Best and Worst Years of Ford F-150: Things You Should Know

ford f150

The Ford F-150 has been around for decades, with the F Series trucks launching back in 1948.

Today, the lineup includes light, medium, and heavy-duty pickups, but the F-150 remains a consumer favorite.

Ford sells about 103 of these trucks per hour, or roughly two every minute according to autoweek.

If you’re thinking of buying an F-150, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a brand-new model.

Although Ford claims the 2021 model has 92% new parts, the difference between a new and a used F-150 isn’t huge.

That’s why opting for a used F-150 can be a smarter financial choice.

Best Years of the Ford F-150


1997 Ford F-150

The 1997 model year brought significant changes to the Ford F-Series, introducing the tenth generation of this iconic American pickup.

Specification Detail
Engine Type Gas V8, 4.6L
Fuel Economy (City/Highway) 15 mpg City / 18 mpg Hwy
Transmission 5-speed manual w/OD
Passenger Capacity 3
Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
Worst 1997 F-150 Problems
Worst 1997 Ford F-150 Problems


2003 Ford F-150

Category Details
Engine Type Gas V8
Engine Size & Output 5.4 L, 380 hp @ 4,750 rpm, 450 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 11/15 MPG (City/Hwy), 13 MPG Combined
Drive Type Rear wheel drive
Towing & Payload Max Towing Capacity: 5,000 lbs., Max Payload: 1,400 lbs.
Dimensions Length: 208 in., Width: 79.1 in., Height: 70.9 in.
Seating Capacity 3
Basic Warranty 3 years / 36,000 miles
  • Highlights: Marks the end of the tenth generation with significant improvements in performance and durability from the 1997 redesign.
  • Key Spec: Available with a range of engine options, including a strong 5.4-liter V8.
  • Interesting Fact: Holds a high resale value and is often praised for its longevity and reliability.

This generation featured a new chassis design and updated styling. Ford also separated the lineup into two families, creating the modern “F-Series.”

Among the reliable model years from this era, the 2003 F-150 stands out for its impressive power and performance.

It remains highly rated on KBB and earned the “Seal of Pretty Good” award from CarComplaints.com.


2008 Ford F150

Trim Family Features MSRP Range
XL 4.2L V-6 Engine, 5-spd manual transmission, Vinyl Seat trim, 17″ steel wheels $17,900 – $27,440
STX Adds: 17″ chrome steel wheels, Cloth seat trim, Front air conditioning, manual $21,490 – $29,630
XLT Adds: Keyless entry, Premium cloth seats $23,910 – $32,050
Lariat Adds: 5.4L V-8 Engine, Leather seat trim, Heated mirrors, Automatic air conditioning $30,455 – $33,900
FX4 Adds: Four-wheel drive, 18″ machined aluminum wheels $30,600 – $33,750
  • Highlights: Beginner of 11-th generation, also a redesign year
  • Key Spec: The 4.6-liter V8 gets an EPA-estimated 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway
  • Interesting Fact: Only around 600 complaints and it is rated pretty good!

While the previous generation was highly regarded, the same can’t be said for the eleventh generation of the F-150. The 2004 F-150, a redesign year, is widely considered the worst model.

It suffered from inconsistent performance and serious engine problems like knocking and failure. CarComplaints.com gave it the “Avoid Like the Plague” award, with over 3,000 complaints and 16 recalls.

The 2005 model improved somewhat but still had its share of significant mechanical issues.

Many owners reported loud ticking noises from the engine and frequent transmission failures. Although not as problematic as the 2004 version, the 2005 model is still one to avoid.

The 2008 F-150, however, stands out as a bright spot in this generation. It received a “Pretty Good” rating from CarComplaints.com, with only around 600 complaints and one recall.


2009 Ford F-150 XLT

The twelfth generation of the F-150 saw a marked improvement with the redesigned 2009 model.

That year, Ford replaced the V6 engine with two V8 options—a 4.6-liter and a 5.4-liter. The new Platinum trim was also introduced, offering a more luxurious interior.

