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2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions #4570780
11/11/17 11:14 AM
11/11/17 11:14 AM
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
TinyVoices Offline OP
TinyVoices  Offline OP
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
I have the ability to pick up a very cheap 2003 ranger edge short bed single cab 5 speed 3.0 Vulcan. 2wd.

This would be a drift car. I didn't plan on driving this season but this truck fell in my lap.

I previously have owned pro-am level drift cars and have driven on several large event stages. Not new to the game.

I sold my ls3 pro-am car and my truck+trailer in Denver when I moved to Virginia. This truck would be ideal because I can drive it to the track with spares in the bed and tools and all. No trailer needed. I would only be doing grass roots type events so the 3.0 should provide enough power to link the smaller courses.

How durable are these? Reliable? It will get beaten quite hard and driven near red line sideways most of the time.

Truck would get a large drop, camber bolts up front for as much negative camber as I can get easily, and I would cut and weld the stock knuckles for more steering angle. Also would weld the diff or go find an LSD that fits in the stock housing. Simple mods. Also, how wide of a front tire can you run on these? Would like to run a 9" front wheel and not cut fenders. How good is the 5 speed?

Bonus question. What oil should I run?

I'd like to get a season out of this motor before it pops and I put a cheap ls1 in it.


2010 Mazda RX8 Sport - 37k miles - ????
2006 Toyota Matrix XR AWD (Wife) - 130k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4570792
11/11/17 11:29 AM
11/11/17 11:29 AM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,278
Birmingham, AL
01rangerxl Offline
01rangerxl  Offline
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,278
Birmingham, AL
I've got 207K on mine, and no worries about using all of the tach. 3.0s tend to leak oil and the cam synchro is a common replacement item, but other than that it's a very tough engine. Mine towed a trailer nearly daily for about a year.

The M5OD is not very refined, but is fairly durable. Check fluid level regularly. There is a Hurst shifter you can get for it.

The edge suspension is not ideal for what you want to do, coils would be better, but plenty of people have lowered torsion bar trucks too.

If you manage to break the 3.0, 5.0 is the way to go in a Ranger. They nearly drop in.

Last edited by 01rangerxl; 11/11/17 11:32 AM.

2002 Ford Ranger XLT | 3.0 V6 Auto 2WD | 224K miles
1994 Ford Ranger STX | 4.0 V6 Manual 4X4 | 200K miles
1994 Ford Explorer XLT | 4.0 V6 Auto 4X4 | 246K miles
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4570797
11/11/17 11:35 AM
11/11/17 11:35 AM
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
TinyVoices Offline OP
TinyVoices  Offline OP
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
Thanks!

The suspension geometry isn't super important for my purpose as long as it's stiff and doesn't travel too far which seems easy to do with lowering kits.

The trans will likely get a short shifter if they exist and the stick will get chopped for the lower seating position with my aftermarket seat.


2010 Mazda RX8 Sport - 37k miles - ????
2006 Toyota Matrix XR AWD (Wife) - 130k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4570798
11/11/17 11:35 AM
11/11/17 11:35 AM
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
TinyVoices Offline OP
TinyVoices  Offline OP
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
Thanks!

The suspension geometry isn't super important for my purpose as long as it's stiff and doesn't travel too far which seems easy to do with lowering kits.

The trans will likely get a short shifter if they exist and the stick will get chopped for the lower seating position with my aftermarket seat.


2010 Mazda RX8 Sport - 37k miles - ????
2006 Toyota Matrix XR AWD (Wife) - 130k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4570805
11/11/17 11:47 AM
11/11/17 11:47 AM
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
TinyVoices Offline OP
TinyVoices  Offline OP
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 524
Fairfax, VA
Just spoke with my friends dad who is selling it. It's not an edge. I just don't know anything about anything. It has the coil springs up front. That makes the front suspension stuff easier.


2010 Mazda RX8 Sport - 37k miles - ????
2006 Toyota Matrix XR AWD (Wife) - 130k miles - Valvoline Max Life 5w30
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4570831
11/11/17 12:16 PM
11/11/17 12:16 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 134
northwest pa
justintendo Offline
justintendo  Offline
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 134
northwest pa
the 3.0 vulcan is a great motor, and makes its power in the midrange..very durable engine. very strong bottom end. any weakness would be the risk of burning a valve perhaps..

the m5od is pretty durable, but you must take your time with shifts 1-2..the synchos will be destroyed if you hammer that shift.


