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1983 Ford Ranger: Car care

-First off, let me say I’m not a car guy but I’m trying to learn! (Just ordered a Haynes manual hopefully it’ll help.

I just bought a 1983 Ford Ranger 2.3L stick-shift. All in all seems to be in very good condition for the year and price. No noticeable leaks ect. It seemed like the car was driven lightly and moderately cared for. But nothing has been done in a while (believe it mostly sat around).

I have a list of stuff I want to do and was wondering if anyone had anything to add or advice:

Changing out belts (maybe not timing by myself don’t know if I’m ready for that)

Flush coolant?

Check PCV valve

Lube ball & universal joints

Spark plugs?

Oil: was wondering if it would be better to switch to synthetic/semi-synthetic than regular oil? Would semi cause gunk to undo and float around in engine? Stick with regular mineral oil?

Last item: Not sure what it is- there seems to be a noticeable gas smell. Any ideas/suggestions? New fuel filter?

Sorry for wall of text and questions. I’m just not sure what to do since I have no idea when any maintenance on this truck was done(assuming a while ago) and trying to learn about cars.

Thanks in advance!

I would definitely do everything you listed although it might not be possible to lube the ball joints and U-joints. Many vehicles starting back in this era used components that were not designed to be greased. One simply run them until they failed and the aftermarket replacement parts generally do have grease Zerks to lube them with.

As to motor oil I would just stick with dino oil. No idea on the fuel smell as it’s unclear whether you’re referring to a raw gasoline smell or excessively rich fumes from the tail pipe, etc.

I would do the timing belt also. The 2.3 is a free-wheeler motor (meaning no damage occurs if the belt breaks) and getting stranded is no fun, engine damage or not.
The 2.3 is actually a pretty simple engine to change the belt on.

Yea, I wasn’t sure on the joints but figured I’d put it on my to-do list and see later.

Thanks for the info on the timing belt- maybe I’ll look into it more (read about it earlier and got intimidated lol).

As for the gas smell I’d say its more fume than raw- and seems to be heavier on driver’s side (side that tank is on). Thanks for the input- esp nice to know that 2.3 is a free-wheeler.

That truck is at the top of the list for basic transportation with user friendly maintenance and repairs. For sure, the timing belt is simple (mark the auxiliary shaft before pulling the belt) as has already been mentioned. Enjoy your ride.

While you’re checking the PCV valve I’d just change it . . . cheap and easy. While you’re changing the spark plugs, why not do a cap, rotor and wires? Why not buy a bottle of brake fluid while you’re picking up the other stuff and flush and re-fill your brake fluid? I’d probably clean the battery connections and connection to the starter while I was dirty. I wouldn’t use an engine flush and would simply spend THAT extra cash on an ectra oil change, maybe at 1000 miles or so. Stick with mineral, IMO. Couldn’t hurt to give the carb or throttle linkage with cleaner and then a light oil. Lots of neat stuff you can do for a little money and time. GOod luck and have fun! Rocketman

I too am buying a Ford Ranger 1983 and wondered what I can do to make it a real charm.

IT has new tires, new timing belt, new distributor cap, new coils, and new muffler.

What else can I do to it?

It also only has 71,000 miles on it, which is cool

The PCV is not easy to get at behind/under the distributor. Just replace it. If a lifter gets weak it will toss a rocker/follower and quietly and mysteriously miss. There is no timing mark on the jack shaft pulley but it turns the distributor and must be timed with the rotor. Keep the front end clean and lubricated, the axle drive shafts have several bearings and seals that can fail in an expensive sequence. But, all that said, the 2.3L puts it is near the top of the list of “bullet proof” vehicles in its class.

Also, there may be a plastic cover on the passenger side fender well that is part of the emissions system. The fuel smell could be from that contraption and all the vacuum hose plumbing. Several of the mid 80s Rangers were repaired here after under hood fires due to bad hoses in that system.