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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone. I am thinking about buying a FSB and have some general questions: what’s the best year? I am looking for something I can daily drive (auto, AC) but can go anywhere if I want/need it to. I know this is a wide open question, but are there some general things to be aware of? For example are there certain years that have problems with electrical, tranny, etc? Are there particular engines that are great or others that are know to break down? Any specific years have great or terrible suspension (I’ll probably put a mild lift anyway)... steering, cooling, etc?

I’ll probably lean toward newer years for convenience items like fuel injection and AC, even though I love the look of older rigs... but I’m open to learning if that is a bad call.

Any info would be greatly appreciated. Just some good rules of thumb I should know while shopping!

Looking forward to becoming part of the bronco family!


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1980 XLT; 5.0L 347 stroker; C6; NP208; Holley Sniper EFI
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1980! I think the Broncos first got fuel injection in 86, AC earlier then that. I like the 80s ones a lot but if you want the OBD2 port 1996 is your only option.
 

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Man of endless projects
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i think most people agree that the 96 is the best year. newest, R134a AC, best fuel injection, aero body style, modern features, overdrive, same strength as any other year. only real downside is buying one for a good price and they use some specific hard to find parts on some stuff. cost of broncos has gone up alot of the last few years and the 96 is going to cost the most.

id jsut aim for what you can get for a good price. other than the 96, you can have a endless discussion about what is better at what. like the 94-95 5.0 trucks have second best EFI. 92-96 have better looks and aftermaket, but 80-86 look more oldschool, but 87-91 look most traditional, 78-79 are the best for offroad. some 5.0 trucks have crappy AOD transmissions, C6 tranmissions are gas hogs but are super strong, E4OD trans are good but very expensive to rebuild. 300 I6 is nearly indestructable but slow, 302 is underpowered but have more aftermarket, 351 are more powerfull but have less aftermarket. endless. find something you like and go for it, but dont be surprized if it becomes a money pit
 

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I agree with what's been said before that the 96 would be best for your described wants/needs. I picked an earlier model for less electronics for more of a SHTF vehicle.
 

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84 Bronco, 351w, c6, custom doubler, np208, 5.13’s, TTB44, 9”, locked f/r
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This is all a matter of opinion, but as a daily driver/all purpose rig a 96 with 5.8 and e4od is pretty hard to beat.
Otherwise, I’d lean towards anything with a 300 i6 or 351w. Nothing necessarily wrong with a 302/5.0, just don’t really have thar much grunt. I would stay away from anything with an AOD. C6 is the best off-road. I’m not an auto trans guy, but there is no getting around how bulletproof a c6 is. NP435/t18 are both bulletproof also, m5od 5 speeds had some issues but a zf5 swap is easy.
1988 and some 89’s got crappy “top hat” style hubs on the front axle. Those are weak if you plan to wheel the thing, but if you are just driving it on the street/snow/light wheeling it will be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I agree with what's been said before that the 96 would be best for your described wants/needs. I picked an earlier model for less electronics for more of a SHTF vehicle.
Noob question - what’s SHTF?


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78 Custom 351M NP435 NP205 Sniper EFI Hedman Headers Magnaflow Muffler 4.56 Gears Grizzly lockers
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Discussion Starter #8

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1994 Ford Bronco Eddie Bauer 5.8
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The price difference has many variables. Is it rust free, milage, original or rebuilt or new engine, transmission, paint, steering, suspension, etc. If it's going to be your main and only vehicle, get something that's in good shape on the higher end of your budget most likely. But keep in mind you will be continuously putting money into the truck and it becomes an obsession.

You can get something for 3-4k and immediately put in another 3-4k to get it in good shape. Or you can pay to 8k+ for one that has already been restored to a decent level. I'm not extremely handy but after having a bronco the past 9 months I've learned alot and done most of the work myself.

I've has a 93, 89, 95, and test drive a 85. I liked the 95 the best because it's still huge, has some more modern conveniences, and I just prefer the look. At 190k miles the 5.8 engine and transmission are still strong. I didn't think the 5.0 are wrong enough for the size of a Bronco. But whatever you decide, they're all pretty sweet rides and I don't think you'll be disappointed.
 

