Help me revive my first truck I shouldn’t of bought

Got talked up by some dude who went out of business with his landscaping company and got sold a complete piece of work. It’s spent 4 months In the shop and still has a list of issues. it’s tranny is almost blown but I got one at the shop waiting for me so tell me If these are all just transmission issues. Its a 1994 Ford Ranger, 330k km, 5 speed automatic and the engine is a 4.0 v6 by the way.

Weak idle when in drive and sometimes when cold

Horrible acceleration

Bad smell after going up a hill

Dies at red lights sometimes but starts back up no problem

Idle just barely holding on for dear life when in reverse unless gas is pressed

Burns like $30 worth of gas hitting the highway for 10 min (first truck so tell me if that’s normal lol)

I smell a little gas when I’m standing beside it sometimes after a long drive

Let me know what you think and thanks

If it is an actual vehicle repair shop just pay them the diagnostic fee so they can give you a list of what it needs . I hope you got it cheap because this could be very expensive if it does not catch on fire first.


Everything you described is a sign of engine trouble, anything from a tune-up to worn out, used up, needs complete overhaul or entire replacement.


Diesel engine? Oops don’t think ranger had that option.

I don’t think this is a transmission problem. I think your engine is worn out.

But you told us nothing about this Ranger. Not the mileage, engine type or even transmission type…


Leaking fuel pressure regulator perhaps? Is there a mixture too rich code? Are the oxygen sensors any good?

I would fix the engine before moving to the transmission.

A used landscaping truck is like a used taxi cab, it will take time and money to bring this up to new standards.

8 gallons of fuel in ten minutes? How big is the fuel tank? I hope there is a gas station every 20 miles.

In 1966 I drove my Morris to the next town 12 miles away and had to fill the ten gallon tank again to get back. That’s why I carried a can of gas in the trunk. :grin: no need to calculate the mpg.

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That was a total screw up, I put my make and model on my account and thought it would say that next to my name lol. Its a 1994 Ford Ranger with 330k km. it’s a 5 speed Automatic Transmission. The engine is the original 4.0 v6 but its had all sorts of stuff done to it by the looks of it. I got it for pretty cheap so I don’t need it to be perfect. I just started my own renovation company and wanted to know how to keep a piece of crap moving till I can squeeze some jobs out of it because it has the end cut off with a flatbed plate on it so I love how the thing looks. Sounds and looks like a little tank but cant accelerate for the life of her.

I live along the border of canada so there really is a gas station every 20 miles lol. I’m just wondering if i should be worried about something within my fuel system or if that could be related to everything else I already know is wrong.

I bought it for dirt cheap and got a cool mechanic helping me keep it alive long enough to make more than I spent on it. He said that its not worth trying to put any crazy work into it because the engine has a knock but he also said right after that, that the knock disappears as soon as the engine heats up a little bit and sounds beautiful. It doesn’t go much over 120 at all without reving insanely but when the tranny isn’t contemplating death it actually seems like a sporty little truck sometimes. My mechanic said something about it being a 94 and not having a computer to check for codes? Am i misunderstanding him? Ill buy whatever I need to see the codes, let me know what else you have in mind. Thanks again.

A 94 should have OBD, but the old system, reader will give you a series of flashing lights that you then look up in a code book.

It should have a check engine light, does that work? It should light up with key on, engine off.

Beyond that, as a 94, I would not be surprised if the catalytic converter is shot, along with a worn out engine. Has your mechanic done a compression check?

Transmission, fluid and filter change and cross your fingers.

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From afar, my best guess is that excessive engine wear–including low compression and bad connecting rod bearings–is the major culprit. Has the OP’s mechanic told him what the compression numbers actually are?

At the very least, a complete engine overhaul/replacement will probably be needed. If it also needs a trans overhaul, I question whether it would be cost-effective to sink all of that money into a vehicle that is close to 30 years old.

my mechanic got me a used transmission for 300 and he said he can throw it in for me just for labour after that. They never do me wrong with labour costs but do you think thats worth it? The trucks going back in tomorrow morning and i’ll ask for a compression test.

I would just quit this thing but the cost is something only you can decide after talking to the mechanic . That used transmission might last a while or fail on the way home.

You are starting a business so you need reliable transportation.

I’ve done a fluid change on the transmission and have felt a lot of difference. I’m going to ask for the compression numbers then get back on here tomorrow. I’ve replaced the air filter and that was the biggest change I have seen so far. It went from the entire engine jumping out of the hood and stalling all the time to now just running with a weaker idle. Are there any more filters you were referring to?

That used transmission might be good for many more miles, or it might stop shifting w/in a week. It’s a toss of the dice, unfortunately. But, at this point I think that the most pressing problem with your truck is its engine. My advice is to try to have that resolved before you start thinking about the transmission.

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Then it uses flash codes to tell you what the fault is, or an OBD 1 scanner which most people don’t have. When the MIL comes on you have to short something in a wiring connector which makes the MIL flash the fault codes. Here is a link with some directions: Ford OBD/OBD2 Codes –

An actual OBD 1 scan tool let you see information while the engine is running. Those are rare though since they are manufacturer specific.

If you have a repair manual I would follow the directions in there.

A leaking fuel pressure regulator is a common cause of rough running at idle and excessive fuel consumption. Pull the vacuum line off of it to make sure fuel isn’t coming out. 1994 is about the right age for this to fail. It’s a round thing with a small vacuum tube coming out of it. It’s mounted to the fuel injector rail or close.

If the engine is so worn out you should be using 20W50 oil or SAE 50 in the summer.

I was referring to the transmission filter. If there is an in-line fuel filter, it likely needs changed
Of course the oil filter, you have changed the oil, right?
Since you saw an improvement with the transmission fluid change, do another, this time change the filter.

Aren’t transmission “filters” just fine screens that can be cleaned out with brake parts cleaner?