Ford Ranger Problems

No car is perfect, but we've gathered everything relating to the Ford Ranger reliability here to help you decide if it's a smart buy.

Why does my 2018 Ford Ranger Wildtrak stutter when accelerating?

Answered by CarsGuide 25 Dec 2021

This gets a bit political, because Rangers delivered after May 1, 2018 carried a five-year factory warranty, but cars sold before that date had just three years of factory cover. Which means that if your car was sold new before May 1 2018, it will now be out of warranty and, if it was sold later than that, the problem is still Ford’s as the warranty should still apply. Even so, it would seem fair that Ford should offer some pro-rata cover for a car that was built in early 2018 and missed out on the five-year warranty by a quirk of the calendar. But don’t count on it.

As for the actual problem, have you noticed any warning lights on the dashboard? If so, that could be a clue to what’s going on. But unfortunately, there are many, many things that could be making a modern turbo-diesel engine run poorly. Rough running or stuttering, for instance, could be caused by anything from a blocked fuel filter, worn fuel pump, faulty fuel-injectors or a DPF system that is blocked. Or any of literally hundreds of other things.

The best advice is to have the car electronically scanned to see if the on-board computer throws up a fault code. From there, you can home in on the actual problem without a hit-and-miss approach. That said, I would have expected a Ford dealer to have tried this already, so maybe it’s time to try another dealer. And don’t forget to press them on the warranty situation.

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Does having the "smart alternator" configured to a normal alternator void the warranty in my 2021 Ford Ranger?

Answered by CarsGuide 11 Nov 2021

The `smart’ alternator fitted to the Ford Ranger was designed to cap the amount of charge being fed back into the vehicle’s battery. In effect, it meant that the battery was usually charged to a lower voltage that it would have bene with a conventional alternator.

The reason for this was to extend battery life by never over-charging (and stressing) the battery, but many owners have found that the lower charge rate left them with a battery more likely to go flat when they most needed it. Many Rangers are also used for camping and therefore have a second battery fitted. That could also cause problems as the extra battery and electrical accessories often fitted to such vehicles weren’t recognised by the vehicle’s computer, leading to more low-voltage problems.

For many Ranger owners, the solution was a trip to a Ford dealer where the computer could be re-programmed to make the alternator perform in a traditional (non-smart) way and keep everything purring along. Having this performed at a dealership will not affect your warranty, but having a non-Ford technician fiddle with the charging system may not be so warranty-friendly.

I’m also informed that driving everywhere with the car’s headlights switched on causes the alternator to acknowledge the current draw and switch to a higher charging output.

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What is the fuel consumption of the 2021 Ford Ranger Wildtrak?

Answered by CarsGuide 27 Aug 2021

With the official combined fuel consumption figure for your Ranger being 8.9 litres per 100km, having 50km of range remaining should, theoretically, suggest you have slightly less than five litres of fuel in the tank. Which further suggests you should be able to add something like 75 litres of fuel at that point. But car-makers tend to set up these warnings on remaining fuel range fairly pessimistically, giving you a bigger margin before running out. And that’s what I’d imagine is happening here. They do so because most cars will never match their official fuel number in the real world, as well as giving you a bit of lee-way in case a service station doesn’t magically appear over the next hill. The upshot is that you won’t be able to pump as much fuel into the tank as you thought it would take; that is, you had more fuel remaining in the tank than you thought.

As far as your distance per tank goes, that sounds about bang on the money to me. To get 700km from the Ranger’s 80-litre tank gives you an overall fuel consumption number of 11.4 litres per 100km which I would say is just what you should expect from this vehicle in normal use.

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What is causing my 2013 Ford Ranger to shudder when it downshifts?

Answered by CarsGuide 17 Aug 2021

There have been plenty of complaints over this transmission, and a lot of them have been traced back to the valve body separator plate which, from the sound of things, has been replaced on your vehicle. However, was it replaced with a new part or a second-hand one sourced from another vehicle? Was the work done by a Ford dealership or a transmission specialist or a general workshop?

It’s not so likely to be the wiring that’s at fault. Wiring tends to either conduct electricity or it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean the computer that controls the transmission wasn’t damaged when the loom was burned. Fundamentally, the symptoms you’re experiencing could be from any (or all of) the causes you’ve suggested. Valve bodies, torque converters, electronic control units and gearbox internals all have to be working in perfect harmony in a modern automatic transmission. One little problem with any of those systems can cause all sorts of shifting problems. I’d take the vehicle to a transmission specialist who will be able to – hopefully – diagnose the exact cause of the harsh downshifts and do something about it.

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What could be the cause of vehicle shudder in my 2013 Ford Ranger XLT?

Answered by CarsGuide 7 Aug 2021

There have been plenty of complaints over this transmission, and a lot of them have been traced back to the valve body separator plate which, from the sound of things, has been replaced on your vehicle. However, was it replaced with a new part or a second-hand one sourced from another vehicle? Was the work done by a Ford dealership or a transmission specialist or a general workshop?

It's not so likely to be the wiring that's at fault. Wiring tends to either conduct electricity or it doesn't. But that doesn't mean the computer that controls the transmission wasn't damaged when the loom was burned. Fundamentally, the symptoms you're experiencing could be from any (or all of) the causes you've suggested. Valve bodies, torque converters, electronic control units and gearbox internals all have to be working in perfect harmony in a modern automatic transmission. One little problem with any of those systems can cause all sorts of shifting problems. I'd take the vehicle to a transmission specialist who will be able to – hopefully – diagnose the exact cause of the harsh downshifts and do something about it.

