I have a 1999 Ranger 2.5 with 145K on it...Always well taken care of (except never changing the timing belt/waiting for water pump issues first). The problem started last week on the way to work (95 degrees with the AC blasting)...I was going 60 mph when I suddenly lost all power. I pushed in the clutch and feathered the gas to keep it running...It smelled rich and was backfiring/barely runnning and wouldn't idle. I pulled over and waited a few minutes, tried to start it (started hard) and then went back to running normally. I made it to work and it did the same thing at an idle in the parking lot...Made it home the next day (50 miles) without any problems then did it again upon start-up today!
A little note...I did notice excessive pinging (more than normal/normal attributed to an old/worn timing belt or carbon build-up on pistons) just prior to this happening. I did have a similar hicup 5K ago (mush less severe)...put in fuel injector cleaner and it didn't happen again till last week.
Sounds like you were running out of gas... If the belt goes, it's gone. Will run bad, if at all, all the time if it jumped a tooth.
Have you changed the fuel filter? If the pressure regulator stuck, it could stop fuel flow. They can stick in either direction, leading to hi or low pressure.
If your EDIS module takes a dive, you will lose spark.
Excessive pinging could be caused by 1) too lean a mix (low fuel pressure & flow) or 2) spark at the wrong time, or 3) carbon on the head & piston.
I originally thought the timing belt could have jumped a tooth, but it wouldn't all of a sudden jump back in time...I have not thought about the fuel issue, but I recently changed the fuel filter and I doubt it would intermittently clog either. So, I am down to a possible fuel pressure regulator (can they go intermittently like that???) or something with spark (crank position sensor???). I know that I need to change the timing belt, but I don't want to do that until it is running well again (hate to waste money on a dead horse). Any other thoughts? Thanks again.
Regulators can fail intermittently. Rare, but can happen. Put a gauge on it and exercise it by taking off the vacuum line, and returning it. Pressure should spike and then reduce. Later models work differently. They don't have a return line to the tank to circulate unused fuel. When it happens, if you can, check for spark. You have an EDIS system, and the EDIS can be tested out of the vehicle.
Hey jerry i had a similar problem a few weeks ago it turned out to be #2 cyl misfire was logged in the computer and that wound up being a bad fuel injector for #2 cylender. But when i got my truck a few years ago another problem i had was a bad coil pack when the engine is running and the problem is happening un plug each plug wire at the coil packs one at a time and look for a spark and notice if the engine changes at idle if not at least you have a starting point of where to look for your problem. i highly doubt it is your timing belt. also if it is a bad coil back i bought mine at Auto Zone. 1\4 the price than ford and i now put 70,000 miles it and it is still working. usally i like to replace parts with FoMoCo parts but i chanced it and so far so good. another slim possibility as a clogged Cat.