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Ford Ranger potential blown engine. PLEASE HELP!

My 2000 Ford Ranger XLT 4x4 (139,XXX miles) V6 3.0, recently quit on me while driving on the highway. It will no longer start. I spoke to a mechanic and he informed me to fill the radiator (which was empty) and attempt to start the truck with the radiator cap off. He said that if radiator fluid gushed out then the engine is blown. Is this necessarily the only cause, that my engine is in fact blown. I am taking it to a mechanic tomorrow but hoping for some answers as to what the other problems could be. Thank you all for your help.

If the engine quits on you and the rad is empty, the engine is likely “blown”. If you are really lucky, and the engine quit because of an electrical failure caused by a ruptured rad hose, killing the ignition, it might be salvageable.

Good luck!

The possibilities are quite a number of possibilities. Did it crank the engine when you tried to start it?

No it hasn’t cranked since it died out on me originally. Basically I want to know if the test above, (attempting to crank with radiator cap off) that the mechanic on the phone had me try, is a sure fire way to tell if the engine is indeed blown.

@Docnick, the engine did die, the radiator was empty. Even though my temp gauge was was showing normal levels I could tell that once stopped that the engine was overheated. The rusty colored radiator fluid residue was all over around where the radiator cap was and I don’t see any indication of a ruptured hose. So in your opinion it’s fairly easy to determine then, that my engine is blown. Thanks for all commenters.

It’s also a possibility that one or both of your HEAD GASKETS are blown. It’s not the same as a blown engine. IF it cranks, you can try the test the mechanic suggested over the phone, but I think I’d try cranking it, with a jump if needed, to see if it’s seized (won’t turn). You don’t need to add water to see if it will crank, or even start briefly. When you do add water, there will be bubbles in the radiator filler if just the head gaskets are blown. If it’s siezed, you got it too hot to live through the experience, regardless of what the gage said. You may have been looking elsewhere when it pegged out. In either case, blown or siezed, you’re looking for another engine to go on down the road. If it’s head gaskets, it’s a toss up, but I’d probaby opt for a low mile used engine if you can find one. Check out for one near you.

Thanks MG, I am leaning more and more to the fact that I might be looking at a new engine, I am finding prices at or around $900 on the site you posted, I also have a mechanic looking around for pricing as well. Thanks everyone for all your help, I’ll update sometime tomorrow after I have a mechanic look at it. In the mean time if anyone has any other considerations or help to offer I will be checking all evening.

That test the mechanic is not definitive by any stretch of the imagination. It might reveal a combustion chamber/head gasket breach into the cooling system but that’s all it will do. It will tell anyone anything about piston rings or oil pressure.

I’d run a compression test and check the engine oil for coolant dilution as first steps. Compression should be up in the 180 or better range on a good engine.

If overheating was involved this can often damage piston rings and cause the engine to become an oil burner.

I think he said it was not cranking since it shut down. So if it is not cranking for anything other than a dead battery, seem like it would be pretty hard to do the head gasket test or the compression test. If it is siezed and that’s why its not cranking, seems pretty fatal to me but then what do I know? You can put a socket wrench on the crank bolt and try to turn the engine to see if its siezed or not.

The first thing a mechanic might do is to see if timing belt or chain problems are happening. A compression check would help. If the belt or chain slipped there may be damage but it’s possible to install a rebuilt head or two for the V-6; maybe for less that $3,000. I wouldn’t spend that much on an 02 Ranger.

Oh sure, if water gushes out of the radiator when cranking the engine, you can be sure that a major disaster has happened but such gushing is rare if not some sort of miracle. Usually the overheat happens after the engine warms up.

I’d check to see if the thing want to turn of you put a wrench on the main pulley. You should be able to turn it, albeit with some resistance.
If it doesn’t, the thing is likely totally seized up. No amount of head gasket repair will bring that back to life. Hate to say it but in that case it will likely need a new engine.

When it comes to used engines, if you need one, you should have no problems finding one. They were common on the Ranger (89% of them had the 3.0L, according to autozone) and worst case you can take one from a Taurus, Sable, or Windstar and by swapping manifolds and a few accessories/components and headgaskets. Definitely more work, but the base engines are out there by the millions.

