For more than 40 years, the Ford F-150 vehicle has been one of the most popular passenger cars in all of America. With its robust design and spacious interior, the Ford F-150 is a great car for transportation and leisure. As popular as these trucks remain, each model has had its share of problems. Read to the end and find out the common faults in a Ford F150 .
Whether it’s cosmetic or mechanical issues, it’s crucial to understand these issues in order to be better prepared for any common maintenance needs or to know what to look for when considering the purchase of a used Ford F-150.
Common faults in a Ford F150
Ford F150 vehicles are very popular trucks, and have also been a success for the Ford company. With proper maintenance, F-150 models typically give users years of dependable performance. Here’s a rundown of some common faults F150 owners have experienced.
1- Malfunction of the electronic throttle body
Electronic throttle bodies have been a long reported issue on Ford vehicles . On today’s Ford F-Series trucks, the Electronic Throttle Control (ETB) is data controlled. The ETB transmits sensory data to the throttle valve, which controls the amount of air going to the engine. On late model Ford F-150s, an error called “ limp mode ” sometimes occurs , where the ETB stops reading and the truck abruptly loses momentum.
Even though a failing ETB can be put back into service, experts say driving a truck after a “ loose mode ” incident is not worth the risk. If you have a failed ETB, replace it immediately. If you have to wait for parts to arrive, use a secondary vehicle or rental car in the meantime.
2- Ignition coil failure
When excessive gaps appear in the spark plugs, the ignition coils stop working . If the ignition coils don’t work, the engine may misfire. Spark plug gaps are an inevitable result of wear. To improve longevity you should lubricate the spark plugs with dielectric grease . This step will prevent wear on the rubber gasket and the possibility of water damage.
3- Transmission shift problems
Ford issued a recall notice for the automatic transmission on the 2009-2012 F150s. Some transmissions this year reportedly began to drop into second gear without warning. At any speed, but especially on the freeway, this could be dangerous . The fix is a simple flash update. This update is known to have made the gear indicator numbers disappear, located on the center display of the indicator. Although this does not affect vehicle performance, it is annoying.
4- Leakage of the engine oil pan gasket
An oil pan gasket leak can also occur when engine oil collects in the exhaust system of a Ford F-150. As with head gasket leakage, the telltale sign is when the smell of burning oil is emitted from the engine.
A crankcase gasket is much more affordable to replace and is a relatively easy DIY task. According to reports from F-150 owners, they got around the problem by periodically tightening the bolts around the joint.
5- Faults with the alternator belt
On the F-150 model years 1990 to 1994, the alternator belt has been the subject of numerous complaints. A tell-tale sign of trouble is when the motor is squealing or screeching. The sounds are an indicator that the air conditioning or power steering pulley is bent .
6- Sudden start
Drivers have reported complaints of hard starts on the 1990-1996 model year F-150. Ford attributed this issue to faulty harness wiring in the power control module. Symptoms of the problem include vehicle stalling, hesitation, and no starting.
On 1995 and 1996 Ford trucks, jump starting has also been linked to a stuck idle air control valve. This problem is indicated by an engine that starts and stalls or does not start at all .
7- Spark plugs break
When it comes to Ford 4.6 spark plug issues, the 2004 to 2008 years were problematic for the F-series. Likewise, Ford 5.4 spark plug issues have been common on these model years as well.
One of the trickier Ford truck spark plug problems has been spark plugs not coming out intact . If you try to remove the spark plugs on a 2004-2008 F-150 three-valve engine, the tips can break off, leaving the rest lodged in the cylinder. The problem stems in part from the supposedly long life of the spark plugs, which are supposed to last 100,000 miles.
Ford developed a plug with a two-piece housing that can perform well if treated every 30,000 miles. However, the plug generally won’t last for the 100,000-mile intervals that the automaker encourages. Somewhere between those two mileage intervals, the plugs are capable of joining the electrodes. Most problematic is that a weld on the bottom of the plug is holding the plug down while trying to remove it, which is what causes the plug to break.
When a spark plug head breaks, removing the rest can be a very difficult process . Even professional mechanics have trouble getting the job done. On 2004-2008 models, F-150 spark plug problems are among the costliest of the repair expenses associated with the F-Series.
8- Problematic airbag deployment
One issue with the F-150s of the mid-2000s concerned the abrupt and unwanted deployment of the driver’s side airbag. Drivers reported the problem on truck models from 2005-2006, and it ultimately led to a recall involving more than 144,000 trucks. If you are looking to buy a used 2005-2006 F150, make sure this problem is not present.
9- Engine runs rough
Generation 12 F-150s have been known to misbehave when the engine is idling . The problem is typically the result of clogging of the exhaust gas recirculation sensors. Sensors get stuck due to carbon buildup. Ford experts recommend that drivers change sensors every 100,000 miles. Once a truck has put on that many miles, the sensors start to wear out, which in turn can leave the engine unbalanced.
If the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor becomes clogged, the cause will typically be a dirty hot wire. This problem will also cause the engine to run rough when idling. Although it can help to clean the sensor, it is often better to buy a new one. Replacement valves are generally affordable and can help improve the performance of an F150 engine.
If you decide to try cleaning the MAF sensor, be sure to only use the specific cleaner for the MAF sensor. Many try to use their body cleaner on their MAF sensors and this often does more harm than good.
10- Loud ticking noise from engine
Problems with the camera’s phaser have been reported on F-150s. Signs of this problem typically include clicking and knocking sounds coming from the engine. At the time the problem was reported, Ford dealers allegedly claimed that the sounds did not indicate anything problematic with the engine. Consequently, the drivers ignored the problem and the engines failed as a result.
Some auto experts have advised F-150 drivers to steer clear of the Triton’s 5.4-liter V8 due to costly problems associated with the engine.
Common problems by generation
Each of Ford’s generations of F150 vehicles has had specific problems and faults. Common faults on a Ford F150 are not always the same. The company has worked on many occasions to avoid repeating failures in the new generations, which is why new problems inherent to innovation always arise.
1- Faults in Ford F-150 from 2015-2017
For the 2015-2017 Ford F-150, common problems range from interior mishaps to issues with functional components. Problems with the 2015 Ford F-150 have largely centered on transmission misfires that lead to rough shifting. Ford F-150 problems in 2016 models also include engine issues.
Ford truck transmission problems have cropped up frequently in newer F-Series models. Failures on the 2017 Ford F-150 have led to a large recall for a faulty transmission shift indicator. It’s still early in the life of these new trucks though.
2- Problems in Ford F-150 from 2004-2008
These years of Ford F-150 trucks had a number of reported problems, from spark plugs to airbags and window components. 2005 Ford F-150s also had engine problems in the form of ticking noises. Through 2007, the F-150 also had some reported engine problems related to the cam phaser.
3- Failures in Ford F-150 from 1997-2003
Between 1997 and 2003, Ford truck models were the subject of numerous complaints about old issues such as engine noise, head gasket leaks, and window seal leaks. Most prominent, however, have been the controversies surrounding tank delamination and spark plug ejection.
4- Problems in Ford F-150 from 1987-1996
Ford truck transmission problems were common in early and mid-’90s F-series models. Likewise, F-150s from this period and even earlier have had problems with the alternator belt, ball joints and suspension.