Becoming the best-selling vehicle in America is no easy task. Yet, one vehicle has managed to hold on to this accolade for more than four decades. Can you guess what this legendary automobile is? If you answered “Ford F150”, congratulations my friend, you deserve a pat on the back. However, every great has its embarrassing moments, and that is the same for the F150 as well. Some model years of this popular pickup truck suffer from horrible reliability issues. So today, we’ll tell you what year F150 to avoid.
Although the F150 has consistently been one of the best-performing trucks on the market, reliability problems have reared their heads in during some model years. We want our readers to have the best experience with any vehicle they purchase. So, we are sure that this information will help when you go shopping for a Ford F150 pickup truck of your own.
Before diving into what year F150 to avoid, let’s take look at the storied past of this iconic American pickup. So far, there have been 14 generations of the F150, accounting for over 26 million units sold across the globe.
1. First Generation (1948 – 1952)
Three years after the Second World War ended, Ford began production of the first generation of F series trucks. There were several versions to choose from, ranging from the F-1 half-ton pickup truck to the F-8 with its cab over design.
2. Second Generation (1953 – 1956)
The second generation F150 brought with it a naming convention that still remains today. The F-1 model of the previous generation was renamed the F-100, and the F-2 and F-3 combined to form the F-250. This generation was also the first to come with user amenities such as sun visors, armrests, and interior dome light. Under the hood, an overhead-valve V8 replaced the iconic Ford flathead V8 in 1954.
3. Third Generation (1957 – 1960)
1957 saw the debut of the F150’s third generation. The truck was redesigned to give it a more squared-off and wider design, which is a design that can still be seen in its modern iterations. Another significant change that happened with this generation was the addition of four-wheel drive as an option right out of the factory.
4. Fourth Generation (1961 – 1966)
“Drives like a car – works like a truck” was the catchphrase Ford used to market the fourth generation F150. The slogan was in reference to the twin-I-beam suspension system that was available on the two-wheel-drive F150s at the time.
This was also the first generation to introduce a four-door crew cab body style. The model was sold as a special order in 1965 and was based on the F-250 trim level. Speaking of trim levels, the top-of-the-line model was called the ‘Ranger’, and it had creature comforts like power brakes, air conditioning, carpeted floors as well as power steering.
5. Fifth Generation (1967 – 1972)
The fifth generation F150 received a design refresh, especially at the front. The headlights were integrated into the grill, and FORD was spelled out in block letters on top of it. Additionally, the dimensions of the cab also increased. This had the effect of improving the shoulder room by about four inches.
6. Sixth Generation (1973 – 1979)
Parking lamps above the headlights, a redesigned grille, and a body-length side marker lamp housing were features that differentiated the sixth-gen F150 from what came before it. This generation also saw the introduction of the Club Cab body style in 1974.
7. Seventh Generation (1980 – 1986)
Stepping into the ’80s, the design of the F150 was focused on improving its aerodynamics. The base engine option was a carbureted 300 cubic inch inline-six that made 117 horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque. 1983 saw the production of the long-running F-100 model name come to an end. It was replaced by the F150 as the base F-series model.
8. Eighth Generation (1987 – 1991)
1987 marked the 50th anniversary of the Ford F150. In celebration, the model was refreshed with new headlamps and a grille. Additionally, power steering, rear anti-lock brakes, and power brakes were added as standard options.
Under the hood, fuel injection found its way to the inline-six engine, which increased the horsepower count up to 145. Not only that but the torque was also increased to 265 lb-ft, which was only 5 lb-ft less than what was on offer with the 5.0-liter V8 engine. An important trim level that came out during this generation was the Nite Edition, which can be argued as the first-ever blacked-out pickup truck in the world.
9. Ninth Generation (1992 – 1996)
The ninth generation marked another historical landmark for the F150, as this was the time when it surpassed the mighty Volkswagen Beetle as the best selling-vehicle in the world. The facia of the truck was redesigned to make it even more aerodynamic. On top of that, the first-ever SVT Lightning model also made its debut during this period.
