What To Look For When Buying A Used Ford Ranger

  • By: Sean Cooper
  • Date: December 1, 2022
2019 Ford Ranger XLT

Ford Trucks are popular for their unrivaled efficiency, power, and performance, with the beastly Ford F-150 at the forefront of their lineup. Another incredible Ford truck that has made a name for itself is the Ford Ranger. While it is comparatively small, it boasts the same efficiency, reliability, and performance typical of any Ford product. In this article, we’re going to discuss what to look for when buying a used Ford Ranger.

The Ranger is a legendary truck with all the qualities of a workhorse, including ample payload space, amazing towing capabilities, excellent safety scores, and great handling.

And while it’s natural to want to scour the classifieds for a brand new Ford Ranger, you’ll soon realize that the Ranger market is really pricey. So, a used one could be a reasonable option. Continue your reading and learn more about what to look for when buying a used Ford Ranger!

A brief history of a used Ford Ranger

The old quality traditions, eye-catching publicity and enhanced or added features clearly trigger a high affinity for the Ford Ranger. This iconic truck has undergone a series of modifications during its four decades of production. As advancement in both technology and engineering continues, the Ford Rangers equally continues to improve steadily. 

It’s worth noting that Ford Ranger’s American story started in the 1983 model year when the company introduced the new pickup to replace the Mazda-built courier. It was offered four distinct engine options, including a base 2.0L 4-cylinder with 73 HP, a 2.3L four with 79 HP, and a 2.8L V6 producing 115 HP.

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In 1989, the first generation Ranger underwent a significant facelift, resulting in frame and style improvements in both its interior and exterior. On the outside, a new grille, flush light, front fenders, and hood spiced up things. A 2.3L four with 100 HP and 133 pound-feet of torque served as the base power option and was connected to either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual.

The second generation of the Ranger was released in 1992 and had its overall design refreshed. Its somewhat boxy appearance was replaced by a rounder design for a sleeker look. The available power options included the carryover 2.3L four-cylinder, range-topping 4.0L V6 producing 160 HP, and 3.0L V6 with 145 HP. 

The truck experienced a substantial update in 1998, with the Ranger getting a fairly long wheelbase, improved suspension, upgraded frame, and minor visual alterations. It’s also worth mentioning that during the same period, Ford introduced an electric version of the Ranger.

It distinguished itself from the gas-powered models with a bed cover for enhanced aerodynamics, a charging door in the front grille, and a lack of exhaust pipe. Power came from a 60 HP electric motor driving the rear wheels for about 65 miles of driving range. However, Ford ceased the production of the EV Ranger version in 2002.

By 2004, Ford Ranger got another facelift with significant improvements to its front bumper, hood, and grille. Interior improvements were also witnessed, with the addition of instrument clusters and bucket seats. By 2010, torso, as well as head airbags, were added to boost cash test ratings, and electronic stability control was equally installed to enhance the overall driving experience.

It is imperative to note that the Ford Ranger was benched for several years, only resurfacing in 2019! Now in its 4th generation, the latest Ford Ranger is built for outdoor enthusiasts who crave utility and strength but are against a massive truck such as the F-150. The 4th generation is available in three distinct trim levels, and all are powered by a 2.3L Ecoboost engine that delivers 270 HP and 310-lb-ft of torque. 

Before you even think about parting with your hard-earned money for any used car, please make sure you know what you’re buying by getting a vehicle history report you can trust like one from EpicVIN. If you’re buying from a dealer they should provide one, but if they don’t, get your own and it could save you a fortune in the long run.

This 4th generation Ford Ranger is available either as a SuperCab (four-seats) or SuperCrew (Five-seats) and has lots of both safety and infotainment system features. Depending on your desired trim level, these advanced features may include blindspot monitoring, SYNC 3, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic emergency braking, pre-collision assist, and lane-keeping assist, among others. 

1999 Ford Ranger XLT

What are some of the most common Ford Ranger problems?

Overall, the Ranger is a fantastic driving machine! It boasts a pretty powerful engine, handles well, and offers good gas mileage. It is a very solid off-roader, and its hauling, as well as towing capacities, are amazing. Inside, it is equipped with comfy seats, and its SuperCrew model has a decent amount of rear-seat space.

The vehicle has plenty of user-friendly features as well. Clearly, it is among the very best mid-size pickup trucks currently available. However, there are a few problems with the vehicle, and we highlight those issues below:

Engine problems:

Many Ford Ranger owners reported numerous complaints regarding the Ranger’s engine. And most common symptoms associated with engine problems included abrupt engine misfires, slight tremors, power loss, engine stalls as well as low compression. Engine-related issues were particularly prevalent in the 2004-2006 model years of the Ranger. 

Possible causes of engine problems in the Ford Ranger may include a clogged fuel injector, failed ignition coil packs, faulty engine control module, leaking vacuum hoses, and defective catalytic converter. As you may have guessed, most of these issues are complex and may require the intervention of a certified technician for an expert diagnosis and solution.

Stalling at idle during cold start:

A number of Ford Ranger drivers have also reported that their vehicles are difficult to start from cold, hesitate on acceleration, and stall at idle. These problems are more common in the Ford Ranger model years 1991 through to 2008. For the 2003 model year, additional issues were reported, including high idle at startup, excess smoke from the exhaust pipe, and the car dying from idle.

Potential causes of these issues may include faulty engine coolant temperature sensors, damaged air-intake temperature sensors, failed EGR valves, and defective MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) sensors. Again, these are serious issues that may require the intervention of a qualified technician.

