The Ford Ranger is one of the most recognizable pickup trucks in the world thanks to its excellent durability and equally impressive capabilities. While it offers a wide array of different powertrains, none is arguably as capable as the 3.2 L Duratorq diesel. With 197 hp and a massive 350 lb-ft of torque, the powerful engine provides plenty of power for range-topping hauling and payload capacities, as well as returning solid fuel efficiency figures. However, Ford Ranger 3.2 engine problems aren’t unheard of.
The most common problems of the Ford Ranger 3.2 engine are related to its nature and build complexity. Modern diesel powertrains have numerous moving parts and accompanying subsystems, which makes them somewhat sensitive, and the 3.2 L Duratorq is no exception. At some point, a clutch or fuel injection wear becomes a reality. Also, the oil pump tends to drain completely if the oil change lasts too long, leading to potentially catastrophic engine damage.
In this article, we’ll explore the most common Ford Ranger 3.2 L diesel engine problems and point out how they could be fixed or avoided altogether, if possible.
Ford Ranger 3.2 L Duratorq Engine
The Duratorq line of Ford’s diesel engines was introduced in 2000, but the 3.2 L units only arrived in 2011. Unlike its smaller 4-cylinder counterparts, the 3.2 L Duratorq TDCi engine utilizes an inline 5-cylinder setup, making it the largest powertrain in the entire lineup. It’s also available under the Power Stroke branding in the North American market. However, the U.S. and Canadian market version of the 3.2 L Duratorq turbo diesel engine was only used for the Ford Transit.
The reasons for potential issues with the Ford Ranger 3.2 engine lie in the diesel engine’s mechanical complexity. Some parts, like the clutch and especially the dual-mass flywheel at the end of the crankshaft, are prone to disintegration. At some point, no matter how carefully you’re shifting gears, the dual-mass flywheel will wear out. At the same time, there are potential issues with the extremely sensitive common-rail fuel injection, as well as with EGR coolers.
Ford Ranger 3.2 Engine Problems
Aside from the above-mentioned issues, there are other potential Ford Ranger 3.2 engine problems, so let’s take a closer look at all of them.
Oil pump drain
The Ford Ranger 3.2 engine oil pump drain is not technically a problem that can develop over time, but it’s still something you should remain vigilant about, especially if you’re planning on doing the oil change by yourself.
The 3.2 L Duratorq engine’s variable-flow oil pump utilizes a vane-style design instead of a more common gear drive pump design. While the vane-style pumps help with engine efficiency, they also come with one potentially highly risky drawback. Since they don’t prime themselves, every oil change can become a risky endeavor for an unsuspecting owner or even mechanic. Typically, an oil drain of the 3.2 L Ford Ranger engine shouldn’t last longer than around 10 minutes. If the mechanic exceeds that particular time frame, the pump will be drained out completely, together with the sump, and will remain unprimed. Driving your ute with an unprimed oil pump can potentially result in catastrophic engine damage and thousands thrown away on a replacement unit.
To be on the safe side, never exceed the 10-minute mark if you’re replacing the oil on your 3.2 L Ranger yourself. Better yet, try to make it in even less than that or take it to a certified mechanic.
Dual-mass flywheel and clutch problems
Since a majority of Ford Rangers fitted with a 3.2 L engine also come in pair with a manual transmission, the dual-mass flywheel has to be in the back of every owner’s mind. The dual-mass flywheel (DMF from now on) protects the driveline from engine vibrations common in diesel powertrains and makes the gear-changing process smoother.
The DMF consists of two flywheels and a series of springs between them, which dampen the engine vibrations and protect the gearbox in the process. The flywheels rotate independently as one is attached to the clutch while another is attached to the engine. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how constant friction between the flywheels tends to wear it out over time. The DMF should be fine for a foreseeable time, but a driving style with lots of stops and idling or improper clutch use will have a detrimental effect on it. Once the DMF becomes ineffective, the clutch is put under extra pressure and gets worn out on its own.
If you hear a rattling noise after pressing the clutch pedal, chances are your DMF is on its last legs. In such a case, a replacement unit is your only option, and it’s neither an easy nor cheap job.