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1996 for convenience and trouble shooting ability. 1979 for just plane bad ass... and a solid front axle. looking at first time purchase it will be hard to figure out why the price difference. Once you start turning wrenches on these the price difference becomes apparent. Anything that you can buy already repaired.... saves you time and money which should equal a price increase. The hard to fix stuff like rust, engine rebuilds, and transmission are easy to spot from someone who has been down that road.

If you are not already familiar with Ford full size vehicles be prepared for the gas pump shock. These things enjoy drinking and if you daily drive it... it will be painful. The bigger the motor the thirstier she gets. Put on some bigger tires and 10mpg is not unheard of. When making the purchase understand that the 5.8 is the biggest motor... but also gets the worst MPG. I have both the 5.8 and 5.0. I daily drive the 5.0 with a 5 speed and can average 13 to 15 mpg. If it is just a weekend toy.. disregard... and try to find one that has a 460 already swapped in.
 

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If you are looking for creature comforts and driveability the newer the better (ABS, Airbag, EFI, etc)
96 the last year has OBDII , not OBDI like the 93 & 94.
You will apprecieate OBDII when a check engine light comes on
 

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Addicted to Junk
85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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This is all a matter of opinion, but as a daily driver/all purpose rig a 96 with 5.8 and e4od is pretty hard to beat.
Otherwise, I’d lean towards anything with a 300 i6 or 351w. Nothing necessarily wrong with a 302/5.0, just don’t really have thar much grunt. I would stay away from anything with an AOD. C6 is the best off-road. I’m not an auto trans guy, but there is no getting around how bulletproof a c6 is. NP435/t18 are both bulletproof also, m5od 5 speeds had some issues but a zf5 swap is easy.
1988 and some 89’s got crappy “top hat” style hubs on the front axle. Those are weak if you plan to wheel the thing, but if you are just driving it on the street/snow/light wheeling it will be fine.
Hit the nail on the head with this one...

Except isnt it 87 and early 88 with the TopHat hubs?

86 and back Broncos tend to feel more like an old rig, where 87+ tend to feel like a modern vehicle.

The most expensive and difficult item to repair on these is RUST. Find a rust free example, and the rest is easy to fix or maintain.
 

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Yo iellis,
On that 96 Red XLT SPORT Model for sale, the cab step brackets often rust severely, ask seller if the brackets are sturdy. CARFAX™ report is better than quite a few I've seen with more maintenance, repairs and inspections shown. However, some gaps are present though, especially between;
4/4/96 69 mi. Michigan Motor Vehicle Dept. First owner reported
And,
4/6/98 35,232 mi. Auto Auction Vehicle sold
But owner may have used local shop to perform maintenance
■●■
As so heartedly advised, 1996 is best year!
We have a 96, bought it new in May 96 and basically, we "over-maintain" it; meaning 3k mile oil/filter changes & lube, all filters changed, etc, using Ford's severe duty schedule.
It's the most reliable daily driver and beach run/light off road vehicles we've have ever had (incl the ex 78 which was a great vehicle).
Still, we had minor problems that we addressed quickly, such as some engine sensor replacements, fuel tank and quarter panel & lower tailgate rust lip rust. However, no engine, transmission, transfer case or other driveline issues!

Here is my checklist:
Confirm year with Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). VIN Decoder; 87-96 Bronco & Ford Truck @
Truck Parts and Truck Accessories

Our Navy Federal Credit Union suggests using https://www.nadaguides.com for finding the "value" of a vehicle.

Order a CARFAX™. Although not all accident info is provided, other important info may be shown @ https://www.carfax.com

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:
  • 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. 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.
E4OD Transmission Control Indicator Light (TCIL) 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).
Is it flashing while driving?
Get a free diagnostic trouble code scan @ Parts Stores if you don't diy with a scanner.