The 1993 Ford F150 SVT Lighting was one of the first sports trucks in the history of the automobile. Available as a single cab, the Lightning had a 5.8 liter V8 with 240 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque under its hood. In keeping with its sporty nature, the only available color options were red and black.
10. Tenth Generation (1997 – 2003)
Ford chose the 1996 Detroit auto show to show off the tenth generation F150 to the world. Here, the F150 went through a complete redesign, taking on a sleeker and more aerodynamic appearance. Underneath, a torsion bar suspension setup replaced the classic twin-I-beam system.
With the new generation, the SVT Lightning got upgraded as well. In fact, with a 0-60 time of 5.2 seconds and 380 horses under the hood, the Lightning became the most powerful production car sold in the United States at the time.
11. Eleventh Generation (2004 – 2008)
The eleventh generation F150 came with a larger body that looked to improve comfort. There were new versions with more cargo room, and it is safe to say that this generation was a sales success. The eleventh gen F150 recorded an all-time high in F150 sales at 939,511 units.
12. Twelfth Generation (2009 – 2014)
The twelfth generation F150 had several visual cues that differentiated it from the previous generation. A squared-off design, a different headlamp design, and a more prominent grille were among the most significant changes.
This generation came with a few all-new engine options. One of the most significant was the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6, which made its debut with the 2011 model year. The SVT Raptor, the F150 Platinum as well as the end-of-the-line F150 Tremor were some of the most influential trim levels which made their appearance during this generation.
13. Thirteenth Generation (2015 – 2020)
Making its debut in 2015, the thirteenth generation F150 was one of the most important models in the pickup truck’s illustrious history. You see, this was the first F150 to be mostly made out of aluminum. The lighter body weight increased the efficiency of the vehicle while simultaneously making it more rust-proof.
The Raptor was also back for its second generation. However, the raucous V8 was now replaced by a twin-turbo EcoBoost with 510 horsepower, which proved to be a controversial decision. 2018 marked another first for the F150, as it saw the introduction of a diesel engine option.
14. Fourteenth Generation (2021 – Now)
That brings us to where we are today, with the fourteenth generation F150. The truck was introduced to the world in 2021, with a host of engine options. Although we are talking about what year F150 to avoid, it remains to be seen how the fourteenth generation performs in terms of reliability.
So, those are all generations of the F150 covered up to the present day. Next, we thought of discussing the best years of the F150 with you.
Best Years For Ford F150
Knowing what years of the F150 to get is just as important as knowing what year F150 to avoid. Some model years of this pickup that have the best reliability records include,
As it was the last model year of the 9th generation F150, Ford packed the best they had to offer into this pickup. The interior was now more comfortable than ever, and the 5.0-liter V8 had a respectable 205 horsepower on offer.
In terms of build quality and sales, 2001 was a great year for the Ford F150. There were several trim levels on offer, which included the likes of the XL, XLT, and the Lariat as well as two Supercrew models. This, along with the choice of 3 powerful engines made sure that there was a 2001 F150 suitable for everyone.
2001 was one of the most durable F150 models in history as well. There are plenty of pickups from this generation that have crossed over the 200,000-mile mark without any major issues.
A number of advanced safety features were made available in the 2016 F150, making it one of the safest trucks ever. Some of these options include forward-collision warning, rear parking sensors a 360-degree camera, lane keep assist as well as blind spot monitoring.
Another feature of note that was available in the 2016 F150 was Pro Trailer Backup Assist. This system made the tedious task of backing up a trailer easier than ever (which does make it simple if you’re figuring out how to backup a trailer). This, paired with great handling and a spacious interior makes 2016 another great year for the F150.
