Engine 'skipping/slipping'

i have a 2005 ford ranger and it recently just started to idle rough and sometimes when accelerating or climbing even a small hill, the engine seems to ‘slip’ or ‘skip’. I thought at first it might be a transmission problem, but then with the rough idle I thought it might be a head/gasket problem. A ‘surprise cold front’ caught me before I had a chance to flush and refill the coolant, so this is another reason I thought the head might be damaged. Any suggestions?

I haven’t seen in your post any symptoms specific to a bad headgasket. I’d expect to see overheating, coolant loss, perhaps even a clowd of white smoke in the rear view mirror.

You may just be in need of a good tuneup. But, if you’re taking it to a shop don’t just tell them to tune it up, tell them your symptoms and let them diagnose it. You can also say “and I’d like a complete tuneup too”, but don’t tie it in with the symptoms…let the tech do that.

How old are your spark plugs & wires? Air filter? Fuel filter? Is the check engine light on?

As with mtnbike I have no idea why this would lead you to suspect a head gasket. Unless there is a part that you don’t mention - did it overheat recently? Failure to maintain the cooling system will cause problems, but you’re likely to have many other kinds of issues from that before a head gasket problem.

thanks so much for your input guys!! I bought the truck about 6 mths ago, so not sure about the history of it. Its not over heating, and there is no white smoke coming out the exhaust. I am going to try a ‘full tune up’ tomorrow. It has been my experience with many ‘national chains’ like precision tune, etc… that they will give me a whole list of things that the car/truck needs, often totaling 1000.00 or more, above and beyond what I ask them to do, and I just dont trust them. From the info you guys have given as well as others, I think I need to start with a full tune up and go from there. I also have a 98 honda accord that had pretty much the same problems, gave it a tune up, (although it was with precision tune, and they had a laundry list of other things it needed, and I caught the manager telling a trainee something about how to ‘nab the customer’ so I am really not sure they even did the work I asked for and just charged me for it, hoping I would come back for the laundry list to be done) and the honda has been sitting in my yard since, because I have been scared of mechanics since. Is there a website that recommends good honest mechanics? I had one years ago but moved out of that area…my brother inlaw is a mechanic, but I dont even trust him LOL, he has screwed other family members over and laughed about it…

Yes, you should begin with basic maintenance, especially since it is a used vehicle with no maintenance history. With any luck, doing maintenance that may have been skipped by the prior owner(s) will do the trick to eliminate the symptoms. If not, at least diagnosis will be easier at that point.

Right now, assuming that you have a breached head gasket or a bad transmission because of a “miss” in the engine is the automotive equivalent of assuming that you have a brain tumor whenever you feel a headache. First try the simple, more likely things before you start hanging crepe.