How to Replace the Timing Belt in a Ford Ranger

by Cayden Conor
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The 1986 through 1988 Ford Ranger features a 2.0L engine. This engine is a freewheeling engine, which means that if the timing belt stretches past the scope of the tensioner, most likely, serious engine damage will not occur. While Ford has not recommended a specific interval for changing the timing belt, previous use and service history dictates that the timing belt should be changed every 60,000 miles to avoid being inconvenienced. There are no special tools needed to complete the job, which takes about three hours to complete.

Step 1

Disconnect the battery ground cable and lay it aside. Make sure that it doesn’t touch metal. Place the drain pan under the radiator petcock. Loosen the petcock and allow the antifreeze to drain into the drain pan. If the drain pan is clean, you can reuse the antifreeze.

Step 2

Loosen the accessory drive belt tensioners. If the tensioner is a slider, loosen the bolts on the sliders, then push the accessory toward the engine. If the tensioner has a pulley, put a socket or a wrench on the tensioner pulley bolt and push the tensioner away from the belt. Lift the belts off the pulleys.

Step 3

Remove the alternator using the appropriate sockets. Loosen the hose clamps on the upper radiator hose using a screwdriver, socket or pliers, depending on the type of clamp you have. Pull the upper radiator hose off. Remove the water pump pulley and the crankshaft pulley bolt using the appropriate sockets. Loosen the retaining bolts at the bottom of the distributor cap with the screwdriver, then lift the cap off. Leave the wires attached.

Step 4

Unscrew and remove the access plug from the timing belt cover. It is located a few inches from the top of the cover. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until you can see the timing marks on the camshaft line up in the hole vacated by the access plug. Remove the timing belt cover using the appropriate socket.

Step 5

Check that the rotor on the distributor is pointing toward the number 1 cylinder. The number 1 cylinder is closest to the timing belt. Loosen the timing belt adjuster bolt. Move the tensioner away from the belt using the pry bar. Tighten the tensioner bolt just enough to hold the tensioner in place. Remove the crankshaft pulley, then lift the timing belt off the sprockets.

Step 6

Check that the camshaft timing marks are still lined up at the 5 o’clock position and that the crankshaft sprocket key is in the 12 o’clock position. Make sure the rotor is still pointing at the number 1 cylinder.

Step 7

Install the timing belt, starting on the crankshaft sprocket, then routing it over the intermediate sprocket, and over the camshaft, keeping the belt taut. Once over the camshaft sprocket, route it behind the tensioner pulley. The belt should be loose on the tensioner side and taut on the non-tensioned side.

Step 8

Loosen the tensioner bolt to allow the tensioner to put tension on the timing belt. Tighten the bolt just enough to hold it in place. Turn the crankshaft clockwise two turns, until the timing marks on the camshaft line up and the keyway on the crankshaft sprocket is at the 12 o’clock position. Check that the rotor is pointing to the number 1 cylinder again.

Step 9

Loosen the tensioner bolt. Allow the tensioner to put more tension on the belt. Tighten the tensioner bolt to 17 foot-pounds of torque. Install the rest of the parts in reverse order of removal. Tighten the crankshaft pulley bolt to 150 foot-pounds of torque. Tighten the radiator petcock. Refill the radiator. Check the ignition timing with the timing light and adjust if needed.

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