Iwas under the impression that the 98 ranger had no timing belt.i do not know when this took affect.that was a big selling point when i bought new in 1998.
The 4-cylinder models have timing belts, the V-6 models have timing chains. Both will need to be replaced eventually, sprockets *and* chains on the V-6, and both jobs are a pretty serious undertaking for a shade-tree mechanic. Too much to describe here, if you really want to do it yourself I recommend getting a manual or try to locate one at the library.
Yes, the 2.5L 4 cylinder Ranger has a timing belt. I just changed the one in my son's truck. If the truck has air conditioning it's a little complicated because the AC compressor bracket has to come off to get access to the timing belt cover. I budgeted a weekend to do this job. The manual estimated 2-1/2 hours but it took me a lot longer. A person with average mechanical ability might be able to do it in about 4 hours the first time.
First disconnect the battery and remove the spark plugs on the passenger side of engine. Make sure the transmission is in neutral if it's a manal. Rotate the engine by hand (with a 1/2" drive handle and socket on the crank shaft pulley bolt) to find top dead center on the #1 cylinder (put your finger in the #1 spark plug hole until you feel pressure, then turn the engine over slowly until the top dead center (TDC) timing mark on the crankshaft pulley (an engraved line) lines up with the stationary TDC point (on the plastic timing belt cover). Now the engine is at top dead center. Try to preserve this relationship and don't rotate the crankshaft. Drain the radiator and collect the coolant. Loosen and remove the serpentine drive belt on front of engine. Remove fan. Remove AC compressor bracket bolts and prop compressor up out of the way. Loosen the crankshaft pulley bolt and remove the crankshaft pulley (this requires a puller available at most auto parts stores). To loosen the crankshaft pulley bolt tou may need to put the transmission in gear and have a friend press on the brake pedal to keep the engine from turning over while you turn the wrench to remove the crankshaft pulley bolt. If it's an automatic transmission, I don't know you should proceed from here, but you will probably need to lock the motor somehow so you can remove the bolt. It may be possible to engage the starter while holding the pulley bolt stationary with the handle against the truck's frame and use the starter motor to loosen the bolt, but that seems a little dangerous to me. It's probably better to remove the truck's radiator to get more access for an impact wrench to break loose the pulley bolt. After you remove the crankshaft pulley, put the crankshaft pulley bolt back on the crankshaft, as you will use this later to turn the engine over manually (clockwise only) and set the tension on the timing belt. Remove the black plastic timing cover bolts and unsnap the little tabs holding the plastic timing belt cover on and remove the cover. Loosen the bolt on the timing belt tensioner adjustment and use a special tool to remove the tension from the timing belt tensioner (It may be possible to use a large screwdriver but I couldn't see any way to do this so I bought the tool) and retighten the tensioner bolt so the tensioner is no longer active. Carefully remove the timing belt. I recommend replacing the timing belt tensioner itself, as it has a bearing that is subject to wear. Clean and inspect the pulleys. Replace the timing belt, starting at the bottom pulley and working counter clockwise. Make sure the TDC marks on the camshaft pulley and the other pulley stay aligned. Loosen the bolt on the timing belt tensioner. Turn the engine over by hand, clockwise, slowly at least two revolutions. This sets the tension on the timing belt tensioner. Recheck the timing marks on the pulleys. If they are still aligned, congratulate yourself. If not, the pulleys are out of time and you will have to remove the timing belt and again align the pulleys to TDC marks and reinstall the belt. When it lines up after several revolutions of the engine by hand (turn the engine clockwise only), loosen and retighten the timing belt tensioner bolt. Now you can reverse the disassembly process. I suggest replacing the serpentine belt if it has more than 20,000 miles on it.
Easy enough, eh?
The above poster's method is definitely correct, however it is not necessary to remove the radiator, or remove any spark plugs. Also a crowbar will suffice in place of the special ford tensioner tool.....Just make sure you make minimal contact with the tensioner pulley (contact as far forward as you can and you'll be fine) so as not to mar it which may cause accelerated wear o the belt if you happen to gouge the pulley. I used the starter/breaker bar against the frame method to remove the crankshaft balancer/pulley.
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