1994 Ford Ranger lurches bad!

My 1994 Ford Ranger, V6, 4 L, 4 wheel drive, 161k miles, standard(stick) has been lurching while accelerating, and going up an incline even without load. It seems to lurch more if the RPMs are under 3K. But now, its starting to lurch even at or a little above 3k RPMs I have replaced the fuel filter,cleaned the air filter, used Heat thinking it was water in the tank, changed my plugs and wires and it didn’t fix the problem. Im curious If I cracked a plug while putting it in or that a plug isn’t connected all the way. But if it’s not that, what could be causing this issue. Im nervous that if not fixed, it will break something.

Can you clarify the bits about thinking you may have cracked a plug or don’t have them connected all the way? There isn’t any aspect of installing plugs that should come close to a situation where you’d crack one. But it also sounds like the truck behaved the same way before and after the plugs? Or is this lurching new since you installed the plugs?

Is your check engine light on?

What does the engine do if you just sit at idle? What is it doing when its lurching? Does it sort of rev up high and then seem to “catch” and lurch? Or does it just seem to be losing engine power altogether as if it wants to stall?

You should check the fuel pressure and have it checked for exhaust restrictions. You also could still be looking at spark problems. Does the truck have a coil pack or coil & distributor?

To clarify on the spark plugs. It was lurching before I put the new ones in. But, It seemed to run smoother for about a week or so after the new ones were installed. A friend of mine just mentioned a plug may be cracked. Thats why I mentioned it.

My check engine light is not on.

When idling, the engine seems to run smooth at around 700 RPMs . When it lurches, it seems as if the engine looses power on and off until the RPMs are over 3000. It doesn’t rev up at all. Though, sometimes the speedometer wavers while I’m at a steady speed… not sure if that has anything to do with this issue.

Looking in the owners guide, it said I have a distributor.

Thanks for replying. Ill have the fuel pressure checked.

I have an appointment set on thursday to have the Fuel pressure and exhaust restrictions checked.

Make sure the fuel pressure is checked under load - not just a static pressure checked. You might also be looking at an ignition system problem - coil or distributor related.

But in general, since you’re taking it to someone make sure they just drive it & reproduce the symptoms. I could be off base on my interpretation of what you are describing.

OK thanks so much for the help.

My '98 Ranger has been a solidly reliable car but when the mass airflow sensor went out, it had symptoms very similar to yours. Ours failed all at once (and the check engine light came on), but yours might not. I hear this is a relatively common problem with Rangers.
Ours is a four-cylinder and we replaced the timing belt preventively some time ago. Not sure what the V-6 uses but you might check that too, with your mileage. Might not be a bad idea anyway. Good luck and let us know what it is.

Josh, don’t make the mistake of having the “Fuel pressure and exhaust restrictions checked”. Tell the mechanic what your symptoms are and let him do the diagnosis. As Cig said, fuel pressure might be the problem but it’s one of a myriad of possibilities, most of which fall in the category of
(1) fuel delivery or metering,
(2) ignition, or
(3) a sensor gone bad.

Don’t tell the mechanic what to check. Tell him how the vehicle is misbehaving. You save lot sof money, lots of time, and get to the root of the problem faster.

By the way, your friend was just wildly guessing. The odds of it being a cracked plug are, well, miniscule.