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2002 V6 3.0 Engine Project


Plasso

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Exactly 22 years ago, I bought a brand new 2002 Ford Ranger 4x4 XLT extended cab 5-speed manual, off-road package using my brother-in-law's A plan. It is a 3.0L with a 4.10 rear axle and torsion bar suspension.

It was a nice truck, but honestly, I was disappointed. It was a dog when it came to acceleration and the CD player skipped. To pass somebody, I typically had to flip the AC off, downshift, hit the gas, curse my ignorance about buying a 3L V6 vs the 4.0, and then fear that the oncoming car was going to hit me, back into my lane, switch the AC back on. To pay for school and to save on gas on a long commute, I sold it to my dad with about 16K miles on it.

My dad drove it until he took possession of one of the last brand-new 2011 Rangers with a 5-speed. Then it sat, mostly unused (except for some tree pulling). At one point it suffered an unfortunate mishap involving a woodchuck that left a bullet hole in the A-pillar. By now my dad has a new Ranger, and this one stopped running a few years ago. Thinking that 2 running Rangers is probably good enough, he offered this one back to me for nothing.

The truck has about 140K miles on it. A new transmission was installed about 3000 miles ago. The body and frame were still in great condition (all things considered) and we thought we could get it running again by just replacing the fuel pump. I thought it would be fun to learn more about cars, and I live on a dirt road where 4x4 is a nice option in the winter. I also wanted something for pulling a trailer. By my reasoning, I could invest $1000 in the truck and have a nice backup vehicle with 4x4.

That was in June, fast forward several months, and we've spent a lot of happy hours fixing the things that needed repair... including the entire steering system, suspension, most of the engine sensors, ABS sensor, brake lines, brakes, cam shaft syncronizer, u-joints on the drive shaft, wires, plugs, coil pack, shackles, etc. etc. It feels like, the only thing that hasn't been replaced yet is the engine, and the radiator and the water pump. It has cost a lot more than $1000, but now I'm hoping to get a good pickup truck that will last another 10-20 years as a daily driver. My goal for the truck is reliability, fuel economy, and longevity. I cleaned and painted the chassis as much as I could with Chassis Saver paint, added roll on bed liner, and installed new Michelin tires. It now has a rear hitch and I have a front hitch receiver to install, for a Snowsport plow. I also added a new radio, and have lots of plans to make it a nice ride.

With help from this forum and helpful youtubers, we installed an under-drive pully and replaced the radiator fan with an electric one. This improved the acceleration quite a bit, but it is a lot more fun to drive now. I don't know how it will work with the AC running (AC is currently broken but it is winter),

Not all is well. From the very beginning, I've been getting a misfire on cylinder 6 and there is a persistent pinging coming from cylinder 1 or 2. Initially, I thought the problem was old clogged injectors, so I ran some sea foam and other cleaners through the engine once I could get it on the road. The problem wasn't fixed. Now I'm also getting trouble codes on cylinder 5 and a code indicating that it is running lean. This is after replacing the O2 sensors. I subscribed to identifix, and found that most people resolved the issue by installing a new cylinder head. So, I ordered a compression tester (should have done this first). The results were not good. I'm getting pressure ranges from 30 on cylinder 5 to 160 on other cylinders. Both sides of the engine have low-pressure cylinders below 100.

This might be a great opportunity to learn about engine internals and to pick up some torque.

First... I'm getting 19mpg. Should I stop driving the vehicle until I solve the low-compression issue? Is that making things worse?

Second... I'm dumping a lot of money into this truck. But, I just have PLPD insurance. If I crash the truck into a deer, I could lose a lot of money. Not sure if I can get better insurance that would cover upgrades to an old truck.

Third... I'm hoping that with a budget of about $2500, I could get a pretty reliable engine, with more than enough power, and fair fuel economy. I'm thinking of doing the following updates and interested in comments from others with experience...

a) Replace the cylinder heads. Can't decide if I should get new ones from Rock Auto and get new valves, etc. Or, should I buy refurb (can I trust refurb units), or perhaps I should just machine the ones we take off the engine? I'm going with a wait-and-see approach on this. Plan to replace all valves at a minimum. But, I don't know much about valve guides, etc. I could easily mess this up.

b) Install JBA headers. The only thing is, I've heard these headers don't fit the Y going into the catalytic converter. I don't know how to deal with this situation.

c) Install a plastic intake manifold from a Taurus, and add a 60mm throttle body. I am most interested in power and gas mileage, as I don't plan to race this thing or ever go past 85mph, so I think the longer intake manifold is better than the metal one.

d) 1:8:1 roller rockers.

d) SCT X4 tuner. Not sure how to do this but reading a book on engine tuning at the moment. I don't even know if this version works on my engine.

e) Debating the value of adding Gibson cat-back exhaust.

