Ford Ranger Years to Avoid (Trust Me, Here’s Why)

(Last Updated On: March 13, 2024)

Since its introduction to the market in 1983, the Ford Ranger, a midsize pickup truck, has become a favorite among truck lovers. Even though it’s compact, it embodies the prowess of a bigger truck, making it the perfect option for individuals in search of a dependable work vehicle.

However, like any other vehicle, the Ranger has had its share of problematic years that prospective buyers should be aware of.

In this article, we’ll delve into the Ford Ranger years to avoid while also highlighting the most common problems associated with this model. Furthermore, we’ll discuss some of the best Ford Ranger years to consider and what to look for when buying a used Ford Ranger.

How Long Has Ford Made the Ranger?

The first Ford Ranger rolled off the assembly line in 1983, signaling a new era for Ford. This compact truck was a departure from the large, full-sized trucks that Ford was known for. The Ranger quickly caught the attention of truck lovers for its performance and style, winning several awards over the years.

However, it’s important to remember that not all Ranger years were created equal. Some years saw more issues and recalls than others, leading to their inclusion in our list of Ford Ranger years to avoid.

The Ford Ranger distinguished itself as a compact truck with the capabilities of a larger vehicle. It was also one of the first of its kind, paving the way for other companies to follow suit. Over the years, it has won awards for its performance and style, making it a popular choice among truck enthusiasts.

Despite its popularity, the Ranger hasn’t had a perfect track record. There have been some years where the truck experienced more issues and recalls, impacting its overall reputation.

What Are the Ford Ranger Years to Avoid?

While the Ford Ranger has generally been hailed for its reliability and performance, there are a few model years that have garnered more complaints and issues than others. The following are some of the Ford Ranger years to avoid:

Infographic showing the Ford Ranger issues by year, such as the 1999 model, which has the most complaints of all, related to an erratic temp gauge and cracked cylinder heads. Or the 2001, with transmissions that often fail around 60,000 miles.
  • 1999 Ranger: This model year has received the most complaints overall. The most common issue cited is erratic temperature gauge readings caused by cracked cylinder heads. This problem typically arises after the vehicle has reached around 100,000 miles and can cost about $3,550 to repair.
  • 2001 Ranger: Although not as problematic as the 1999 model, the 2001 Ford Ranger has had its share of issues. The most common problem reported for this model year is related to the transmission. The transmission tends to fail after a little more than 60,000 miles, costing around $1,700 to repair.
  • 2002 Ranger: Models from 2002 are notorious for having higher repair costs and more problems at lower mileage. Similar to the 2001 model, the 2002 Ford Ranger also experiences transmission issues. Additionally, some owners have reported a broken frame after approximately 120,000 miles, which can cost nearly $3,600 to repair.
  • 2004 Ranger: Owners have reported issues related to the transmission and the engine in 2014 models. However, updating the PCM software has proven to be a successful fix for most of these problems.
  • 2005 Ranger: While the 2005 Ranger has fewer complaints than the previous years, it still has some issues. The most significant problem reported for this model year is related to gas mileage and some reported engine problems.
  • 2006 Ranger: This model year was a rough one for the Ranger, with multiple recalls, fuel system problems, and numerous reported engine problems.

What Are the Common Problems Experienced With the Ranger?

Along with the specific problems associated with the model years mentioned above, there are some common issues that Ford Ranger owners might encounter, regardless of the year. These include:

Infographic showing common Ford Ranger problems, including a faulty rear seatback latch, transmission issues, engine noise at low RPMs, and more.
  • Faulty rear seatback latch: This issue typically crops up with the latch either failing to engage or becoming entirely dislodged.
  • Mushy brake pedal: Some drivers have reported soft brakes, especially in fifth-generation models.
  • Vibrations at highway speeds: This problem likely stems from an improperly installed driveshaft.
  • Transmission issues: Transmission problems are common in several model years and can lead to complete failure.
  • Contaminated oil: Some drivers have reported their oil getting contaminated with small amounts of gas.
  • Engine noise at low RPM: Some drivers have reported a ticking or buzzing noise when the engine makes 1,500 to 2,000 revolutions per minute.