Fuel injection failure
A fuel injection failure is common across multiple diesel powertrains due to common-rail’s complexity, and the Ford Ranger 3.2 L engine is no different. Since diesel engines rely on high pressure for both combustion and injection, the 3.2 L Duratorq’s pump and injectors have to work hard to keep the engine running smoothly. They also have to be well lubricated, but diesel fuel takes care of that.
If, however, the fuel is contaminated by water or any sort of debris, your fuel injectors are in trouble. Since contaminated fuel doesn’t have the same lubricating properties as clean fuel, the high-pressure fuel pump and individual injectors will get damaged over time. Replacing a fuel injector is never cheap, and since the Ford 3.2 L engine has five cylinders, it also has five injectors, of course.
Intercooler intake hose leaks
Like most engines from the Duratorq family, the 3.2 L features an intercooler for more efficient cooling. Sadly, Ford’s intercooler intake hose (or pipe, if you will) leaves a lot to be desired in terms of quality, especially on older models. It’s prone to cracking, which isn’t something you want to leave unchecked for too long.
If the intake pipe cracks, your Ranger will start heating up to levels that are higher than usual, and you’ll also notice black clouds of exhaust smoke. Aside from a dip in performance, the Ranger will eventually enter a “limp mode” to protect the engine from further damage. Another potential telltale sign of a cracked intake hose is an error code P00BD. Luckily, the problem is easy to fix with some hose clamps and heat-resistant tape, but a replacement hose is recommended as it’s not that expensive and easy to replace.
Exhaust-Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve is another potential Ford Ranger 3.2 engine problem. It helps cool down the exhaust gasses before they reach the tailpipe, among other things. Thing is, the 3.2 L Duratorq’s EGR valve is water-cooled, using the same cooling as the engine itself.
The real problem here is EGR coolers which are prone to cracking. With a split EGR cooler, coolant will leak out of the radiator, and the engine will start overheating. If left unchecked for too long, cracked EGR coolers can lead to a blown head gasket or even leak coolant into the cylinder and make a mess out of the engine internally.
Checking and replacing the EGR valve at regular intervals is of paramount importance if you don’t want to wreck your engine beyond repair.
Crankshaft position sensor failure
A crankshaft position sensor (CPS) is one of the numerous small bits and pieces of a modern powertrain. It magnetically reads the crankshaft’s position and sends it to the engine’s computer. If the computer calculates that the crank’s position is irregular and the engine is out of time, it’ll make adjustments on its own. Once that happens, the vehicle typically becomes difficult to drive. In some instances, it won’t start at all.
The crankshaft position sensor failure is somewhat common in older Ford Rangers with a 3.2 L engine. These models had an inadequately mounted CPS that often became loose and failed to provide an accurate reading. This issue has been rectified in newer models, but beware if you’re running an early T6 Ford Ranger.
The 3.2 L Duratorq TDCi engine and the Ford Ranger, in general, are great choices for anyone in need of a capable and reliable ute. Much as is the case with pretty much any vehicle or engine on the market, however, the duo does exhibit some issues. The Ford Ranger 3.2 engine problems aren’t extreme, however, and most of them are avoidable with proper maintenance and recommended driving habits.
How long does a Ford Ranger 3.2 engine last?
The 3.2 L Duratorq engine in Ford Rangers is powerful and robust. With proper maintenance, it should last at least 200,000 miles, but with a little luck, it could last for much longer than that.
Is the Ford Ranger 3.2 engine reliable?
Although the earlier versions of the 3.2 L Ford Ranger engine had a few potential issues due to questionable engineering decisions, the later variations are quite reliable. With proper maintenance and driving habits that aren’t extreme (proper use of a clutch), you shouldn’t face any serious problems.
How much does it cost to replace the Ford Ranger 3.2 engine?
If you’re unlucky enough for your 3.2 L TDCi Ford Ranger engine to give up, know that a replacement engine rarely comes cheap. Depending on where you live and whether your replacement engine is new or used, expect to pay anything between $4,000 and $8,000. Some people get quoted upwards of $10,000 or even $15,000 in dealerships.
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