ranger 3.0 vs. 4.0 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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ranger 3.0 vs. 4.0


New Member
January 10, 2007
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City, State
Gaithersburg MD
Year, Model & Trim Level
02 XLT
I am looking at getting into a used ranger sometime this coming summer. My budget has me looking at '97 '98 99' trucks for the most part. I will need 4wd, the supercab body style, and a reliable truck.The big question becomes whether to go with the 3.0 or the 4.0. I will not be doing any wheeling except for hitting the beach to fish. I will need to tow my small boat (I don't know the exact weight but it should be just under 2000lbs and my dads pop-up which comes in at 1500lbs unloaded. From my research both motors would be able to handle those loads just fine and on used rangers there seems to be no difference in price, however my research has shown a great variety of things when it comes to fuel economy between the two. They are both rated about the same about 16 / 21, but I have seen people claim to get up to 23 mpg with a 3.0 and have heard many people complain of getting horrible mileage with the 4.0. Reliability is also an issue. I haven't heard anything bad about either of the motors, except for the spark plug knock, but have read that the 3.0 motor is very reliable. The 3.0 trucks also seem more common. If you have any input on the millage, or reliability, or anything between these motors please let me know.
Thanks for the help.

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there's no contest, the 3.0 is a vastly superior motor for one reason and one reason alone: Timing Tensioners.
The 4.0 OHC motor is a timebomb- it is not a matter of if, but when it will fail on you. Some very lucky members of this forum have logged upwards of 125k miles on their 4.0s, but most will fail right around 100k. Trucks in your year range will have just about that many miles on them to start with.
The 3.0, however, is generally regarded as indestructable, with some logging over 250k trouble-free miles.
To me, the choice is clear: Get the 3.0.

He's mistaken. The 4.0 OHV is super reliable. The 4.0 SOHC is the engine which has timing chain tensioner issues.

Rick may well be correct, but I thought they had discontinued the OHV motor by '97...
Either way, the OHC motor is to be avoided like the plague.

you mean to avoid the sohc, right?

rick you are correct...i was pointing out halfnuts reply afterwards was reverse of what you said, hahaha...

Rick may well be correct, but I thought they had discontinued the OHV motor by '97...
Either way, the OHC motor is to be avoided like the plague.
Well F#$K Me!.....I had no clue until just now the 4.0 was a time bomb! I have an 04 Ranger with the 4.0 SOHC...20K So its common knowlege among Ranger owners that the 4.0 after 97 is a grenade??

I have to say that is some bad information. The early 4.0 SOHC engine had some chain tensioner problems and that was mostly in the Explorer (2000 and earlier). The 2001 Ranger 4.0 SOHC engine (first year in the Ranger) still had some problems but if there was a problem it seemed to happen at low mileage and was difficult to resolve (mostly noise issues). The ones that did not have any problems early on were pretty much good to go for a long time.

In 2002 the timing chain problem became less of an issue but 100% resolved. Years after that were even better. My 2002 4.0 SOHC has over 70,000 miles on it and I have had zero problems with the engine. I know of other 4.0 SOHC engines that have well over 100,000 miles without any timing chain issues. They do not grenade at 100,000 miles.

So, if you buy a Ranger in the 97 to 2000 model years you will get the 4.0 OHV engine which has no timing chain tensioner issues. The nice thing about that 4.0 engine over the 3.0 is it has much better torque if you plan to do any towing. The 3.0 is capable of getting a little better gas mileage if you take it very easy with the go-pedal. I do know of some 3.0 Rangers that get worse mileage than a some 4.0 Rangers because they drive them hard.

whooa i was gonna say.....im 220K on my 4.0 with NO problems and its been hydrolocked. And still runs like new....

shoot for the 97 if possible you still have the ttb axle with more room for cheap upgrades. If you plan on modding go for the 3.0 there is a little more support in the means of things like s/c and other power mods but if you dont i would personally go with the 4.0 because of the extra power.

Just to clarify (And keep from seeming a total a$$), my original post was specifically about the OHC motor "The 4.0 OHC motor is a timebomb-"
The OHV 4.0 is, for all I've seen, a total workhorse.
I'd been led to understand also that the later model Rangers ('97 and up, as in our context here) were equipped with the SOHC motor, which I assume now is not the case.
I've read that FoMoCo upgraded the tensioner system in the SOHC to provide wider oil galleys to the tensioners, but this doesn't change the fact that they're still made of plastic, and the passenger's side tensioner is on the back of the motor... all in all, it's a no-brainer to my mind: If you need more than 100k miles out of your truck, you don't go with an OHC 4.0 motor, end of story.

3.0 or 4.0???

Well all I know is that I bought my Ranger brand new in '98 when the fouth gen. came out and I now have 180,000 on it and it still runs like a charm. The tranny on the other hand is not the most reliable...I started having problems with it at about 50,000 and needed to replace it at 95,000 baby'd miles to the sum of $1800 after core! But it has been fine ever since and have drove across the country twice with it, pulled a 20ft. Bayliner boat that weighs just about as much as the truck does. This is why I still love my ranger. The only other thing that they need to work on is the damn brakes, I have replaced them more times than I care to count!

4.0 all the way bro!!!!!! A total workhorse!!!

2000 was the last year for ohv in rangers. 97 was first year for sohc in explorers. In 01 rangers got the sohc

Valve train on 4.0 ohv sucks. the rockers are not pedestal mount but rather bar mounted so once the lifters expand all the way and the valve stem tips and rocker faces wear past this point their begins to be a valve lash that is unadjustable which means that a space begins to develop between the rocker arm face and the stem head which leads to a clatter that sounds like marbles in the oil pan this in part is caused by a ****ty oiling design the rockers are not vented for oil access which leads to premature wear. partly why they phased out the ohv and went to ohc quick fixes would be to drill the rocker on the push rod side since lateral movement will be to a minimum and tap threads for a small adjustment screw to fit then adjust lash when lifters are hot and full adjust uuntil a couple of thousands are acheived eliminates clatter