Best and worst Ford F-150 years — which to avoid
Peeking into the best and worst Ford F-150, some stand out for the right reasons, while others are notorious for headaches. By collating owner experiences with common mechanical woes, this guide aims to steer you towards the years that are a safe bet and away from those fraught with issues.
Widely known for its incredible towing and hauling capacity, the F-150 makes one of the best pickup truck options on the market. Through decades of production, there have been certain models that make worse purchase options than others based on their poor reliability and user ratings.
That’s why our team prepared a complete guide on the best years to buy and worst F-150 years to avoid to give you the essentials that could affect your buying decision. We didn’t make this guide based on biased opinions – our team reviewed customer submissions from NHTSA and other reliable sources, not to mention real driver experiences to round up our ratings, so make sure to stay with us through and out as we check out the details.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
How we rated the best and worst Ford F-150 years
While making this guide, our team of automotive experts examined the Ford F-150 years based on driver complaints, common issue reports, and official recalls listed on NHTSA and Cars.com. On top of that, we also mixed things up by checking out what other reputable sources think of this model, including Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book ratings.
Of course, we also considered feedback statistics and ratings on reliable review platforms like Consumer Reports, as well as see what real F-150 owners think on Ford forums and Reddit. Based on all of those sources and different reports, we’ve assembled a list of the best and worst F-150 years which you can see below. An important note here is that the F-150 was produced for too many years for us to cover them all.
Since the early models from 1977 to 1996 didn’t get many complaints, we mostly focused on more recent models starting with the 10th generation and the 1997 model year.
|Ford F-150 Generations
|Best Ford F-150 Years
|Worst F-150 Years
|1997, 2001, 2002
|2004, 2005, 2006
|2010, 2011, 2013
Most common Ford F-150 problems
Ford F-150 remains a great truck due to its affordable price and abilities for most generation models, but some of its years were quite problematic, to say the least. So, we’ve given you the list of most common Ford F-150 problems based on reliable sources like the Car Complaints platform and similar sources with authority:
1. Frozen handles
The 2015-2017 F-150 models had a serious problem with door handle latches which sometimes caused the door to fly open while the truck was moving. The door was also notorious for freezing shut in the winter, leaving the driver locked within.
The issue of the frozen door prompted a lawsuit that had Ford recalling about 1.3 million trucks towards the end of 2017. Their solution for the freezing door was augmenting the car with water shields over the latches.
2. Throttle body problems
Throttle body malfunction is an old issue for most Ford vehicles. The 2015 and 2016 Ford F-150 had an exceptionally high case of defecting throttle bodies. They prevailed so much that Ford had to do a recall, fixing the issue free for the drivers.
The main symptom drivers had when their throttle body failed was the vehicle shutting off on the drive, stopping, and suddenly starting again. The entire process is cumbersome and stressful. To remedy the situation, drivers had to replace the whole throttle body.
3. Engine problems
The F-150 started accumulating the most engine problems from its 2004 model. All the models from 2004 down to 2007 all had recurring issues centered on the spark plugs.
The F-150 of 2012 is remembered for its massive engine problems. The failures of its engine were always huge and costly to repair, like a broken connecting rod or a burnt piston.
The cost of repair varies but can sometimes reach $10,000. Sometimes, the damage that occurs before you find the problem can have you replace the engine.
4. Stalling when idle
If your F-150 has the Auto Start/Stop technology, your engine going off when idle may not be a big deal as the system is meant to turn off the engine at a stop to reduce emissions and save fuel.
However, if your Ford is not equipped with Auto Start/Stop but goes off or stalls when idle, you may have a problem in the engine bay. The stalling can result from a dirty throttle body, intake gasket leak, vacuum leak, or faulty MAF sensor or EGR valve.
In exceptional cases, the stalling might be due to a problem with the transmission, specifically the torque converter. The torque converter is a component of the automatic transmission that functions much like the manual transmission clutch. When an inoperable torque is malfunctioning, your F-150 will stall when idle.
It is best to address this problem as soon as possible to ensure no further harm reaches other engine or transmission components. Depending on the cause of the problem, repairs can cost you more than $1,000.
5. Cranking without starting
The F-150s of 2009 to 2014 are most notorious for having this specific problem. The primary reason F-150s in this model year range have this issue is a burnt fuse, particularly fuse #27. A burnt fuse prevents the fuel pump from operating due to the open spot it leaves in the electrical circuit. It may cause the car to sometimes start and sometimes it doesn’t and it gets especially annoying if you are in a hurry.
To combat the issue, Ford sells a fuse relocation kit for $20 but needs a professional to do the job as it requires soldering. The repair should take half an hour, so you would only spend a little on labor costs.
If your F-150 has this problem but does not fall under the 2009 to 2014 model years and your fuel pump fuse is not the cause, you should check your fuel pump and its wiring for faults, fuel filter for clogging, inertia switch and spare plugs for defects.