The 2019 Ford F150 is remembered for its unbeatable 13,200-pound towing capacity. The safety of the truck was improved further, giving it four out of five stars in crash tests. Leather upholstery, massaging front seats, a panoramic sunroof, as well as retractable running boards, were some creature comforts that made 2019 one of the best model years in the F150’s history.
Sadly, not all model years of the F150 receive as great reviews as these models. In the next section, we’ll take a look at what F150 years to avoid.
Ford F150 Years To Avoid
When the history of a vehicle runs back nearly 70 years, there are bound to be some bad model years. Here are our choices for the Ford F150 years that have the most issues.
We know that you are curious about the issues which plague these model years. So, let’s take a deeper dive into them, shall we?
What Year F150 To Avoid #1 – 2004
A year that cannot be ignored when talking about what year F150 to avoid is 2004. This model year has been the subject of 16 recalls and has some widespread reliability issues too.
One of the components which were faulty in the 2004 F150s’ were the window regulators. These clips were made out of plastic, and were prone to failure without warning. When this happened, the window would crash into the door. Not only that, the window regulators were the source of some unbearable noises that distracted both drivers and passengers.
Another major problem that was present in the 2004 Ford F150 was spark plug ejection. This issue affected several engines, including the 6-liter Triton V8, the 5.4-liter V8 as well as the 6.8-liter V10 engines. The aluminum cylinder heads that came with the aforementioned engines were another cause for concern.
What Year F150 To Avoid #2 – 2005
The model that succeeded the 2004 F150 inherited most of its reliability issues. The spark plug issues as well as the faulty window regulators were here to stay. On top of that, the 2005 F150s’ with the 5.4-liter engine had an engine knocking problem.
The cause of this was a compatibility issue between the cylinder heads and the camshaft phaser. A total of 14 recalls also make the case for 2005 being one of the worst years of the Ford F150.
What Year F150 To Avoid #3 – 2006
The reliability of the 2006 F150 was slightly better than in the two years that preceded it. However, that is not to say this model year was perfect. It had its own set of issues, in the form of corrosion in the gas tanks and airbag issues. Owing to these issues, most 2006 F150s’ never made it past six to seven years of service.
What Year F150 To Avoid #4 – 2009
In the case of the 2009 Ford F150, the engine and transmission were the areas that received the most complaints. Knocking sounds coming from the engine and the truck losing power while being driven were among the most widely reported issues.
What Year F150 To Avoid #5 – 2010
After going on hiatus for a few years, the spark plug issues returned to haunt many 2010 Ford F150 owners. Faults in the spark plugs caused the engine to misfire, hampering both efficiency and performance. Additionally, the transmission of the 2010 F150 left much to be desired too. Failures in the transmission system were reported as early as around 35,000 miles.
The 2010 F150 was equipped with an infotainment system Ford called “MyFord Touch“. However, 2010 was one of the earliest models to come with this system, and naturally, there were a few issues. The touchscreen was prone to suddenly becoming unresponsive. Not only that, the backup camera would not turn on even when the vehicle was in reverse. The smartphone compatibility of this system was also inconsistent, as it frequently failed to recognize phone calls. You can learn more about this in our guide on how to connect my phone to my car.
What Year F150 To Avoid #6 – 2012
The 2012 F150 gets a bad reputation due to its unreliable engine and faulty brakes. As you might have guessed, 2012 F150 brake issues have resulted in a few accidents as well. Replacing the brake rotors at an additional cost was the only way to get rid of these issues.
What Year F150 To Avoid #7 – 2013
The 2013 F150 was a loser in both the looks and reliability departments. The bulky front design turned away potential buyers, while the ever-present reliability issues gave them even more reason to do so. Most of these durability problems were linked to the engine of the pickup truck. Common complaints include the engine shuddering and losing power, as well as completely dying while driving.
What Year F150 To Avoid #8 – 2015
Although 2015 was one of the highest-selling F150 model years ever, it had its fair share of issues. One of the most widely reported issues was difficulty in shifting gears while towing more than 5000 lbs of weight. On top of that, brake failures and faulty door mechanisms also plagued the 2015 Ford F150.