- The M5OD is a top shift, fully synchronized, five-speed manual transmission (7003), equipped with an overdrive fifth gear ratio. All gear changes including reverse are accomplished with synchronizer sleeves.
Inspect the case for cracks, worn or damaged bores, damaged threads, or any other damage that could affect operation of the transmission. Inspect the machined mating surfaces for burrs, nicks or damage.
The clutch may be hard to depress and/or the clutch slave cylinder may wear out prematurely on some Broncos. This may be due to the clutch slave cylinder allowing hydraulic fluid to leak.
Preventative Measure; You 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.
  • 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).
  • engine rear main/timing chain cover seals, etc.
  • rust in 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) - may need extensive $ patch or full panel replacements at a body shop.
  • 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 pciinc.com
  • 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.

● 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.

● Ask seller if the cruise control, if equipped recall work completed by dealership? Call dealer & have VIN ready to confirm or check status @ https://www.safercar.gov
Use this guide by jowens1126 @ https://www.fullsizebronco.com/forum...ml#post6530073

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.’ ”

"Cashier’s checks can be forged, money orders can be forged, and personal/business checks can be forged. Cash can also be, but it’s harder to make believable and easier to test. Take a powerful magnet with you. Yes a magnet. You see, on top of ID strips and watermarks, the ink the federal reserve uses has iron in it, therefore it will be attracted to a powerful magnet." by Froggmann
Banks cash fakes, then hold you responsible. ..
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 title in hand and is there a lien on the Bronco?
  • How do I get the title?
  • Has the vehicle been in any accidents?
  • Are there any document or preparation fees?
& if these may bother you; *Did this car belong to a smoker? *Was this car used by pet owners?"
*by ebay

Good hunting!
Al
 

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84 Bronco, 351w, c6, custom doubler, np208, 5.13’s, TTB44, 9”, locked f/r
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85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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Maybe a better question would be what's the worst year for the FSB.
20 years ago, I'd say any '80 Ford is a piece of crap. But most of those issues have arisen and been dealt with already. I.e. head bolts laying in the top of the head, swiss cheese frame, etc.

Mid 80s with feedback carbs are pretty terrible too now, unless the feedback system has been removed.
 

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depends on your use budget etc... i mean all around its hard to beat the 78-79 for shear toughness and so forth but they are expensive and like the fuel. the 96 has obii so its good for some people bad for some. the exhaust seems to be a headache for modders also they are super expensive. i personally not as big of fan of the 92-96 as much in general. i mean its still a great looking truck but i prefer the older ones. the 80-84s look great but also no overdrive no efi all that jazz. the 85 had od trans iirc with a 302 and the 86 had efi and od but those arent easy to find. brick noses the 87-91 had all the goods like the 86. but i would want a 89-91 if i was getting one if i chose just a few little better odds and ends plus the 351 has the e4od those years as an option. personally i own a brick love the looks of it and they are super cheap to buy and maintain also parts are very cheap for them. as of later the aftermarket has started to catch up to them also. i mean we can get clear lights for them and such now. plus the insides are so much more roomy feeling in the bricks and bull noses over aero nose. one downside is no power mirrors though of the older ones.
 

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ones worst year is another beast year.

generally the first year of any generation is considered ther worst for any vehicle. i would say the early 80s are worst. they are the oldest afterall so more chance or rust and wear. the first few years use 'swiss cheese frame' which is riddled with holes to lighten it up but weakens it. they were offered the 351M which is junk. they do not have overdrive. the wiring is kinda crappy of the bullnoses. however then there is the 86, last year of bullnose in which the 302 had first year of EFI and everything is all kinda unique and crappy. then the 87, first year of bricknose, were the EFI improved but is still pretty bad, but the gauges are now more idiot lights, have tophat lockouts, no more legendary 9" axle.

again there is no real worst year. but the older it gets the more work it will be and less what your looking for. the newer it is the more comfort you are going to get and less wear it will probably have but more expensive it will be. all you can do is pick something you like and can afford
 

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Driving Stuff Henry Built
-90 xlt, 351w, e4od, man 1356, 3.55, sag, warn hubs, 35s. -73, 400, np435, d20j twin, 35s
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Here's my regular reply to these questions. Please excuse the cut & paste.

