One of the most reliable daily drivers and beach run/light off road vehicles we've have ever had (incl the ex 78).
Still, we had minor problems that we addressed quickly.
(btw, you prob know all this)
Besides the usual visual, driveability and leak checks, look for:
While you take a test drive, have someone to stay behind or follow and check for exhaust smoke- cracked exhaust manifold/Y, etc.
-Besides the usual visual, driveability and leak checks, look for:
oil pan, our's formed spots @ 62k miles - sand it down and prime/paint it w/ Rustoleum high temp. paint
tailgate drains for clogs/rust; check weather seals, esp the outer ws on glass
radiator core support rust where it bolts to the frame
rain gutters, bottom of B-pillars & A pillars
leaf spring shackles
body mounts and frame
floor pan esp around rear seat belt mount
inner rear fender lips, bottom of B pillars and bottom of tailgate (fender lips are rusting due to Ford's flawed spot weld process on the inner (tub) and 1/4 panel that lets moisture & debris in the seam) - A Bronco may need extensive & $$$ patch or full panel replacements...
radiator plastic side seam leaks, esp. during engine cool-down period/overnight - our's leaked @ 50k miles & again just recently - look for leaks after engine has cooled down, esp overnight
auto tranny - E4OD had a lot of improvements made by 96 so look for good shifts and see the maintenance records; fluids/filter should have been changed every 30k miles and less if used for towing - look for leaks around pan from (front) Pump seal as well as engine rear main/timing chain cover seals, etc.
radius arm bushing deterioration (I coated em w/pure silicone, from day 1) but replaced at 80k miles w/Daystar polyurethane bushings
Programmable Speedometer Odometer Module (PSOM in 92-96), make sure it works; look for a waver in the needle at highway speeds; most get yard units for DIY
transfer case operation - electric push button motor/connector is a prob. area; usually a broken travel stop or the motor connector is fouled, etc.
cracked exhaust manifold/Y, etc.
emissions air check valve & cat. converter (AIR) tubes tend to rust early; as does the AIR tube; buy locally or from pciinc.com
Cruise/Speed Control Deactivation Switch for 93-96 Bronco, & most all Fords is under ongoing Recall (fire hazard; check for status @ Ford dealer with VIN.
look for some maint records or contact a dealer to see what maint was done to it a Ford dealership in the past (need VIN)
or on-line dealer service record summaries (Ford is adding entries now), etc. at Ford myford.fordvehicles.com (need VIN) & must register if you haven't already for your other Fords.
If no maint records are avail; check and replace if needed all filters and fluids.
Esp if it is an Auto tranny; fluid level; when at norm op temp; after running thru all gears & reverse; no burnt toast or whitish (water) deposits on dip stick.
For a 96 get it checked for codes free at Parts Stores if you don't diy
Also the Check Engine Light (CEL) comes on when the electronic engine control system is not working properly. The check engine warning indicator comes on briefly when the ignition switch lock cylinder is turned to ON, and should turn off when the engine starts. If the check engine warning indicator does not come on when the ignition switch lock cylinder is turned to ON or if it comes on while the vehicle is moving, the system is malfunctioning
If the CEL does not light up at all when starting it; then suspect that bulb is burnt-out or loose, socket was damaged by PO or shop, etc. or someone removed it.
Same for Amber ABS lamp in Instr Panel..
The anti-lock brake electronic control module monitors the electromechanical components of the system. Malfunction of the anti-lock brake system will cause the Anti-lock brake electronic control module to shut off or inhibit the system. However, normal power assisted braking remains. Malfunctions are indicated by the amber ABS warning light inside the vehicle.
The 4-wheel anti-lock brake system is self monitoring. When the key is placed in the RUN position, the anti-lock brake electronic control module will perform a preliminary self check on the anti-lock electrical system indicated by a momentary illumination of the amber ABS warning light in the instrument cluster. During vehicle operation, including normal and anti-lock braking, the anti-lock brake electronic control module monitors all electrical anti-lock functions and some hydraulic operations.
In most malfunctions of the anti-lock brake system, the amber ABS warning light will be illuminated. However, most malfunctions are recorded as a coded number in the anti-lock brake electronic control module memory and assist in pinpointing the component needing service. If system is OK, Code 16 will be present.
Our module blew the microprocessors a few years ago and two yard modules were bad. No returns so I'm running without 4WABS, just like the old days.
Rust rust rust rust rust. Watch out for rust, particularly in the rear wheel wells and the tailgate. If you see rust bubbles etc and someone says "Oh it's just a little rust on the outside" that is crap; rust starts from the inside in those areas and works its way out. If it's bubbling under the paint, chances are it's rusted all the way through.
Loose steering is a concern, often caused by front end parts that need replacement like tie rods, ball joints, drag links, etc. Sometimes caused by the steering box, sometimes by the shaft rag joint.
I would *try* to avoid anything with a lift or any monster tires on it because people who lift trucks etc like that usually offroad them and tear them up. That's no disrespect to my fellow FSB members here who like to offroad but if you want a street vehicle I would probably avoid anything with big offroad type modifications.