Ranger - pros/cons considering maintenance/reliability

Chorky

Observer
So recently I had considered parting with my current truck for a Ram 1500 diesel for something more modern, more comfortable, more in line with my needs and desires. However, after digging into things like a full cost analysis (pretty insane actually), reviews of actual owners, considering maintenance schedules, etc... I don't believe that would be the best choice... Previously, I had discounted the Ranger believing I needed a higher payload/towing capacity. However, as life always changes, I now have just found myself in a position to not really 'needing' 14K towing, and 3k payloads. Certainly helpful, but not fully necessary on a regular daily (or even weekly) basis.

So there are plenty of good threads and videos and information on the Ranger. One thing I do like that I recently found is the relatively 'easy' and infrequent service intervals which ='s lower cost (compared to the 1500 diesel especially). Additionally, even a decked out XLT (just for sake of discussion) comes in at 10-15K less than the 1500 ecodiesel. Further, Ranger is a smaller truck (which was my original thought in exploring the idea of parting from my truck to a 1500).

However, one aspect I have not been able to really find much discussion/comment on (for either the 1500 or the Ranger) is real world experience with maintenance and reliability. The owners manual and service manual can balk all day long - but that doesn't truly say 'how long a wheel bearing will last' or 'when engine troubles may come up' or how expensive said engine/trans troubles even might cost (highly variable yes).

Now of course the 1500 would be more expensive being a diesel, with a lot of plastic components. But what about the Ranger? Anybody have personal experiences? Bad wheel bearings, total engine problems, trans problems? Things that require the vehicle to be in the shop for major (or minor) repairs that are more often/frequent than you would want/hope/expect from a new vehicle? And maybe lets consider those folks who have the older Rangers as well (say 1990-2010 - before the torsion suspension era). There are a few of those available for fairly cheap.

For sake of discussion, the 1500 has a 10 year 100K mile warranty. A local dealer does offer a 20 yr 200K mile warranty. Ranger on the other hand I believe Ford only offers the standard 5 yr 60K mile warranty. Currently, with a new job, I will commute (commute, does not include weekend fun or anything other than back and forth to work) anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 miles a month. So lots of miles for a newer vehicle.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
Torsion bar came out in 98 for 4wds. Coil spring twin Traction beams ran from 83-97.

For older rangers watch for frame rust around the spring and shock mounts, floor pans like everything else.

Manual trans is good if the rubber shift plugs haven't rotted and let the oil (atf) out.

Automatic is meh but they get better the newer they go.

Axles got beafier over time. Later axles are a bolt in upgrade.

Wheel bearings are real bearings, engines are good (depending on care over the last 25+ years of course)

Lots of info for rangers young and old here:

 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Are you thinking new Ranger or the crazy 20 yr old one? The new ranger isn’t super modern especially compared to the 1500 its about the same design era just with modern tech updates. Ford is actually working on the “modern Ranger” replacement right now.

I don’t see longevity or warranty really being a big concern given your thinking of getting rid of the 1500 long before those things were a big factor.

Ford offers a huge variety of warranty options don’t buy in the Finance office you’ll get ripped off. Search around on the ford forums two dealers post all the warranty schedules and pricing online and a 5 minute form and credit card gets you the best deal and your choice of coverage👍.

I think all the Domestics today are building some really impressive trucks. Can’t really go wrong with any of them.
 

Chorky

Observer
Torsion bar came out in 98 for 4wds. Coil spring twin Traction beams ran from 83-97.
Hmm. I thought the torsion bar wasnt until 2008'ish... I'm just not a fan of the idea of one of those breaking.... Or the parts availability to replace one when they did break. Although the explorers had the same suspension for a period of time as well.


Are you thinking new Ranger or the crazy 20 yr old one? The new ranger isn’t super modern especially compared to the 1500 its about the same design era just with modern tech updates. Ford is actually working on the “modern Ranger” replacement right now.

