1996 2.3 I4, 4×4 Ranger


J_J_DePre

New member
Joined
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
12
Points
3
Location
Nazareth, PA
I just purchased a 1996 Ford Ranger XL Regular Cab with a 2.3 I4 mated to a 5-speed, manual transmission and a 4×4 with a manual-transfer case and manual-locking hubs. I know they are exceptionally rare, as I was only able to locate four examples in a search query factoring a 500-mile radius. I am interested to know who may own one, what is the overall reliability, and what are the idiosyncrasies relative to other Rangers.
 


Rock Auto 5% Discount Code: 173A8B749AB83C Expires: January 1, 2020

RonD

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
13,720
Reaction score
521
Points
113
Location
canada
Vehicle Year
1994
Make / Model
Ford
Transmission
Manual
You have a 2.3l SOHC Lima engine, also nick named "Pinto engine" since it was first used in 1974 Ford Pinto

Very reliable engine, it is 1970's design so nothing like the newer DOHC 4cyls are for power
Outside of adding a turbo what you got is what you got power wise, these were used in Fox Body Mustangs so the Mustang forums are full of ideas to add power, some are OK, others are a waste of time and money, lol, its just an older design.
They used a timing belt, which should be changed every 80k miles or so, but it is a Non-interference engine so no engine damage would occur if belt breaks.

You will have an M5OD-R1(M5R1) manual transmission, used in Rangers from 1988 to 2011(last year), very reliable, it used ATF, yes automatic transmission fluid in a manual trans, good to check level every year or so, or when changing the engine oil, running them low can cause issues, I know DUH, lol

You have a BW1354 manual transfer case, also uses ATF or there is a better Ford Transfer case fluid that's recommended, again very reliable.

Yes, your combination is rare, a custom order if its stock

Most 4cyl Rangers are 2WD because the point of using a 4cyl engine is MPG, and 4x4 weighs almost 15% more than 2WD, boxed front frame, front axle and transfer case all adds up :)
The manual transmission was standard with 4cyl Ranger, for the better MPG
"Shift on the fly" was the new thing with 4x4s, so electric shift transfer cases were standard, manual shift was an option
 
Last edited:

J_J_DePre

New member
Joined
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
11
Reaction score
12
Points
3
Location
Nazareth, PA
Ron, this particular example has a five-speed, manual transmission to which you alluded, a manual-transfer case (floor lever), manual-locking hubs (front wheels), manual-window cranks, a bench seat, and XL trim; it is a rather basic, albeit inexpensive and very fuel-efficient truck. Moreover, the options, including the 4×4 system, are OEM Ford products.
 

RonD

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 2, 2012
Messages
13,720
Reaction score
521
Points
113
Location
canada
Vehicle Year
1994
Make / Model
Ford
Transmission
Manual
Yes, the manual hubs were an option, "Auto hubs" were standard, and it looks like manual transfer case and manual hubs were a package option

Have a look at drivers door sticker, 4.10 ratio was listed as standard and Limited slip as an option but many 4x4s came with L/S
Original Buyer may have added L/S as well if he ordered manual transfer case and manual hubs

Axle info seen here: https://therangerstation.com/tech_library/axle_codes.shtml


If you are curious about options you can get 1993 and 1997 Ranger brochures here: http://www.auto-brochures.com/ford.html
No 1996 there

And 1997 is labelled 1998 and visa versa, so heads up, download the 1998 to get the 1997

1993-1997 were 2nd generation Rangers, or 3rd depending on who you ask, lol, but those 5 years were same generation
So trims and options were similar

I think the 2.3l was dropped in the 4x4 line up in 1997, it was offered in 1993, so that would be closer to what you have trim and option wise
 
Last edited:

97Ranger3.0

Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2017
Messages
71
Reaction score
11
Points
8
Location
Massachusetts
Vehicle Year
1997
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Size
3.0
Transmission
Manual
My brother has an almost identical truck. His is a 96 2.3 5 spd 4x4 as well. His also has 4 wheel ABS which must set his apart further. Funny story - the seller had no idea and thought it was a 3.0, and at the time my brother was looking to help his friend get a truck and stumbled across that truck. He was so focused on checking the condition of the truck and checking for problems that he didn't notice that it was a 4 cylinder until he and his friend went to change the oil once they brought it home 😂.

It's been a pretty good truck and gets great mileage even with the 4.10s it came with. Some people claim that 2.3's will get worse mileage with 4.10 gears than with 3.73 or lower (which I understand why) but he has managed 30+ MPG no joke. Stock he was getting 28-29 MPG average, and once we converted it to an electric fan he broke 30 MPG, 31 being the highest. That's pretty impressive in my opinion, especially considering he does mostly around town driving. The 2.3 5 spd 2wd trucks we've had before that with 3.45 gears would only manage 26-27 top.

I haven't owned a 4.0 truck yet so I can't speak to its reliability, but I've now owned a 3.0 and several 2.3 rangers between me and my brother. 2.3's are great engines and honestly don't care what you do to them, they'll just always run without complaint. My 3.0 is a little more touchy but still decently reliable, it's just hard to beat that 2.3 reliability in my experience. It'll be a great little truck if you take care of it.
 
Last edited:


Top