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Best year if I want to upgrade from my 2wd

scotts90ranger

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LBF, close... The TTB D35 was in all 4x4 Rangers for the first years if memory serves, the hybrids didn't come in until '93ish... but you are right, all 4.0's had a D35 (and a 28 spline 8.8 out back). I sourced all my TTB D35 parts from Explorers for the most part so I knew what I got but I know it's goofy in there somewhere, for a while back in the day they said if you could find a 4x4 4 cylinder '90-92ish you would get 4.10 gears and a real D35... my 4x4 4 cylinder was an '89 and came with a D28...
 


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I think the TTB suspension is preferred off road because you get more travel. Prerunners love the i-beams, and rock crawlers probably enjoy the travel and flex too.

But if you're just doing logging roads and light offroading the torsion bars will be fine. They'll likely be more composed on the road than the TTB, and the rack and pinion steering is superior to the steering box in the TTB.

As for years, 96 saw the widespread adoption of OBDII standards, which can make troubleshooting much more straightforward. I think that Rangers may have made the switch to OBDII in 95, but it's been awhile since I've read about it or had my hands on one. It's getting more and more difficult to find places that will work on Pre-OBDII stuff so if you want the option of having a shop service the truck then sticking to OBDII probably gives you more options these days.
 
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LBF, close... The TTB D35 was in all 4x4 Rangers for the first years if memory serves, the hybrids didn't come in until '93ish... but you are right, all 4.0's had a D35 (and a 28 spline 8.8 out back). I sourced all my TTB D35 parts from Explorers for the most part so I knew what I got but I know it's goofy in there somewhere, for a while back in the day they said if you could find a 4x4 4 cylinder '90-92ish you would get 4.10 gears and a real D35... my 4x4 4 cylinder was an '89 and came with a D28...
I have a 90 4-cyl 4x4 here with 4.10 gears and a D-28… might be an 89, but pretty sure it’s a 90
 

scotts90ranger

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My '90 was built in mid '89 and still had speed density fuel control that was officially stopped in '90, Ford liked to do mid model year changes...
 

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My '90 was built in mid '89 and still had speed density fuel control that was officially stopped in '90, Ford liked to do mid model year changes...
At one time, Ford did quarterly changes. It was a real nightmare find the right part sometimes.
 

James Morse

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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
50 Best Used Ford Ranger for Sale, Savings from $3,049 (autolist.com)

Check this Ranger. I like the tow hooks etc on this model. If you abandon TTB requirement/desire.

Seems like a lot of money for a 17 yr old truck, but it does look nice, who knows what shape actually (mechanically).

Couple questions - what is "WB" it has to do with the bed I think, they spec 126" don't know if that is wheelbase or what... ?
Also what are those tubes they have on top, what would they be carrying in those?

I'm not seriously looking at that one, but, if a person is willing to accept SLA, those FX models seems to have a few extras. Unless they added the hooks... and the extra fogs...
 

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WB is wheel base, as in 126” wheel base. I believe that measurement is from the center of the front axle to the rear axle. Regular cab, short bed (6 foot bed) are shorter. The long bed models have a 7 foot bed and a regular cab. Not a common option but they are out there.

That is an Off Road trim package model. Not quite and FX4. I think it’s more stickers than anything with that package. Tow hooks are standard on later 4X4 Rangers.

The tubes were probably for fishing rods. Contractors also use them for conduit and other long, thin things that wouldn’t work well just laying in the bed.

The truck doesn’t appear to be anything special but is in nice shape.

The used truck market is insane right now. Never mind new trucks.
 

James Morse

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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
Thanks for the great info.

It had the 4.0L lot of time you see something maybe decent but 3.0L.

Seems like the WB would be nice, so I guess I'd add as a "want" for the later models but not that big a deal unless maybe you're sleeping in it.

Is FX4 better than Off-Road trim package? Or is neither that big a deal compared to plain jane 4x4 ext cab (ext cab is sort of a must for me, it's way better).

Yeah prices are nuts... but it's a good time for me to do the research, and then just keep my eyes open and know what I'm looking for. So if I saw a nice 90's truck w/ TTB and D35, which it probably would be if it were 4.0L, if I understood that right... or an '06-'11 - and they had the right features - well, it really cuts down on the choices so most of the stuff is right off the bat "no" and the ones that are 'maybe' are too high price... so it's a waiting game.