I don’t see longevity or warranty really being a big concern given your thinking of getting rid of the 1500 long before those things were a big factor.

Ford offers a huge variety of warranty options don’t buy in the Finance office you’ll get ripped off. Search around on the ford forums two dealers post all the warranty schedules and pricing online and a 5 minute form and credit card gets you the best deal and your choice of coverage👍.

I think all the Domestics today are building some really impressive trucks. Can’t really go wrong with any of them.
I am inclined to consider the older ones first. Longevity and reliability is a big deal to me, as well as cheap services considering the crazy mileage, as I would plan to keep said vehicle for at least 10 years. So that puts me well over the warranty period for either vehicle. Putting 50K miles a year (commuting and weekends) on a brand new truck just seems like a poor choice to me. However, I agree the new trucks are impressive...and I do like both the new ram1500 ecodiesel and Ranger. But, man, at 50K for a 1500, or even 30K for a new Ranger, is an awful lot for a poor government worker. I did a cost analysis of a new vehicle compared to my current truck. Over a 20 year period, a new truck (assuming no major failures like a new entine/trans, etc) still comes out to 50K more expensive than my current truck. However, putting that much miles that fast on my current rig is not desirable either.... A replacement engine for a 2000 era Ranger can be had for less than 10K installed. However, the same cannot be said for a brand new Ranger or 1500. Even with fuel mileage of a new vehicle being about 5mpg higher on average, it doesnt outweigh the cost.


I thought those diesel 1500’s had pretty poor payload ratings.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ranger is better in that regard.
Yes the 1500 does have a poor payload rating. The ranger is basically equal payload wise. However, the 1500 can tow up to 12K I believe, and the ranger caps out at 7500, of course thats both being bare bones models. I think (for me) at this point in life, all things considered, ranger is the better way to go if a person is truly honest with themselves. I only mentioned the 1500 for comparison. I really dont expect to see a need for a 3,000 pound payload. In my 37 years, I have never had a true need for that and the off few times I might have, I could have just loaded up a flatbed trailer instead. If I was married with a couple kids, that might be a different story.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Keep in mind the old Ranger is literally 20 yrs old already. I would look at used Colorado/Canyons before doing Ranger and I had a 89 Ranger for 8 yrs and 180,000 miles.

The Canyon/ Colorado has a old well established v6 and pretty bullet proof transmission. I would for sure have that on my shopping list. Far higher odds of finding a clean none abused Canyon/Colorado vs the long no longer built Ranger which is super rare and impossible to find clean used ones today
 

billiebob

Well-known member
So talking main stream vehicles like Ford Chev Dodge,... who is buying them. Just picking a random choice, do Chev guys buy the Chev because maintenance costs are low???? or because Chev buyers do zero maintenance. Are Fords considered high maintenance because Ford guys knit pick little things the Chev guys ignore. Are Dodges in the middle because Dodges break often and half the owners ignore that?????

Impossible quesation on a forum. Consumers Reports was once the holy grail on this. Today..... ???? But honestly altho there have been anomolys like the Ford 6L diesel... the big three, even thier little three... or does Dodge have a little one?? Oh yeah the Jeep JT. Honestly, all three, all six are incredible vehicles with great reliability. Pick the one which fits what you do.

ps, not sure why there are comments on 20 year old Rangers since you are talking warranty. I might be wrong, but I figured you were looking at replacing a 5 year old Dodge with a new Ford.
 
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Chorky

Observer
So talking main stream vehicles like Ford Chev Dodge,... who is buying them. Just picking a random choice, do Chev guys buy the Chev because maintenance costs are low???? or because Chev buyers do zero maintenance. Are Fords considered high maintenance because Ford guys knit pick little things the Chev guys ignore. Are Dodges in the middle because Dodges break often and half the owners ignore that?????

