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Full size bronco first truck?

1576 Views 32 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  MojoJojo
Hey guys I’m turnin 14 in October and parents said I could buy my first car when I’m 14 to work on and get ready for when I get my permit. I’m wondering if a bronco would be a good reliable first truck I have always had a passion for Broncos because me grandpa has one with 33k og. Miles no rust and I love it to death but it can’t be me first because it is way too nice. But would a old bronco be good in the snow and to get me to school in the week and to the mountains on weekends? I don’t know but am worried if it will have enough power to get up to speed and to haul a atv around. I like bronco because it is a truck but can haul friend’s around and work. I’m just looking for advice so I know what to get and if a bronco is a good idea to get one.
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I’ve always believed 80-96 Broncos or f150s are the perfect high school truck. Prices have been on the way up, but you can still find an affordable Bronco with some searching. Can find an f150 even cheaper. They have enough power to haul whatever you need to haul, but not enough to get yourself into too much trouble, at least in stock form.
What does you budget look like, do you have a number you are looking to stay under?
I had bronco's in high school, a 78 with a 460 in it, then an 85 with a 351 in it and they were a blast. I towed dirtbikes, went up camping, had a great time. The main issue with Broncos is rust in my area with salted roads in the winter here in Michigan. The salt destroys Bronco's fast, so if you find a nice one, it would be a shame to destroy it by using it in the winter.

Then once you find one, dont sell it or you'll find yourself buying another one 20 years later and it will cost a whole lot more than you sold it for. I'd say looking for for 80-96, maybe 80-86 351 with a carb for simplicity, as the EFI seems to have a lot of little quirks as these trucks are old and things like rotted vacuum lines and bad sensors happen, a carb is a much more simple system.

They are fun trucks though, I think they will fit your needs perfectly, plus teach you a lot because you will have things that need adressed, and there is always routine maintenence as well, but its an great platform to learn all this stuff on.
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Hmm sounds familiar... Got my first bronco at 14 as well. A 94 with 72k miles. Got me through rain, snow, ice, deer, etc. They are a great first vehicle!

Dependable depends on the condition of the bronco. A rust bucket rats nest wiring on mismatched tires is probably not. But you can make it reliable. Just be prepared to pay some money, ask us questions, and dont buy in to the gimmicks like a cold air kit or $300 diff covers.
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Yo UT_Bronco,
We had a 78 and now have a 96 Bronco (bought new). The 96 has been the best ever family vehicle in terms of no engine, transmission, differential(s) issues at all. We have replaced three sensors ourselves, smog pump, radiator, radiator core support and rear quarter panel wheel arches with patch panels. Tailgate rust was also addressed with sheet metal patches and welding.

Read the 78-96 Bronco History by Trent R. @ Historical Facts On The Bronco

Body Styles are 78-79, 80-86, 87-91 & 92-96.
See them by Car & Driver @ A Visual History of the Ford Bronco, from Trail Crawling to Slow-Speed Chases

Decision is up to you on whether you prefer a carbureted or electronic fuel injection model, body style, or more perks available in later model years, such as;
87 - 92 was the years the rear anti-lock brakes 4-wheel anti-lock brake system was introduced.
in 93-96 4-wheel anti-lock brake system was introduced.
96 models were built with the OBD II that provides almost complete engine control and to meet EPA emission standards.

Our Navy Federal Credit Union suggests using Research New & Used Car Prices for finding the "value" of a vehicle. But it's up to you to decide based on your preferences.

Order a CARFAX™. Although not all accident info May not be provided, other important info is provided @ CARFAX - Shop, Buy, Own, & Sell Used Cars

VINCheck® by National Insurance Crime Bureau is a free service provided to the public to assist in determining if a"... vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by cooperating NICB member insurance companies. To perform a search, a vehicle identification number (VIN) is required. A maximum of five searches can be conducted within a 24-hour period per IP address." @ VINCheck® | National Insurance Crime Bureau

While you take a test drive, have someone stay behind or follow and check for leak puddles, exhaust smoke, tire shimmy, etc.
Member dash_cam offers very good advice on having an independent inspection done at sellers location! If you cant inspect it yourself, post Location in the noobie section and ask members for their help or seek out an ASE certified shop in area to inspect it for you. ASE is National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, read about it @ About ASE - ASE.
Find an ASE shop @ Shop Locator - ASE
Google each for reviews especially in Yelp, Facebook, BBB.

