1997 Ford Ranger Seat Belt Buckle Replacement

1997 Ford Ranger seat belt buckle with broken button
1997 Ford Ranger seat belt buckle with broken button

The belt buckle (the part connected on the seat that the seat belt latches into) on my 1997 Ford Ranger failed. The button would stick in a pushed state and the belt would not latch or it would latch and then pop out while driving. Sometimes I could hit the button housing and the button would pop out, but it was getting more and more difficult to do. Normally I would search online and order the parts but not wanting to wait any longer to replace the buckle I purchased a new part from a local Ford dealer for $130. I could have probably found it cheaper online but when it comes to safety equipment I prefer to have OEM.

The new buckle came with instructions and will fit 1995 through 1997 Ford Explorer and 1996 through 1997 Lincoln Mountaineer. It also came with instructions but I could not access the screw holding the buckle on the seat which left two options, removing the seat or the center console. I chose to remove the center console.

First the cup holders were removed to access two screws underneath. The cup holds are held on by two clips in the front and sort of hinge of two plastic tabs in the back. I pulled up on the front of the cup holders then pulled the cup holders out.

Cup holders pop out to get to the screws underneath
Cup holders pop out to get to the screws underneath

Once the cup holders are removed two long screws can be removed and this will free the front part of the console.

Remove these two screws
Remove these two screws

In the rear of the console there are plastic covers on each side that need to be removed.

Screw cover
Screw cover

Under the covers there are 4 screws (2 on each side) that will allow the arm rest to be removed.

Screws need to be removed
Screws need to be removed

Once the arm rest is removed there is one final screw to be removed. One the center console is removed access to the seatbelt screw is straight forward.

1997 Ford Ranger center console removed by gregjsmith, on Flickr
1997 Ford Ranger center console removed by gregjsmith, on Flickr

The belt buckle can be removed with a standard T50 torx bit.

150,000 Miles And Still Going

My 1997 Ford Ranger rolled over to 150,000 miles today.

1981 Ford Escort Jet Electrica Vehicle

An obscure piece of automotive history has appeared on Albuquerque’s craigslist It’s dropped in price from $5800.

Electric Car for Sale – $4000 (Albuquerque)

Date: 2011-02-14, 12:19PM MST
Reply to: see below

About the same electric range as a Chevy Volt for 1/4 the cost and you will own a rather rare piece of automotive history!

This is a Jet Electrica, which is a factory converted Ford Escort chassis.
These cars were built on brand new chassis as Electric Vehicles by Jet Industries during the early 1980s.

Everything on this car is in very good operating condition and was recently refurbished. Car is being sold AS-IS (It does NOT come with batteries).
Buyer is responsible for purchasing and installing batteries. Everything else with the exception of the heater is operable and ready to function. A Cybertronics charger and a Manzanita charger are available, but are sold separately. Contact me for details.

Year: 1981
Miles: 26,100


My Last Car Rental: 2009 Ford Mustang

2009 Ford Mustang From Hertz

During my last three days in Arizona for work I rented a a 2009 Ford Mustang from Hertz. It wasn’t my choice, it’s what they gave me and while not quite as exotic as the Corvette it’s probably much more common.

It didn’t have the GT badge but it did seem to have the 4.6 Liter V8 and other GT like features . I didn’t look under the hood but I drove it in perfectly legal ways and certainly seemed like it had more than a V6.


I really enjoyed driving this car. I was really impressed with how well Ford integrated some of the retro elements of the car while keeping it like a modern automobile. It handled well, It as comfortable to drive, I fit in it and could extend my legs, I could see out if it well and it had power. Ford states it can get about 25 MPG highway and the computer on the car showed 25 MPG from whoever drove it last (don’t know if it was highway or city).

I’m not alone in my assessment. Consumer Reports gives the Mustang high marks in their test. They liked it better than the Camero and the Challenger.

The Mustang received a Very Good overall road test score of 78, outpointing the Camaro which received a Very Good 71, and the Challenger, which received a Good 53 points. CR’s engineers found the Mustang’s 2010 freshening makes it an even more balanced and satisfying driver’s car than ever before.

“The Mustang topped this group by delivering strong acceleration, communicative steering, and the most agile handling,” said David Champion, senior director of CR’s Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.

Since driving the 2009 Mustang I have decided that I am going to buy one. Mostly likely a 2010 model due to some significant improvements (really I want the sequential turn signals). Now, all I need is the money.

Ford Speed Control Deactivation Switch Recall Cost

Ford has issued a Speed Control Deactivation Switch Recall (09S09) on a number of trucks and SUVs. They sent me a letter to about my 1997 Ford Ranger and suggested I have it fixed as soon as possible.

