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Best year if I want to upgrade from my 2wd

4x4prepper

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> Other likes about the truck - easy to work on. I like the cab plus

I like the 1st generation the best, especially the square headlamps which are way cheaper then the aero ones. I dislike the 89-92 style. Since extended cabs are not plentiful in the 1st generation and the 2.9L can be a real pain and the wiring unreliable with the TFI, I would say 93-97 would be the best with a 4.0L and automatic. If you get a manual transmission see if you can avoid the 3.07 3.27 ratios. Try getting a manual transfer case, the auto hubs are easy enough to change out, as you really do not want auto hubs trying to get yourself out of a rut, trying to go backwards, in a muddy, snow, or icy, especially uphill.

There are cheap conversion kits for the 1993-1997 4.0 L if you wanted to go carb too. I had a 1997 Ranger single cab 4.0L. MT, manual transfer case XLT (all power and cruise) and was very happy with it off road.

Picture of my young kid driving it (2000?) through the woods, on an ATV trail, in Maine on my property, we hit a few low lying branches, I had to do the shifting for her :-D
 

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James Morse

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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
Is this a picture of a manual or auto xfr case? Are you saying I should be changing the hubs by myself? Sorry I never had one.
 

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sgtsandman

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Is this a picture of a manual or auto xfr case? Are you saying I should be changing the hubs by myself? Sorry I never had one.
That is an electrically actuated transfer case. It just replaces the manual shifter for a switch and a electric motor. There is nothing automatic about it at all like some 4X4s that are equipped with automatic AWD or whatever the manufacturer calls it.
 

James Morse

1997 XLT 4.0L 4x4 1999 Mazda B3000 2wd
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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
What I'm asking is let's say I'm looking for a manual trans with a manual transfer case. Would such a thing have an electrically activated transfer like the pic, or, are we talking about the kind I have to get out and manually rotate both hubs?
 

lil_Blue_Ford

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Yup, manual transfer case would have a shifter coming up out of the floor. Electric is usually a knob or push button somewhere around the dash depending on he year and model. Hubs can be manual, auto, or live axle depending on year and has nothing to do with the transfer case being manual or electric.

Manual trans and manual transfer case would have two levers out of the floor
 

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2000 and newer Rangers used a “live” front axle, no hubs in the front, it’s always locked in essentially. Some 98/99s had them if they were converted but most have either the vacuum activated hubs or manual hubs if they were changed. 83-97 used manual or auto front hubs. Manual front hubs have a knob on the hub that can be turned between lock and unlock. Auto front hubs have a hub with no knob. Live axles have no hub, just a nut.
 

James Morse

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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.

sgtsandman

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OK, thanks. So would I be correct to say that an '09 Mazda (Ranger) B4000 4x4 with manual trans, will not have 2 levers, it will have a live front axle?
2008 Mazda B-Series B4000 Cab Plus 4WD - $14,651 - CarGurus

Just for example... not seriously looking at it.
Yes, it would have a live axle. I believe the last Ranger to have a manual transfer case with a shifter poking up through the floor was in 2003 or 2004. It was not a common option and usually just offered in the FX4 Level II trim level. If I missed something or quoted the wrong year(s), some one will correct the mistake.

Have you checked out the Tech Library yet? Some or all of that information should be in there along with other ideas on how to upgrade/modify your Ranger. If you are on a computer, it's in the black banner at the top screen. If you have an iphone, there is a menu on the left, upper corner. There is all kinds of information and ideas that will empty your wallet.
 