Speaking of the door mechanism, the 2015 F150 had a scary safety concern where the doors would inexplicably fly open while the truck was in motion.
This is especially frightening if you often carry small children in the vehicle. This issue was identified to be present in over 1 million F150s sold in 2015.
By now, we have looked at the best and worst years for Ford F150 as well as what F150 years to avoid too. In the next section, we will tell you about some reliability issues that are synonymous with this pickup.
What Year F150 To Avoid: Ford F150 Problems
Over the years, there have been some reliability issues that have affected F150s throughout different model years. Some of the most common Ford F150 problems are,
- Engine Running Roughly
- Leaking Head Gasket
- Spark Plug Issues
1. Engine Running Roughly
Rough running engines were a common complaint among owners of Ford F150s made during the late 2000s and early 2010s. Although many people suspected the new EcoBoost engines to be the source of this problem, it was in fact the Mass Airflow (MAF) and EGR sensors that were the true culprits.
When these sensors got clogged due to carbon accumulation, they would choke up the engine, making it run rough. Changing the sensors every 100,000 miles is the best way to avoid a rough-running F150 engine.
2. Leaking Head Gasket
A head gasket leak is not an issue that should be taken lightly, as it could lead to catastrophic engine damage. However, the passenger-side head gasket of some F150s was leaky, causing the coolant and engine oil to get mixed together.
This would cause the engine to overheat, giving off the smell of burnt oil. Usually, this problem set in at around 160,000 miles. Replacing the head gasket is neither easy nor cheap, and work should only be carried out by a certified mechanic.
3. Spark Plug Issues
As we discussed in an earlier section, spark plug issues plague many Ford F150 model years. The spark plugs that come on these trucks are rated to serve up to 100,000 miles. However, waiting this long leads to soot accumulation which reduces the engine performance. The easiest way to get rid of this problem is by removing the soot deposits using a cleaning solution.
Conclusion For What Year F150 To Avoid
The Ford F150 is one of the longest-running model names in American automotive history. The truck has served millions of people reliably for decades. However, as with any other vehicle, there are some model years that are worse for wear than others.
The easiest answer to the question “what year F150 to avoid” are 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015. Although these models have their pros, the reliability headaches outweigh the goods. Instead, go for an F150 from one of the more reliable years. We are sure that you’ll enjoy it for years to come.
FAQs On What Year F150 To Avoid
What Years F150 To Avoid
There are some F150 years you should avoid purchasing, as they have many concerns regarding reliability. Some F150 years to avoid include 2009, 2012, 2013, and 2015.
What Does F150 Mean
The Ford F Series is the American brand’s long-running lineup of capable pickup trucks. The F-150 is the smallest truck in the lineup. Its name represents the half-ton classification of the vehicle.
How Long Is An F150
The dimensions of the F150 have grown throughout the years. At present, an F150 with a 5.5-foot bed stands at 231.7 inches long. On the other hand, an F150 with a 6.5-foot bed has an overall length of 243.5 inches.
How Many Miles Can A Ford F150 Last
The Ford F150 is one of the longest-lasting vehicles on the road today. Being a pickup truck, it is made to be both reliable and durable. With regular and scheduled maintenance, F150s’ can easily surpass the 150,000-mile mark. That equates to around 20 years of service under normal circumstances.
Are Ford Trucks Reliable
Ford is popular among consumers for producing some of the most reliable trucks around. The most reliable Ford truck model is the F150. With proper maintenance, an F150 can last up to 20 years without any major reliability concerns.
What Engine Can Replace A 5.4 Triton
The 5.4 Triton was a popular V8 engine that came with the F150 pickup truck. It can be replaced by a number of six-cylinder engines, including the twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, the 3.0-liter Power Stroke diesel V6, and the 3.5-liter PowerBoost V6 hybrid engine.