Ford Ranger 2.3L Common Problems
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Ford Ranger Reliability & Common Problems

Throughout this guide, we closely examine some of the most common problems associated with the Ford Ranger 2.3L Ecoboost engine. It’s generally a reliable engine with many positive attributes. However, no engine is perfect, and the Ford Ranger’s 2.3L EcoBoost does have some identifiable flaws including head gasket failure, overheating, and carbon build-up. In this guide, I discuss these Ranger engine problems and reliability.

Ranger 2.3 Ecoboost Common Problems

  • Head Gasket Failure
  • Engine Overheating
  • Carbon Build-up

Let’s be honest; Ford never aimed to create the most powerful small to mid-sized truck when it originally designed the Ford Ranger. Yet, what the Ranger lacks in power it makes up for in reliability and practicality. The 2.3L Ecoboost isn’t bulletproof, but it does score impressive points in the durability department.

As the 2.3L Ecoboost engine ages, a few more problems are becoming evident. It’s important to note that this engine series has had an above-average reputation over the past few years in the many different models it is applied to. Aside from early Mustang and Focus RS models, the 2.3L EB has not had many severe issues. However, certain aspects of the 2.3L Ecoboost can be considered weak. As we discussed, the head gaskets can be prone to failure. With that said, let’s take a further look into some of the most common problems starting with head gasket failure.

Ford Ranger 2.3L Common Problems

1) Head Gasket Failure

Regardless of the 2.3 Ecoboosts above average reliability rating, head gasket issues are one of the most common problems with the Ranger. Many drivers consider this to be a hot topic for debate because head gasket issues can be blown out of proportion throughout internet reports. Yet, we find it important to mention the presence of gasket failures in the 2.3L Ecoboost.

Primarily this issue was most commonly found in earlier applications of the 2.3L Ecoboost engine. Some Focus RS models and earlier Mustang models ran into blown head gasket issues and coolant leaks. The Ford Ranger itself does not seem to have as many issues surrounding the head gaskets as smaller models produced by Ford in the early life of the 2.3L Ecoboost (2015-2017). However, the cost of replacing a blown head gasket can range upwards of thousands of dollars. Therefore if the issue ever does occur in the newer Ranger models, it can be a huge nagging pain.

Various symptoms will arise indicating problems with head gaskets, hopefully in time for a driver to detect before they are blown. First, engine overheating can be one of the indications of this issue. Following that, drivers may experience many different problems such as bubbling in the radiator and coolant reservoir, coolant loss without blatant leaks, discoloration of engine oil, and even smoke emitting from the exhaust.

It is crucial to try and acknowledge and repair any of these symptoms listed below in hopes of catching head gasket issues before they are blown and require a pricey repair.

2.3L Ecoboost Blown Head Gasket Symptoms:

  • Engine overheating
  • Bubbling in radiator and coolant reservoir
  • Fast coolant loss without blatant leaks
  • Discoloration of engine oil
  • Smoke emitting from tailpipe

Since blown head gaskets can directly cause engine overheating, let’s now look at the other various issues that can contribute to an overheating 2.3L Ecoboost.

2) Engine Overheating

Before we dive into issues with 2.3L Ecoboost running hot, it’s essential to note that Ford has made some design changes to prevent this issue. At first, many early models reported a hot undercarriage causing problems with the exhaust. This problem was so severe that Ford recalled an earlier version of the 2.3L Ecoboost’s application. Fortunately, this recall was only applied to 2015 Mustang models, and problems surrounding overheating seem to be less prevalent in the newer Ranger models.

Regardless, it is extremely important to acknowledge any high increase in exhaust temperatures before they cause more severe engine issues. Since the recall, many 2.3L Ecoboost is running at much more normal expected temperatures. However, running hot is still an important issue for the 2.3L Ecoboost, including the Ford Ranger models. Luckily, Ford has done an excellent job designing their efficient intercoolers to try and combat these issues. Engine overheating is much more prevalent in modified 2.3L Ecoboost engines that have been driven aggressively. Again, this is an important reminder to practice proper maintenance and repairs and to research and install good supportive mods on custom engines.

In conclusion, below are the most common symptoms for overheating in the Ford Ranger 2.3L Ecoboost engine.

Engine Overheating Symptoms:

  • Temperature gauge indication/Warning light on the dashboard
  • Hot hood/Steam emitting from the hood
  • Reduced engine power
  • Coolant leaks below the car
  • Ticking or thumping sounds emitting from the engine

Finally, let’s take a look at our last most common problem for the Ford Ranger 2.3L Ecoboost. Coincidentally, another problem that may produce engine overheating issues and reduce power and performance.

3) Carbon Build-up

We can’t forget to mention issues with carbon buildup, although this may not be a prevalent problem for many drivers. Unfortunately, direct injection engines do have more issues with carbon buildup. Direct injection engines lack a crucial cleaning mechanism in deterring this problem. Since direct injection engines do not have fuel flowing over the valves that then essentially clean them, these engine systems can develop substantial carbon buildup

Carbon buildup isn’t necessarily a product of poor engine design. Poor maintenance and low-quality oil are both substantial contributing factors to this problem. Deposits of carbon will continue to build upon the engine valves over time if not appropriately maintained. This buildup will harden over time on internal engine components until cleaned or further damage occurs. Again, it is absolutely essential to use high quality and practice regular engine maintenance to deter this issue.

Now, let’s take a look at a list below of the most common symptoms for carbon buildup in the Ford Ranger’s 2.3L Ecoboost engine.

Carbon Build-up Symptoms:

  • Rough idle
  • Rough engine starts
  • Black smoke emitting from the exhaust
  • Decrease in acceleration and performance
  • Engine cylinders misfiring
  • Check engine light/Failed sensors

Ford Ranger Reliability & Common Problems Summary

Fortunately, after some of Ford’s initial recalls and solutions, many drivers report the 2.3L Ecoboost to be a very dependable everyday driver. Two of the main problems we focused upon (blown head gaskets and carbon buildup) are rare enough for us to keep the overall reliability of this engine rated as above average to very good.

Furthermore, even the examined engine overheating issues are becoming less frequent in the current generation of Ford models that use the 2.3L EcoBoost engine. Therefore, it is hard to scrutinize an engine too badly that balances both durability and efficiency in its versatile applications. For more information on overall problems associated with the Ford 2.3L Ecoboost engine, take a look at our previous article on the most common 2.3L EB problems.

Conclusion & Verdict on the Ranger 2.3L Ecoboost

The Ford Ranger seems to be a good application for this engine. The model benefits from a lightweight, efficient engine with enough power to still support a stock towing capacity of 3,500 lbs. 270 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque aren’t considered insanely powerful for modern trucks. Yet, the Ranger is still an effective and efficient choice for those seeking a reliable truck in the current automotive market.

We expect these engines to reach 200,000 miles without severe problems occurring. Again, this is dependent on many variables, including proper maintenance, diligent repairs, and the extent of aggressive driving. Upgraded options for the Ford Ranger can extend its towing capacity upwards to 7,500 pounds. However, the Ford Ranger 2.3L Ecoboost stock option is still an excellent choice for drivers who need a durable, efficient everyday engine that still accomplishes the needs of most truckers.

Want to learn more about the Ranger and 2.3 EcoBoost? Check out other guides such as the best Ranger performance upgrades and 2.3 vs 2.7 EcoBoost.

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  1. When you talk about the new models of the Ford Range not having as many problems with the eco boost which years are you referring to?

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