Fourth... there is a possibility that the engine problems are more serious than just the headers. I've considered just starting from a rebuilt engine, but not sure I trust something that I didn't do myself. And, I am not sure I can handle pulling the engine (I do have the means to do it). So, the current plan is to take the cylinder heads off, inspect the cylinders, and then go from there. But, wondering if I should attempt a full rebuild if I'm already taking off the cylinder heads. The engine has 140K miles on it, and I'd like to get at least 240K out of it.

Thanks to participants in a forum that has been very helpful to me so far, and any suggestions or insights are appreciated.
 

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Ranger850

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Doing things wrong, until I get it right.
Not sure IF you know this yet, but the Vulcan 3.0 is high RPM engine and makes better HP and MPG in the 3-3.5k rpm range.
 

mikkelstuff

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Wow. I would have trouble spending $2,500 replacing the 3.0L in my 2002 Ranger. If Colorado emissions would allow it, I'd spend that money and effort on a 5.0L conversion and have some decent power.
 

Lefty

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Low compression is a real problem.

And yet you're getting good mileage. Twenty is about all you can expect from a 3.0. This is odd.

New spark plug wires make a big difference on older trucks. Maybe this is the problem with cylinder 6. Maybe fuel injector cleaner would also help. Also a tightened accelerator cable might help your throttle response. So will all synthetic oil.

Another rough, but real world, way to confirm low compression, and other engine issues, is your 0-60 time. This will vary depending on your differential, tire size, and other factors, but a regular cab should score about 8 seconds, a supercab about 9.1. If you are significantly slower, then something is wrong.
 

Northidahotrailblazer

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Can you replace the truck for $2500 bucks? To me your asking for a lot for a very long time. 10-20 more years out of already 21 year old rig. I'm not one to judge. lol Ive dumped 5-6k on my 92. and i'm probably close to that on my 89 bronco 2 lol
 

Lefty

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Can you replace the truck for $2500 bucks? To me your asking for a lot for a very long time. 10-20 more years out of already 21 year old rig. I'm not one to judge. lol Ive dumped 5-6k on my 92. and i'm probably close to that on my 89 bronco 2 lol
I put $15K into mine. It looks brand new. And if I need another engine? So what!
 

Plasso

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I put $15K into mine. It looks brand new. And if I need another engine? So what!
That is exactly it. I want this truck like it was new, but even better. Obviously, it won't be like new, but it is getting to be very nice and I really enjoy driving it. It has already consumed about $6K of my take-home pay, so what is another $2.6K, especially if I can add 30 or 40 HP? Another big cost is time, but learning a little about auto repair has been fun. Auto repair is a puzzle game where the final prize is a cool truck, (and losing means being stranded on the road).

Perhaps I'm trying to recapture lost youth somehow by reviving an old truck, but even $10K in sunk cost seems like a good value. If it yields another 150K miles in a vehicle that I can repair and pass on to future generations, it seems like a better deal than paying $40K for a new truck that is a sea of hard-to-repair electronic gadgetry.

Swapping engines is likely beyond my mechanical ability and motivation. Changing the cylinder heads and putting in headers is going to be a major stretch, but I'm guessing it is a lot easier and more feasible than trying to fit a different type of engine into the bay. And, I like the 3.0 L engine now that it is accelerating decently.
 

Plasso

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Not sure IF you know this yet, but the Vulcan 3.0 is high RPM engine and makes better HP and MPG in the 3-3.5k rpm range.
I'm starting to appreciate this. The truck accelerates nicely when shifting gears up in the 4K range. The last time I owned the truck, I was afraid to go much above 3000RPM for some reason. It runs about 2500 RPM at 75 mph.

I'm still under the assumption that keeping it at a low RPM is best for gas consumption.
 