Category Details
Engine Type Gas, 4.6 L V8
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Drive Type Rear wheel drive
Total Seating 3
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined) 14/19/16 MPG
Fuel Tank Capacity 26.0 gallons
Horsepower & Torque 248 hp @ 4,750 rpm; 294 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Towing & Payload Capacity Max Towing: 5,900 lbs; Max Payload: 1,670 lbs
Dimensions (Length x Width x Height) 213.1 in x 78.9 in x 74.6 in
Safety Features Stability and traction control, 4-wheel ABS, Dual front side-mounted airbags
Comfort & Convenience Cruise control, Front air conditioning, Power windows and locks
In-Car Entertainment AM/FM stereo, 4 speakers, Auxiliary audio input
Warranty Basic: 3 yr./36,000 mi; Drivetrain: 5 yr./60,000 mi

Recall, Ratings and Complaint - 2008 Ford F-150


2012 Ford F-150

Specification Details
Engine Type Flex-fuel (FFV), 3.7 L V6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drive Type Rear wheel drive
Total Seating 6
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined) 17/23/19 MPG
Towing and Hauling Max Towing Capacity: 11,300 lbs, Max Payload Capacity: 1,620 lbs
Basic Warranty 3 years / 36,000 miles
Dimensions Length: 231.9 in, Width: 79.2 in, Height: 75.0 in
Safety Features Stability control, Traction control, 4-wheel ABS, Front and rear head airbags
Comfort and Convenience Cruise control, Air conditioning, Power windows and locks

This table provides a comprehensive overview of the significant attributes of the vehicle, making it

  • Highlights: Represents a strong recovery with enhanced styling and engine options after previous problematic years.
  • Key Spec: Offered with two V6 and two V8 engines, showcasing versatility and strength.

We all make mistakes, and learning from them is crucial. After the setbacks with the 2011 F-150, Ford took steps to turn things around, producing a stylish, powerful, and reliable 2012 model.

Ford incorporated versatility into the 2012 F-150, offering four engine options (two V6s and two V8s) and nine unique trims, giving buyers a broad range of customization options. Their efforts paid off, helping them outshine competitors like the Toyota Tacoma.

If you’re searching for one of the most reliable F-150s, the 2012 model is definitely worth considering.

2013, 2014

2013 Ford F-150

Engine Options 3.7L V6 5.0L V8 6.2L V8 3.5L EcoBoost V6
Displacement 226 cu. in. 302 cu. in. 379 cu. in. 214 cu. in.
Horsepower 302 @ 6,500 rpm 360 @ 5,500 rpm 411 @ 5,500 rpm 365 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque 278 lb-ft 380 lb-ft 434 lb-ft 420 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (City/Hwy) 17/23 MPG 15/21 MPG 13/18 MPG 16/22 MPG
Transmission 6-speed auto 6-speed auto 6-speed auto 6-speed auto
  • Highlights: These years are known for their reliability and range of powerful engine options.
  • Key Spec: The 2014 model included the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, offering a balance of power and fuel efficiency.
  • Interesting Fact: Had 6 recalls and over 100 complaints, these models maintained strong sales and customer satisfaction.

However, the 2013 and 2014 models are considered among the most reliable, thanks to a range of engines, like the 411-hp 6.2-liter V8 and the 365-hp 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6.

The 2014 F-150, in particular, earned a “Pretty Good” rating from CarComplaints.com despite six recalls and over 1,000 complaints.

2015, 2017, 2019, 2020

2015 Ford F-150

  • Highlights: These years are known for their redesigned body.
  • Key Spec: The 2020 model had a 10-speed automatic transmission.
  • Interesting Fact: Even if it is one of the most reliable Consumer Reports rated it 3 out of 5. 

The 2015 F-150 was a redesign year, introducing an aluminum body that shaved off 700 pounds to improve fuel economy.

Owners report getting around 18 mpg. However, its reliability was rated 3.0 out of 5.0 by Consumer Reports, and it had 16 recalls, which can be a dealbreaker for some buyers.

From 2017 onwards, the F-150 models are generally seen as reliable choices.

The 2019 model is also a standout, with strong reviews from critics and owners, making it worth spending a bit more for a newer, reliable truck.

The 2020 model is another solid option, offering six different engines, each paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Category Specification
Engine V6 Flex Fuel 3.3 Liter
Power Output 290 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 265 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission SelectShift® 6 Speed Automatic with Manual Mode (6R80E)
Fuel Economy 14 MPG city / 19 MPG highway
Dimensions Length: 209.3 in, Width: 79.9 in, Height: 75.5 in, Wheelbase: 122.4 in
Capacities Fuel: 23.0 gal, Cargo: 12.9 cu-ft, Towing: 1,500/9,200 lb, Payload: 1,990 lb

This trim also offers various packages such as the Equipment Group 101A, Trailer Tow Package, and


2021 Ford F-150

The 14th-generation Ford F-150 stands as the most rugged and capable truck in Ford’s lineup. It’s currently the most powerful light-duty full-size pickup truck on the market, maintaining the high standards that customers expect from Ford’s flagship model.

It’s not only built for the County Sheriff but also suits the family man who enjoys the countryside lifestyle. With impressive torque, towing capacity, horsepower, and payload, it’s among the best in its class.

