2000 Ford Ranger - 4x4 question

Hi Ray, I have a 2000 Ford Ranger pickup with a dashboard switch to change from 2WD to 4x4high to 4x4low. My problem is that it doesn’t engage in 4x4low when I really need it … the wheels just spin, especially in snow (only rear-wheel drive) and I don’t feel the power that I should. I don’t know if I am actually switching it properly or if there is a specific method or routine than I need to follow to get it to engage into the proper range. I tried having it in N (standard transmission) and switching, I tried backing up about 10 feet and switching it, etc. but nothing seems to work. Occasionally it will work but I don’t know what I did to cause it. My mechanic says it is all okay, but I can’t depend on it to work for me. What is the secret? Thanks, Jerry

I don’t know about your Ranger, but on my F150 the drive mode indicator shows up in place of the odometer reading. It will show the transition and display if you need to do anything, such as pull forward. Then you are supposed to wait until the display returns to odometer reading.
Like this:
1234567>shift in progress>4X4 low>123456

Thanks for your reply, but none of that happens on my Ranger. There is just a knob on the dash to turn to select 2wd, 4x4high, or 4x4low and it lights up to indicate that you are actually in that mode, but most of the times you are not, it just says you are. Confusing!

I suspect there is a problem inside the transfer case. Indicators ‘think’ it is in 4 low.

How could I determine what it is?

I am only guessing. There might be an external solenoid that controls the shift. Might be internal problem. I would guess disassembly, well beyond my knowledge or skill level.
Personally, I wish they went back to mechanical floor shift for the transfer case like I had on my CJ5 and IH Scout. Never a problem.

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If the indicator light shows that 4WD has engaged then the transfer case is probably working properly but the front automatic hubs may not be. Examine all of the vacuum lines involved with the front automatic hubs.

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That sounds logical to me … thanks for the good advice. Are the vacuum lines obvious?

How does 4wd actually work? I assume that it is normally in 2wd (rear wheels only) and when you engage 4wd (low or high) does the twofront wheels then engage at that time?

When the transfer case is shifted into 4WD the transfer case engages the front driveshaft. There is a vacuum solenoid that applies vacuum to the front hubs.

If the front hubs work properly in 4High, that should rule out a hub problem.

If I try to engage it in 4 high, I can’t really notice any difference. Is there a way to tell for sure if it engages?

Since the 4 wheel drive is meant for off road type of surface find a dirt or sandy road . Put it in 4WD and see if you can throw dirt with all 4 wheels.

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Thanks for the tip … I will try that. Now to my original question, is there any routine or sequence I must go through when putting it in 4wd, i.e., do I have to be out of gear, do I need to back up 10 feet or anything like that?

You can, most likely, download a copy of the owners manual, it will tell you the procedure. Might be a separate manual dedicated to 4 wheel drive operation.
As I read your original post was the only problem was 4 Low, not 4Hi. BTW, 4 Low is not appropriate for snow or ice, you are more likely to spin the driving wheels.

I willsee if I can download a copy. My problem is with both 4high and 4low … it just never seemed to workright, but what you say about the wheels spinning is just what was happening on snowy, icey conditions. Maybe it was engaged and I didn’t realize it because it shouldn’thave been in 4low anyway. Thanks for all your help … I’ll see if I can find an owner’s manual. Thanks again.

but even on dry ground, it didn’t seem to have the power to pull me out of a problem area when regular 2wd failed me.

On mud or wet dirt it is very easy to see if engaged, you will see the front tires flinging the stuff when you hit the throttle. You will see it in snow too, if the conditions are right.

I once you locate a manual and you still can not seem to get it to work, my only other suggestion is to find a different mechanic.
When in 4Low the gear ratio difference is very obvious, but the only time I ever used it was off road on steep inclines in the mountains and when pulling a boat up a ramp, the boat was near the max weight capacity for the truck.

4X4 operation starts on page 119

Here’s a downloadable copy of your owners manual from Ford

If the dash lights are working and correctly stating what the dial says, the shift motor is working,
chances are the transfer case is also working.

My money is on the vacuum hubs being your problem, ford only used them for a couple years.
I think WARN or MILEMARKER still make manual hubs for your truck