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AUTO ADVICE: Sensor issues causing shutdown, parking that motorhome

The lights of the dashboard and the overall performance are giving Rick fits over his Ford Ranger.
The lights of the dashboard and the overall performance are giving Rick fits over his Ford Ranger. - 123RF Stock Photo


I am at wits end. I have a 2011 Ford Ranger, manual shift, 4X4 that has been giving me trouble recently. On occasion the brake, ABS, traction control and engine light icons come on while driving.  As well the speedometer, tachometer and odometer shut down. There is no apparent reason for doing that anyone mechanic can determine so far.  

What is most discerning however is that lately the truck fails to start.  All icons light up but the lock icon is flashing.  Perhaps it believes the truck is being stolen.  The second problem does not necessarily follow the first problem. Sometimes after a bit of time it will start.  (However, I keep my CAA card handy). 
I replaced the PCM with a used one and that did not solve the problems. I am thinking that the second problem may not be associated with the first one.  I’m at a loss and frustrated that Ford cannot suggest a solution. Right now, what has been a very reliable vehicle is useless to me. Any suggestion would be helpful.


I suspect the problems with your Ranger may be related. All the warning lights and the speedometer and odometer have one thing in common – they require information from the vehicle speed sensor. If the sensor or the wiring to it was damaged beneath the vehicle, this would cause the warning lights to come on as well as affect the speedometer and odometer. However, this would not affect the tachometer readout on the dash. 
Then there is the no start condition. The flashing lock icon for the vehicle anti-theft system indicates the vehicle will not to start. Since this doesn’t happen all the time, it would suggest a problem with the vehicle anti-theft module or a power or ground connection to the module. 
In my experience, these problems would indicate a poor body ground for the dash. As it is intermittent, it is likely a loose or corroded ground connection. It could be a power problem to the devices but since they are powered by different fuses, it is more likely it is a ground connection that is common to them all. A bad ground connection typically doesn’t set any trouble codes so there is little information to help diagnosis other than experience. 
Start by cleaning the battery terminals and ground connections to the engine and the body in the engine compartment. If that doesn’t help, look for grounds inside the cab. These will typically be located behind the kick panels. There will be several black wires connected to one eyelet terminal and bolted onto the body structure. 

Make sure there is no paint between the terminal and the body and that the bolt is tight. There can be more than one ground connection so don’t stop looking if you have found one. It is an educated guess but I think this will fix your Ranger problems. 


I am parking my motorhome for the winter and this is the first year I have owned one. Is there anything special I should do to it for winter storage? 


Parking a vehicle for longer terms is often harder on it than driving it. To prepare it for storage, first add some fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank and fill it with fuel to reduce condensation from forming inside the tank and causing rust. Next, inflate tires to their maximum and if it is parked outside, shelter the tires from direct sunlight. 
Check the coolant strength. It is likely good for freezing temperatures but why take a chance. Change oil and filter to get rid of acids in the oil that will etch bearings and shaft journals. This oil doesn’t need to changed next spring so you are one step ahead. I like to “fog” the engine cylinders with oil. 

You can remove the spark plugs, spray some engine oil in and crank the engine, but an easier way is to spray oil directly into the engine intake with the engine cranking but not running. Be very careful to spray only a little at a time – too much oil will cause a hydraulic lock in the cylinders and damage the engine. 
Finally, charge the battery completely and disconnect the negative battery terminal. Charge it again in about 3 months to maximize battery life and it should be ready to start the vehicle in the spring. 


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