bigbrainonbrad
Dec. 29, 2010 6:24 p.m.

My dad is looking for a pick em up truck for light hauling and moving furniture. Found a 2003 Ranger XLT 4 cylinder on craigslist. Owner says he bought about 20 of them from a friends business. Going to check it out tomorrow, anything I should be looking for? Do the auto trans hold up on these? Any way to tell if it has trac lock? Price is about $500 below edmunds tmv price, probably a little wiggle room on top of the already somewhat low price. Decent trucks or run for the hills?

Blitzed306 Reader
Dec. 29, 2010 7:31 p.m.

I've had a 3.0 vulcan powered ranger with the auto trans, Can't kill the damn thing. Its got about 250K on original engine and trans/rear ect. only thing I've ever replaced on it has been two water pumps.

Ignorant SuperDork
Dec. 29, 2010 8:47 p.m.

I had a 98 with the 3.0 and it was a good truck. I got 160k out of it before the trans started doing stupid stuff.

Ranger50 HalfDork
Dec. 29, 2010 9:19 p.m.

2.3 Duratec + 4/5r55e = a SLOW turd.

Until you put in a 255lph fuel pump, 42# injectors, MAF, custom exhaust manifold, a nice T70, IC, and a tune.

As for limited slip/traction loc, forget about it in a 4cylinder. Probably has the lopo vinyl bench and rubber mat too.

Probably needs all the normal stuff like ball joints, u joints, tierods, etc.....

integraguy Dork
Dec. 29, 2010 9:52 p.m.

Not quite the same thing, but I owned a '94 XLT with the SOHC 2.3 and 5 speed manual. And as a previous person said, you won't lay any rubber with a Ranger equipped with a 4...unless it's a turbo 4. However, I did light hauling (making runs to the recycling center) and helped a friend to move his daughter, twice, so they can handle furniture moving as long as it's not very heavy (solid mahogany) furniture. On mine, the only early/premature failure I experienced was the clutch...but then I drove it like it was a race car.

The only really bad point about a Ranger, in my view, (and the view of many road testers back when new Rangers made the magazines) is that the steering wheel seems to be a bit too close to you. And even if Rangers had a telescoping column, the shift lever on an automatic would make it nearly impossible to get it farther from you.

BTW, I am considering another Ranger and would go the V6 and manual route. But since the 3 liter has about the same horsepower as a 2.3, I'd only go for the V6 for reliability. My Dad had, until recently, THE Ranger I wanted. He sold it without saying a word.

petegossett SuperDork
Dec. 30, 2010 8:01 a.m.

Didn't some generation of Rangers have problems with the frame rotting through at the suspension mounts? I know it happened to a friend-of-a-friend, and I seem to recall hearing about it elsewhere too.

mndsm Dork
Dec. 30, 2010 8:25 a.m.

Dammit, this is the second time in less than an hour you people have sent me to craigslist for cars I had never been interested in. First- LS1 swapped bimmer, and now turbo Ranger? If I buy a Merkur or something else I can't pronounce by the end of the day, and have to explain it to the wife, I'm blaming you.

Ranger50 HalfDork
Dec. 30, 2010 8:39 a.m.

In reply to petegossett:

The rear leaf spring mounts and shackles have a nasty habit of rusting away and sagging the back end of the truck. But as for actual frame rot, never heard of it.

914Driver SuperDork
Dec. 30, 2010 8:57 a.m.

I have a 2001 with a 2.3 and five speed. I disagree with IntegraGuy, you can lay rubber with these; usually when you're making a right turn in front of moving traffic!

They're horribly light with nothing in it, almost to being dangerous. You have to feather the gas accelerating. I get 20 mpg no matter how I drive. My only "thing" is the power steering pump, when it's cold out the juice doesn't move so I try to slolom it down the driveway; otherwise I can't make the turn at the end.

Do not jump it or jump something with it! You'll be buying an alternator within a few days. I don't get it, but I've done it twice.

My spare, mounted under the bed, took off at 70 mph one day. On its exit it took out the left spring perch, yeah rust is an issue.

Dan

Ranger50 HalfDork
Dec. 30, 2010 9:05 a.m.
914Driver wrote: I have a 2001 with a 2.3 and five speed. I disagree with IntegraGuy, you can lay rubber with these; usually when you're making a right turn in front of moving traffic!

That was how my 96 was too.

They're horribly light with nothing in it, almost to being dangerous. You have to feather the gas accelerating. I get 20 mpg no matter how I drive. My only "thing" is the power steering pump, when it's cold out the juice doesn't move so I try to slolom it down the driveway; otherwise I can't make the turn at the end.

3500# is light??? My 96 was 3300# and with the 98-up's they got even bigger. Now the weight bias is really light on the rear....

Do not jump it or jump something with it! You'll be buying an alternator within a few days. I don't get it, but I've done it twice.

Strange. I used the couple of Rangers at Retread Auto to jump people without issues.

My spare, mounted under the bed, took off at 70 mph one day. On its exit it took out the left spring perch, yeah rust is an issue. Dan

Ooops.