If you do go the used route, though, I’d replace the timing chain cover gasket while the engine was out - that’s VERY easy to do then, and considerably more difficult later, and these engines did tend to leak coolant a bit at that gasket. That was actually one of their biggest reliability faults, and it wasn’t even that big of a problem if you watched your coolant level (rates of loss were generally very very low). Unfortunately, the weak spot on the gasket was on the upper coolant passageway, and when it leaked, it leaked at a point right next to the headgasket. I know some people who were told their engines needed a new headgasket by an unscrupulous mechanic who pointed out that bit of coolant puddled in a depression by the headgasket… when they looked up headgasket and taurus/windstar online, they saw tons of hits and bought the mechanic’s line, without realizing it was the 3.8L, not the 3.0L that had the big headgasket issues… but when I told them to get a compression test done, what do you know - the engine passed with flying colors. That $1600 headgasket bill suddenly dropped to a $450 timing cover gasket replacement.

Agree with eraser on the V6 timing cover gasket. I went through this on the 2003 Taurus, and a perusal of the Taurus discussion group reveals it to be a very frequent failure for that engine.

I took it to a mechanic and he confirmed that the engine is blown. I got some price quotes on a new engine and used. New will run $4175 plus tax (ouch) that does include a complete engine kit, hoses, belts, water pump, and labor included also a 100,000 mile nationwide warranty with parts and labor included if it fails again. For a used engine with around 70,000 miles $2790 plus tax, labor included, and a 6,000, 6 month warranty. I also got quotes from another mechanic for around 2200.00 for a used engine or 3800 for a “jeg motor” (not sure if I got that right). I am still getting quotes from others including a “shade tree” mechanic that friends of mine have used and they regard him highly. I love the truck and paid 5500 originally so I would like to keep it but I would like the community’s opinion. I don’t have a lot of money but I do want to keep the truck. Any and all further help is appreciated and thank you all for your help thus far. Eraser1998, the mechanic did the test tube test on the radiator with the dye to determine it was blown, but it won’t crank so not sure if I can do a pressure test (or if he did any other tests) or anything like that. Thanks again all, please keep the suggestions going, on what I should do. I’ll keep everyone updated as I find out more, ya’ll are great, thanks.

Have you considered searching for a “donor” vehicle? That’s another vehicle with the same engine (running so you can evaluate it with compression test, combustion gas in coolant, etc). It might cost less to buy that, transplant the engine and any other useful parts, and then sell for scrap. Someone in a previous post mentioned several other vehicles with the same engine, you may find a lot of possibilities. Prime candidates for donor vehicle in your case would be one with a bad automatic transmission (assuming they are compatible). Look for such vehicles on Craigslist. I’d personally consider the “shade tree” guy too as long as he has some genuine credentials. Some guys who work full time at reputable shops also work on the side for extra money, but have less overhead.

While the basic 3.0L block may be the same in Tauri and others, I have always found engine swaps to be MUCH easier if I used the exact same donor engine from the same vehicle. is a pretty good way to see what is a good interchange. If you want to throw enough time and money at almost any project, you can make it work.

In addition to car-part, I have successfully advertised for all sorts of parts I’ve needed on craigslist. Some were pretty obscure, like RED front sheet metal for a '95 Taurus SHO. Put you ad among parts, and head it up with WTB and/or want to buy.

When the " same : block os used in a front drive car and a rear drive truck they will not intervhange.

@oldtimer -

Not true in this case. The 3.0 Vulcan in the Taurus will work fine in the Ranger, with proper modification. You need to swap out manifolds as well as change out headgaskets and other parts. You’re basically buying a long block, and doing a little extra work (ok , a LOT if you’re paying a mechanic to do it, but DIY it is pretty easy with the engine out)…

That said, I agree with MG McAnick - first choice should be one from a Ranger. But if the price for a used Ranger engine is, say $1000 higher than a used Taurus engine, you could probably swap out the Taurus engine for less overall…

Remco took the words irght out of my mouth. That’s where I too would start.

I’d also suggest to Rangerdanger that with his next vehicle he read the owner’s manual. Or perhaps even some basic car books. Unless a massive sudden breech in the system happens (like a blown water pump or a blown hose), a vehicle should never make it to the point where the entire radiator is empty, and if that breech does happen a driver should know how to recognize the signs and what to do. This never should have happened.

Post back when you find out of the crank can be turned. We do care.