by Michelle Kerns
trustmymechanic.com; 5dauto.com; 4x4news.co.uk; 4x4offroads.com; explorerforum.com; 4wheeloffroad.com
Ford Ranger 4X4s have been popular with truck owners since they were first introduced by Ford Motor Co. in the mid-1960s. Problems with Ford Rangers can arise with the low or high 4X4 system or with the automatic or manual bushings. If you are having problems with your 4X4, follow these steps to diagnose the problem.
Understanding how a machine works, be it a car, a toaster, or a computer, is crucial to gaining a clear understanding of what the trouble spots could be and knowing how to identify them. The internet is the fastest, most up-to-date, and cheapest way to get a quick refresher course (or even learn for the first time) how your car works. The animated feature How Cars Work on Cars.com is excellent; lets you see each car system separately, from brakes to engine to transmission, and briefly explains each animated sequence. Before you start looking for the cause of your Ford Ranger problems, be sure to check this site or a similar one first to brush up on your knowledge of the car.
Then enlist a friend, spouse, or other person to help you and head to the car to begin diagnosing the problem. Determine if the 4X4 system can be switched to 4X4 high by pressing the 4X4 button. The buttons on the dash and 4X4 should light up. If not, one of the following is faulty: the dash button, the 4X4 module, or the shift motor.
To determine which of these three is not working properly, ask your friend to sit near the module. Press the 4X4 button and ask your friend to listen for the sound of the relays on the 4X4 module. If the relays can be heard, the problem with the 4X4 lies with the 4X4 module computer or the shift motor. The most common problem in this case is a broken stop bumper on the shift motor. If your friend cannot hear the relays inside the 4X4 module, you will need to make sure that the 4X4 module is working properly.
To check the 4X4 module, unplug the two connectors that are plugged into the left side of the module. Start the car and press the reset / test button located on the module. After pressing the button, the LED light located on the module should blink rapidly four or five times. If the LEDs do not blink or blink non-stop, the module is bad. If the LED lights blinked and then stopped after four or five times, the module is working properly and you will need to check other parts such as the shift motor, magnetic clutch, wiring harness, and 4X4 switch to determine the cause of the trouble.
If your 4X4 is making a screeching or clicking noise from under the front wheels, the hubs need to be checked to make sure they are locked properly. To test this on a car with automatic hubs, turn the front axle shafts under the truck. If, after a few turns, the axle locks up and can no longer be turned, the automatic hub is working properly. However, if the axle does not lock and you can continue turning it, the bushing is damaged or needs a good cleaning. To test a car with manual bushings, make sure the 4X4 is off and turn the axle until it locks. Again, if the axle does not lock, the hub is not working or needs cleaning.
To determine if the automatic hub is no longer working, take the car out of 4X4 mode and rotate the axle shaft. If the axle does not lock after several revolutions, the bushing is most likely not working at all. Repeat this with the other axle shaft. On a car with manual bushings, disengage the 4X4, lock the bushings, and try turning the axle shafts. If they can be rotated, the hub does not work. Repeat this with the other axle shaft.
Articles will need
- Your Ford Ranger 4X4
- Internet access
- An extra pair of hands (friend or spouse)