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Best starting upgrades for off-roading 1994 Ranger XLT


RangerRyan50

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I’m currently in the process of building up a 1994 ranger enough to do some mountain trails that aren’t extreme. Everything was stock on it so I have rebuilt the cooling system, lifted the front end to level it, got new wheels and tires, and put in new shocks and coils. I plan on replacing the sway bar links next as they looked pretty shot.

What are some good upgrades to start with on making my old Ranger off road ready? My ranger is at 149k miles and is the 4.0
 


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Dirtman

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Gears and lockers...
 

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good tires, lockers, and skid plates/sliders
 

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Do a tune up and change all the fluids.
Good tires.
Recovery gear.
Bigger tires.
Lockers and gears.
A lift of some kind.
Bigger tires.
Skid plates+ rock sliders.
Bigger tires.

In that order.
 

Blmpkn

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Quick disconnect front sway bar end links. Or none at all.

Huge difference off road.
 

sgtsandman

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Pretty much everything previously listed. Maintain and do preventative maintenance on your truck and get some recovery gear like recovery straps, shackles, and good recovery points. Don’t count on the other guy to have them.

Then Tires and axles will give you the biggest benefit for the money. Skid plates are a great add on after all that.

Once that is all done, then you can think about maybe better bumpers and a winch.
 

RangerRyan50

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Do a tune up and change all the fluids.
Good tires.
Recovery gear.
Bigger tires.
Lockers and gears.
A lift of some kind.
Bigger tires.
Skid plates+ rock sliders.
Bigger tires.

In that order.
Just have to keep getting bigger tires until it’s a monster truck? :icon_hornsup: Lol
The truck recently had a tune up and I am working on changing all the fluids now. I’ve been reading about lockers and they sound a little sketchy to me since I live in Colorado and we get some big snows. I bought the truck from my brother and as it is he says it is already easy to spin out in snow.
 

RangerRyan50

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Pretty much everything previously listed. Maintain and do preventative maintenance on your truck and get some recovery gear like recovery straps, shackles, and good recovery points. Don’t count on the other guy to have them.

Then Tires and axles will give you the biggest benefit for the money. Skid plates are a great add on after all that.

Once that is all done, then you can think about maybe better bumpers and a winch.
what kind of axles would I want to upgrade too? Sorry I’m a noob with this off road stuff. Lol
 

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Just starting out you have a fine starting point, assuming when you went to new wheels and tires you went to something around a 31" all terrain tire you should be fine for most trails. Get yourself a 12v air compressor (the $65 version from Harbor Freight is really nice for this) and get a valve stem core remover to air down your tires when on trails and you will get much further, depending on the trail I'll air down to 8psi in snow and 10 for sand and 15ish for trails unless I need to go lower...

You don't "need" the fancy stuff, it does help though...
 

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what kind of axles would I want to upgrade too? Sorry I’m a noob with this off road stuff. Lol
Since you have a 4.0, you should have an 8.8 axle already. So, you would be looking at gearing and a locker.

There is a chart in the technical articles section that shows tire size vs gear ratio.

You might be decently setup to start with for your stock tire size. You’ll need to look up you axle code off the door jam sticker or the tag on the axle to see what you have and go from there. There is information in the tech article section that will tell you what the axle code means.
 

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Hi-Lift jack. It's a jack AND a winch, albeit a slow winch that takes some effort. But it works and can get you out of a lot of jams. Air compressor and tire deflates are great and all the stuff mentioned above. Keep fire extinguisher and first aid kit in the truck. In winter time, blankets, shovel and energy bars.
 

Blmpkn

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As long as you can drive, you want as many wheels turning through big snows as you can.

That's my opinion anyways. We average 11+ feet a year up here, I don't want a vehicle that can't at least turn both its rear tires at the same time. Makes getting around a lot easier.

Personal preference of course.
 