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What 4WD should I buy for towing?

Answered by CarsGuide 23 Jul 2021

To get a vehicle with meaningful (as opposed to a theoretical) towing ability of 2.5 tonnes, you really need to shop for a relatively late-model dual-cab 4X4 ute. The reason for that is that many vehicles that claim a 2.5-tonne limit in the brochure fail to explain that there’s also a Gross Vehicle Combination Mass in play and, by the time you’ve added passengers, gear and a full tank of fuel to the towing vehicle, there might not be much of that GCM to devote to a towed load.

Going for a vehicle with 3000kg or even 35000kg towing capacity in the first place is a good way to ensure you do accidentally start driving around in an overloaded vehicle with all the legal and insurance connotations that involves.

A lot of the current shape dual-cab utes fall within your budget on a second-hand basis, but there are caveats. Make sure you only buy a ute with a full service history. Some of these vehicles were worked hard by their original owners, so be very careful before handing over the cash. Avoid ex-mine fleet vehicles and don’t be afraid to buy a base-model vehicle if it offers better value. Even a single-cab version of these utes will be a lot cheaper than the dual-cab and, if you don’t need the rear seat, are often a more practical solution. Makes and models include the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, Mazda BT50, Mitsubishi Triton and Isuzu D-Max. For real value for money, vehicles like the Ssangyong Musso can tow 3.5 tonnes, are well equipped and can be had for less than $35,000 drive-away, brand-new. That also gets you a seven-year factory warranty. All of these options are available with the automatic transmission you want and, indeed, this is the best option for a tow vehicle.

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Can an oil cooler keep the transmission cool in my 2014 Ford Ranger?

Answered by CarsGuide 13 Apr 2021

If you talk to automatic transmission specialists, you’ll soon be told that it’s impossible to over-cool such a gearbox. An aftermarket transmission cooler is designed to work in conjunction with the vehicle’s standard transmission cooling system, so disabling the standard cooler is probably not a great idea.

The problem with coolant entering the transmission is not an unknown one with some Ford (and other manufacturer’s) models and occurs when the standard cooler fails, allowing coolant into the gearbox and destroying the electronics and the gearbox hardware in short order. Unfortunately, this is a design thing rather than a maintenance issue, so the best thing you can do is service the vehicle regularly and make sure that the coolant is changed regularly. Even then, however, swarf from the production process (according to one theory at least) has been known to circulate through the radiator and cause damage to the piping that forms the transmission cooler. A radiator clean and flush might help stave off this process.

If the manufacturer of the aftermarket cooler you’ve fitted can guarantee that the unit will cool at least as effectively as the standard unit on the Ranger, then you might consider disconnecting the standard cooler. Even so, you’d be wise to keep an eye on transmission temperatures, particularly if you tow anything or travel at high speed in high ambient temperatures.

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Is a Mazda BT-50 or Ford Ranger better for touring?

Answered by CarsGuide 20 Nov 2020

It’s nice to see somebody taking the long view when it comes to vehicle ownership. Cars have become an increasingly throw-away commodity, and it seems a shame that all that engineering and development doesn’t get a longer lifespan.

The BT-50 and Ranger you’ve nominated are, fundamentally, the same vehicles under the skin, so the choice will come down to the options fitted and the trim level that combines the features you want in one package. As a rule of thumb, the five-cylinder engine option will do a better job of hauling a slide-on camper into a headwind and will always be worth more as a trade-in (although that’s clearly not a concern for you).

If you’re planning to keep the vehicle up to 300,000km, there’s a very good chance you’ll need to spend some money on the vehicle’s direct injection system at some point. A set of injectors and filters as well as an injector pump are all likely to need replacement over the distance you’ve nominated. That said, all modern common rail diesels seem to be in the same boat here, but if you’re prepared to service the vehicle religiously, then those expenses should be kept to a minimum. Take it as read, though, that a modern turbo-diesel will not appreciate neglect in this area.

The other thing to watch out for is a vehicle that has already had a hard working life, as these dual-cabs often have. The tray-back you want also means the vehicle is likely to have been a work truck rather than a lifestyle accessory, so have any prospect checked independently before handing over the money.

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Why does my 2015 Ford Ranger cut out for no reason?

Answered by CarsGuide 18 Sep 2020

It sounds very much like a computer problem rather than a hardware issue. When you switch the engine off and then back on again, you’re actually rebooting the on-board computer. I’d be trying a replacement ECU module (borrowed from another Ranger) to see if that fixes the problem. The problem is that because the reboot fixes the issue (temporarily) it might also re-set the computer’s memory, meaning it can’t `remember’ what went wrong and, therefore, won’t offer up the correct fault codes when you scan it. That said, I’d definitely give it a scan and see what pops up.

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What is causing the clutch to get stuck in my 2013 Ford Ranger?

Answered by CarsGuide 16 Sep 2020

A clutch pedal that won’t return is either sticking (due to friction) has a broken or weak return spring or is throwing out beyond the point it should (like an athlete hyper-extending their knee). How that’s related to the gear-lever locking up is anybody’s guess, but it’s true that if the clutch isn’t disengaging properly (which could be the case if the clutch pedal isn’t doing its thing properly) then the car will refuse to select gears and that can feel like the lever is jammed. Switch the engine off and see if the gears will then select. If so, I’d say the clutch is not disengaging and you may have to pull it all apart again to find out why.

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