DoctorBlade Reader
Dec. 30, 2010 10:36 a.m.

I've had two, and would jump on a third if I could.

Ignorant SuperDork
Dec. 30, 2010 11:25 a.m.
914Driver wrote: Do not jump it or jump something with it!

you are no fun.

Raze Dork
Dec. 30, 2010 12:12 p.m.

I've got an 07 with the 3.slow vulcan and a 5speed, really no complaints, it's basic but I wanted something easy/cheap to work on as my DD. It knocks down as good a gas mileage as my cadillacs which burned premium and couldn't haul anything useful, so I think it's a win/win for me.

Blitzed306 Reader
Dec. 30, 2010 12:35 p.m.

Rangers are solid as hell. I did do a ford toreass upper plenum swap on my vulcan. it took a whole day and I had to fab the throttle bracket. I can't really tell any HP difference lol

BAMF Reader
Dec. 30, 2010 12:36 p.m.
integraguy wrote: Not quite the same thing, but I owned a '94 XLT with the SOHC 2.3 and 5 speed manual. And as a previous person said, you won't lay any rubber with a Ranger equipped with a 4...unless it's a turbo 4. However, I did light hauling (making runs to the recycling center) and helped a friend to move his daughter, twice, so they can handle furniture moving as long as it's not very heavy (solid mahogany) furniture. On mine, the only early/premature failure I experienced was the clutch...but then I drove it like it was a race car.

I learned to drive on my dad's '94 XLT extended cab 2.3 with 5 speed. My dad bought it new in '95 at a great price because it was the heaviest Ranger you could buy but with the smallest engine and a stick. Also, it was plum purple. Definitely a lot queen.

He had the clutch replaced around 120k miles, after all 4 of us children learned to drive stick on it. Another 20k or so thereafter it needed a head rebuild. He's somewhere close to 200k now, if he hasn't crossed it yet. It's seriously been a great truck. I've used it to haul motor scooters, move in and out of the dorms, apartments, etc. He's used it for home improvement stuff and drives it everyday.

integraguy wrote: BTW, I am considering another Ranger and would go the V6 and manual route. But since the 3 liter has about the same horsepower as a 2.3, I'd only go for the V6 for reliability. My Dad had, until recently, THE Ranger I wanted. He sold it without saying a word.

I hear that. I hope when my dad decides it's time for a new truck he will let me know so I can by his old one. A turbo might be a nice addition to it.

speedblind Reader
Dec. 30, 2010 12:51 p.m.

I've had three Rangers, and they've all been bullet proof. Only thing I can think of on the 2.3L is that you have to change 8 spark plugs and it's a bit of a pain. Other than that, everything's very straight forward - they start, run and drive very reliably. It's always nice to have one around for hauling stuff, and they're cheap to buy and insure.

My current truck is a 96 XLT with the 4-cyl, and the extra weight is noticeable as it's dead slow. It sat out at the beach for about three years, only getting started every couple months. When I dragged it back home, it needed a jump start, an oil change and a serpentine belt and all's been good since. At some point I'll replace the shocks, do the timing belt, etc., but I get the feeling it will happily run forever with just basic maintenance after that.

My previous two were regular cab 4 cyls. and the newer (2000s) actually get out of their way with a manual.

red5_02 New Reader
Dec. 30, 2010 1:48 p.m.

Skip everything but the 4.0. Other than that Rangers are awesome little trucks.

bigbrainonbrad
Dec. 30, 2010 2:13 p.m.

Went and checked the truck out. Overall very good condition, came from a meter reading company so the drivers seat is a little worn. A few scratches and minor dings, headliner has come loose by the windshield. I figure about $100 at the junkyard should refurbish the interior. Fluids were all clean, but not we just changed them because you would look clean, belt was in good shape. Ran good, drove good, everything felt solid.

Concerns about the truck are limited to heat and a/c problems. The ventilation only comes through the defrost vents by the windshield, which from a quick search indicates the vacuum lines need some attention as apparently the rangers use vacuum to control the ducting. The big concern is that the ac compressor does not kick on on defrost, ac, or max ac. There is R134 in it as a quick push of the valve sent a burst of freon out. My question to those who know is would the vent problem cause the ac system not to work on any setting or is there a legitimate problem with the ac?

The owner is asking $3500 which for the miles and condition is pretty much what nada, edmunds, etc. say should be the price. I've told my dad that while he is likely to find a truck that does not exhibit the potential problems that this one has, he is not likely to find one that is as mechanically good.

Ranger50 HalfDork
Dec. 30, 2010 2:20 p.m.
red5_02 wrote: Skip everything but a swapped in 4.6 4v. Other than that Rangers are awesome little trucks.

Fixed that for you.

Ranger50 HalfDork
Dec. 30, 2010 2:28 p.m.

To fix the compressor, take the electrical connector apart and measure the voltage. If zero or very little, your problem is farther back which could be a relay or control head. If you have battery voltage, the clutch is probably gone and needs replacement.

Vents probably are a vacuum issue and probably not related to the compressor. The control head only has vacuum ports to control door positions and temperature and electrical for the rest.

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