Ford Ranger Transmission Problems [5 Common Issues]

In this post, I’ve highlighted the common transmission problems your Ford Ranger may develop over time and how to go about the issues.

Ford Ranger

But first, you should know why your car’s transmission has gone bad.

Here are the common causes of transmission problems in a Ford Ranger:

  • Low transmission fluid level
  • Faulty shift fork
  • Broken cooling line
  • Leaky transmission pan
  • Bad torque converter
  • Bent gasket
  • Loose gearbox cap
  • Dirty transmission fluid
  • Faulty radiator
  • Dirty cooling fan.

Ford Ranger Transmission Problems

1. Transmission won’t shift gears

One common sign of transmission problems in a Ford Ranger is a failure to shift gears. No matter how much you press on your gas pedal, your car won’t move faster.

This problem often occurs due to a low transmission fluid level.

Every time you try to change gears, your transmission fluid travels around the transmission and oils its components. The fluid helps these components move swiftly when changing gears.

If your transmission fluid gets low, your transmission components may not receive lubrication. As such, they might grind against each other and get stuck while trying to shift gears. This may be why your transmission fails to shift gears.

To resolve this problem, you’ll need to refill your transmission with new fluid. Since you don’t know how much fluid your transmission needs, it’s best to seek the help of a transmission expert for the refill. This will prevent you from putting excess fluid into your transmission.

If your transmission won’t change gears after you’ve topped your transmission fluid, you might have a broken torque converter clutch.

Your torque converter supplies the rotating power that keeps the transmission working. This is why your transmission stops shifting gears when the clutch is broken.

Change your torque converter to fix this issue. You’ll find the component underneath your car. It is usually located between the transmission and engine flexplate.

If you use a manual transmission, your faulty shift fork might be the reason behind your transmission’s refusal to shift gears. The role of this component is to disengage the previous gear and engage a new gear in the transmission. When the shift fork goes bad, your transmission may get stuck in the previous gear.

If your transmission can’t change gears, you’ll need to inspect your shift fork for damage. Your shift fork is the metal lever that straddles your clutch.

You can tell that your shift fork is faulty if the clutch produces rattling noises when you press the pedal. Once you’re certain your shift fork is problematic, ask your dealer to replace it.

2. Fluid leak

Did you notice a pool of reddish-brown liquid under your Ford Ranger? Then, your transmission fluid might be leaking.

A broken cooling line is the most common culprit behind a transmission fluid leak.

The cooling line in your transmission ensures that your transmission fluid is cooled before it spreads through the transmission’s components. So, if the cooling line gets broken, your transmission fluid will leak out.

You’ll find your cooling lines at the bottom of your radiator. If you notice any cracks in the fluid lines, replace them.

Your transmission fluid pan is another component you should inspect if your transmission fluid is leaking. Any holes in your transmission pan may drain out the fluid.

Your transmission pan is located directly below your dipstick. If you discover that the pan is leaky, change it.

If your transmission fluid pan looks intact, it’s time to check the gasket. The gasket is the rubber seal attached to your transmission pan, which secures the fluid in the pan.

To inspect the gasket, you’ll need to detach your transmission pan from your car. Replace your gasket if it seems bent.

A loose gearbox cap can also cause a transmission fluid leak. You can already guess from the name that a gearbox cap keeps the liquids in the gearbox from spilling. Over time, this cap may loosen, thus making the transmission fluid leak.

You’ll need to change your loose gearbox cover to stop the fluid leak.

Is your transmission fluid still leaking? Then, you may need to examine your torque converter.

One of the roles of the torque converter is to spread transmission fluid through the transmission. So, if the torque converter is worn out, transmission fluid will leak from the component.

Locate your torque converter underneath your car. If the system is damaged, replace it.

3. Gear slippage

If your transmission keeps popping out of gear while driving, the system is faulty. During a gear slippage, the transmission changes gears randomly.

You might be facing this issue because you have bad gear solenoids. The gear solenoid is responsible for shifting gears based on information from the Powertrain Control Module (PCM).

A bad gear solenoid may misconstrue the information from the PCM. As a result, your transmission may keep changing gears at irregular intervals instead of sticking to one gear.

To fix this issue, you’ll need to replace your gear solenoid. Locate the gear solenoid in the valve body assembly, which is placed inside the transmission.

4. Slow upshifting

You can tell that your Ford Ranger transmission is problematic if it takes a long time to shift gears while accelerating. Usually, this problem occurs because your transmission fluid level is low.

The internal parts of your transmission need lubrication to move smoothly when changing gears. This lubrication is provided by the transmission fluid.