Besides the usual visual, driveability and leak checks, look for:
Engine Oil level: If the oil level is low, chances are the engine uses oil or leaks. Beware of water in the oil (there is probably a cracked block or bad head gasket), or thin, dirty oil with a distinct gasoline smell (this may indicate internal engine problems).
  • oil pan rust - our's formed spots @ 62k miles - sand it down and prime/paint it w/Rust Bullet Automotive) & high temp. paint - too time-consuming replacement for such a basic thing as not having better gauge and paint by Ford
  • try opening and closing tailgate and moving glass
  • 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 in 90 to 96 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.
Pull the transmission dipstick out when the engine is running at normal operating temp. The level should read FULL.
For it and C6 or AOD, look for leaks around pan from (front) Pump seal. Observe color and odor of the fluid. It should be red, not brown or black. Dark brown or black fluid that has distinct burnt odor, indicates a transmission in need of repair or overhaul.
Odor may indicate overheating condition, clutch disc or band failure. Use an absorbent white facial tissue and wipe the fluid level indicator. Examine the stain for evidence of solid particles and for engine coolant signs (gum or varnish on fluid level indicator).
If particles are present in the fluid or there is evidence of engine coolant or water, the transmission pan must be removed for further inspection.

- The M5OD is a top shift, fully synchronized, five-speed manual transmission, equipped with an overdrive fifth gear ratio is in 88-96 Broncos. All gear changes including reverse are accomplished with synchronizer sleeves.
"M5OD Preventative Measure; Those of you who own Ford full size or small size trucks with the M5OD Mazda design 5 speed manual transmission should have the rubber shift cover plugs resealed at your earliest possible convenience. A common occurrence with this model transmission is the rubber plugs shrinking over time and allowing lube oil to leak out of the transmission. This occurs while the vehicle is in operation, so there is less of a tendency for a puddle to develop when the vehicle is sitting parked. The result to the transmission is a lack of lubrication and damage to some very expensive gears and bearings." by DRW Transmission Specialties, Inc
  • engine rear main/timing chain cover seals, etc.
  • rust in radiator core support, bottom of B pillars and rocker panels, tailgate, and rear fender lips due to Ford's flawed spot weld process on the inner (tub) that lets moisture & debris in the seam. A Bronco may need extensive $ patch or full panel replacements ⚠.
  • 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, aka speedometer/odometer), make sure it works; look for a slight waver in the needle at highway speeds.
  • cracked exhaust manifold/Y, etc.
  • cab roof/gutter area cracks (mostly appl. to earlier years)
  • emissions air check valve & cat. converter (AIR) tubes tend to rust early; as does the AIR tube; buy locally or from
  • radiator core supports, lower, it rusts mainly on passenger side, PIA to replace
  • body mount deterioration and frame rust
  • transfer case operation - electric push button motor/connector is a prob. area; usually a broken travel stop and/or the motor connector is fouled, etc.
Also in Electronic Fuel Injected years, the Check Engine Light (CEL) comes on when the electronic engine control (EEC) 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:
E4OD Transmission Control Indicator Light (TCIL), it is a LED and overdrive on/off switch at end of the Transmission shifter stalk; flashing OD light is an indication of a transmission related trouble code in the Powertrain Control Module (PCM).

For pre 96 with EFI do a SELF TEST for diagnostic trouble codes (DTC)s by my pal BroncoJoe
or have such as Equus 3145 Innova OBD I Code Reader for Ford EEC IV Engines at Walmart & most parts stores.

For a 96 get a free code scan @ Parts Stores if you don't diy with a scanner.

1987 - 1992 was the years the rear anti-lock brakes (RABS) were standardized on Broncos; "...Rear-wheel ABS is another type of ABS available on some light trucks. It operates only the rear wheels, especially important with light trucks, which often carry heavy loads supported primarily by the rear suspension and wheels. The RABS module monitor the electromechanical components of the systems. Malfunction of the 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 (4WABS) in 93-96 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.
Our module blew it's microprocessors a few years ago and two yard modules were bad. No returns so I'm running without 4WABS, just like the old days.

Cash is King!!!
When Richard Rawling, star of TV show Fast N' Loud was growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, his dad, Raymond Rawlings always had a car or a motorcycle lying around. “It wasn’t the nicest or the best, but it was his,” the younger Rawlings says. Ray wasn’t much of a mechanic, more of a detailer and a tinkerer. On weekends, the guys in the neighborhood would come over, mess around with whatever car Ray had at the time and drink beer in the garage.

One of those guys who came around also taught Rawlings a lesson about negotiating that he still carries with him: “I was around 13. He said, ‘Son, you could buy a $10,000 car all day long for five grand if you have it in your pocket. Always carry cash.’ ”
As craigslist advises, "Do not extend payment to anyone you have not met in person.
Beware offers involving shipping - deal with locals you can meet in person.
Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union) - anyone who asks you to is a scammer.