RonD

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I think you are confusing things with 4x4 terminology

Front axle and wheels can have manual hubs, you get out of the vehicle and select LOCK or UNLOCK on each front wheel
There were also Automatic hubs, these locked and unlocked base on Transfer case selection
And there are always LOCKED front hubs, Ford called it Live axle 2001 and up Ranger or B-series 4x4 had this

Manual or electric transfer case
Manual transfer case has a stick shift in the cab, similar to manual transmission
Electric transfer case has an electric motor operated by a 4x4 control module it uses a switch on the dash
The transfer case selects 2WD, 4WD or 4low, regardless of the status of the front hubs, but they would have to be LOCKED to take advantage of 4WD

4WD sends 100% of the power to all 4 wheels when 4WD is selected
You should never use 4WD on hard dry surfaces, it will damage the transfer case

AWD is different
front(and back) wheels are always locked
front wheels get 40% of the power and rear wheel 60%(varies by maker and model) all the time, they use a transfer case but it doesn't have direct drive, it uses a fluid coupler(like torque converter) to power the wheels, so front and rear wheels don't have to spin at the same speed on hard dry surfaces
It also has no 4Low

Fords also had/have Automatic 4WD, a selection on the dash like this: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/SVCM-L8mAWY/maxresdefault.jpg
Or this: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/o8oAAOSw0ctiH~~T/s-l500.jpg

Same as 2WD, 4High and 4low
2WD selection was relabelled AUTO, and software was added to the 4x4 controller that would shift to 4High when rear wheels were slipping, and back to 2WD when they were not, used the 4 Wheel ABS system
This could only be found on vehicles with front wheels always LOCKED
Auto transfer case were the same as electric shift, so NOT AWD
 
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James Morse

1997 XLT 4.0L 4x4 1999 Mazda B3000 2wd
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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
Excellent.
1. Are you saying that if there are locking hubs. and you don't get out and change them, that it's still possible, thru either manual or electric transfer, to switch to 4wd or 4low, but nothing would change without the hubs locked?
2. Do you ever see auto trans but manual transfer case?
3. Why has manual transfer case been recommended to me? Less prone to problems than electric?
4. Since live axle started 2000 in Ranger and B-series, were locking hubs completely discontinued at that point and so '99 is the last year for locking hubs, or were both offered after 2000?
5. It sounds like locking hubs are pretty much a thing of the past. Is there any reason I'd really want manual hubs (where you get out and turn them), are they a lot more reliable, or are the automatic hubs that change based on transfer case selection just as reliable?
6. What's the verdict on AWD, people like it, or no?

Thanks very much.
 

RonD

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Yes, hubs have no connection to transfer case status, if hubs are not locked to the axles then in 4WD the axles just spin but no power is transferred to the front wheels

Yes, manual transfer case can be paired with automatic transmission, actually a popular choice with off-roaders
Manual transfer case is more reliable because it has fewer things that can go wrong, no electrical system at all
Automatic transmissions are popular with off-roaders because there is no Clutch to "feather" on slow crawls and no changing gears(losing momentum) on hill climbs
So automatic with manual transfer case is a good pairing

2001 was the first year for Ranger 4x4s to all have full time locked axles
You can convert Live Axle to manual hubs but have to change axles and hubs
So no, there were no manual hubs from 2001 and up

Full time locked hubs are the most reliable, 0 moving parts to fail, same as rear axle

AWD is for street use, it can make "handling" better, a cross over between FWD and RWD, AWD can have the best of both
Also good for slippery road conditions, at lower speed
4WD or AWD still slide off the road and into ditches if driven poorly :)
 