If you own an older version of the F-150, your problem may be the inertia switch. When set off, the switch removes power from the fuel pump. The switch is easily triggered by simple things like slamming a door too hard or hitting a pothole, so before taking the truck to the mechanic, check if the inertia switch has been somehow activated.
Worst Ford F-150 years to avoid
The F-150 has evolved quite a lot, and having gone through close to 14 generations has incredible results to show for it. For over three decades, it has been the best-selling vehicle in the US, but according to driver reports and reviews, these are the worst-rated years:
We’ll try to give you a full overview of each of the problems that plagued those model years as we dive into them deeper through driver reports and ratings.
Eleventh-generation (2004-2006 model years)
The eleventh generation of F-150s is the last one Ford manufactured using a gasoline pushrod V6.
Most F-150 drivers of this generation had complaints about the trucks of this era. The 2004 model is the worst-rated one among these as it alone has received over 3,000 owner concerns and issues reported.
It is well-known as an engineering nightmare with its faulty window regulators that caused the windows to crash into the car and its bad spark plug symptoms and this often reflected the engine’s performance.
The engine used for this generation was prone to developing several problems, with its common one producing a continuous knocking sound. One would think the 2005 model solved a few of the 2004 problems, but it inherited most of them instead, causing Ford to recall up to 14 of the vehicles.
All the vehicles of this generation should generally be avoided as the cost of repairs, and maintenance is not the only problem it has. The trucks were a real cause for concern as safety was relatively poor and almost non-existent, with the prospect of a window exploding onto the side of your face at any moment.
Twelfth-generation (2010 and 2013 model years)
The trucks of the twelfth generation were revolutionary, with a different engine and a new body that made the car lighter. If you are interested in the F-150 of this generation, it is best to avoid that of the 2010 and 2013 model years.
The 2010 Ford F-150 is considered to be another nightmare after that of the 2004 model. It had a high number of engine-related problems, mainly consisting of a lot of leakages. The spark plugs often caused ignition coil failure, and the automatic transmission was infamous for causing engine failure by suddenly downshifting into the second gear during a ride.
The internal accessories were not exempted from a spot on the list of problems on 2010 F-150 either. There were a lot of reports of unresponsiveness and screen failure on the MyFord infotainment system. It even failed to recognize smartphones in some cases, and the rear-view camera would become inactive whenever the truck was in reverse.
The 2013 model focused more on transmission problems, as there were multiple reports of gear slippage. These two vehicles were hazards, and the cost of repairs was high and frequent, making them a pain to most drivers who had them.
Thirteenth-generation (2015-2016 model years)
While the 2016 F-150 does not produce half as much inconvenience as the other F-150s mentioned above, it is also best to avoid it. The most common issues among these include brake failure and engine malfunctions, while the doors were fond of having problems with latching securely, especially in cold weather.
What are the best Ford F-150 years to buy?
Despite the dark parts of its history, Ford built a powerful reputation around its F-150s and made amends for most of the issues that plagued it before. There were some badly rated model years, but there are also some more than decent models on the used car market.
That leads us to an important question – which are the best Ford F-150 years to buy? The best Ford F-150 years to buy are the 1998, 2008, 2009, and 2020 models. Here’s a full list of the best-rated model years:
The latest versions of the F-150 are competing exceptionally well against other vehicles and come fully equipped with many modern innovations that make driving easier and safer. If you want an F-150 off the used market, make sure to consider one of the following models:
2008 Ford F-150
The 2008 F-150 is one of the best-rated models as it only received around 600 owner grievances and complaints. For a model that’s been sold in such high numbers, that’s more than a decent result, and the main issues with it include transmission issues and body/paint issues.
2009 Ford F-150
The 2009 model was even better rated than the previous one, but it had a few more reports on engine issues. Precisely, there have been over 100 submission records on engine-related issues made to NHTSA, and they mostly concerned issues with low-RPM diesel engine stalling and jerky acceleration.
Still, the model only received around 500 complaints in total, which is an excellent record considering that some bad-rated model years have received over 3,000 complaints.
2020 Ford F-150
With just around 200 complaints made in total, the 2020 model is the best-rated F-150 and it only had a few complaints regarding electrical issues and interior accessory issues. Luckily, there were 8 recalls that more or less settled the main problems that this model had, including inoperative windshield wipers that affected over 600,000 F-150 models.
Is the Ford F-150 worth buying?
The Ford F-150 is worth buying. It provides the right muscle and flexibility for anything ranging from a haul vehicle to a comfy office vehicle. It is also one of the safest trucks you could get as almost all models of the past decade of F-150s have a safety rating of 9.3 out of 10, awarded by the U.S. News.
Furthermore, the Ford F-150 has a great resale value because it holds its value over the years, unlike many other trucks whose value depreciates with use. The vehicle can last the average driver for nearly 17 years with the proper care and maintenance.