Advice on buying used Ranger
I'm interested in purchasing a 1995 4.0 V6 Ford Ranger 4x4 pickup with 145,000 miles on the original engine. It's a 5 speed manual tranny. Owner says he had the transfer case rebuilt about 7 years ago. The turn-dial 4WD works, both high and low. Shifts in and out of 4WD quickly and smoothly. There is a good sized dent in the right rear corner of the bed, above and behind the right wheel. It appears to be cosmetic. Owner says it was hit in a parking lot, and he never bothered to fix the dent because he wasn't concerned about appearances. I drove it, and it seems to run well (caveat below). No major leaks, no rust, engine looks really clean. Under body is rust-free and looks solid.
I took the 95 Ford Ranger to a tranny shop because I was concerned about vibration during acceleration. Turns out it's a misfiring cylinder. I talked to the owner who said he NEVER had the plugs and wires replaced since he's owned it...about 7 or 8 years...so I'm hoping that's the problem and thus not too expensive. The first shop said the tranny fluid needs to be flushed and the rear differential needs servicing. I'm already in for $30 for the tranny shop diagnoses, and I'll be in for at least another $75 for the engine diagnoses. Plus the cost of plugs and wires (if that's what it is), plus the cost of the tranny flush and the rear differential. I'm guessing I'll be in for a total of about $300 in maintenance repairs if I decide to buy it. I'll certainly tell the owner I want to take the cost of the repairs off the price of the truck if I buy it. Is that fair? I've never bought a truck from a private party, so I'm not sure what the proper protocol is here. It seems to me that he advertised the truck as a functional vehicle and wasn't aware and/or didn't disclose the issues that needed to be addressed with the engine/differential/tranny fluid. The tranny shop guy said other than the issues mentioned above, the truck is in great shape with no rust, no major leaks, etc. Assuming the engine misfire is a minor issue that can be resolved without too much cost, it seems like it would be a great truck for my purposes.
Knowing all of those details, can I get some more advice from readers about how I should proceed? Like I said, I've never bought from a private party before, so this is new territory for me. The seller is a very nice guy who lives and works in my neighborhood and drinks beers at my local brewery, so he has to be a pretty decent guy. However, I want to make sure I'm doing my level best to avoid getting ripped off, and your help would be appreciated.
Does anyone have experience with this make/model/year vehicle, and whether there are known maintenance issues I should know about. Timing belts? Transmission problems? Engine problems? Etc. He's asking $2,500 for the truck, which includes a topper and bed liner. My insurance company sent the settlement check, leaving me without a vehicle as of Wednesday. I may need to move fast on this, so any advice ya'll can give ASAP would be GREATLY appreciated.