2013 escape 2.0 awd mobil 1 10w30ep
2008 fusion 2.3 mtx redline 0w20
1996 f150 4.9 2wd mtx mobil 1 10w30hm
1999 kaw zrx 1100 redline 10w40
many husqvarnas
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4570980
11/11/17 03:19 PM
11/11/17 03:19 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 16,183
OH
fdcg27 Offline
fdcg27  Offline
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 16,183
OH
The 3.0 is probably the most durable part of this little truck.
We had a Vulcan in our old Aerostar and for the 175K that we owned it the engine showed no signs of wear, with no oil consumption and no leaks. The only thing I ever replaced other than oil changes were the plugs and the starter. The starter was super easy on the Aerostar while the plugs were a bad dream.
It also showed no signs of power, but that's the nature of this beast.


18 Accord Hybrid FF
17 Forester 18K VME 0W-20
12 Accord LX 96K SSO 0W-20
09 Forester 95K M1HM 10W-30
01 Focus ZX3 118K PP 5W-20
96 Accord LX 104K T5 10W-30
95 318i
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4571010
11/11/17 03:46 PM
11/11/17 03:46 PM
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 437
TN USA
Crispysea Offline
Crispysea  Offline
Joined: Apr 2017
Posts: 437
TN USA
I have a 3.0L Ranger and love it. The engine is solid. Just about any oil will work, from 0W-20 to 10W-30. I prefer Castrol Magnatec 5W-20 or 30 myself. I once met a guy who had an Aerostar with 350K, and his 3.0L engine was still in good shape.

Last edited by Crispysea; 11/11/17 03:47 PM.
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4571102
11/11/17 05:40 PM
11/11/17 05:40 PM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 973
Missouri
gabriel9766 Offline
gabriel9766  Offline
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 973
Missouri
The 3.0L vulcan in my taurus is a champ (150K). I beat the living [censored] out of it and its strong as can be. it does have a bad oil pan leak and a very very small timing cover leak. other than that its a great engine.


2015 Malibu LT 2.5L PPPP 0w20 46.1K
2007 Escape XLT 3.0L 5Q STHM 5w30/1Q MC full syn 5W20 115K
2010 Fusion SE 2.5L MC 0w20 110K
2008 Escape XLT 2.3L MC 5w30 187K
2007 Fusion SE 2.3L- 173.5K STHM 0W20
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4574056
11/14/17 06:18 PM
11/14/17 06:18 PM
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 12
Delaware
delaware74b Offline
delaware74b  Offline
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 12
Delaware
I have the '04 3.0 in a Ranger. Tough motor, 290K hard-driven miles on mine. Watch the cam synchro, belt-like chirping or grinding on start-up are a dead giveaway it's dying. OEM replacements only, don't use aftermarket on this critical part. They last around 100-150K. If it binds, it will chip the drive gear teeth. No drive gear = No oil pressure. The cam synchro drives the oil pump. All in all, it's a good engine and it is happy around 3500rpm (torque peaks around 3800).

The clutch slave cylinder is a weak link in the drivetrain. Cheap part but not fun to replace, OEM or aftermarket are both equally bad. Break the front Y-pipe loose from manifolds, break the spring bolts loose behind last cat. Drain the tranny and pull the driveshaft. Pull the gear shifter, top 2 bolts through trans to engine from above 15mm hex. Tranny jack in place, drop crossmember, remove Y-pipe, disconnect quick-connect and tranny electrics. Pull starter and remaining bolts through tranny to engine and drop tranny out. I can do it in 5 hours on inclined driveway mostly alone. Bleeding the clutch is another story. It traps air in the master cylinder due to its design.


'04 Ford Ranger S/C 3.0 M5OD 300K
'04 Ford Explorer 4.0 4x4 145K
'74 MG MG-B 1.8 132K
'94 Toyota Camry LE 3.0 250K
'96 Lexus ES-300 3.0 280K
Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4574589
11/15/17 07:31 AM
11/15/17 07:31 AM
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 185
Canada
Broo Offline
Broo  Offline
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 185
Canada
I have a '06 Ranger with the 3.0 but automatic. This transmission prevents the engine from reaching its peak torque by shifting way too early under load. If only the OD OFF button changed the shift points along with disabling the 5th gear...

