a percentage of it will be new. But the no rust is the big deal up where I live.
 

milkie62

New member
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Points
3
Location
Troy NY
Vehicle Year
1988
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
Plus I like that square front end look.
 

Josh B

Well-known member
Supporting Member
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Aug 15, 2019
Messages
1,351
Reaction score
383
Points
83
Location
Oklahoma
Vehicle Year
1993
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
4.0 V6
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Please note that last line I edited in there also ED :)
 

PetroleumJunkie412

2.9 Mafia
Supporting Member
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Oct 31, 2018
Messages
4,048
Reaction score
2,888
Points
113
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Vehicle Year
1988
Make / Model
Ranger
Engine Type
2.9 V6
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Mine is.same vintage, didn't have bad heads, though.

J&c enterprises in wv carries fully dressed aftermarket heads. If you replacebone, replace both. You wont regret it.

Gasket match with a die grinder while you're in there. You wont regret that, either.
 

wildbill23c

Well-known member
U.S. Military - Veteran
TRS Banner 2012-2015
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Aug 22, 2012
Messages
3,176
Reaction score
210
Points
63
Location
Southwestern Idaho
Vehicle Year
1988
Make / Model
Ford Bronco II
Engine Type
2.9 V6
Transmission
Automatic
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
0
Total Drop
0
Tire Size
205/75-R15
My credo
19K, 19D, 92Y, 91F
If you do all the work heads would be about $600 from Rock Auto. Course you would need gaskets too. If the truck has been sitting quite a while you'd better off doing a tear down of the engine and replacing every gasket and seal, every sensor, etc...I got a cheap 87 Ranger that I am currently dealing with the aftermath of it sitting for 4 years. As a result seals, gaskets, sensors, etc. are all failing and having to be replaced....so I'd plan on a few thousand dollars in parts and several weeks or months worth of tearing things apart and replacing gaskets, seals, sensors, fuel lines, fuel filter, etc.
 

1986RangerXL

Active member
Joined
Nov 30, 2018
Messages
134
Reaction score
48
Points
28
Location
Illinois
Vehicle Year
1986
Make / Model
Ford
Transmission
Manual
I got a cheap 87 Ranger that I am currently dealing with the aftermath of it sitting for 4 years. As a result seals, gaskets, sensors, etc. are all failing and having to be replaced..
Couldn't agree more. I'm in same situation but mine sat for ten years. Especially once it started getting cold here, so many problems that it did not have when it was warm.

If the truck has been well-maintained the job should be simple enough. Problem is even if you know the guy some people just have no idea what is going on with their vehicle. Parts for these trucks are fairly cheap, but it can take months chasing issues (especially on a budget) if the truck was poorly maintained
 

wildbill23c

Well-known member
U.S. Military - Veteran
TRS Banner 2012-2015
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Aug 22, 2012
Messages
3,176
Reaction score
210
Points
63
Location
Southwestern Idaho
Vehicle Year
1988
Make / Model
Ford Bronco II
Engine Type
2.9 V6
Transmission
Automatic
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
0
Total Drop
0
Tire Size
205/75-R15
My credo
19K, 19D, 92Y, 91F
Couldn't agree more. I'm in same situation but mine sat for ten years. Especially once it started getting cold here, so many problems that it did not have when it was warm.

If the truck has been well-maintained the job should be simple enough. Problem is even if you know the guy some people just have no idea what is going on with their vehicle. Parts for these trucks are fairly cheap, but it can take months chasing issues (especially on a budget) if the truck was poorly maintained
I'm mostly chasing some minor engine issues right now, I think I've narrowed it down to possibly a bad EGR valve, if that isn't it, its the ECM...everything else has been either replaced, or confirmed good...so I'm left with those 2 possibilities right now.

About 4 years ago I picked up an 88 Ford Bronco 2 which at least the seller was open about the transmission needing replaced or rebuilt as overdrive was gone in it, but it didn't stop there, it leaked oil really bad, engine was burning oil and ultimately led to a rebuilt transmission and a re-manufactured engine LOL. I don't think the 87 Ranger is nearly as bad, it runs and drives great just intermittent power loss while accelerating, so I'm thinking the EGR valve is sticking. We shall see soon though, hopefully tomorrow, if the weather cooperates.
 

milkie62

New member
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Points
3
Location
Troy NY
Vehicle Year
1988
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
The guy has driven it recently. Do not know why he thinks head is cracked. He is not much of a mechanic. He will let me do a complete look over before I buy,if I even buy. But it does look pretty good for the age and like I said it will either get a flat olive drab/military looking paint with maybe a bottom realtree wrap. Body is straight but it is too cold to really look at it now and its not going anywhere.
 

Josh B

Well-known member
Supporting Member
TRS 20th Anniversary
Joined
Aug 15, 2019
Messages
1,351
Reaction score
383
Points
83
Location
Oklahoma
Vehicle Year
1993
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Engine Type
4.0 V6
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
I would suggest first confirming it's even a head, what makes him think so, and what is the evidence. It could be a gamble or maybe not
 

rusty ol ranger

2.9L Mafia-Don
Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2007
Messages
5,875
Reaction score
1,517
Points
113
Location
Michigan
Vehicle Year
1987
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Type
2.9 V6
Engine Size
177 CID
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
2WD
My credo
A legend to the old man, a hero to the child...
The guy has driven it recently. Do not know why he thinks head is cracked. He is not much of a mechanic. He will let me do a complete look over before I buy,if I even buy. But it does look pretty good for the age and like I said it will either get a flat olive drab/military looking paint with maybe a bottom realtree wrap. Body is straight but it is too cold to really look at it now and its not going anywhere.
Truthfully you would pry be cheaper and further aheah if it is a bad head to find a whole 2.9 and drop in.

A good used 2.9 can usually be had for 5 or 600 bucks. I say this because if it does have a cracked head, and its been ran a decent amount with coolant getting pumped into the oil, then chances are the bottom end is going to be on borrowed time.
 

milkie62

New member
Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
4
Points
3
Location
Troy NY
Vehicle Year
1988
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
Truthfully you would pry be cheaper and further aheah if it is a bad head to find a whole 2.9 and drop in.

A good used 2.9 can usually be had for 5 or 600 bucks. I say this because if it does have a cracked head, and its been ran a decent amount with coolant getting pumped into the oil, then chances are the bottom end is going to be on borrowed time.
I would have to agree with you on that. This week will be warm and snow is gone. May have a good look at it.
 

franklin2

Active member
Joined
Dec 24, 2019
Messages
150
Reaction score
43
Points
28
Location
Virginia
Vehicle Year
1984
Make / Model
Bronco II
Transmission
Manual
I swapped the heads on my 2.9 in my 86 ranger. I bought the heads that were mentioned on ebay. I remember them coming from West Va somewhere.

I went ahead and pulled the engine, I was having freeze plug rusting/leaking problems also. Glad I did, there is a freeze plug on the back of the engine hidden behind the bellhousing, and it was seeping. I checked the bores out on the cylinders, they were perfect. This engine didn't use any oil, even though it leaked here and there, another reason to pull it.

When I pulled it to work on the freeze plug problem I was using brake cleaner to clean the original heads up. On one of the heads, I kept getting this strange black line come up in the casting in a flat area under the valve cover area on top of the head. I could spray it off and it would go away, and a little bit later it would come back, Looked like a crack to me, so I bought the new heads on ebay. I will warn you, when you pull the exhaust manifolds off the heads, I had every last one of the bolts break off on both heads.
 


Top