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Plasso

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Low compression is a real problem.

And yet you're getting good mileage. Twenty is about all you can expect from a 3.0. This is odd.

New spark plug wires make a big difference on older trucks. Maybe this is the problem with cylinder 6. Maybe fuel injector cleaner would also help. Also a tightened accelerator cable might help your throttle response. So will all synthetic oil.

Another rough, but real world, way to confirm low compression, and other engine issues, is your 0-60 time. This will vary depending on your differential, tire size, and other factors, but a regular cab should score about 8 seconds, a supercab about 9.1. If you are significantly slower, then something is wrong.
I will try switching to synthetic oil. I already replaced wires and plugs and ran a lot of cleaner thorough the injectors. It runs OK above 2000 RPM, but it it idles very rough after it warms up. It only misfires when it is idling. I'm not sure what is going on exactly, but I know the compression is bad, and now I'm afraid of damaging the engine if I keep driving it like this. I'd like to put off doing any work on the engine until winter is over, but I suspect that this isn't good for the cylinders either. So, I'm probably going to park it until I can try replacing the cylinder heads, in the hope of saving the rest of the engine.
 

Lefty

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That is exactly it. I want this truck like it was new, but even better. Obviously, it won't be like new, but it is getting to be very nice and I really enjoy driving it. It has already consumed about $6K of my take-home pay, so what is another $2.6K, especially if I can add 30 or 40 HP? Another big cost is time, but learning a little about auto repair has been fun. Auto repair is a puzzle game where the final prize is a cool truck, (and losing means being stranded on the road).

Perhaps I'm trying to recapture lost youth somehow by reviving an old truck, but even $10K in sunk cost seems like a good value. If it yields another 150K miles in a vehicle that I can repair and pass on to future generations, it seems like a better deal than paying $40K for a new truck that is a sea of hard-to-repair electronic gadgetry.

Swapping engines is likely beyond my mechanical ability and motivation. Changing the cylinder heads and putting in headers is going to be a major stretch, but I'm guessing it is a lot easier and more feasible than trying to fit a different type of engine into the bay. And, I like the 3.0 L engine now that it is accelerating decently.
Maybe you will get a little more HP out of it with a dual exhaust.
 

Northidahotrailblazer

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I put $15K into mine. It looks brand new. And if I need another engine? So what!
Haha I agree! lol Idk i know mine is more than 5-6k. I just prefer not to think about it. :ROFLMAO: I don't have to tell the wife if I don't know haha All I know at the end of the day, its still cheaper than a new one.
 

Plasso

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Maybe you will get a little more HP out of it with a dual exhaust.
Interesting idea.

Looks like Gibson sells dual exhausts that start from a single pipe coming from the cat. I don't think that kind of exhaust gives an advantage over their single-pipe tuned exhaust. https://gibsonperformance.com/i-22730663-single-exhaust-stainless.html#!year=2002||make=FORD||model=RANGER||submodel=3.0L, EXTENDED CAB W/71.8 IN./5 FT. 11.8 IN. BED

Adding another cat and another muffler would solve the issue of trying to mate the factory Y shaped exhaust connection with the end of the JBA headers. But, this route adds a couple of challenges. It would cost more for the cat and muffler ($1000 more?) and would need to pay for installation as it wouldn't be bolt-on ($300?). I also don't know how to add a second O2 sensor to the ECU after the second cat.

I'd prefer to keep the stock piping from from the headers to the cat, and from the cat to the exhaust, but I don't know how to deal with mating up the JBA headers.
 

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A good independent muffler shop can help you with all of this and help you to balance out your concerns for both performance and price. That 3.0 will never be a hot rod. You can drop big bucks but only to achieve modest results.
 

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the hardest part of pulling a rust belt engine is the 4 exhaust manifold-Y pipe nuts.
the big EGR tube will be rust welded into the manifold too.
since it's a manual you don't have to worry much about the tranny wiring harness.
it's also time for the rear main seal and a clutch.
and a front timing cover gasket.

in my opinion if you can pull heads you can pull an engine.
the big secret is tricks and sneaky ways to out-wit hidden bolts.
 

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Put a crossover with a bung for the 2nd o2? The X or H style cross over used on hipo dual exhaust.
 

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