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When shopping for used cars and trucks, it pays to know the various maintenance issues common to a particular model year. Since its introduction to the truck market in 1982, the Ford Ranger has been known for its reliability. Still, there are several model years where Ford Ranger dependability didn’t make the grading curve, according to CarComplaints. Here’s a look at three of the worst models in the Ranger’s recent history.

CarComplaints highlights the following 3 problematic Ranger model years

While Ford celebrates the Ranger Raptor’s first-place finish in the midsize stock class of the 2022 Baja 1000, turn-of-the-century model year reliability issues are a thing of the past. However, buyers shopping for a used Ford Ranger need to be aware of the maintenance issues reported to CarComplaints throughout the truck’s third generation of production from 1998 to 2012, but most specifically, issues reported for the 1999, 2002, and 2011 model years.

1. 1999 Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger began its third generation of production on the wrong foot. To date, its 1999 model year has received more than 1,000 complaints, the most overall complaints registered in the history of the Ford Ranger, according to CarComplaints.

Erratic temperature gauge readings caused by cracked cylinder heads, which show up at around the 100,000 miles mark, are the worst of the maintenance issues plaguing the 1999 Ranger. Repair requires cylinder head replacement or replacement of the entire engine for a cost of about $3,550.

The next worst issue, showing up after 90,000 miles, is an electrical issue that causes the wipers to turn on by themselves, while the third worst problem recorded is an issue with shifting that shows up just before logging 140,000 miles and requires close to $1,500 to repair. 

2. 2002 Ford Ranger

While 1999 Ford Rangers receive the most complaints, CarComplaints notes that the 2002 model trucks are plagued by “higher repair cost or more problems at lower mileage.” 

Transmission issues, leading to complete failure, may show up after a little more than 60,000 miles at about $1,700 for repair, but additional rough shifting problems might also show up after 110,000 miles at an average price of $1,500.

The most costly complaint, though least prevalent, is a broken frame that could show up after 120,000 miles and cost nearly $3,600 to repair.

3. 2011 Ford Ranger

Badging on a white Ford Ranger XLT midsize pickup truck at the Serramonte Ford dealership
2011 Ford Ranger XLT badging | David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Transmission failures in earlier third-generation models continue to be a problem for trucks produced for the 2011 model year. CarComplaints reports that additional engine problems accompany intermittent gear shifting issues that show up after just 4,000 miles.

Complete engine failure while driving was the complaint of one driver with less than 25,000 miles on the truck, and the cost for engine replacement was $16,230. Another logged complaint related to a timing chain tensioner failure at approximately 35,000 miles, which cost $5,000 to repair. 

The least-reliable Ford Ranger models

The overall quality and reliability of the Ford Ranger are consistently among the best in its class. Still, problems can appear in specific model years, leading to frustration and significant maintenance costs. Avoiding 1999, 2002, and 2011 model Ford Rangers may be a good idea for used truck buyers if you want to avoid some of the reported complaints of these midsize trucks.

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