Aside From These, Is the Ford Ranger Reliable Enough? Yes and No

The Ford Ranger is generally known for its reliability and durability. With the proper care and maintenance, a Ranger can last for over 300,000 miles on average. However, like any vehicle, it is not without its problems.

Some model years, such as those mentioned above, have more issues and complaints than others. Therefore, it’s essential to do your research and be aware of the potential problems you might encounter if you choose a Ranger from one of these problematic years.

Are There Any Good Years for The Ranger?

Despite some problematic years, there are plenty of model years where the Ford Ranger has shone. Here are some of the best Ford Ranger years to consider if you’re in the market for a reliable, pre-owned truck:

Infographic showing Ford Ranger best years, including 1986, 1988, and 2000. Solid off-roading capabilities thanks to wider tires and fog lights. Gets a respectable 18 mpg and are known for being reliable.
  • 1986 Ranger: Considered one of the best Rangers of all. It boasts 18 mpg and even has a smooth drivetrain that you usually don’t find in older model vehicles. If you find one of these, it’s not only a classic but a well-built piece of history.
  • 1988 Ranger: This compact truck features a 2.3 L 4-cylinder engine and a solid frame built to last. If there’s one model year that should take the trophy for the best, it’s the 1988 Ford Ranger.
  • 2000 Ranger: After the 1999 model’s complaints and reports, Ford knew that it had to develop something new and improved. That’s where the 2000 Ford Ranger came into play, offering an off-roading model with wider tires and fog lamps.

List of The Best Ford Ranger Years

In addition to the years mentioned above, there are several other Ford Ranger model years that have proven to be reliable and problem-free. They include:

  • 1998 Ranger
  • 2007 Ranger
  • 2009 Ranger
  • 2010 Ranger
  • 2020 Ranger
  • 2021 Ranger
  • 2022 Ranger

What To Look for When Shopping for a Used Ford Ranger

When shopping for a used Ford Ranger, it’s essential to be aware of the common problems associated with this model. Some things to look out for include:

Infographic showing what to consider when Ranger shopping, such as inspecting for rust on the frame, or have a mechanic give it a once-over.
  • Check for rust: A rusty frame can create significant problems for the vehicle.
  • Take it to a mechanic: Have a reputable mechanic inspect the truck for any potential issues.
  • Check the engine: Be cautious about a vehicle that’s running when you arrive to look at it. It could indicate a problem with starting the engine.

Recap of Main Points

While the Ford Ranger is generally a reliable and durable vehicle, there are some model years that potential buyers should avoid. These include the 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006 model years, which have received the most complaints and reported issues.

However, there are also plenty of reliable Ford Ranger model years to consider, including 1986, 1988, 2000, 1998, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2020, 2021, and 2022. By doing your research and being aware of the potential problems, you can find a reliable, pre-owned Ford Ranger that will serve you well for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Ford Ranger years should I avoid when buying a used truck?

Potential buyers should consider avoiding Ford Ranger models from the years 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2006. These model years have garnered more complaints and reported issues compared to others.

What are some common problems associated with the Ford Ranger?

Common issues with Ford Rangers, regardless of the year, include a faulty rear seatback latch, a mushy brake pedal, vibrations at highway speeds, transmission issues, contaminated oil, and engine noise at low RPM.

Are there any reliable Ford Ranger years?

Yes, several Ford Ranger model years have proven to be reliable. These include the 1986, 1988, 2000, 1998, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2020, 2021, and 2022 models.

What should I look for when buying a used Ford Ranger?

When shopping for a used Ford Ranger, check for rust, especially on the frame, take the truck to a reputable mechanic for a thorough inspection, and be cautious of a vehicle that’s already running when you arrive, as it could indicate a problem with starting the engine.

Is the Ford Ranger a reliable vehicle?

Generally, the Ford Ranger is known for its reliability and durability, and with proper care and maintenance, it can last over 300,000 miles. However, like any vehicle, it has its share of problems, and some years have more issues than others.

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