I'd say I'm not looking to do rock crawling. It's cool, but it sounds to me like that is a truck dedicated to just that with mods that make it fairly unusable for regular highway driving and it's a hobby in and of itself, sort of like having a car that you have to take to the track is the only time you can use it. On the other hand let's say you have a '97 and you do everything you can to it to make it good for off-road, even then it's a good chance that truck isn't the one you want for in-town driving (I could be wrong) so you end up with 2 trucks - keep the '99, 5.0L transplant could be in its future, and use the '97 for recreation or if it snows.

The thinking develops as I understand better. What I'm saying is, if a '97 (just for example as a 90's truck) was the right price and basically ok but needed a bunch of fixes, like I did to the '99, then it wouldn't be trading one for the other, it'd be driving the '99 and working on the '97 until it was good to go, then decide whether to keep them both or not. I'm kind of not ready to give up the '99 just when everything is working. But it's like has been said, I have to decide, what do I want to do which sounds like pre-runner, odd term, wonder where that came from.

I tend to think that strategy of two trucks means basically I have one for in-town good-conditions driving and another that is basically a toy (since it's not required for me to get around).

The main thing is when I'm on those dicey roads I want to have some level of confidence vs the "I'm taking a big chance here of getting stuck" feeling. You all must know what I'm talking about there.

The thinking pushes me more to the 90's trucks (TTB) because if in fact it's primary use would be off-road, and it only has to drive "ok" on the street, that's way smarter than the newer trucks that, sure, drive great on the road, but aren't the best choice for off-road.
 

James Morse

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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
(3) Prerunner or Rock crawler | The Ranger Station

this might be a bit past what I'd want... or not... (the prerunner choice). In terms of mods. Not sure how much you can do and still have it street legal. Winches are cool, not sure how much they are used, but if you were down in a gully I bet you'd be happy to have one.
 

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Keep in mind there are two 4.0s in the Ranger world. The 4.0 OHV and the 4.0 SOHC. The latter is the newer engine.

The FX4 Level II was the biggest baddest off road model Ford offers. 32 spline 8.8” rear axle, Torson Limited slip rear differential, and 4.10:1 gearing. Not much was notably different. 30” tires (I think). Leather seats.

The FX4 didn’t have as much but I forget the details.

You can get around and do a lot with an SLA equipped Ranger and open differentials. Adding a rear locker and maybe a limited slip up front would make it a pretty formidable machine.

The front end of the TTB Rangers is stronger but not invincible and you still have the chance of smacking along the center line, like the oil pan off a rock.

I think the best thing you can do is get the Ranger you think you are going to like and run it. See what needs upgraded and run it some more. Rinse and repeat until you are happy with it.

Less wasted money and time with that approach. Getting stuck is expected but not a given. So, have a buddy along for safety but don’t worry about it.

The last event we had, one of the better built Broncos was the one that flipped. Another truck got stuck but that was only because his 4X4 was out. No one else got stuck or broke anything all week except for a broken shock mount. Off roading didn’t necessarily have anything to do with that.
 

James Morse

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There are two trucks. Both are sorted. Probably selling the '99.
Lot of good info there.
Aren't the Torson 3.73 differentials hard to get now? I realize you said 4.10 I'm just mentioning it because guys that build cars were saying they can't find the 3.73 very easily.
If I limited the search to FX4 Level II in the newer trucks or '97 if it were really nice (it'd be quite a bit cheaper I think) that would sure cut down on the ones that qualify.
Yeah true about the older 4.0L I have to remember that.
Looking at trucks online is probably just good in terms of seeing what the market thinks things are worth. But unless it's close, the chance of me driving 500 miles or something is about zero. I'd want to see the thing in person that's for sure.
When did they start with the torsion spring deal? My '99 has the SLA but it has coils.
 

