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Best year if I want to upgrade from my 2wd

don4331

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To @RonD 's points:

Rangers up to '97, have TTB (twin traction beam) front axle. It has its fans and its detractors; IMNSHO, better off road than on. But to allow turning (and flexing), it has u-joints which do not result in the wheels turning constant velocity - which results in wear and/or the aforementioned funky steering. So, the older trucks have dis-connectable hubs. (Changing axle u-joints is PIA). Now, the TTB has regular tapered bearings that those mechanically inclined can maintain, and so can be made last almost forever.

Ranger from '98 on have SLA (short long arm) front axle. It is better on road, not so good off. It has constant velocity joints to allow turning and flexing (like a front wheel drive car). The result is low wear and constant steering. So, after having issues with hubs failing in '98-00, Ford went to better idea of locked hubs. SLA has unit bearing - very good for assembly line - install and tighten 3 bolts and axle and on to next. But when they wear, you replace them...

Up to '00 Rangers have the OHV 4.0. It doesn't rev as high, so makes less power. The '01-04 4.0 SOHC have more issues with cam guides, but all of the SOHC engines need regular replacement (part of your 100k mile tuneup).

'09+ Rangers have rear disc brakes - required for sway control which was gov't mandated in '08, some people consider that an advantage.

Regular cab was stretched 3" in '98. Important to those of us over 6'.

Ranger with auto and manual transfer case, probably 100k of them. But then Ford sold almost 400k Rangers in '98 alone. The question is more how many still running 10-20 years later in condition/price you want.
 
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RonD

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Very few Rangers came with manual transfer case after 1990, and those that did were usually "double stick" manual transmission and manual transfer case, also no power windows or door locks, "plain Jane" Custom Ranger, for someone who wanted a work truck

So best bet is to get the vehicle you want with automatic and electric shift 4WD, then swap in a manual transfer case as available, its a fairly easy swap
Electric shift are fine until they are not, lol, which is the reliability issue, when you want 4WD you probably NEED 4WD and if it doesn't work at that moment............well that's why people want a manual transfer case, one less thing to go wrong
 

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The '01-04 4.0 SOHC have more issues with cam guides, but all of the SOHC engines need regular replacement (part of your 100k mile tuneup).
Timing chain tensioners, not the guides. The guides exploding were a result of the issues with the tensioners.

Realistically a 2002 ranger with a sohc motor is 20 years old now. Ods are that the tensioners have been replaced or the original ones failed and were repaired already.

No matter what year sohc 4.0 you get, you should change the tensioners asap. Then you are good for 70k or so before you have to think about it again.
 

James Morse

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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
Thanks RonD I was thinking about that, let's say you're out somewhere you arrived there via 4x4 then the electric transfer fails, you are up a creek. I was wondering about that, if the swap to manual is pretty easy then maybe that makes more sense than trying to find the exact match of things in the market. It might happen to stumble on one but I'm betting that combination of auto trans / manual xfr is pretty rare.
'09 could definitely be a possibility it's kind of tending up towards the top of my price range but it's not horribly old. The older it is and higher miles you know stuff is either bad on it or going to go bad.
Just wondering, does Explorer 5.0L fit in the 09 or possibly does the Coyote fit? Latter probably causes other issues even if it does fit - well - both do...
 

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Most carry tools when off-road
You can always remove the electric shift motor, 4 bolts, and manually turn the shift rod to 4WD, use vise grips to hold it in that position, and go on your way

There was a company that made a device called The Shiftster, but they are no longer made
It was a knob that attached in place of the electric motor so you could manually shift transfer case, but had to go underneath vehicle to do so
But very reliable, lol, manual shift linkages CAN break especially when on off-road adventures :)

I imagine quite a few off-roaders with electric shift carry a Shiftster in their tool box "just in case"
Picture here: https://i2.wp.com/therangerstation.com/Magazine/spring2017/transfer_case_troubleshooting/transfer_case_troubleshooting-2.JPG
Courtesy of Jim Oaks our fearless leader :)
 
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So I’ll chip in a few things…

2000 was the first year for live front axles in the Ranger. I have never seen a 2000 without live axles. it’s easy to convert the 98/99 to live axles, it’s just the axle shafts and wheel unit bearings.

98-00 are the easiest years for a 5.0 swap. Forget what year it was, want to say around 05 that the gauge clusters became integrated with the computer and it made engine swaps more difficult.

My F-150 has manual hubs and 4x4. I often will leave the hubs unlocked and use 4-low if I need low speed for say, manouvering a trailer in a tight area. When I need to move slow, that’s the ticket. Of course, if 4x4 is needed, I lock the hubs. With live axles in the Ranger, I need to be on dirt or the front starts to bind up the driveline to do this trick.

Manual transfer case is more reliable, but not very common. It is, a fairly easy alteration though.

The 5R55 auto transmission is based on the A4LD, but a bit more robust. A shift kit and larger trans cooler will help head off potential problems.

For off-roading, 4x4 is better than AWD because the AWD is all time and splits power, but has no Low range. 4x4 has low range. AWD is fine for pavement though. Arguably, 83-97 Rangers and Bronco II are the best options for off-road. 90-97 being the best for the Rangers in that since 4.0 and D-35 front was available. 98+ are still capable enough off road and have better street manners, but the older ones are cheaper and easier to work on and lift.
 

don4331

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@lil_Blue_Ford - I forgot to push send last night so you beat me to information on 5.0. :cool:

Addition: The Coyote is much wider and you would need a couple additional u-joints to route the steering around (and whole lot of other parts to do the rest of the swap).

