Which Ford Ranger Years To Avoid Why? (Explained)

Ford introduced the very first Ranger car model in 1983, and since then, they have successfully launched four-generation Ranger cars.

Although Ford’s Ranger lineup is considered and known as midsize pickup cars, they still have the capability, durability, reliability, and comfort similar to any full-size pickup model.

However, just like any top auto brand or manufacturer, Ford could not keep the same quality assurance in every Ranger year model.

Therefore, some Ranger years cars came up with significant flaws, and in today’s article, I will address those Ranger years and discuss the most common problems that occurred with them.

Ford Ranger Years to Avoid (List of Years)

Although Ford’s Ranger line is considered one of the most reliable midsize pickup cars because of their uncompromisingly solid constructional structure, Ranger still has years considered worst due to those models’ major problematic natures.

Therefore, if you are out in the market and looking for a new Ranger car to make a purchase, wait a moment and first glance at the below worst years list to eliminate them from your consideration.

Remember to avoid the following years of Ford Ranger Pickup cars-

  • 1998 Ford Ranger: Transmission failure, broken rare frame, AC or heater problems, hard shifting with O/D light flashing issue.
  • 1999 Ford Ranger: Cracked cylinder heads causing erratic temp gauge, Wipers tend to go in self-activation mode, hard shifting, suspension, and brake problems.
  • 2000 Ford Ranger: Transmission failure, doom light keeps illuminating, brakes problem, seat belts or airbags issues, the frame tends to rot and crack.
  • 2001 Ford Ranger: O/D lights flashing, transmission failure, rough shifting, body or paint problems, and fuel system error.
  • 2002 Ford Ranger: Broken frame, transmission failure, rough shifting, and O/D lights randomly go On or Off.
  • 2003 Ford Ranger: Loose wheel bearings, loss of acceleration, shifting, brake, and fuel system problems.
  • 2004 Ford Ranger: Engine misfires, abruptly dies or fails to restart again, complete engine failure, fuel system, and steering issues.
  • 2007 Ford Ranger: Erratic shifting, steering tends to clunk and transmission slams in gear.
  • 2008 Ford Ranger: AC won’t shut off, windows shudder, no heat, brake, and electrical errors.

What Makes These Ford Ranger Years Worth Avoiding? 

As you can see, those earlier mentioned Ranger years came up with several errors and flaws, which made them not worth enough to consider.

However, among those, some are the major troublemakers, and surprisingly, these troublemakers are available in almost most of those Ranger years models.

So, let’s learn more about those most common Ranger issues here-

1. Transmission Failure:

One of the most common problems that the majority of the Ranger model users have encountered is a transmission system failure.

Problem with the vehicle’s transmission system, completely blown out or transmission failure is especially significant in Ranger years models of 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

Most consumers or users have noticed or encountered symptoms, such as a delay in shifting or erratic shifting, transmission fluid leaking, O/D light randomly flashing, surging or rattling noise coming from the transmission, drive slips, gears issue, transmission cover breaking, broken or faulty clutch drum, shift flares, and transmission lines rusting.

The major transmission problems arise after reaching or operating the vehicle 200,000 and some more miles.

Reportedly, consumers had to deal with expensive servicing where they needed to replace or repair several internal components due to transmission system failure.

But in the worst scenario, they had to replace the entire transmission system, which is undoubtedly a costly fix.

2. Troubles With Engine:

Another mostly complained or reportedly issue of Ranger pickup cars is the several engine troubleshooting issues or complete engine failure.

Reportedly, 1999, 2002, 2003, and 2004 are the most problematic Ranger years of encountering several engine troubles or complete failure.

According to most consumers’ reports, they have noticed symptoms where the engine misfires or backfires, difficulty starting, stalls, erratic temperature gauge, loos of acceleration, rough or hard idling, excess fuel consumption, cold starting difficulty, mass airflow sensor failure, ignition coil, and oil pan gasket failure.

2002 Ranger users even reported encountering unusual clanking noise coming from the engine, brakes not working properly, check engine warning light randomly flashing, blown out spark plugs, and oil pressure gauge failure.

Many consumers have claimed to deal with expensive servicing due to major engine failure, and in worst cases, they had to replace the entire engine.

3. Steering Problem:

Another common complaint that came from several 2004 and 2007 Ford Rangers owners or users is the steering problem where they encountered clunking or clicking sounds in the vehicle’s steering assembly.

Those problematic Ranger model users have also mentioned that they started experiencing the steering issue just after operating their cars only for a few days or months.

Soon after many complaints or reports were published mentioning the issue, Ford released an official Technical Service Bulletin or TSB addressing the manufacturing error, and to fix the problem, the company announced including a new version of the tie rod assembly in place of the previous faulty parts.

Unfortunately, the new assembly parts were not good enough to fix the steering error since many people claim that it did not completely fix the problem.

Many even claimed that they had to replace other steering components, like the steering rack or intermediate shaft for fixing the clunking issue.

4. Electrical System Error:

Some of the Ranger model years are infamous for having several errors in electrical components or complete system failure.

Especially Ranger models of 1999, 2000, and 2008 Ford Ranger cars, the electrical issues are more visibly noticeable.

Reportedly, users have experienced symptoms, such as dome lights continuously illuminating while driving, windshield wipers going into the self-activation mode, instrument cluster lights randomly going Off, and the check engine warning light randomly flashing on the dashboard.

Even in some cases, the auto theft system prevents the engine from starting. Electrical errors also involve issues, like alternation draining vehicle battery life or radio battery falling apart.

Some users even noticed door ajar lights turning on and off automatically, the interior lights staying on, and smoke ejecting from their vehicle dashboard underneath.

Besides those discussed common issues, Consumers also reported other typical problems, such as noise, seat belts or airbag issues, rust, issues with windows, brake, Suspension, and AC failure.

Which Ford Ranger Years are Safe to Buy Used? 

According to the posted FORD RANGER MODEL YEAR COMPARISON report available on the CarComplaints.com, these are the years of Ranger that you can blindly consider safe to make the purchase decision-

  • 1986 Ford Ranger
  • 1989 Ford Ranger
  • 1990 Ford Ranger
  • 1991 Ford Ranger  
  • 2012 Ford Ranger
  • 2014 Ford Ranger
  • 2015 Ford Ranger
  • 2016 Ford Ranger
  • 2020 Ford Ranger
  • 2021 Ford Ranger 

Based on this CarComplaints.com detailed graphical presentation, 1989, 2014, 2015, 2020, and 2021 are the most preferred Ford Ranger model years. 


Are you out there in the market looking for a decent and reliable midsize pickup car? Then Ford’s Ranger line of pickup cars can be an impressive choice you can count on.

However, some Ranger model years are infamous for being unsuitable models, which I have already mentioned in today’s article. So, make sure to avoid those problematic years while considering your options.

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