Sometimes a seller may "promise" to return a certain amount of money during negotiations..
Transactions are between users only, no third party provides a "guarantee".
Never give out financial info (bank account, social security #, paypal account, etc).

A summary of questions to ask the seller;
"* Do you have the maintenance records?
  • Do you have the title in hand and is there a lien on the Bronco?
  • How do I get the title?
  • Has the vehicle been in any accidents?
  • Can I receive close-up pictures of a specific area (miesk5 note, such as on 1/4 panels, tailgate, etc)?
  • Are there any document or preparation fees?"
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I’ve always believed 80-96 Broncos or f150s are the perfect high school truck. Prices have been on the way up, but you can still find an affordable Bronco with some searching. Can find an f150 even cheaper. They have enough power to haul whatever you need to haul, but not enough to get yourself into too much trouble, at least in stock form.
What does you budget look like, do you have a number you are looking to stay under?
Well my budget right now is looking like top end 5k
Ya I was thinking 80-96 because they are a little bit more reliable. But I love the 460 because it has more power. But would a bronco stock be good to go trailing with? At our cabin when the roads are wet you need 4x4 because it can get sloppy. So would a bronco be good to take into mud? I am planning to go camping a lot and just sleep in the truck but the places we like to go are pretty sloppy most of the time so would a stock one do just fine? I don’t plan on going muddling or anything I just want to know if it would be good enough to get me through muddy roads and snow
Mudders are us!😎
That is one I have Ben looking at right now it is a 1994 Ediebower with 158 on the clock.
Ok I can’t lie I will probably take it mudding......Alot
How much are they asking for that one? Seats are expensive to re-cover in leather but you may get lucky finding cloth seats at a junkyard, I did. Looks not bad overall from what I see, my 94 is all original on the drivetrain and overall runs great at 196K

Edit: You are willing to get your hands dirty, right? I was in high school when I got my 88 and I did a lot on it.
How much are they asking for that one? Seats are expensive to re-cover in leather but you may get lucky finding cloth seats at a junkyard, I did. Looks not bad overall from what I see, my 94 is all original on the drivetrain and overall runs great at 196K

Edit: You are willing to get your hands dirty, right? I was in high school when I got my 88 and I did a lot on it.
There asking 3500. And yes I am willing to get my hands dirty and to mess with it. I am willing to wrench on it and get it dirty. And I want to do things to it to make it mine so ya I am willing to get my hands dirty and do work myself
I had that 460 in my 79, and sold it because it was so bad on fuel, 8-9mpg, so when I picked up the 85 351, it got 12mpg, which seemed great to me.

Broncos are great offroad, muddy trails, ect, but be nice to them. If you want to be the cool guy mudding, and beating the crap out of your truck, you will learn really quickly that hard driving breaks expensive parts, bends steering parts & quickly turn your truck into a giant piece of sh*t!! That is true with any 4x4 though, even a brand new one. If you beat them, you'll break them, period, so the nicer you are to them, the better they will treat you.
Ya I’m not planning on beating the crap out of it. It just needs to get through muddy trails to get through to our cabin. Ya I will probably trail it a bit but am not planning on fkng it up mudding
Then you will love it, they are great offroad as long as you have decent tread on your tires.

I had that same color 96 302 Eddie Bauer new, with cloth seats, I loved that truck!
$3500 seems great if it’s minor rust. These trucks are getting very expensive very fast.

Get it! Very easy to tinker with if you want to learn.

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I got mine at 15 and it's still here 15 years later. Treat them right and they're great trucks. They aren't that fast so you won't get into much trouble there, but you might want to get a winch. By the end of high school my dad was sick of pulling my ass out of mud holes at 10 pm.
Parts are relatively inexpensive but you'll learn quickly ot avoid the cheap shit. Mine is on 31" A/Ts and is surprising how capable it is. They're also extremely tough.
Watch the green bronco. That's James (kingfish999). He jumps that shit regularly.
As someone who got there bronco at 14 and is now nearly 17 I wii I ill say they are very good trucks. I have 33” A/Ts that I went trialing with and did not have 4wd. I went through multiple mud pits and it did not really come close to getting stuck. Granted I do have an lsd in the rear so that did help a lot. I have an 87 so it was the first year with EFI and all that. I pretty much immediately got rid of the old engine as I wanted to make some pretty good power. Which it’s good that I did because I recently took the head off and it had 2 bent rods. Put a 650 cfm carb and a 95 351w in it and it’s done great. Gas mileage is not great, I get like 8-9mpg city and 12-13 highway. Pretty sure on any stock bronco you’ll get better mileage. I haven’t actually towed with mine but I’m sure it will do fine, just have to be careful with such a short wheel base. They are cool trucks and you can do a lot to them.
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