RonD

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Lockers are OK but limited use, Limited Slip(L/S) is what you want for full time use
Look on your drivers door "build label" then look here: https://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/axle_codes.shtml

There will be a code number under AXLE which will tell you if you have an OPEN rear axle or L/S
OPEN type is the standard axle in most vehicles, it means only one wheel will get power, the easiest wheel to turn gets 100% of the power
This is why if you ever get stuck only one wheel spins

L/S powers both wheels equally but allows one wheel to "slip" when going around a corner, when cornering the outside wheel needs to turn faster than the inside wheel, this is the "limited" part of Limited Slip

A Locker doesn't have this ability to "slip" when cornering which can cause one wheel to drag, which is not an issue on gravel, dirt, mud and snow, but...........can cause loss of control if you are not used to it, this is why most "lockers" will have an ON/OFF control, so you only use them in certain driving conditions then turn them OFF

For on road and off road an L/S is the better choice, IMO

A 1993 to 2009 Ranger or Mazda B-series L/S rear axle will be plug and play into your 1994 Ranger, just some wrench work
Axle Ratio is also important, the CODE above will tell you what you have now
If you have a 4x4 then you must use the same Ratios front and back, if 2WD then you can use any ratio you want


And just general heads up
You have a 4.0l OHV engine, used from 1990-2000 in Rangers
These have a weak spot in the head casting that will cause them to crack if overheated
So NEVER allow this engine to overheat, lol
Look at the hoses and replace any that look like they are cracking
Reverse heater hoses at the firewall, on ANY vehicle, this helps heater core to last longer
Replace coolant and flush system every 2 years

You have the last year of the A4LD automatic
Service it regularly
It NEEDS a 2nd trans cooler, all automatics do, best $60 you can spend on any automatic
What kills automatics is fluid temps above 200deg
 
Last edited:

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Do a tune up and change all the fluids.
Extend axle/t-case breathers as high as you are comfortable with water getting.
Good tires.
Recovery gear.
Bigger tires.
Lockers and gears.
A lift of some kind.
Bigger tires.
Skid plates+ rock sliders.
Bigger tires.

In that order.
There is a bunch of tweaks for the front axle in the tech library (c clip eleminator, full circlips for joints, upgraded lockout hubs, crosses etc) if you need to open that up I would highly recommend. Especially with bigger tires and/or a front locker.
 
Last edited:

RangerRyan50

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1994
Make / Model
Ford Ranger XLT
Transmission
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Lockers are OK but limited use, Limited Slip(L/S) is what you want for full time use
Look on your drivers door "build label" then look here: https://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/axle_codes.shtml

There will be a code number under AXLE which will tell you if you have an OPEN rear axle or L/S
OPEN type is the standard axle in most vehicles, it means only one wheel will get power, the easiest wheel to turn gets 100% of the power
This is why if you ever get stuck only one wheel spins

L/S powers both wheels equally but allows one wheel to "slip" when going around a corner, when cornering the outside wheel needs to turn faster than the inside wheel, this is the "limited" part of Limited Slip

A Locker doesn't have this ability to "slip" when cornering which can cause one wheel to drag, which is not an issue on gravel, dirt, mud and snow, but...........can cause loss of control if you are not used to it, this is why most "lockers" will have an ON/OFF control, so you only use them in certain driving conditions then turn them OFF

For on road and off road an L/S is the better choice, IMO

A 1993 to 2009 Ranger or Mazda B-series L/S rear axle will be plug and play into your 1994 Ranger, just some wrench work
Axle Ratio is also important, the CODE above will tell you what you have now
If you have a 4x4 then you must use the same Ratios front and back, if 2WD then you can use any ratio you want


And just general heads up
You have a 4.0l OHV engine, used from 1990-2000 in Rangers
These have a weak spot in the head casting that will cause them to crack if overheated
So NEVER allow this engine to overheat, lol
Look at the hoses and replace any that look like they are cracking
Reverse heater hoses at the firewall, on ANY vehicle, this helps heater core to last longer
Replace coolant and flush system every 2 years

You have the last year of the A4LD automatic
Service it regularly
It NEEDS a 2nd trans cooler, all automatics do, best $60 you can spend on any automatic
What kills automatics is fluid temps above 200deg
How would I go about installing a second transmission cooler on my Ranger?
 


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