Americans love their trucks. The Ford F-150 outsells every other vehicle year on year. It has been in production since 1975, currently in its 14th generation. That’s a pretty good record I would say! Let’s look to see if they are as good as we think they are.
Ford is not only the most popular truck but the most popular vehicle in the USA. Ford F150 has excellent reliability, driveability, cost efficiency, and the best towing capacity in its class.
Ford introduced the F-150 back when people were trying to stay upright on roller skates. There have been many improvements through the 14 generations. In this article, we’ll look at how good they really are.
Are Ford Trucks Reliable?
When we talk about trucks and Ford trucks, we are really talking about the F-150. The sales of the F-150 are mind-blowing. Since 2005, Ford has sold an average of 700,000+ F-150s. This figure would be higher only for a reliability blip in 2005/06.
From 2004 – 2006, the F-150 model had a whole list of problems. The most serious of these are the fuel tank straps coming away from the tank, and dropping the tanks to the ground.
These models also had airbag issues which resulted in serious passenger injury. The reliability score was terrible and the ratings really affected the Ford brand and F-150 sales.
However, in recent years 2017 onwards the F-150 has excelled. It has been hauled into the 21st century, with exterior parking sensors and Bluetooth as standard, and fewer problems mechanically than in previous years.
JD Power gives the 2020 F-150 an 83/100 reliability score. This is an ‘Among the Best’ score. There have been a number of recall issues with the 2020 model. Two of note: Firstly the cable attaching the battery may loosen and cause the engine to stall, which could increase the risk of a crash, and secondly the front seat recliner may be missing a pawl, which reinforces the seat strength. This may result in the seat not being strong enough in a crash.
The latest model, the 2021 F-150, has a score of 79/100 with JD Power and only one main recall, which is a seatbelt issue, incorrect web routing causing seatbelt failure.
The F-150 is considered a reliable truck. The average truck life is 150-200k miles (which is less than the Dodge RAM at 300k) but this is dependent on how and where you drive your truck, and how well you maintain it. But many F-150 model generations have gone well beyond the 300k mark.
The branding ‘Built Ford Tough’ certainly rings true. The F-150 is not only the best-selling truck of all time but the best-selling vehicle since the 1980s. That says a lot about reliability. Consumers are very fickle and will quickly abandon a brand or model if it’s not performing year on year.
So we’ve looked at reliability but just how driveable is the F-150. The new generation F-150 has all the mod cons you expect from a new car. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. There’s a lot of options to choose from, bed length to cab type – although not all are interchangeable, there’s still plenty of choices. The interior has an Infotainment 8-inch screen as standard, USB ports, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, all of which can be upgraded to a higher specification.
When compared to the RAM or the Silverado, the F-150 is not as luxurious but it is perfectly acceptable. All F-150 are 4WD and so off-roading is no challenge.
Its suspension absorbs all bumps and lumps to give a smooth, comfy ride.
The fuel economy is also great for a full-size truck – 25 city / 26 highway MPG. Even the V8 outranks MPG in other brands at 17 City / 24 Highway.
The Regular cab seats 3 adults comfortably, and the bigger models (Supercab and Supercrew) seat 6.
In the larger models, the rear seats also have LATCH connect, which means you can easily travel with smaller people safely.
Pro Power Onboard
The latest F-150 (2021) has a fantastic addition. Named the Pro Power Onboard, it is an onboard generator.
Depending on your engine choice will determine which output you have onboard and how many outlets you have access to. Power is accessed through a panel in the truck bed.
- 2kW – All gas models
- 2.4kW – Standard on Hybrid Model (Tank of gas will give 85 hrs of power)
- 7.2kW – Exclusive to the F-150 Hybrid (Tank of gas will give 32 hrs of power)
The 7.2kW will quite easily run a construction site. The bonus is you can charge your tools while moving from site to site. You can control the Pro Power with a mobile app however you need to be within 30 ft of the truck.
The Pro Power will override the auto-idle and will continue to generate power until the fuel runs out.
