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Is it worth it?

I have a 1994 Ford Ranger with 75,000 miles. I inherited the truck from my father who liked to drive it on the beach. The truck has 2 problems. First, when I try to use the 4 wheel drive, it makes a grinding sound and sometimes goes into 4 wheel and sometimes it doesn’t. My local mechanic said due to rust, the front axles and other front end parts need to be replaced. The second problem is the I recently lost the overdrive in the transmission. My mechanic said I can still use the truck but will get poor highway gas mileage. The estimate for repairing the front end is $2000-$2500. The estimate for repairing the transmission is $2000. Is it worth it? Or should I like for a different truck? I need 4 wheel drive, but can’t afford a new truck.

I checked the Kelley Blue Book to find your Ranger’s trade-in value. Assuming fair condition (yours is probably poor) your truck is worth $1225.

You ask about spending $4000-$4500 in repairs?! It still would not have a market value much above $2000.

Continue to use this vehicle as long as it still runs, but keep an eye out for a cheap replacement.

Are those prices for new or used parts? If new, You might find used parts for the forward drive train. If you can drop the price a lot, you might consider those repairs.

It is not worth it

Well, how much would you have to spend to get a newer truck? Do you also only drive this on the beach? Is there a lot of rust on the body or things that make the truck unsafe even if you spent the $$ for these repairs? These are the questions I would ask myself and the answers might help you to decide what you should do.

Take the transmission issue to a local shop that actually specializes in transmissions. As far as I’m concerned that’s the largest issue & you want a transmission specialist to provide a diagnosis.

I’m not sure what you mean by “overdrive” either. Third gear is probably “drive” (1:1 ratio) while 4th is probably “over” drive (maybe .75:1) or so.

Or are you talking about the torque converter clutch which some people refer to as overdrive? Describe what the transmission actually does in terms of shifting.

Just to clarify. The truck has no rust in the body at all. The engine runs like new. I do not drive on the beach, but I do need 4 wheel drive to get around in the winter. If I try to buy a replacement for the truck with the $4000-$5000 I would spend on repairs, I will likely get a truck with 150,000 miles or so and who knows what other problems. If I spend the $ on the repairs, I have a truck that is in very good working order, with 75000 miles but is 17 years old.

As far as the overdrive question is concerned, the way I understand it, the transmissions were 3 speed with a 4th added to them. What happens is when the truck gets up to highway speed, the engine is running at 2000-2500 rpms and would shift into “overdrive” dropping the rpms to 1500 or so. Now, when I get to that speed, there is no shifting to the higher gear.

“If I try to buy a replacement for the truck with the $4000-$5000 I would spend on repairs, I will likely get a truck with 150,000 miles or so and who knows what other problems.”

Doesn’t this answer your question?

the only way this is worth fixing is if you can find a source of cheap used parts from a salvage yard and do all the work yourself. As soon as you start paying for a mechanic to do the work you are losing money.

Since the truck runs, use it as is and sell it to some kid or mechanic as a fixer upper, or a beater work truck. Then find yourself another truck.

I personally wouldn’t $4-4.5K dollars on a '94 model. If you’re only using the truck for city driving not having overdrive won’t hurt you. If this is the case and the truck is safe to use as is, I’d drive it just like it is and watch for something better to put my money into.

It’s near impossible to tell you what to do here but one thing I would not do is spend 5 grand on a '94 model Ranger.

A measly 75k miles and it already has axle, suspension, and transmission problem along with rust and a like to drive on the beach comment points to a truck that has seen a rough 75k miles.

You would be better of spending that 5 grand, or less, on another similar Ranger and keep the current one around as a parts donor.

I had a 1994 Ranger like yours put over 225,000 on it. The front axel is simple to work on. Your u-joints could be bad. There are 2 one on each side. The transfer case is were the grinding is most likely coming from. You can find those in junk yard cheap. I paid $150. for the one I put in mine. What I would do to the trans is, I would change the oil and filter. I would also put in a Product made by Lucas. I have use this many times to try and save a trans. It works. I did this to a Dodge I had that was not shifting into overdrive. It lasted 112,000 miles more. Does it have locking hubs? The manual locking hubs were known to go bad and grind.

Even theautomatic hubs will grind when they’re bad. I had a '91 Exploder, er, Explorer that had that problem. Put in a good hub, & no more grinding.