Here Are the Ford F-150 Years To Avoid
Photo by Pavel Anoshin on Unsplash
The F-150 is a classic truck. But does it stand the test of time? Read on to learn about this vehicle’s benefits and drawbacks and see which years to avoid.
Short List: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017
Ford has been one of the top-performing and selling trucks for decades and is generally considered the most reliable and durable option out there. In any given year, it has the chance to be the best-selling vehicle in the US and ranked third overall in 2021. Since trucks are one of the most expensive vehicles you can buy, you might be tempted to look for a used pickup to save some money.
The old saying of “you get what you pay for” is certainly applicable to trucks, and these are some Ford F-150 model years to avoid if you’re in the market for a used pickup. It should be noted that none of these should be considered terrible vehicles, as every make and model has its pros and cons every year.
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F-150 Model Years to Avoid: 2004-2006
- Corroded gas tanks
- Defective airbags
- Spark plugs
- Power windows
Some critics say this was the worst stretch in the F-150’s impressive history. Specifically, 2004 and 2005 had low consumer and critical reviews for its problems with corroded gas tank straps that would ultimately cause it to detach and drag below the chassis and drag on the ground. The same issue was prominent for the 2005 model year, with an added airbag defect that would inadvertently deploy, and drivers have a major recall and safety hazard. Both model years sold close to one million vehicles, so there’s a good chance if it’s still on the road from this period, this issue impacted it.
These two model years had similar issues that plagued customers, and since these are nearly 20 years old, there are plenty of other years to choose from that will save you some money on your purchase. Aside from the corrosion issues, they also had common problems with windows and spark plugs. That’s a lot of potential headaches for drivers to deal with.
The spark plugs were caused by a faulty aluminum cylinder head design, and both model years were reported to have spark plugs breaking and causing engine problems on a routine basis. Especially during repair, there was a higher reported rate of engine damage for 6L V8, 5.4L V8, and 6.8L V10 than in previous years. On top of that, both years struggled with basic window performance where the power window control wouldn’t register, or the window would fail to release from the door itself, creating a safety, financial, and safety headache.
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You might be tempted by the low listing price (due to its model year and mechanical issues), but these three will likely cost you more money than you’ll save on the initial purchase price. By the third year of having these issues, the 2006 started to show some promise, but most trucks never made it over 100,000 miles in their lifespan. When the powerhouse trucks from the 1990s were still on the road, most 2006 models gave out after just over seven years.
F-150 Model Year to Avoid: 2010
- Return of spark plug failure
- Touch screen failure
- Poor transmission performance
After a few years of fewer issues, the spark plugs again plague the 2010 model. While a handful of years in this timeframe had fewer issues, common coil failures caused the engine to misfire or not start entirely from this period. Luckily, this is one of the last years to report engine failure as a widespread problem, but the 2010 is definitely an F-150 model year to avoid plenty of issues with its sensory system.
In one of the early years of the “My Ford Touch Screen,” drivers reported sudden unresponsiveness and situations where the backup camera never popped up while backing up the truck in reverse. It was one of the first iterations of smartphone compatibility; the 2010 failed to recognize phone connections reasonably high, which can be a big headache today if you need to connect for calls or directions. The 2010 is a newer F-150 model year to avoid, with its recurring issues from prior generations, and it’s also the first in a few from this era that had transmission failure as early as 35,000 miles.
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F-150 Model Years to Avoid: 2015-2017
- Faulty door mechanics
- Transmission and gear shifting problems
- Brake failure
These years were incredibly high selling model years, but we know they didn’t always perform at expectation when looking back on this stretch. These model years sold just about one million trucks sold, and essentially all of the trucks sold during this period were at risk of having sudden, with no real explanation. Some additional safety concerns were found with the engine and gear shift failure. These issues were reportedly more common when drivers were transporting weights weighing around 5,000 pounds when it became difficult to shift. For an F-150 that has a towing capacity of over 10,000 pounds on most models, this is a problem.
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While the 2015-2017 model years were popular and sold well, there are a lot of issues from these years that should make you steer clear of this period from Ford. Brake failure was reported several times, with several drivers claiming that their master cylinder needed to be replaced after their brakes suddenly stopped working. The dashboard displayed a “low brake fluid” warning, and drivers could not operate the brakes within minutes. While there were fewer reported complaints, the same problems were expected in 2016 and 2017, and the NHTSA received complaints of engine stalls for these two models under 30,000 miles.
Which F-150 Model Years are Good? 2018 and newer
You can find plenty of used vehicles from these years that might look like a deal, but keep in mind these are still relatively young at five years old, and more problems might come up shortly. A used truck for around $20,000 would tempt anyone, but going for a lower purchase price will probably cost you more money and frustration. The most recent generation might be more expensive, but they’re roomy, well equipped for hauling and towing and have great technology and entertainment options.
Common Ford F-150 Problems
The Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in America, but it has its fair share of reliability woes that you should know about:
- Engine issues: The F-series have been plagued with various engine problems over the years. In 2013, many owners complained about sudden engine failure, which prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to file an inquiry. Drivers sometimes had to deal with a rough-running engine while idling.
- Head gasket leaks: Many F-150 owners have complained about head gasket leaks on the passenger side. The culprit was determined to be the poorly-constructed head gaskets. The leaks caused the oil to spill into the starter, which can lead to another canworm of issues.
- Ignition coil failure: This failure was attributed to an excessive spark plug gap. This leads to premature wear, shorter coil lifespan, and engine misfires.
- Spark plug ejection: While replacing the spark plugs after some time is standard maintenance, the ones in the F-150 tend to eject themselves. This issue was determined to be due to poorly designed plugs and cylinder heads. This issue generally rears its ugly head at around 100k miles.
THE MOST RELIABLE YEARS FOR THE FORD F-150
Not all Ford F-150 years are created equal, and some models are more reliable than others. Here are the most reliable years for the Ford F-150 so you can narrow down your search.
Is the Ford F-150 Reliable?
According to iSeeCars’ list of the Most Popular Cars in 2021, the Ford F-150 is the most popular used vehicle. Does that mean the F-150 is a reliable used vehicle? Overall, the super-popular F-150 has decent reliability and ultimately depends on your model. However, we can’t say that the F-150 is the pinnacle of reliability.
According to the folks at RepairPal, the F-150 has a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5.0, placing 7th out of 17 full-size trucks. Consumer Reports also stated that the F-150 has a reliability score of two out of five, rather low for a heavy-duty truck. Regardless of its reliability, many will argue that the F-150 is good value for the money, which is why it’s a popular used vehicle.
When buying a used Ford F-150, we highly suggest avoiding the model years we’ve outlined above. The 2018 and newer models should be good, but they do have several recalls. Another thing you should keep in mind is that the F-150 has a lower resale value. If you’re looking to sell your truck in the future, don’t expect you’ll get a reasonable price.
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