Ford cannot be confident that over many years in service, a speed control deactivation switch installed on your vehicle will not leak brake fluid, posing the risk of a fire. This condition may occur either when the vehicle is parked or when it is being operated.

This risk exists on vehicles equipped with or without speed control.

Ford Motor Company has authorized your dealer to perform the repairs under this program and your dealer on your vehicle free of charge (parts and labor).

Your dealer may be able to perform this repair while you wait; however, due to scheduling requirements, your dealer may need your vehicle for a longer period of time.

Please call your dealer without delay and request a service date for Recall 09S09. Provide the dealer with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of your vehicle. The VIN is printed near your name at the beginning of this letter.

Until you have the recall service performed, park your vehicle outdoors away from structures to prevent a potential fire from spreading.

I took it to the local Don Chalmers Ford who was able to get my truck in immediately. They had my truck for about 6 hours and gave me a receipt. Total cost of the repair charged to Ford was 28.89. I realize Ford has millions of these to pay for but I have never taken my truck to a Ford dealer and had such a cheap repair. If I had to pay for this myself, I wonder how much it would have cost me.


My 1997 Ford Ranger Qualifies For The Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash For Clunkers)

There is nothing wrong with my 1997 Ford Ranger except that it’s getting up there in age (kind of like me). Since it’s my only vehicle I am always concerned about total failure or some expensive repairs that could be more than the value of my truck. I’m very interested in what the government’s CAR Allowance Rebate System (formally known as Cash for Clunkers) could do.

Cars.gov has the requirements for the program:

  • Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date
  • Only purchase or lease of new vehicles qualify
  • Generally, trade-in vehicles must get 18 or less MPG (some very large pick-up trucks and cargo vans have different requirements)
  • Trade-in vehicles must be registered and insured continuously for the full year preceding the trade-in
  • You don’t need a voucher, dealers will apply a credit at purchase
  • Program runs through Nov 1, 2009 or when the funds are exhausted, whichever comes first.
  • The program requires the scrapping of your eligible trade-in vehicle, and that the dealer disclose to you an estimate of the scrap value of your trade-in. The scrap value, however minimal, will be in addition to the rebate, and not in place of the rebate.

According to the fueleconomy.gov website, my 1997 Ford Ranger qualifies for the gas efficiently requirements because they say it gets an combined gas miles of 16 MPG.


I was surprised to see that the EPA says my truck gets such low gas milage. I can get at least 18 MPG in town and 22 MPG on the freeway. I was also surprised when I compared my 1997 model with a 2009 Ford Ranger that the 2009 model gets 1 MPG less.


If I were to replace my vehicle under the CARS program, I wouldn’t replace it with a super fuel efficient vehicle. I would need to replace it with another truck (yes I do actually use my truck as a truck and utility vehicle). This doesn’t help me very much because nearly every new truck gets nearly the same gas mileage as mine. I compared my truck to a variety of similar trucks. I could find two that met the mileage requirements and only one actually qualified.


The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 15 Hybrid 4 wheel drive qualifies on the gas miles requirements as it gets 20 MPG. But for some reason it is a Category 2 or Category 3 truck and I cannot trade in my truck for own of those. I don’t know what they category requirements are but seems kind of silly on the surface.

The second possibility is the 2009 Toyota Tacoma 4 wheel drive. It barely gets 2 MPG more than my current truck netting me $3500 in rebate. Is it really worth it for me to trade in my perfectly good working truck for a new one?

Kelly Blue Book says it’s worth about $3000 in trade in value. CARS is not saving me much on the trade in. A new Toyota pickup will be about $26,000 leaving me for about $23,000. That runs just under $400 a month depending on financing.

I just don’t think it’s worth it to trade in a perfectly good pickup that may or may not have problems in the immediate future for a $400 a month payment.

2010 Ford Ranger

3A2C8A90-6903-4E3E-8628-603763F7A1B9.jpgFord has announced the 2010 Ford Ranger and it looks almost like the Ford Ranger I bought in 1997. Ford’s press release promotes safety including AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control) and side air bags. They also promotes the 21 to 26 MPG that the tiny 2.3 liter 4 cylinder engine gets.

I guess there’s some money to be saved by keeping with the same basic design of a vehicle for over a decade. The base price for a low end 2009 Ford Ranger is about $17,000. Compare that to a more innovative truck in about the same size range. The 2009 Honda Ridgeline runs about $28,000 on the low end. I’m not sure a low end Ranger and low end Ridgeline compare exactly however.

You might think that the Ranger might make a good platform for some innovation. Body styling aside, how about an electric or hybrid for Ranger? Oh wait, Ford did Make an electric Ford Ranger and killed them in 2002.

The only option is LionEV, which will offer an electric Ranger for $38,950. That’s almost the price of a hover conversion. LionEV also offers conversion kits for Rangers (electric, not hover) for about $10,000.