1- What year Bronco should I buy?
2- What are common problems to watch out for when buying a Bronco?


The body style breaks are 78-79, 80-86, 87-91, & 92-96. If you look thru the Post a Pic of your Bronco 80-96 Thread & Post a Picture of your Bronco 78-79 Thread you can see the different styles. As they get newer, wheel openings seem to get smaller.

1980 had an odd frame with holes in it. In 81 they went back to the solid frame. I think in 92 they went to the accordion style frame horns, so it can be trickier to add recovery points. 87 & some 88s with manual hubs had the top hat hubs which are expensive to replace, & require a lot of additional parts to swap to the more common hubs, avoid those if you can. 87 & 88 auto hubs can be swapped easily like other years. Auto hubs are prone to fail, but changing to manual hubs is pretty simple. Don't let auto hubs deter you from buying an otherwise good truck, just plan on making the switch. There are several good write ups on swapping them if the time comes.

Broncos with 302s had EFI before the 351s. As you move to newer trucks, the electronic systems become more advanced. If it has EFI, you should be able to pull codes from the computer to help with diagnostic issues. 96s (Maybe some 95s) are MAF (Which is more adaptable to intake/cam changes) & are OBDII. 87-92 had rear antilock brakes, 93-96 have 4 wheel ABS.

78-79 are the only years that came stock with solid front axles, which the rock crawlers like. The high speed desert guys seem to prefer the TTB independent front axle which is stock from 80-96.

All full size Broncos had the removable tops, but the newer ones (92+?) have rear seat shoulder belt mounting points & 3rd brake lights, so they aren't supposed to be removed.

The later years come with an E4OD 4 speed overdrive tranny. It's a heavy duty trans, but doesn't like heat & is expensive to rebuild. Make sure it's in good shape. It's a good idea to add an external filter & cooler if you get one (Like this: Trans Filter, Cooler & THERMOSTAT install by Fireguy50 or this VOTE For Sept.'07 FOTM by Sixlitre -Post 173 Trans filter.) They did do some upgrades to the newest E4ODs, & when the older ones are rebuilt, they should include those upgrades. If you are using it primarily offroad, you might prefer an older truck with a C-6 (Non overdrive) trans. There were other trannies used as well & adrianspeeder's Bronco Tranny and T-Case Info thread has a bunch of trans/engine/year combo info.

As for being lifted, you'd rather have extended radius arms than radius arm drop brackets. Blocks are definitely bad in the front, & aren't the best solution for the rear either. Take a look thru the lift section of Baba Looey's Favorite FSB Links for several links on the subject.

Both manual & electric shift t-cases were available in late 80s-96. Most of us think the manual ones are more reliable, but in salt belt trucks sometimes the manual linkage is more trouble. There's a good electronic shift diagnostic routine that kf4amu links regularly, & shadowfax & others have writeups on rebuilds & swaps. Both electric & manual shift thru later years are BW 1356 t-cases, so internally the works are the same, even though shifters won't interchange. RickyB makes an electric to manual conversion called the "Shiftster".

If you're looking for common problems, watch out for rust over the rear wheel well openings & bottom of the tailgate. It usually starts on the inside, so if you see it, it's probably all the way thru. Rain gutter & bottom of the B pillar are also places to look. The rear window will act up on most of these eventually, but the problems usually aren't bad to fix. Don't let a stuck window scare you off, use it as a bargaining chip.

For my use, if I was buying one today, I'd probably be looking at an 89 351w or a 78-79. The 89 is very similar to my 90, (Which I like a lot & have grown familiar with) but the 89 has a C-6 behind the 351. I don't drive mine much on the freeway, so I don't think I'd miss the OD. The 89 also has electronic fuel injection, which is great for steep trails. 78-79s are just cool, simpler (If you learned on carbureted engines anyway :toothless), have larger wheel openings, & have solid axles.
 
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