1988 Ford Ranger and Common Ranger Problems

To some complaints from automobile owners, automobile manufacturers have repeatedly responded that no vehicle can be perfect. Therefore, you should look out for the common problems of cars to evaluate if you can compromise on them, which is usually possible if it fulfills your other requirements. in this article, we will focus on the 1988 Ford Ranger.

The Ford Ranger, especially its 1988 model, is of concern for this article. Hence, this article will discuss the key features of the 1988 Ford Ranger, Ford Ranger problems, and Ford Ranger years that you should be careful of.

1988 Ford Ranger:

The first Ford Ranger model came as a 1983 model in 1982. Initially, it was sold in North America; however, it later became prevalent in South America. The Ranger nameplate is not fixed for the Ford pickups, but the models developed by Mazda that were sold outside North America between 1998 and 2011 also used this nameplate.

Ford Australia produced its first Ranger based on the T6 platform in 2011. The North American Ranger was discontinued in the same year. It was reintroduced in North America in 2019; the reintroduced model was built on the T6 platform.

The 1988 Ranger belonged to the first generation of this pickup truck; it offered the following features.


All the first-generation Ford Rangers had 2-litre and 2.3-liter Ford Lima inline 4, the 3-liter Ford Vulcan V6, the 2.8-liter, 2.9-liter, and 4-liter Ford Cologne V6, and four-cylinder diesel engines. The models before 1989 featured only the inline-four and Vulcan V6 versions. It offered a 4-speed manual transmission as a standard, while the 5-speed manual transmission could be availed as an option. Owners could even get a 3-speed automatic transmission on 2.3-litre and 2.8-liter engines.

Body design:

The Ford Ranger first-generation came in different configurations. It adopted most of its exterior design elements from the Ford F-series trucks, including Chrome grille, taillamps, tailgate lettering, twin headlamps, and cab proportions. A 6-foot pickup bed was standard on all models, while an extended 7-foot-length pickup bed was also available. The Super cab configuration offered extra space behind the front doors; 4-wheel drive super cabs came only with V6 engines.

The initial models of the first generation, including the 1988 model, came with several seating configurations; a 3-passenger bench seat was standard in all models, when people could get bucket seats as an option or in different trim levels. In later years, a split bench seat was also introduced. A pair of the center-facing jump seats increased their truck capacity to five in the Super cab configurations.

1988 Ford Ranger owner manual
1988 Ford Ranger Owner’s Manual

Interior cabin:

The 1988 model had a revised instrument cluster compared to the models before 1986, allowing a tachometer fitting. Ranger shared standard interior components in most other Ford vehicles; these features included door handles, steering columns, and window controls.

The 1988 model didn’t have a unique ergonomic system compared to the 1989 model, which substantially improved ergonomics.

Trim levels:

The 1988 Ford Ranger’s first generation came in five basic trim levels:

  • Trim level S
  • Trim level XL
  • Trim level XLS
  • Trim level ranger
  • Trim level XLT

Different trim levels differ in design and cabin space. However, the XLT trim was the sportiest version of the Ford Ranger with blackout trim, bucket seats, and tapes stripe packages.

In later years, a Ranger STX trim level was also introduced from 1987 to 1989. Ford also offered a Ranger GT option package. Ford marketed it as a sport pickup. It was powered by a 2.9-liter V6 engine that produced 140 horsepower with a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission. With each trim level, the Ford Ranger Owners Manual elaborates on the vehicle’s key features.

Common Ford Ranger Problems:

Many Ford Ranger models are still available on the market today; However, it would be better if you were aware of the common problems you might have to deal with being an owner of a Ford Ranger. Let’s look at common Ford Ranger issues you must watch out for to avoid any inconvenience later.

  • 2004 to 2006 Ranger models had a lot of engine misfiring complaints; however, you are lucky if you’ve got your hands on the 1988 model since it doesn’t have any such issue.
  • The Ford Ranger owners have lodged complaints about abnormally high idle speeds for many Ford Ranger model years that need people to update the powertrain control module software.
  • Some people believe that Ford Ranger is not for cold weather since it is hard for drivers to start the Ranger in the cold; it also hesitates during acceleration.

Not all the units in a car model are the same. Therefore, if you’re looking forward to buying a used Ford Ranger, we recommend getting it checked by a third party called the investigation company before buying it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the reliability rating of the 1988 Ford Ranger?


What engine is in the 1988 Ford Ranger?

2.9L Vin T

What is the life expectancy of the Ford Ranger?

200K-250K miles