It also has a security feature that allows you to lock your truck while idling to prevent any theft if you are away from the truck.
The F-150 has no rival to its towing capability. 2021 can tow 14,000 pounds and haul 3,325 pounds.
Certain things can affect towing, like the number of passengers, engine choice, number of seats in your cab.
But regardless of those points the F-150 still outshines everyone. If towing is the reason you’re buying a truck, the best choice is the 3.5 Ecoboost V6. The V8 will tow 13,000 pounds and the hybrid will tow up to 12,700.
The F-150 also has a fifth-wheel towing attachment which is usually only found on much bigger trucks.
The F-150 also comes with a 10 Speed transmission option of Tow / Haul.
The F-Series has many features to make towing the best it can be on a truck:
Trailer Sway: Through a control module, your truck will monitor your load. If there is too much sway it will correct it to prevent toppling.
Reversing: This is probably the most difficult part of towing. Everyone can go in a straight line, right? But start reversing and it seems your truck is as wide and long as the Mississippi! Your truck has 3 guidance cameras (which can be upgraded to 4) to aid maneuverability,
Brake Control: This system acts in conjunction with the braking of your truck. It prevents wheel locking by activating your trailer brakes electronically so everything happens in tandem.
Cost of Ford F150 Trucks
As I mentioned the F-150 is the best-selling truck in the USA, there is a huge variety of engines and bodies to choose from, making it an incredibly versatile purchase.
Starting at just under $29,000, the base model is well below the average new car price of $41,000. This price can go skywards depending on the model and specifications you choose. 2021 gets a 4.5 Value rating on Kelly Blue Book. 2020 gets a 4.6 rating and is the #2 Best Pick Up for 2020.
|Year||Ford F150||Dodge Ram||Chevrolet Silverado|
The F-150 can of course increase in price with extra and can become more expensive than its counterparts, but the basic model is still a great truck with lots of extras as standard.
Do F150 Trucks Hold Their Value?
F-150 are of great value, and yet still hold their value as they age. The Year 1 depreciation is 12.5% which is much less than the average 20% for a new vehicle.
After Year 5 the figure is down to 36%. This is really good news for F-150 owners. (Caredge.com)
Cost to Buy: $43,450 (F-150 with added Spec)
The maintenance costs of the F-150 are comparable to those of the RAM and the Silverado at $9,860 over 10 years.
The chances of a major repair being required are about 30% from year 9/10.
Problems and Repairs
All Ford trucks are covered under a 3yr/ 36,000 miles warranty or an extended warranty of $5yr / 60,000 miles. The extended warranty is less than the RAM at 5yr/100,000 miles.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a used Ford you need to be aware of a couple of known issues to look out for.
- Losing Power while Moving
- Window Regulators
- Engine Noise
- The first is a real problem in 2010 – 2013 models. It ultimately was acknowledged by Ford, that a factory installed Control Cable had a severe bend in it, that after time became corroded and caused fuel / air problems. This was corrected in the next generation but be mindful of this in the service history if you are looking at a model from these years.
- Windows caused a huge problem back in the early noughties. They would suddenly open, or drop within the door panel with no hope of getting them back up. This was no joke in sub zero temperatures. Most were fixed under warranty but if it hasn’t been, the cost can be $300-$400. Again this was rectified come 2006.
- The 2009 model had customers complaining about a strange noise in the V8 5.4l when idling. Many were told by dealerships that this noise was normal and to ignore it. However, it wasn’t normal, it was found that the CAM phasers needed to be replaced. Many engines were damaged and had to be replaced, some under warranty, some unfortunately not.
Again you should check this repair was completed in the service history for this year, as it was not an official recall.
Before buying a used F150 or any used vehicle, it’s always worth investing just a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.
The Ford F-150 is a great truck and has a phenomenal following. However, in the mid-noughties, the people at Ford dropped the ball. Customers walked away in their droves but as Ford picked up their game in 2010 they are once again making the best truck on the market.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.