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Lot of good info there.
Aren't the Torson 3.73 differentials hard to get now? I realize you said 4.10 I'm just mentioning it because guys that build cars were saying they can't find the 3.73 very easily.
If I limited the search to FX4 Level II in the newer trucks or '97 if it were really nice (it'd be quite a bit cheaper I think) that would sure cut down on the ones that qualify.
Yeah true about the older 4.0L I have to remember that.
Looking at trucks online is probably just good in terms of seeing what the market thinks things are worth. But unless it's close, the chance of me driving 500 miles or something is about zero. I'd want to see the thing in person that's for sure.
When did they start with the torsion spring deal? My '99 has the SLA but it has coils.
Ford offered two different torsion differentials (if I remember correctly), one is gear driven (the better one in my mind) and the friction plate model. There is a third style that I can't remember the manufacturer has an S-shaped spring in the middle of the differential carrier and maybe some friction plates as well but I'm not sure. The latter two aren't as strong and the clutch plates eventually wear out and need replaced. They also need the friction modifier. Not a huge deal since many gear oil manufacturers include the additive in their oil but check to make sure.

I believe the "regular" FX4 model came with the friction plate design and the standard 28 spline 8.8" rear axle. The Off Road model may have had that same setup as an option.

As far as the gear ratio, 3.73 in a V6 should be pretty common. It's the best compromise between power for towing, hauling and driving off road and fuel mileage. They shouldn't be hard to find. As far as 3.73:1 gears in the aftermarket world, they should be available but I haven't looked for them either.

Not many V6 Rangers came with 4.10:1 gearing. If you plan on stepping up to 31" tires, I would strongly recommend looking for a truck with 4.10:1 axles. Those will give you about the same performance as 235/75R15 or 30" tires will. If you plan on driving off road regularly, 4.56:1 will be a better choice but those do not come form the factory. That gear and tire ratio will give you the best performance for off road, hauling, and towing but your fuel mileage is going to take a hit.

The Torsen limited slips are harder to get but available for the rear axle. The front SLA axle model only gets done in limited runs off an on. You would need to check with Torsen on if they have any left from the last run. I don't know what is out there for the D35 TTB.

The torsion bar suspension started in 1998. As far as I know, all 4X4 Rangers came with a torsion bar suspension. There was a kit made at one time that used coil over shocks to eliminate the torsion bars. So, that may be what you saw.

If you are looking at lift kits, you are still going to have to go with the kit designed for torsion bar suspension trucks. The brackets, knuckles and other bits are designed to bolt up to that frame only. TTB kits will not work.

From your profile, it shows you have a Mazda B3000 RWD truck. That would have coils and no SLA front differential. Unless you are talking about another truck.
 

1990RangerinSK

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Seems like the WB would be nice, so I guess I'd add as a "want" for the later models but not that big a deal unless maybe you're sleeping in it.
Something to keep in mind about the wheel base: The shortest wheelbase is the regular cab short bed. The longest wheelbase is also a short bed, but with the extended (super)cab. So, if you plan to sleep in the bed of the truck, you want the middle wheelbase.
 

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Ford offered two different torsion differentials (if I remember correctly), one is gear driven (the better one in my mind) and the friction plate model. There is a third style that I can't remember the manufacturer has an S-shaped spring in the middle of the differential carrier and maybe some friction plates as well but I'm not sure.

The Torsen differential was the one with the gears, and no clutches. Made by Torsen.

I don't know that ford ever used the setup with the multiple coil springs from the factory, I think that was more of Chevy/ Posi-trac thing. Many companies sell aftermarket versions for fords though, Eaton, Auborn, Yukon.

The S spring version was ford OEM design for a limited slip. They called it Trak-Lok. This has not really been duplicated by the after market, so they are less common.
 

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So, in 98 Ford went to torsion bar front suspension for 4x4 and Edge/Trailhead 2wd trucks. Regular 2wd got a coil spring instead of torsion bars (like your B-series). Not sure if that eventually changed towards end of production or not, but coil spring front from 98 on was only lesser model 2wd trucks. The way the A-arm front suspension is on these, there is no room for the axle shaft to go through to the wheel with a coil spring, so torsion bars were used for 4x4. The other option was to convert to coil overs because they are more compact than just coils so you can sneak the axle shaft past, which I’m guessing Ford decided coil overs were more expensive than torsion bars.
 

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