In late models Ranger, you couldn't get the 7' bed with a manual transmission for some reason.

The 3.0 is not known as a great or efficient engine, but has a good reputation for durability. It drinks a lot of fuel for its size & power.
On mine, the engine has been very reliable so far, but the oil filter is quite awkward to change. I use the Motorcraft oil filter as it is a bit shorter than the Fram and therefore easier to install/remove. For oil, I use the specified 5W20 and it has seen various oil brands over the years. Currently running Mobil1 HM.

While the engine is durable, the transmission isn't. It's the same tranny Ford uses on the 2.3L version of the Ranger. The 4.0 transmission is heavier duty, but doesn't bolt on to the 3.0 according to my research on Ranger forums. I had a shudder between 4th and 5th. An ATF additive fixed (or rather, masked) that, but for how long ? The rest of the truck isn't very well built IMO. My headliner sags, I had a few HVAC problems too and some other things broke that I never experienced on other vehicles. But a good point for this truck : parts are easy to find and cheap.

Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: TinyVoices] #4574612
11/15/17 07:50 AM
11/15/17 07:50 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 13,982
Illinois
tig1 Offline
tig1  Offline
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 13,982
Illinois
I had a 91 Ranger 3.0 and put 354K on it when sold. The engine performed great, and used no more oil when sold than when purchased in 92.


2007 Ford Fusion 235,000 miles
M1 0-20 EP
2017 Ford Fusion 60K
M1 0-20 EP
10,000 mile OCIs on both engines
M1 ATF and Valvoline LV
M1 10-30 in all OPE
MC filters

Re: 2003 ranger 3L Vulcan durability and questions [Re: Broo] #4575370
11/15/17 06:37 PM
11/15/17 06:37 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,278
Birmingham, AL
01rangerxl Offline
01rangerxl  Offline
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,278
Birmingham, AL
Originally Posted By: Broo
I have a '06 Ranger with the 3.0 but automatic. This transmission prevents the engine from reaching its peak torque by shifting way too early under load. If only the OD OFF button changed the shift points along with disabling the 5th gear...

In late models Ranger, you couldn't get the 7' bed with a manual transmission for some reason.

The 3.0 is not known as a great or efficient engine, but has a good reputation for durability. It drinks a lot of fuel for its size & power.
On mine, the engine has been very reliable so far, but the oil filter is quite awkward to change. I use the Motorcraft oil filter as it is a bit shorter than the Fram and therefore easier to install/remove. For oil, I use the specified 5W20 and it has seen various oil brands over the years. Currently running Mobil1 HM.

While the engine is durable, the transmission isn't. It's the same tranny Ford uses on the 2.3L version of the Ranger. The 4.0 transmission is heavier duty, but doesn't bolt on to the 3.0 according to my research on Ranger forums. I had a shudder between 4th and 5th. An ATF additive fixed (or rather, masked) that, but for how long ? The rest of the truck isn't very well built IMO. My headliner sags, I had a few HVAC problems too and some other things broke that I never experienced on other vehicles. But a good point for this truck : parts are easy to find and cheap.


The 4R and 5R autos are hit or miss, but many live long lives. Mine has 207K with one filter change and has never shuddered or had any other issues. It still shifts great. If I floor it, it will let the engine get up to around 5500 RPM, and the high RPM shifts are actually quick and smooth. My truck has had the fluid changed every 30k since new which I'm sure hasn't hurt.

As for the other stuff, with any mass produced vehicle, some just have issues. The headliner in my '02 is perfect even with a sliding rear window that does get opened. It's trashed in my '94. The only HVAC stuff I have replaced has been a relay in the '02 and pressure switch on the '94. The '02 still has the original freon.

The most common Ranger problem I personally run into across all years... fuel level senders.

The oil filter location is awkward on the 3.0. I usually remove from the top, drop in from the top, then thread and tighten through the wheel well. My truck has managed to keep its little plastic funnel over the starter. They go missing a lot.


2002 Ford Ranger XLT | 3.0 V6 Auto 2WD | 224K miles
1994 Ford Ranger STX | 4.0 V6 Manual 4X4 | 200K miles
1994 Ford Explorer XLT | 4.0 V6 Auto 4X4 | 246K miles

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