Impossible quesation on a forum. Consumers Reports was once the holy grail on this. Today..... ???? But honestly altho there have been anomolys like the Ford 6L diesel... the big three, even thier little three... or does Dodge have a little one?? Oh yeah the Jeep JT. Honestly, all three, all six are incredible vehicles with great reliability. Pick the one which fits what you do.

ps, not sure why there are comments on 20 year old Rangers since you are talking warranty. I might be wrong, but I figured you were looking at replacing a 5 year old Dodge with a new Ford.
Interesting question/take. To clarify, since I am usually kinda bad with that on this site to keep it short, I do not currently have a dodge. I have a 06 TJ, and a 97 7.3L. I am still considering other options than the OBS since I will be racking up a lot of commuting miles (but absolutely need a 4x4 truck) with the new position (car's/SUV's are not in the books for me). I think your comment has to do more with personal experiences and preferences than anything. Here is my .02 - I dislike Chevy. Mostly because ergonomics. I can't honestly say its because of the mechanics of the vehicle as I don't know much of anything about their engines/trans, etc.. Although that goes for just about any new vehicle to be honest since I haven't had anything newer than my Jeep in, well...ever (actually, not true, I had a couple newer ones before....short lived). My OBS is the second newest I've ever owned. However, whenever I sit in a Chevy...it just doesn't feel right. Thats a big deal to me. I'm reminded of my dad who bought a new Tacoma some years ago. Traded it in in a year because the seating caused his neck to hurt so bad he couldnt drive longer than an hour or two.. I am not necessarily a fan of the new fords. Worked as a master tech years ago....before all the computerized stuff really became mainstream. Early 2000's was a lot of growing pains for them and others.. It turned me off on new vehicles. But - It's hard to argue with the price of the Ranger as compared to others in todays crazy price market. I never was a 'Dodge' guy until my 2017 Ram 2500 (my government truck). I am very hard on it, and it has never given a bit of trouble and has been a little neglected maintenance wise. Spends 70% of its life off highway. The only suckey thing is it gets really crap mileage for a new(er) truck. That really turned me on to Dodge - however, as I saw with the 1500, sticker shock.. Pretty pricy, even for a gas - because of all the nice stuff. There are other things that are going into my personal decisions as well... such as a Ranger is not full size, where a 1500 is. New Ranger has 'enough' payload/towing to make it work for me at this point in life. I dont really care for the massive amount of plastic inside...at all. Especially since dashes of these new trucks are massive. But a XLT is 20K cheaper than a longhorn 1500 ecodiesel and have similiar conveniences. Plus, I recently heard about a significant portion of the engine of the ecodiesel being plastic - like where the filter housing screws into. Thats a terrible idea. Also, the Ranger 'reviews' have been pretty stellar.

What I have found thus far - in case it helps others out there, granted much of this is personal opinion as well:
  • 1500 ecodiesel
    • HIGH maintenance cost, also just expensive. All for that diesel towing, very nice interior (to me), comfortable ride, good aftermarket support, good reputation (IMO), good reliability (in my experience), also a full size truck with not quite so full size capabilities (but I dont need to haul a 3000# camper...), could part with OBS, decent reviews of the ecodiesel, probably the best engine choice for this size truck IMO, gas is just underpowered and gets terrible mileage towing (single digits) based on others reviews, 10yr/100K warranty, a dealer 2 hrs away even offers a 20yr/200K warranty!!
  • Ranger
    • cheaper than 1500, cheap maintenance cost (for a new vehicle), good weight to size ratio (for winter roads) enough payload/towing to consider parting with OBS, good reviews of the engine, the truck was originally designed to be a work truck in other countries (reminds me of my Hilux in Afghan, awesome truck, so many bullets to the engine and it just kept going no problem!), ugly interior IMO, unknown ride quality, not as much aftermarket support, not a stellar warranty - standard 5yr/60K, would expire in 2 years
  • Toyota
    • dislike the tundra (a few friends have them), tacoma is expensive for what you get
  • Chevy
    • just not a fan, ergonomics make them uncomfortable.....
  • GMC
    • haven't considered, but I believe theyre pretty expensive and super complicated

