1988 Ranger engine swap for a 97 4.0 Explorer. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

1988 Ranger engine swap for a 97 4.0 Explorer.


New Member
March 6, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
savannah georgia
Year, Model & Trim Level
1988 ranger
hey people. have some questions if any one can help. bought an 88 ranger with a 2.9 for my son, good looking truck, real clean, motor is locked up. have co0nsidered buying a 2.9 from work (word at advance auto parts) have just come across a friend that owns a body shop and has a 97 explorer with a 4.0 in it with low low miles. can buy the complete rig for a very low price., has extensive body damage, but still runs and drives, can even drive it the 25 miles from his shop to my house. what would be involved in doing an engine and transmission swap, and is it feasable, any help and answers would be greatly appreciated

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

If the explorer is in good condition i would suggest he just drive that. I'm not sure how that works. I know you can do generational swaps side by side. but I'm not sure if you can do the 2nd gen to 1st gen. If it's the 4.0 i don't see a big problem with it. People will Chime in to make sure.

would love for him to do that, 97 explore is not title attainable, considered totaled because of body and frame damage. drivetrain is excellent

The only problem that i can conceive would be the fact that it's a 97 and the truck it will be running in will be a 88, so you have the computer barrier. but a thread you might want to look at would be 410 Fortune's BII thread, he swapped a v8 but it should be similar.


thanks for info. looked at the site. little bit of info, still need more. thinking i can swap the computers and wiring for the engine and the trans. odb2 data link connector can be positioned under the dash, but will the ranger fuel lines adapt to the 4.0 fuel rail, will the drive shaft work. thinking real hard about this swap seems like it may work,

engine swap 97 4.0 into a 88 ranger

bought a 88 ranger in excellent shape for my son, motor is locked. can get my hands on a complete 97 explorer, good running very low miles for a very low price, has be totaled but still drivable, not an every day driver, not titleable, too much body damageand frame damage. will this swap work. motor and trans, ecm and wiring harness. how about the fuel lines onto the 4.0 fuel rail, which drive shaft, is this worth the effort, any help would be appreciated thanks

in 97 the explorer had two 4.0L's available
If its the OHV then you are golden

You will have to do some serious wiring, but dont be scared when you get down to brass tacks its 12-16 wires

You will have to build fuel lines to go from 88 fuel lines to 97 OHV engine, no big deal, we can help you there too (use fittings from 97 and grapht them onto 88 lines)

Now the tricky part is the 97 computer, you can use the engine from the 97 no problem BUT you should run it with a 93-94 4.0L computer

What transmission are you planning to use? the 88 or the 97?

is it an auto or 5 speed?

The 4.0L OHV is physically the same as a 2.9L, it will bolt in, think of it as a bored and stroked 2.9L with MAS and DIS, basically that is all it is.

I put a 93 OHV into my 88 BII YEARS ago, its a very common conversion for a tired 2.9L, or seized as in your case

97 4.0 to a 88 2.9

thanks for the information, plan is to pull the complete motor and trans from the 97 (automatic) and put both ,s an assembly into the ranger. planing to use the ecm out ot the 97 as well,

How's the rear axle in the Explorer? That would work nicely in the Ranger!

Welcome to the forum. :thumbsup:


Fuel lines are the least of your worries at this point
Fuel lines are SIMPLE
You take the fittings from the 88 engine, cut them off, they are metal. You cut the metal fittings off your new 4.0L fuel lines and boil the nylon hose in water. Gas stove is the only way to go, electric will never get hot enough... I have built MANY nylon fuel lines for conversions. I use a camping stove in the garage.
ONce the fitting and nylon are hot enough you can press the hose over all three flares = factory style fuel lines

OBD-II conversion is totally possible but only needed if you want to run the 97 transmission and its an auto

If its a 5 speed then there is a much easier way to get the 97 OHV and 5 speed into your truck

What trans does the 97 have?
both trucks 4x4?

my 88 BII was 2.9L and 5 speed
I converted to 93 OHV 4.0L and 5 speed
then I converted to A4LD automatic
Then I converted to 97.5 GT40p 5.0L and 4r70w

When I went to the V8 I also went OBD-II
I still use my 1988 fuel system, dash, cruise control, etc
I am using the power distribution box from a 93 explorer
I have a OBD-ii port under my dash

I have 80 hours in my wiring harness

Here it is, the WIRING:
(Alternate text will display on Mouse-over)





Any questions?

Here is the 90% completed wiring harness.
There are a few things left to do here, I need to:
-add the plug for the canister purge solenoid
-run 3 wires to the fuel tank
-get a 97 Explorer style under dash diagnostics port and wire it up


You can see the engine harness is complete, the trans and 02 sensor harness is complete, the power distribution and truck plugs have been added and the length adjusted to fit the truck.
This is a 97 OBD-II pCM harness integrated into a 93 power distribution harness with 1988 Bronco II plugs where it interfaces with the the truck harness. Simple right?

and thats it.....
I will not finish wrapping the harness until the truck runs, then I will remove it one more time for the final wrap.

Here you can see the extension I made, 3'-6", to re-locate the PCM to the passenger side kick panel. Each wire was cut, soldered, heat shrunk at both ends. I believe there were 84 wires total, took a
"few" hours.



engine swap

pulling this 2.9 sunday, anyone have any ideas on how to adapt the fuel lines from this 89 to the 97 4.0 fuel rail. have some ideas myself, gonna probally try them. let me know, and i"ll let you know if my ideas work. great response from all who have looked and replied, thanks for you help.

I wonder how his swap turned out. I may have a 1st gen explorer to a 2nd gen motor swap in my near future. Which will be easier with them both being 4.0's :)