Due to certain transmission issues, your transmission fluid may get low. A low transmission fluid level will delay the movement of your transmission components during a gearshift. This might be why your transmission upshifts at a slower pace.

To resolve this issue, you’ll need to top your transmission fluid level. But first, you must confirm that your transmission fluid level is low.

Follow these steps to check your transmission fluid level:

  • Open your hood and locate your dipstick.
  • Remove the dipstick and wipe it with a rag.
  • Re-insert the dipstick into its port.
  • Now, remove the dipstick again and check where your transmission fluid level is marked.
  • If the mark is below Full, your transmission fluid level is low.

If your transmission fluid level is full, but it doesn’t shift gears quickly, the fluid might be dirty. Once your transmission gets dirty, it loses its ability to enhance smooth gearshifts.

You can fix dirty transmission fluid by changing the transmission fluid. Remember to drain your transmission fluid before adding the new one.

5. Burning odor

If your Ford Ranger transmission releases a burning odor when you are driving, the transmission is faulty.

A burning odor often indicates that your transmission is overheating.

When your transmission overheats, it’s often due to a bad radiator. This is because your transmission relies heavily on the radiator to stay cool.

Consider changing your radiator to prevent your transmission from overheating. You’ll find your radiator in front of your engine.

If your transmission keeps overheating after you’ve replaced the radiator, you might need to clean your cooling fan.

Why is this necessary for fixing the overheating problem in your Ford Ranger? Your cooling fan provides the air your radiator uses to cool the transmission. So, any fault in the cooling fan will automatically affect your radiator.

When dirt gets stuck in the cooling fan, it doesn’t blow properly. This prevents the radiator from receiving sufficient air to cool the transmission, thus causing the transmission to overheat.

You can fix this issue by cleaning your cooling fan. The cooling fan in a Ford Ranger is located between your radiator and engine.

Here’s how to clean a dirty cooling fan:

  • Detach the fan from the radiator.
  • Pour some vinegar into a bowl.
  • Then, dip a clean rag into the bowl and rub it over the fan blades and housing.
  • Now, you need to clean the inner parts of the fan motor.
  • Get a pipe cleaner and insert it into your bowl of vinegar.
  • Drag the wet pipe cleaner around the inside of your fan motor to remove the rust.

Once you’ve finished cleaning your cooling fan, reconnect it to your vehicle. Then drive your car for some miles. Your transmission shouldn’t overheat anymore.

Ford Ranger Models with the Most Transmission Problems

These Ford Ranger models have the most transmission problems:

  • 2000 Ford Ranger
  • 2001 Ford Ranger
  • 2002 Ford Ranger
  • 2004 Ford Ranger

According to, the 2001 Ford Ranger is the most prone to transmission problems among all Ford Ranger models. While most Ford Ranger models didn’t get any transmission-related complaints, 24 users of the 2004 model reported transmission problems.

Sixteen customer reports make the 2002 Ford Ranger the second most notorious model for transmission issues. Two other models with highly problematic transmissions are the 2000 and 2004 Ford Rangers, which got 10 complaints each.

Ford Ranger Models with the Least Transmission Problems

Here are the Ford Ranger models with the least transmission problems:

  • 1984 Ford Ranger
  • 1985 Ford Ranger
  • 1986 Ford Ranger
  • 1988 Ford Ranger
  • 1989 Ford Ranger
  • 1990 Ford Ranger
  • 1991 Ford Ranger
  • 1992 Ford Ranger
  • 1993 Ford Ranger
  • 1996 Ford Ranger
  • 2005 Ford Ranger
  • 2009 Ford Ranger
  • 2010 Ford Ranger
  • 2012 Ford Ranger
  • 2014 Ford Ranger
  • 2015 Ford Ranger
  • 2016 Ford Ranger
  • 2020 Ford Ranger
  • 2021 Ford Ranger.

Reports from show that no user of the Ford Ranger models in the list above reported problems with their transmission.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Ford Ranger Transmission Problems?

It costs between $150 – $3500 to fix an average transmission problem in a Ford Ranger.

Major repairs, such as a transmission replacement, may cost as much as $3400. However, if your transmission only requires a simple fix, like changing your transmission fluid, you might only have to pay $150 for the service.

In addition, fixing a transmission issue yourself may cost less than hiring an auto mechanic to do the job. This is because you won’t need to pay for the labor costs your auto repairer would charge if you hired him to repair your transmission.

Tips to Prevent Ford Ranger Transmission Problems

  • Change your transmission fluid every 30,000 miles.
  • Don’t load your vehicle beyond its capacity.
  • Always apply the parking brake while parking your car.
  • Avoid over-speeding.
  • Service your transmission regularly.

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