Transmission problems:

There have been numerous complaints about the transmission of the Ford Ranger, which often manifests in the form of gear loss, rough shifting, and the overdrive light turning on and off. This particular problem is more prevalent in the 2002 and 2007 Ford Ranger model years. 

There are numerous potential causes of transmission issues, ranging from a worn transmission, and a damaged torque converter to contaminated or low transmission fluid.

Incredibly high engine idle:

If your vehicle seems to be revved up to relatively high RPM while idling, it can signal a problem. Engine idle speeds that are higher than normal have been observed and reported from the Ranger model years between 1990 and 2010. This problem often occurs after a cold start in automatic versions or when you disengage the clutch in manual transmission versions.

Which Ford Ranger model years are the best?

Ford has consistently created a good number of great Rangers in the model’s rich history. Listed below are those that we believe deserve to be viewed as the best of the best. These models are not only the most reliable, but less problematic as well.

There are no major manufacturing faults associated with them, so they won’t break down quite easily. They will also offer the best driving experience in terms of both safety and comfort:

1986 Ford Ranger 2WD SuperCab

1986 model year: According to most truck fanatics, this vehicle is considered to be the best. It applauds the very best generation of the Ranger and features the original design, potent engine as well as some common features of the Ford Ranger. And while it might never win any speed records, it is designed to last and comes with a 5-speed manual transmission to get the job done.

2000 model year: This tops the list of the best-selling compact trucks in 2000 and for many good reasons. Because the previous model year was problematic for Ford, they had to make several changes to come up with a more efficient, enhanced, and reliable pickup truck. These changes practically made the 2WD model operate like a 4WD vehicle. It comes equipped with fairly wide tires and equal fog lamps, making it suitable for an off-roading adventure.

2008 model year: The 2008 Ford Ranger is another top-quality vehicle worth your time, money, and effort. It had an improved aerodynamic bumper in the front and also featured a passive anti-theft security system. It was available in two distinct cab designs, three engine choices, and two different 16-inch wheels to choose from. 

2010 model year: The 2010 model year of the Ranger has a reliability rating of 4 out of 5, making it one of the most dependable trucks to have. What’s more, it comes packed with reasonable tech features to keep you safe and entertained.

2011 model year: The 2011 Ranger is highly popular even today thanks to its impressive reliability. It’s also worth noting that it was an extended cab truck with two doors.

2020 model year: The 2020 Ranger is undoubtedly the best year for Ford Ranger not only because of its unmatched reliability ratings, and superb fuel efficiency, but safety and infotainment features as well. I would suggest you go for the base XL trim level because it offers the most efficient performance overall. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more luxurious truck fitted with high-tech features, then the Lariat and XLT should be your ultimate choices.

Which are the worst Ford Ranger model years?

Despite being a reliable vehicle overall, the Ford Ranger has also been on the receiving end of multiple complaints over the years. Below are Ford Ranger model years that you should steer clear of:

1999 model year: It is widely believed that this is the worst model year of the Ranger because a myriad of problems starts to develop after only a couple of uses. Common issues experienced by this included tire problems, airbag failure, and structural defects.

2001 model year: This is another unreliable Ranger model year that is mainly popular for its persistent transmission issues and shifting problems.

2002 model year: The 2002 Ranger model year performed very poorly, and was plagued by numerous structural and mechanical issues. These problems may range between faulty cooling systems, airbag and steering issues, electrical issues and body paint issues, and malfunctioning accessories. 

2019 model year: According to various consumer reports, the 2019 Ford Ranger is the least reliable, with an average dependability rating of 1 out of 5. The electrical and engine systems are the leading culprits behind the 2019 Ranger’s complaints.

2019 Ford Ranger Lariat

How reliable are Ford Ranger trucks?

Ford has a reputation for reliability and the Ranger is no exception. It is crafted using high-quality materials intended to last! Overall, the Ford Ranger has an average rating of 4 out of 5 for its reliability, engine power, and load capacity. It can easily last up to 20 years and beyond with proper maintenance and care. It is designed to withstand up to 300,000 miles and years upon years of use!

In terms of repairs, the average annual maintenance cost for the Ranger is $600, according to RepairPal. Also, the likelihood of a problem being severe is very minimal, (12%).

Are Ford Rangers good on fuel economy?

Generally, pickup trucks are not traditionally renowned for their fuel economy on the road. However, shifting consumer demands combined with a higher emphasis on eco-friendliness in the auto industry have put a heavier focus on the improvement of fuel efficiency in all types of vehicles, including pickups.

And the latest Ford Ranger models don’t disappoint in that department. It provides an estimated gas mileage of 21mgp on city roads and 26mpg on the highway.

Do Ford Rangers hold their value?

Because they are highly durable and reliable, any Ford Ranger out there will depreciate around 24% after a five-year period. This is an impressive feat for a pickup truck. A Ranger isn’t going to hold its value in normal times as well as something like a Toyota Tacoma, but it’s not too far behind.

What is the cost of a used Ford Ranger?

Prices for a second-hand Ford Ranger currently range between $3000 and $58,000, depending on the model year of the truck, current condition, mileage, and location.

Should you buy a used Ford Ranger?

Ford Ranger is the ultimate truck for an off-roading experience not only because of its robust construction and excellent reliability, but outstanding safety features as well. And considering the amount of used Ford Ranger trucks on the market and the plentiful amount of replacement components, I can conclude that purchasing a used Ford Ranger can be a fantastic choice if you want an affordable yet performance-oriented mid-size truck!