1997 Ford Ranger XLT 2.3L I-4 from North America


A very reliable truck I would drive to anywhere in the country at this very moment


At 50,000 miles or so the air conditioner was not cooling properly. I took it in to the dealer, and after diagnosis, the Dryer was leaking. An extended warranty I purchased when I bought the truck used covered all costs ($300).

More recently, the dome light began to stay on after the engine was shut off/door closed, and when the engine was first started when I go somewhere. The light will usually go off after 15 minutes or so when the engine is off due to the built-in safety. When the engine is running, the light will go off after a few minutes. Some research on my part revealed a stuck switch in the door jam. My 1988 Lincoln Town Car did this also, but the switch was actually a button on that car.

I pulled the fuse controlling the dome/map/glove box lights. It also controls the 4x4 system, but my truck is a 2wd.

General Comments:

Overall, it has been a great truck. I am fairly disappointed in the gas mileage. It very well should get better than it does. My truck gets on average 21MPG, no matter what I do or where I drive. Its about twice the mileage my Lincoln got though. It got an average of 12MPG.

The truck is seriously underpowered. I would recommend to others to opt for the V-6 engines.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th April, 2003

1st May 2003, 21:58

The reason everyone's door ajar light is staying on, or dome light is staying on... is due to door sensors being dirty. A simple cleaning solution will take care of this problem, but finding the sensor is the task. I was using some WD 40 which worked well for a while, but later learned it actually made it worse.. so find a good cleansing solution out there, and the problem will be fixed. Hope this is helpful.

5th Jul 2004, 22:11

I have owned my '97 Ranger XLT standard cab truck since new (2/97). It has a 3.0 L V6 motor with manual transmission and 41.000 miles on the odometer.

Other than the standard Ranger problem regarding the wiper control (they have a tendency to come on unexpectedly or won't shut off immediately after taking control to "OFF"; it must be first taken to "HIGH" then to "OFF") and a unusual in-leakage of fuel in the gas tank fuel float (it's brass - go figure! Float appears replaceable alone - don't spend $180.00 for new float/pump assembly if you don't have to!) it's been a good little work truck.

Now to find out how to retrofit an A/C system into it (didn't need it in Seattle, now I'm in the desert.).

14th Apr 2011, 02:42

Try brake pad cleaner. The reason the WD40 made it worse is WD 40 has oil residue in it and that's not good for electronic parts. You need something that is oil free and a good cleaner that will dissipate right away. Brake cleaner will do that.

Good Luck.

1997 Ford Ranger XLT, 2WD 3.0L V6 from North America


A great work truck


Horn needed replacing early in 2001.

Starter grinding, mid 2002. Will need to replace soon.

Third brake light stopped working, late 2002.

Vents only blow hot air. Dealer quoted over 400 Canadian to fix.

General Comments:

If you are looking for a good daily city commuter, with need for utility, these Rangers can't be beat. The rear suspension has the leaf springs installed over the axle, which is great for hauling heavy loads, which is not found on any other truck in this class. The trade-off is that the ride height is quite high, and there is a lot of body roll. Make sure you look for anti-sway bars if purchasing this truck.

If you are looking for performance out of this vehicle, the 3.0L V6 is not the way to go. The 3.0L is a common run of the mill midsize V6 with a pushrod valve train. It is a good work engine with lots of low end torque, but there is no aftermarket to improve this engine. The 4.0L is a much better choice for performance, or if even more power is needed, the 2.3L turbo engines, and 5.0L Ford V8s drop in quite easily. The transmission has lots of spacing between gears, which is good for towing, but bad for performance. 3.73 or 4.10 rear end gears improve off-the-line acceleration greatly. In terms of street handling performance, this truck is terrible. The front I-beam suspension is ancient, conveys little road feel to the driver, and does not respond well with the road. The 98+ rangers have a revised front suspension which make them handle much better on the street. The rear leaf springs are not very stiff, and there is lots of axle sway. Anti-sway bars help quite a bit. The shocks all around are very soft, not good at all for street performance. The open differential also hinders grip and thus performance. I believe all trucks after 95 came standard with anti lock brakes. Make sure you get anti lock brakes, as when stopping, weight transfers to the front of the vehicle and the rear wheels lock, anti lock brakes solve this problem. The stopping distance of my truck is acceptable.

Reliability is a rather strong suit of this vehicle. I had some freak electrical problems, including a heating problem that was incredibly expensive to fix, but these are just freak incidents. It is unlikely many other vehicles will have these problems. The starter is on its way out, but that is quite common in any vehicle getting to be 6 or 7 years old. One thing I noticed is that the accessory belts need to be replaced quite often. I'm not sure if that is common with all Rangers. Mechanically, this truck has held up very well. I learned to drive standard on it, and I drive it quite hard, but the engine and drivetrain of these little trucks are rock solid.

The interior is very nice, and more attractive in my opinion then any other compact pickup except for the new Nissan Frontiers. The regular cab may be a bit cramped for anyone over 6 feet. I have taken 15 hour drives in this vehicle and have been fine.

This is not a good vehicle for winter driving. Because the drive wheels are in the rear, and the vast majority of the weight is in the front, traction in adverse conditions is horrible. Without a limited slip differential, you must drift into other lanes when passing, for accelerating over a snow drift causes the vehicle to spin out very easily. Winter tires and over 100 lbs of weight in the box are an absolute must. 4X4 models with larger tires and limited slip would be competent winter trucks.

Safety is a concern with this truck. Without anti lock brakes, a limited slip differential and good tires, the truck does very poorly in adverse conditions. The poor setup of the suspension, and large amount of body roll mean this truck rolls easier than most in its class, and accident avoidance is worse. On the other hand, the Ranger has always come out on top in crash tests, including a recent offset crash test. Drivers side airbag came standard in 97, while passenger side was optional.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th February, 2003

23rd Apr 2003, 08:57

I have the same problem with my heating. The fresh air, and normal air settings both blow only heat, max air still works though. I also have a multitude of other small electrical problems, other than that the truck runs great and just has common fixes that come with age.

18th Jan 2009, 22:38

I have the exact same problems with the heating system. It blows hot air except for AC/max, not even sure how to fix this problem.

29th Apr 2010, 12:34

Well, what can I say, I have had one of these trucks since 4 years ago, and I only change tyres and do maintenance to the brakes. It's amazing, every 10,000 miles I give it a general service, and I just get worry about gas and not for the other parts. I strongly recommend this truck; if I buy another, it will be a Ford Ranger no doubt.

11th May 2010, 14:14

I had a similar problem with my pickup's AC only blowing hot air. I found the problem myself and fixed it. On the supply line that took coolant water from the engine to the heater core there is a valve that stops this water flow. On my truck this valve was stuck, so on the AC the heated water from the engine was still heating the air and making it impossible for the AC to cool the air. This valve on my truck the linkage was stuck. I just cleaned it and moved it a few times and lubricated it. This could be your problem too.