Now for sake of discussion and to answer your previous question I am also considering an older Ranger. the 20 yr old factor doesn't bother me. A replacement engine can be had installed for about 6K. The same cannot be said for a new truck at all.... Also, services and maintenance is generally cheaper. However, as pointed out somewhere, a 90's to 2010 Ranger for some reason is in high demand and finding a decent one in good shape is slim picking. Although...market value for my OBS is the same I suppose. A older ranger would suit most of my needs really, if I'm being totally honest. With the exception of towing, but I don't foresee needing to honestly tow more than 4K on a regular basis in a while. However, I could not immediately decide to part with the OBS for a old Ranger due to that towing wity my current living situation. And at a much lower cost than a new rig, I could justify that cost wise. But...thats 3 vehicles!!! That's a lot of one single guy.

The true conundrum is - at 30K miles a year, is it even worth considering a new truck. Thats a ton of miles, a 60K warranty would last only 2 years... Seems like with that much miles a new truck, with warranty benefits, is cost prohibitive even with a 20mpg average. Also that's a ton of miles to just rack up on my OBS or TJ. As well, with the OBS, it would cause maintenance costs to probably actually be even higher than a new truck (or older Ranger) and especially over my TJ. However if having an older Ranger, would require keeping the OBS for towing/hauling heavier loads. If a new Ranger (or 1500, but its too pricy), is had, then the OBS could be parted with and make up some of that cost with this insane market ( as :'( as that is). It seems risky though.... Just a ton of miles on a new truck makes me uneasy mostly because its hard to say how long these new trucks will last before needing major components like wheel bearings, ball joints, an engine...
 

tacollie

Land traveler
Have you driven any of these trucks? I ask because you say the gas trucks are underpowered compared to the ecodiesel. The ecodiesel gets better milage but it's slower than the Hemi.

I know Ram supposedly fixed a lot of the issues with the ecodiesel when the brought them back last year. The previous ones were very hit or miss for reliability. The new one is based off the old one. It's not a completely new motor.

Either way driving as much as you are I would look at something newer. Newer motors and transmission last longer. A newer ranger isn't likely to need a motor for at least 300k. If you buy an older ranger it will need a motor at some point based on the milage you drive.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
First we really need to nail down "older"

An '11 is the older bodystyle, the last year of production until '19. Half as old as what I am daily driving, not saying they grow on trees but that is only 10 years old, creampuffs are out there. Retired guys loved smaller trucks to go to the barber and coffeeshop.

90's stuff... obviously the farther back you go the harder it is to find clean ones but again, if you look they are out there.
 

Grassland

Well-known member
I don't know where you live but torsion bars are the least of your worries on a truck that was discontinued 10 years ago.
1998-2012 was previous gen ranger.
Vacuum hub issues on 98-01 or whenever they changed to front half shafts that always spin.
Rear spring perch rusting out. Body rusting out. Everything rusting out, are more likely. Heater cores and blend doors and U joints etc. Rotted coolant lines. Leaking AC lines.
Also the 4.0 and five speed auto aren't good on gas and the tank is small. If it was 2005 I wouldn't say that platform was particularly bad at anything. But by today's standards it is not good any anything but being small.

Like you worry about how much you drive, yet you are going to go buy a ten year old or more truck with probably 160k miles minimum on it during a time when used trucks have never been more over priced? I don't know where you are but where I am a Ranger of that era that isn't bagged and rotted out will be $6000 plus. Probably more because sanity has left the world lately.

The good things I guess are simplicity and crank windows and easy to replace stereo.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
30k a yr or more my neighbor buys 100k Camry’s and junks them at 350,000. Cheapest route for 30+ k yr driving.

Modern vehicles are pretty impressive regarding build quality over vehicles built 10yrs ago.
Your over thinking it. Plus if your not getting paid on your 30k of mileage maybe cut back on the driving thats not healthy 👍
 
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