The 14th-gen F-150 offers modern connected vehicle features like over-the-air updates and comes equipped with the advanced 3.5-liter PowerBoost hybrid powertrain. This innovative engine includes Pro Power Onboard, an integrated generator that adds extra utility for everyday tasks.

The Worst Years of the Ford F-150


2005 Ford f-150

  • Why worst: Continues to struggle with unresolved issues from earlier models, introducing new problems like rear window leaks.
  • Key Spec: Similar mechanical features to other eleventh-generation models but with increased unreliability.
  • Interesting Fact: 14 recalls, making it one of the riskier years for potential buyers.

The 2005 Ford F-150 was another challenging year for the model and its owners.

This model didn’t resolve the issues of previous years and even introduced new ones, like rear window leaks.

According to Consumer Reports, the 2005 F-150 had 14 recalls, with most involving the lighting, fuel system, brakes, and airbags.

Issues with any of these systems can pose serious safety risks, so it’s best to steer clear of the 2005 F-150 if you don’t want constant worry while driving


2010 Ford F-150

  • Why worst: Known for significant transmission issues and high repair costs.
  • Key Spec: Notable for its fuel economy at the time but overshadowed by mechanical failures.
  • Interesting Fact: Repair costs up to 4000$.

The 2010 F-150 is a model that likely still causes Ford some anxiety. While it’s known for good fuel economy and impressive towing capacity (5,100 to 11,300 lbs), this model year was riddled with issues.

Transmission problems, originating from the driveshaft and transmission wiring harness, typically began around 15,000 miles and could cost anywhere from $150 to $4,000 to fix. Additionally, many owners reported issues with the power windows, which often malfunctioned due to electrical system flaws.

With these transmission and electrical problems, the 2010 F-150 remains a model year to avoid.


2011 Ford F-150

  • Why worst: Engine stalls, misfires, and failures, and many models developed steering problems
  • Interesting Fact: 6 recalls and over 1900 complaints.

The 2011 F-150 offered four unique engines, with the most powerful being the 6.2-liter V8 delivering 414 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Despite initial excitement, the 2011 model faced significant issues after its release.

According to the NHTSA, this model year had six recalls and 1,944 complaints, with 655 related specifically to the powertrain. The 2011 F-150 experienced engine stalls, misfires, and failures, and many models developed steering problems after accumulating several thousand miles. If you don’t want to spend more time at the mechanic than on the road, it’s best to steer clear of the 2011 F-150.


2016 Ford F-150

  • Why worst: Engine stalls, misfires, and failures, and many models developed steering problems
  • Interesting Fact: Introduced with Ford’s “built Ford tough”, and it was anything but tough.

The 2016 F-150 was introduced with Ford’s “built Ford tough” mantra but had a glaring weakness: engine stalls.

Many owners reported this problem around the 29,000 to 30,000-mile mark. Additionally, the truck was plagued by door latch issues, causing doors to open unexpectedly while driving or after side impacts.

Alongside problems with airbags, seats, suspension, and brakes, these issues led to 13 recalls. If you’ve been considering a 2016 F-150, it’s best to remove it from your list.


2018 Ford F-150

  • Why worst: Infamous for its “shifting hard” transmission problems, leading to high repair expenses.
  • Key Spec: Continued with varied engine offerings but plagued by transmission failures.
  • Interesting Fact: Transmission repair costs could reach up to $7,000, and 2 million recalls.

CarComplaints flags the 2018 Ford F-150 as problematic due to the high cost of repairs and the fact that issues arise at low mileage.

The most significant issue is “shifting hard,” which can cost up to $7,000 to fix and typically shows up around 15,000 miles. Suspension problems occur early too, sometimes at just 5,000 miles, costing around $700 to repair.

Complaints About Pedals and Seat Belt Mechanism (2 million trucks had been recalled)

Another common complaint is a soft brake pedal, which can also emerge at around 5,000 miles and cost about $800 to fix. When searching for a used Ford F-150, be aware of potential repair costs with this model year. It’s best to avoid potential lemons.

That year Ford recalled 2 million F-150 pickup trucks in North America because a seat belt mechanism started fires years that were affected were 2015-2018.

What owners of the Ford F-150 like to use their car for:

The Ford F-150 is an adaptable vehicle with diverse uses for its owners. Here is a summary of the most frequent use categories and their respective usefulness ratings according to fixdapp.com

Usage Category Usefulness (Out of 5 Stars)
Lots of Driving (travel/long commute) ★★★★★
Family Vehicle ★★★★
Sport/Fast Driving ★★★
Luxurious Driving ★★★
Outdoor/Off-Road ★★★
Office on Wheels ★★★
Hauling/Towing ★★★

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