James Morse

1997 XLT 4.0L 4x4 1999 Mazda B3000 2wd
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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
Here's the thing if I look for up to '97 or '05-'11 Ranger/B-series, and I put in extended cab, 4x4, manual trans, 4.0L, guess what, it's pretty hard to find anything.
Looked at F150 maybe F250 a little bit but that's probably anathema to say so... would start another discussion why do I want a Ranger vs F150....
To me Ranger/B-series isn't that small I'm not cramped at all and I think more maneuverable, maybe other advantages... nothing I'd really want diff about my truck except 4x4 and maybe electric locks/windows would be nice otherwise I love it just fine. Cost is going to probably be quite less for Ranger vs F150.
I see a lot of guys that bought say a 2011 truck are trying to sell them for like 5k less than they paid for it. I wonder if they are actually getting that.
I think I'm starting to zero in on '05-'11 Ranger unless I saw something really nice up to '97. To get something really nice in the older trucks I think you are almost into classic/collectible by then, I dunno. Or else you have to be willing to do a lot of restore work and I don't mind fixing some things but they should be things I can do in a day or so and get it back on the road, not long term tear-down projects.
I'm in no rush I have a few things left to do on the B3000 I'd rather sell it with everything working. Plus if I set up a strict set of criteria it probably would take a long time to find something, seems like.
Went Saturday up in Nat'l Forest as far as low water crossing, some 4x4 come sloshing thru past me each asking 'everything ok?'
you see the issue... miles of dirt road and fire trail in front of me with probably great fishing spots but one time I went far up one in a Saab and... never again... really want that high clearance and 4x4
originally looking at 4x4 because of snow but now I see it opens up a lot of other cool opportunities
 

James Morse

1997 XLT 4.0L 4x4 1999 Mazda B3000 2wd
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My credo
There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
OK thanks RonD messages crossing a bit. Sounds like what I want then is auto trans with manual transfer that might open up a few more possibilities since manual trans not so common. Manual trans was recommended probably more reliable overall but sounds like not the best for off road also having driven standard for 50 years am perfectly happy to let the truck to the shifting and you know you want auto in a traffic jam on the freeway plus now you are saying it's better for off road which is really important piece of info. Manual hubs sound like they look cool and that is their only possible advantage and who knows why they didn't have live axle from day 1 must be tech reason.
If I look for '05-'11 with extended cab, 4x4, auto trans, manual transfer case, 4.0L SOHC, that should be what I want unless I'm missing something.
I'd want electric windows and locks (but not a deal breaker without, just would like them). So probably it's an XLT or something not totally base model, but really I don't care what model it's badged as long as it has the stuff I want.
 

RonD

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Live Axle was from day one, lol

Manual hubs came later when 4WD became popular after WWII, the Jeeps came home, lol, it was more consumer friendly and a selling point, front axle was disconnected for less wear and tear on front axle system, and smoother steering
The old 4WD steering setups were..........old lol, no power steering so even in 2WD they could feel funny, but with hubs unlocked steering was more "normal"
Manual hubs just became a standard feature in consumer 4WDs

Then came electric shift transfer cases and Auto Hubs and PVH, all added to unreliability of 4WD, lol
Like my Grandfather said, "I will never have a power window problem if I never have power windows" :)
 

James Morse

1997 XLT 4.0L 4x4 1999 Mazda B3000 2wd
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My credo
There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
Ah so there were reasons to go to the manual hubs years ago, got it.
Your Grandfather is right... when I roll the windows first I mentally gripe then I I tell myself "one less thing to break". Which actually it's like about 10 less things to break.
You know those power window switches go bad, and/or the auto-down goes bad, and changing out a failed window motor is a bitch at least on a Saab it is. With manual windows, there's a lot less failure points and if you do have to take it apart it's not so complicated. Also you don't have to power up the truck to roll the window down.
I remember that if you have the door panel off and you are f'ing with the power windows you gotta be careful they can cut your fingers off. My recollection anyway but it was many years ago.
I don't think anyone turns drums/rotors any more. In the old days you took them to NAPA and got them back all new and shiny now labor is too high we just throw stuff out.

Seems like I'm focusing in on 05-11 Ranger or B-series 4x4. 4.0L SOHC, auto trans, extended cab, manual transfer lever on the floor.
I forget was there something against '98-00 Ranger or B-series? Didn't have SOHC in the 4.0L? I wouldn't mind another '99 they rock.

I told them up the road at the Acura place they get ton of good used up there to tell me if they got one in of the 05-11 with those features.
Do we know, how many Ranger/B4000 were made with auto trans and manual transfer? It can't be lots.
 

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