1998 Ford Ranger

Transmission problem
1998 Ford Ranger 6 cyl Four Wheel Drive Automatic 91,000 miles

I�m not sure how to pose this question because I�m not sure if it is the rear diff. Or my trany. Whichever it may be, it feels like backlash. It is the only way I could describe it. When I place the truck in Drive or Reverse and depress the gas there is a pause like a half rotation of the driveshaft before movement occurs. It is all the time. Sometimes going into second or third feels �poppy� but that is not all the time. I put 10,000 miles on it and the delay has not gotten worse. Also when I place it in Park the truck will roll something like six inches before stopping. That alone makes me think that it is the transmission but I still don�t know. What do you think it could be and how much work to fix it.
October 19, 2010.

Does it do the same thing in 4wd?

Yes, it does happen in 4wd, but it is not as evident as it is out of 4wd.

Oct 20, 2010.
Safely lift the rear of the vehicle. Check for play between the driveshaft and differential and between the wheels (axle) and differential.

Let me know what you find. Also, check trans and motor mounts.

Sorry for the delay. OK, with the truck in Park and the rear lifted I was able to slowly turn one of the wheels approximately 20 degrees before making the other wheel turn in the opposite direction. The drive shaft did not engage. Moving to the drive shaft itself, inspecting the way I know how, yokes and u-joints are tight. There doesn't seem to be any play in their attachment. Now holding the drive shaft, truck in Park - rear lifted, I could easily turn the shaft back-and-forth 20 degrees. Very sloppy. I had a friend check my mounts awhile ago because that's what I originally thought it was. In fact, when I bought this truck it had this problem and I foolishly assumed it was the mounts - easy fix. Right - dah!

Oct 21, 2010.
If there is that much play in the drive shaft and in park, it sounds like the play is in the transmission. However, that would be from the parking sprag that makes no sense with the issues at play.

As far as the other things mentioned, I think you may want to remove the diff cover and check the backlash. Did you notice if there was any in and out play at the wheels?

Once again sorry for the late reply. I took a couple of days off of work to tackle this job. To answer your last question of having play in and out - it does not - at least not excessive. I replaced the passenger side shackle and bushings and while in the process of doing that the entire mount was shot. What a bear! I was hoping that was the problem but it was not. Then under load I saw the rear u-joint flexing even though it was tight to the feel. I replaced that hoping that was it but once again it was not! Then I changed the fluid and popped off the diff cover. The diff was clearly serviced once before. Everything seemed clean but I believe I found the problem. There is a lot of slop in the planetary gears. It appears that the thrust washers are missing or just wore right out. For my Ranger do they sell repair kits or do I need a whole new diff? If I was not to do it myself how much does a job like that run?

Oct 27, 2010.
You should be able to get the parts you need. However, to get new ones, you will need to go to a dealer.

As far as labor, expect aprox 3 hours. The axles need pulled, and then there everything needs reset. Parts shouldn't be more than 50 to 100 dollars. However, often times when a shop takes them apart, they find other issues.

Let me know if you have other questions.

Take care,