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Which 4.0 engine is preferred, the OHV or the SOHC?


Angry Possum

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On reading some posts on the two 4.0L engines the OHV or the SOHC, which one is the most preferred, reliable, etc by the forum.
 


RobbieD

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I prefer the the OHV.

Less to go wrong, less plastic parts.

Adequate power for my needs. So what if I drive like an old man; if you don't like my driving, then stay off the sidewalk.

But, since I do refuse to own anything newer than the '94 models, the SOHC isn't even on my radar.
 

Angry Possum

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I prefer the the OHV.

Less to go wrong, less plastic parts.

Adequate power for my needs. So what if I drive like an old man; if you don't like my driving, then stay off the sidewalk.

But, since I do refuse to own anything newer than the '94 models, the SOHC isn't even on my radar.
I drive that way also. 😂 Especially because my Ranger is a 1993. I don't want to get on it. Perhaps she will last me a long time with proper maintenance. 140k original miles on it currently. I'm the 3rd owner. It had a PA Title. She still purrs like a kitten.
 

sgtsandman

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Ease of maintenance, the OHV is better. It has it's issues and quirks just like any other engine in the RBV line up. I think the biggest thing with the OHV is the not letting it over heat. If it does, you are going to have problems getting it running right again.

The SOHC is a good engine as long as you stay on top of it in order to prevent issues with the Rube Goldberg timing system and it does have the benefit of having more power. But if the chain guides do break, you need special tools in order to repair it.

So, pick your poison. They both have it. Which one are you willing to deal with?
 

RobbieD

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I'm the 3rd owner. It had a PA Title.
I bought my first Explorer out of PA, from the first owner with a complete maintenance record from day 1. It still to this day has the seat covers he that bought and installed the day in '94 that he bought the truck new. Fortunately it only lived in PA a couple of years, though, and was seldom driven. It spent most of its life in Oklahoma and Florida.

My second Explorer I'm the third owner, and it's always been a GA truck.

Your Ranger looks like it was well taken care of, too; and it looks like a twin to my '94:
red ranger.jpg


That was the last one I bought new; after '94 they started going downhill.
 

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There are pros and cons with each, and imho there is not a strong case to be made that one or the other is better.

The ohv is simpler but it does have head cracking issues, even on the later ones that supposedly had the issue corrected by Ford casting changes. But, if you do suffer the cracked heads, you can replace them in your driveway without pulling the engine.

The sohc has more power and a little more torque, so better performance (although gas mileage is a wash in my experience) but it does have the timing chain issues which require the tensioners to be replaced at least every 100k and better if more often. If you do have the timing cassette blow up, you have to pull the engine to re-do the timing system due to the design, and it takes several special tools to do the job.
 

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I’ve only ever had the ohv (93) but Id rather have it than the ohc. Sure the ohc makes more power but its power is made at a higher rpm. My ‘93 was trouble free for nearly 180K miles, got 19mpg at best which I felt was reasonable for a 4,000# 4x4 5-speed supercab with a cap, 3.73’s and 235/75/15 tires. It always did everything I needed it to do.
 

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I much prefer the OHV because its overall size is much smaller than the SOHC leaving much more room in the engine bay, and making everything about it easier.
 

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I’ve only ever had the ohv (93) but Id rather have it than the ohc. Sure the ohc makes more power but its power is made at a higher rpm. My ‘93 was trouble free for nearly 180K miles, got 19mpg at best which I felt was reasonable for a 4,000# 4x4 5-speed supercab with a cap, 3.73’s and 235/75/15 tires. It always did everything I needed it to do.
I’ve never found the SOHC to be wanting for power but I’m also not going to say it’s the better engine. It has enough of it’s own problems that I think it’s a wash. Where one engine is better than the other, it makes up for it in the negatives.

Run what you got and make sure you minimize it’s particular weak point(s) with preventative maintenance.
 

lil_Blue_Ford

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So, I’ve had a number of OHV 4.0 and they’re not a bad engine at all. I’ve also blown up a few. They are easy to work on and pretty simple. The SOHC has a little more pep (mom’s Explorer has one that’s somewhere around 180k+), but timing chain issues have always been in the back of the mind on that one.

The 4.0 OHV was essentially a bored and stroked 2.9, so to some degree it‘s an aged design with some inherent weak spots.

I really don’t have much of a preference other than my newest vehicle so far is a 2000, which means I’m OHV all around. The good thing for me is that the basic engine for the OHV is the same from introduction (1990, IIRC) to 2000 is the same. My 89 Choptop has a 96 Explorer 4.0 in it, I just had to change the wiring harness and fuel rail up to make it happy. My 92 Ranger has a 2000 Ranger 4.0, same deal. Simple.

If you really want power, you need to get away from the 4.0 engine. They make reasonable power and things like supercharger/turbo and such can provide a nice boost, but they were never built as performance motors, either design.

The auto transmissions however, are the bane of existence for either 4.0 in stock form. Really any RBV from the introduction of the infamous A4LD on up. Better cooling, shift kit and valve body work and the like opens up a whole new world there. My 92 Ranger would light up both back tires from a stop just by hitting the gas too hard after that. Empty or lightly loaded, anything beyond half throttle wanted to light them up from a stop. Even the newer 4R and 5R transmissions can benefit from this sort of thing along with the 4R70 that was behind the 5.0
 

RobbieD

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The 4.0 OHV was essentially a bored and stroked 2.9, so to some degree it‘s an aged design with some inherent weak spots which is why it's so damned good.
Fixed It For You . . .

Regards,

The 2.9 Mafia
 

19Walt93

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I worked at a dealer from 1975 through 2017, so, all the years both engines were used. I bought 2 new Rangers with 4.0 sohc's even though I didn't like the engine- the OHV wasn't in production then and the 3.0 was too gutless. I would have liked the option of ordering an OHV given a choice, I've called the sohc timing set up a Rube Goldberg design, too, and that may have been unfair to old Rube. In fairness, the sohc engines never gave me a problem but I still don't like them.
 

RobbieD

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Ahh, so you’re finally admitting the 4.0 OHV is better than the 2.9?
Not really; the 4.0 was a "tribute" engine made to honor the 2.9. ;missingteeth;

. . . .

Seriously, I look at the 4.0 OHV as the end result, or the "peak" if you will, of the Cologne V6 design. The Cologne was a decent small truck engine; and I'm really just as big of a fan of the Lima 4-banger.
 

DRanger024

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I’ve had one of each and have really no complaints about either. The SOHC in my ‘02 was fantastic still at 212,000 miles when I sold it. The only issue it ever gave me was a major vacuum leak.
I’ve had two OHV’s now. One in my ‘99 Explorer and one in my ‘94 Ranger that came out of a ‘97. The ‘99 was pulled still running at 230,000 miles and the engine in my Ranger went in with 253,000 on it and is at about 295,000 now.

I have my third 4.0 OHV on the engine stand now. It supposedly has just over 100,000 miles on it. Will be going in the Ranger in spring.
 

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