94 Ranger emergency brake & 4WD question

1994 Ranger XLT 4.0 5spd 4WD 168,000 miles

the emergency brake will hold vehicle but pedal won’t stay down. figured it would do the normal “ratchet” feel and sound.

also, i did a really dumb thing with 4wd. i will try to make a long story short. a few months ago when we had that snow storm and then another shortly after, i decided to lock my hubs but DID NOT engage the 4wd. my top speed was 55 in the weather going to work. i came home one night for a brief moment, shut truck off and went inside. i came right back out to go to my mom’s house (not a focal point in story but she lives only three blocks away)

when i started my truck i noticed the 4wd light was on (4H, not “low range”) could NOT get light to go out and 4wd does not work, engage or “disengage”. (i know it’s not engaged by the little bit of a test wheel slip on snow packed street)

not sure what to do. was told to check vacuum hoses but it’s an electronic shift. what should my next plan of action be?

thanks in advance for your time and expertise!


btw, i know now to never lock hubs for highways or extended periods of time. my fear was sliding off into a snowbank and not being able to reach wheel to lock hub to get out. but hindsight is, if i’m in a snowbank, a 3,000 truck with 50% tread ain’t gonna do SQUAT. :confused:

Your parking brake problem is likely caused by the pedal mechanism under the dash. I suspect things have been gummed up a little or the release lever is stuck. If you’re at all mechanically inclined crawl under the dash, pull off the left kick panel trim and have a look. You should be able to figure out how it works and what’s gone wrong.

Your 4WD problem is likely the transfer case motor. This is an electric motor that looks kind of like a wiper motor, located on the rear of the transfer case. AFTER you fix the parking brake, engage it, block the wheels, start the car, select 4WD and carefully give it a few taps with a hammer. If it now engages you’ve found your problem.

The parking brake mechanism can be replaced with a used or new part.

Locking the hubs will not turn on the 4WD light, the 4WD will need a hands-on diagnosis.

Locking the hubs doesn’t harm anything. In fact, it rotates the parts and keeps them from freezing. I lock my hubs in several times a year for a day. The hubs have nothing to do with the 4x4 H light. It was a coincidence. Did you turn the 4x4 knob at any point in your travel? It not likely to have lit up without your assistance.

There is an indicator switch in the transfer case that turns the light on and off on the dash board depending on whether the 4wd is engaged. If you can drive it ok, I would take it to a service station and have it put on a lift to check the operation of the system. If it’s just the position switch or actuator on some makes they are relatively simple fixes or replacements. (that does not mean cheap) These switch and actuator malfunctions are common on older vertices. I would not say yours does not have a switch in the front differential for sure as it’s a manual.

As far as using your manual hubs, check to make sure they are both, completely engaged or completely turned off. Generally, you engage them when you anticipate you might use them. So driving them occasionally with the hubs engaged without being in 4wd is acceptable and a good way to lube the front diff once a month regardless. On old trucks, it is a good idea to have hubs removed and serviced the instant they seem the least bit resistant to turning. Your truck is twenty years old. Even if never used, and especially so, expect these problems and make thier lubrication and use part of your regular service if you depend on 4wd.

thanks! these are great posts/replies.
EK Hammer, this truck has push button selector for 4WD. I didn’t push it as i didn’t need it. light did come on by itself.

I would then lean towards a position switch failure…needs to be put on a lift and examined by some one familiar with older Fords !

E-brake: Most likely it is just the ratchet mechanism needs a lube.

Locking hubs: I try to schedule a disassemble, clean, and lube of the hub mechanisms on my truck at least once a year. It has the old style removable bearings so I repack those at the same time. Maybe that kind of routine maintenance would help prevent the problem you experienced.