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Help with1989 Ranger 2.9L - Repair or Swap?

lafargueliam

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Got a good deal on an '89 ranger 4x4 long bed 5 speed, using it mainly as a farm truck (keep in mind farm is in rough terrain in Ozarks). 166k miles, was running fairly well needed a good tune up.

Fast forward - did tune up, changed bad valve cover gasket. No start. Mechanic is convinced that it jumped timing.

Figured that if I was going to pay for a timing job on the 2.9 I would just go for the 4.0 swap that I had planned for the long term anyway. While I could try for a donor I like the idea of having a reman and starting fresh, and there's a good reman supplier where I live. Car is at the shop that I had planned to use for the swap, but they don't want to commit to it because the 4.0 is not the original motor for that model. Having read other forums on here my understanding is that this is almost a bolt in with the exception of the computer, some wiring trouble and a few other details that some had mentioned. I understand that the original tranny may need to be babied with the 4.0, but the shop doesn't want to do it because they think it's incompatible and that there are too many other considerations to take. They told me that instead of being a 15 hour job it could be a $6-8k job. I don't have that, and if I did I would not give it to this shop.

I'm in a huge bind here. I need a truck, and I had one that ran until I tried to give it a tune up. I can't find anybody that will do a swap for me. The current shop where it's sitting says they can "look at" the timing, but that they're not even sure of that. I know how much timing jobs can cost, and I'm not trying to throw a bunch of money into this with so little assurance, and end up with the same old 2.9 in the BEST case scenario.

What say you all? Any clarity that you can provide for the swap? I like the truck (painted it with rhino liner which I forgot to mention) and would hate to have to give it up for almost nothing and start over.
 


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sheep herder

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If you either can't or don't want to work on it yourself, find a better shop. The one that has your truck doesn't seem to know much about troubleshooting. Or they just want to see how much $ they can get out of your wallet.
 

lafargueliam

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Thanks sheep herder. Correct, my mechanical knowledge beyond a standard tune up is too limited to perform an engine swap.

This shop may know how to troubleshoot, but they want to charge me hourly for trial and error basically.

Can anybody give me any clarity on the situation with the tranny? Will I also need to get a donor transmission to keep up with the torque of the 4.0?

Thanks!
 

sheep herder

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franklin2

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Thanks sheep herder. Correct, my mechanical knowledge beyond a standard tune up is too limited to perform an engine swap.

This shop may know how to troubleshoot, but they want to charge me hourly for trial and error basically.

Can anybody give me any clarity on the situation with the tranny? Will I also need to get a donor transmission to keep up with the torque of the 4.0?

Thanks!
I hate to say it, but if you can't do most all your own work, you should not have a older vehicle like this. The highest cost is labor. You cannot get ahead paying someone else to do the work. I respect you admitting you cannot do the work yourself, but buying a vehicle this old while seeming like a good deal in the beginning, turns into a money pit. There are a lot of serious things that go wrong with a vehicle this old, it just does not make any sense paying a shop all the time to work on it.

I work with a guy like this. He is always buying older vehicles, and always losing his shirt on them, because he always takes them to a shop. If you bought a better newer vehicle and made payments on it, you would have a vehicle you could depend on and have about the same money in it without all the hassle. I think it's pretty safe to say most everyone on this board who works on these old things and are doing all these swaps, do the work themselves.
 

rusty ol ranger

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1- What makes you/them think it jumped time? There are lots of things that can make a 2.9 not start, and jumping time is actually toward the bottom of the list.

2- Yes a 4.0 will bolt in, i believe with an 89 its actually a very easy swap as an 90-92 4.0 wiring harness is plug and play, @adsm08 can help here.

3- The original trans/motormounts can be used, you have the M5OD being a 89, its what they used behind the 4.0 anyways.

4- Lets help you diagnose your 2.9 before giving up on it. No reason to spend the money/time swapping when all thats wrong with yours might be something as simple as a failed ignition module.
 

adsm08

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OK, lets hit the most basic trouble-shooting points first.

1) When cranking, does the engine sound "normal" or is it spinning too fast? A pushrod engine having jumped time should be easy to identify just by listening to it spin.

2) When you did your tune-up what all was replaced? If you did valve covers I can safely assume you had more than one spark plug wire disconnected at a time, are you 100% sure they all went back in exactly the right spot? If you are, go check it again.
2A) Did you replace the cap? If so did you have the distributor out to do it? If so, did you spike it back in correctly, and how sure are you of that.
2B) If the answers to any of the above questions were yes, did you tell the shop about it?

3) Does it have spark? Pull a spark plug wire and stick a screwdriver in it while someone cranks the engine.

Now on to issues of the proposed engine swap.

The 4.0 is a largely bolt-in affair, and mostly plug and play. The 2.9's original flywheel, clutch, starter, and the block/ starter alignment plate either should not or cannot be reused for various reasons.

Being an 89 4x4 your truck more likely has the FM146 than the M5OD. The FM146 will last for a little while behind a 4.0, but not forever. The input shaft rides on ball bearings rather than roller bearings and will eventually fail under the side loading of the engine torque no matter what engine you use. The 4.0 will just make it happen faster. Swapping an M5OD at the same time is highly recommended.

Wiring would be pretty much plug and play, the caveat being that you need the complete engine bay harness, every last scrap of wire, from a 90-92 Ranger with a 4.0. The Explorer is different enough to cause headaches to anyone who doesn't know exactly what to look at, the B2 didn't get a factory 4.0.

If you have factory cruise control or AC they won't work when the swap is done, unless more parts are added. The CC servo, compressor, and AC condenser and lines are different from the 2.9 to the 4.0, even within the same years.

Keep in mind I have done a few of these engine swaps and I'm pretty good at it. If you brought me a truck like that and asked me to 4.0 swap it at the shop I'd probably ask for that much money too, because I have to spend time chasing down old and rare parts, and then we don't know what kind of shape they are in once we get them.
 

rusty ol ranger

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Heres a question...

Did it run....you tuned it up, then afterwards it wouldnt start?

Or did you do the tune up, it ran for a bit, then wouldnt start?

I ask this cause if its the 1st thing i said, im gonna bet you knocked something loose or broke a wire somewhere. The chances of it jumping time at the same time you did a tune up would be about the same of winning the lotto and getting hit by lightning in the same day.

Do what @adsm08 said aa far as checking for spark. Also turn the key on and verify you can hear the fuel pump pumping fuel.

Start there and get back to us.
 

91stranger

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Need more symptoms of the no start for sure if you want free advice from knowledgeable people on here. It's like saying "my truck makes a sound when I go fast, FIX IT NOW". Doesn't what kind of sound, how loud it was, where the sound is coming from, what speed does the sound gets loud at.

In words of the caterpillar.... "WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT? EXPLAIN YOURSELF"
 

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