And just as reference, both AWD and 4WD are 4x4 (i.e. vehicle had 4 axle ends, and drive is provided to all 4 axle ends), just AWD has some sort of differential which would be detriment off road when you need power to all 4 wheels (but at that point you want lockers in differentials too).
My 5.0 Ranger has a NP242 which has 2WD, AWD, 4WD, N and 4WD lo.​
 

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I had a 2021 Tacoma TRD Off-road. I flipped it for like $4k profit after having it for a year. It was a great truck but the $500 payments sucked and I got a free Ranger out of the deal.
 

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@lil_Blue_Ford - I forgot to push send last night so you beat me to information on 5.0. :cool:

Addition: The Coyote is much wider and you would need a couple additional u-joints to route the steering around (and whole lot of other parts to do the rest of the swap).

And just as reference, both AWD and 4WD are 4x4 (i.e. vehicle had 4 axle ends, and drive is provided to all 4 axle ends), just AWD has some sort of differential which would be detriment off road when you need power to all 4 wheels (but at that point you want lockers in differentials too).
My 5.0 Ranger has a NP242 which has 2WD, AWD, 4WD, N and 4WD lo.​
Yeah, I’m working on my second 5.0 swap currently so it’s all pretty fresh in my mind. I purposely bought my green 2000 with the intent of doing this swap, at the time I got it I could have bought a newer Ranger, but knowing that the 00 makes a more ideal swap candidate, that’s what I went with. It’s a snug fit and wider motors add a lot more effort to the swap, so I decided it would be fine going the direction of a 5.0, plus there is a lot of aftermarket for the 5.0 and eventually I intend to build a 331 stroker out of a 5.0 to put in. Add a supercharger and that’s more than enough power I think.

I’m leaving it the AWD from the Explorer, it’s intended to be a street toy largely for me. I have other 4x4s for off road and all. Haven’t heard of a transfer case having an AWD setting so I may have to look into what you did. That would be really slick having the best of both worlds.
 

don4331

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The "trick" with getting NP242 to work with 4R70W (or M5OD-R2) is New Process used same planetary in a number of their transfer cases... While the Jeep ?21? spline input doesn't match up the Ford ?28? spline, the input shaft in a NP271 or 273 has the necessary 28 splines and the bearing/gear/seal surfaces are exactly same as the one for the NP242. So, swap the NP273 input shaft into the NP242 and bolt it in.

In AWD mode, NP242 has 48/52 f/r split for torque in AWD mode. But you can lock the differential when going gets bad.
 

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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
Man that NP242 sure sounds like the cat's meow. 2wd for everyday in-town, AWD in town if it's rain/snow, 4wd/lo for off-road or extreme snow/ice intown. It covers all the bases. Any downside, besides cost and work to install?
 

don4331

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Man that NP242 sure sounds like the cat's meow. 2wd for everyday in-town, AWD in town if it's rain/snow, 4wd/lo for off-road or extreme snow/ice intown. It covers all the bases. Any downside, besides cost and work to install?
It only works with the SAE transmission/transfer case standard (round, 6 bolts), not the one on M5OD-R1/5R55E (pentagon, 5 bolts).
Once upon a time, Advanced Adapters made a 25 female to 23 male splined stub and M5OD-R1 to SAE transfer case adapter, but don't think they do anymore.​
So, it really only works as part V-8 swap.​
The NP242 is manual shift transfer case, so you won't just be able to twist the switch on dash but have to pull the lever on the floor. (some might consider this a plus) This requires the transmission to both have the manual shift bosses and they be tapped.
It is a little wider/heavier than BW1354 transfer case, but narrower than BW1356 which is why I was looking at it in 1st place. (Fits better between Ranger frame rails than 1356, then I found the BW4406 would have been ideal swap - but they are rare as hen's teeth too).
The connection to the front driveshaft is a u-joint, not CV. I think I used slightly older Ranger ('93-'97) to address this. There was slip joint option from Durango version, but there was length issue with that.
The connection to the rear driveshaft is slip joint. I believe the driveshaft from a RCLB 2wd Ranger was the perfect length (but it might have been F-150 RCSB). You have to swap the slip joint from the Cherokee (that's what I pulled the NP242 from) onto the Ford driveshaft in either case. I freshened u-joints while I was there anyways.
 

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242 sounds like from a grand cherokee. The full time 4x4 tcase used on the laredo models from 93 onwards
 

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242 uses similar concept as an OPEN differential, so it does have its drawbacks, in AWD, vs 4WD

In AWD 40% power to front 60% to rear, but if front or rear drive shaft becomes easier to turn(slipping) then it gets MORE power, so opposite of a limited slip
But this does allow AWD on dry pavement, which was/is the point of differential based transfer cases

With transfer case differential locked both drive shafts get equal power regardless of traction, so 4WD
 

don4331

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Yes, 242 has a differential, I've had it apart and counted the teeth on the gears; it is 48/52% split when differential is open in AWD (known as 4PT on Jeep shift pattern). With one wheel jacked up, it would sit on spot without moving. But in slippery conditions, i.e. those 1st couple snowflakes in September, it improves truck acceleration markedly.
The differential is a spur gear design, so slightly different than OEM one in Ford/Dana differentials/not quite identical to helical gears in Detroit Truetrac (side gears in TrueTrac are also same size so no left/right bias)​
The differential can be locked by pulling into next position (known as 4FT on the Jeep shift pattern)
When the differential is locked, the front and rear driveshafts turn at same speed, regardless of traction at wheels corners, etc.​
With the Torsen differentials, I always have at least 1 front and 1 rear turning and usually all 4.​

The only time it is in low range is maneuvering the 5th wheel in the quonset as space is...tight and going a little slower is handy.

The one I have was pulled out of a Cherokee XJ. Jeeps with 242 are known as having Selec-Trac.
1661470707163.png
 

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