Are Ford Trucks Reliable? Yes, but avoid this model year


The trucks in the Ford F-Series are some of the most common vehicles in the United States. The popular pickup trucks bring good price, performance, styling, and utility. But are Ford trucks reliable as well?

Ford trucks are popular for many reasons, reliability is one of them. Many individuals and business owners whose livelihood depends on their utility vehicles have been putting their faith in the F-Series for decades.

Of course, they aren’t all winners. The F-Series has been made in many variations over a span of 73 years, leading to some being better than others.

Ford F-Series

Ford trucks have been a staple in the pickup segment for over 70 years now. First introduced in 1948, the F-Series truck line has become not only the best-selling truck in the United States but also the best-selling vehicle overall. The F-Series is now a cornerstone of the Ford lineup carrying as much fanfare as the renowned Ford Mustang.

In 1997, Ford introduced the most prominent member of the lineup, the F-150. While most people look to the F-150 as the Ford truck, the F-Series consists of additional models for multiple needs and workloads. Along with the regular Ford F-150 comes the Ford Super Duty lineup. The F-250, F-350, F-450, F550, and F-650 are all larger versions of the F-150, with their numbers denoting their higher-powered capabilities.  

With no truck bed, the F-650 is an exception from the pickup truck line. Instead, the F-650 comes as just a frame allowing for customization dependent on what is needed need to haul. 

In the current fourteenth generation, the Ford F-Series will now include an electric version of their truck, the F-150 Lightning. Slated for 2022, the F-150 Lightning will offer up to 300 miles of range, allowing capabilities for most households and job sites.

Towing

F 150 towing

When purchasing a utility vehicle, some will simply look for the most reliable pickup truck for towing. With the large range of power levels in the F-Series, there is an option to withstand any demands for towing weight. All the models within the Ford truck lineup also have various features to make your towing experience better. 

Trailer Sway Control: Through the use of its AdvanceTrac control module, the system will monitor the status of your trailer. If the software notices that the trailer is in danger of swaying too much, it will respond to correct the condition.

Trailer Reverse Guidance: Making use of 3 different cameras, the system will give you multiple views to help you maneuver your trailer. There is also an upgraded version of this feature that will add a fourth camera to give you a birds-eye view of your truck and trailer to give you an even better idea of where you are going.

Trailer Brake Controller: The system is designed to provide smooth and effective braking to your trailer. The system will make sure to apply braking to the trailer that is proportional to what your truck is outputting, avoiding any potential lockups or other hazardous scenarios. 

As noted, different models will have different towing capacities. Each Ford model can also be equipped with different engines to further enhance capabilities, allowing you to hone in on the exact capacity needed. Below you will find the maximum possible towing capacities within each model:

 ● F-150: 14,000 lbs.

● F-250: 22,800 lbs.

● F-350: 35,750 lbs.

● F-450: 37,000 lbs.

 Gas or Diesel?

The most reliable pickup trucks ever use diesel engines. If you look at any abused commercial truck with hundreds of thousands of miles on it, chances are it’s a diesel. Diesel engines are simpler in design and tend to have more robust and heavier parts within, leading to an increased lifespan and better reliability. 

In addition to the increase in reliability, diesel engines also offer much better torque. All of the best towing capacities found in the F-250, F-350, and F-450 are available only when being equipped with the diesel engine option.

The choice towards a diesel engine isn’t all that simple, however. The option tends to be more expensive upfront and comes with higher maintenance costs. Additionally, diesel itself is more expensive per gallon than gasoline. Still, with these higher costs, the robustness of diesel engines has proven to be worth the extra costs for many as it almost always pays off in the long run.

Best Ford Truck Years

Ford sign

As with many car communities, a lot of enthusiasts will state that “they just don’t make them like they used to.” While the trucks made thirty-plus years ago were simpler and sturdier, many of us want some sort of semblance of modernity. However, if you are into classics or project cars, the decades-old Ford trucks are a good platform to work on with the possibility of turning as many heads as any classic muscle car would.

In regards to newer Ford trucks, any F-Series made in the past ten or so years have been seen as pretty reliable. The thirteenth generation of Ford trucks introduced sweeping changes, including switching almost every body panel from steel to aluminum. An abundance of new safety features was also added in this generation, and for many, it’s been noted as the best-looking Ford truck thus far.

Recently introduced in 2021, the newest generation of the F-150 is a reliable entry into the long history of the Ford trucks. You can feel at ease buying a new truck versus one previously worked on by prior owners.

What year ford trucks to avoid:

According to carcomplaints, the 2012 model year for the F-150 is definitely one to avoid. While it doesn’t hold the record for most complaints, the bulks of issues revolve around the engine. The truck’s engine has been noted to misfire and even lose power while driving. Adding to the list of things you don’t want to deal with, intermittent brake failures have also been recorded.

Simply based on complaint volumes, 2013, 2010, 2005, and especially 2004 model years are also ones to avoid. The 2004 model year had millions of trucks reported with damaged fuel tank straps, resulting in fuel tanks being detached from the undercarriage while driving.

Before buying any vehicle, it’s always worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against a database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, and Vin cloning.

Check the Edmunds.com link below to see what Hot deals are on offer right now, but be warned, I sometimes lose an hour or more to all the eye candy on offer.

Ford

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John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty years, I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of classic car ownership, from tires to roof aerials and everything in between.

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