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Questions about 2000 Ranger 4x4

Tripp88

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2000
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Ford Ranger 4x4
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Manual
Ok so the other night I was out on a dirt road and came across an area with about 2 1/2 feet of snow. Basically just to the under side of the motor. Anyways I came to a stop and moved 4x4 selector switch to 4h. When it lit up I tried to move. Nothing happened except what seemed to be tire spin. I thought it odd but ok so I tried switching to 4L, and after waiting for it to indicate 4L I tried again to move. Nothing except my left side tires were spinning in the snow and right side were just kind of locked. Very little movement. I tried moving back out of 4L many times but the light would not change. And my ABS light came on. So I had a buddy drag me out of the snow(embarrassing). And once I was free of the snow all tires would now move but only in 4L regardless of what the indicator was switched to. After getting back out on to the main highway, about 100 yards or so, I stopped and made sure switch was in 2H (and it was) then when I accelerated it finally switched back into 2H. What could've caused all this headache? I appreciate any input. Thanks everybody.
 


RonD

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You have discovered the drawback of OPEN differentials
You most likely have a OPEN rear differential
And all 4x4s have an OPEN front differential

OPEN differential means only the easiest to turn wheel gets ALL the power, its why one wheel spins like crazy and the other wheel just sits there on most rear wheel drive vehicles, same on front wheel drive
So the left side tires(front and back) were the easiest to spin so..........................spin they did

A lot of people think 4 wheel drive means all 4 wheels have power all the time, not what it means at all, it means all 4 wheels can have power, not do have power

Many 4x4s come with Limited Slip(posi-traction) rear axle, this really helps in the described situation, the rear wheels can get you moving and the front wheels can switch power back and forth as described which helps lift the front wheels up and over snow, as long as both rear wheels are pushing
Limited slip means if a wheel starts to spin faster(slip) than the other wheel(on that axle) more power is transferred to the wheel that is not slipping
So the differential "limits" slipping, it transfers power to the wheel with the best traction, so pretty much the exact opposite of OPEN differential :)

In frame high snow pretty much any 4x4 can have issues, traction for the tires comes from weight of the vehicle, if some of that weight is transferred to the snow(now holding up the frame) then you are "high centered", in effect all 4 wheels are off the ground, because they can't get traction, nothing embarrassing about physics
So even if all 4 wheels had power, same thing could have happened
Trick is putting it in 4WD before the high snow and then taking a good long run at it, lol, momentum is your friend, or just avoid it if you know the limits/physics of the situation


As for the stuck in 4low, it can happen, the shift motor on transfer case is an electric motor so has "brushes" that transfer voltage to the rotor, these brushes can stick so no voltage to rotor, so it can't turn/shift transfer case
The driving and bumps may have loosened a brush so shift motor started working again
Total guess
 
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Tripp88

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2000
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Ford Ranger 4x4
Transmission
Manual
Ok, I learn something new everyday. Lol I do very much appreciate the input, and just so you now it only happened the once (so far) and I've been out in the mud and dirt twice since it happened. With zero difficulty. And thinking back, I did have the 4WD engaged long before I hit the mud this last time especially. So I believe your is info is very accurate in my situation. Lol so I do appreciate it and your time explaining it.
One last thing though. Someone had mentioned that the 4x4 worked on a vacuum type setup. Is that true, because the only vacuum canister( ball) that I came across I believed to be the brake vacuum. Any info on that would be most helpful. Thanks again.
Oh and would the ABS light be affected by the open -differential scenario you explained? It hasn't turned on since, so I'm assuming..... Yes. Thanks again
 

RonD

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Yes, 1998 thru 2000 Rangers used PVH(pulse vacuum hubs) to automatically lock the front axles to the wheel hubs
The system didn't work very reliably so Ford changed to Live Axles(always locked) in 2001, but some 2000 also got these

Yes, the Vacuum ball(reservoir) is down low at the front passenger side of the Rangers, not used for brakes
It is used for Cab Vent control, i.e. defrost, panel, floor air direction
Also used for PVH and often EGR system

Power brakes have a larger "Booster" on the firewall that brake master connects to, that booster is the Vacuum reservoir for the power brakes, and that's all its used for
So separate vacuum systems

Most change PVH to manual hubs, article seen here: https://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/AVM_hub_swap.shtml
AVM is the company that makes them, but they are sold as AVM, Mile Marker, or Rugged Ridge brands, not sure there is any difference

This makes the 4WD system more reliable
You can leave them locked all the time, doesn't hurt anything, 2001-2011 Ranger 4x4s can NOT unlock front hubs, lol
 

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