What are the problems that are faced by the owners of American-made F-150? In this blog, we are going to highlight the problems you should keep an eye out for when you are in the market to buy an F-150.
However, let’s first start with a quick answer to our main question:
What are some of the common problems of a Ford F-150?
F-150 problems include faulty windows, engine failure, spark plug, and transmission problems. These problems, while rampant in early model years, have been largely rectified in recent years. However, 2013 models suffer from oil pan gasket leaks, while 2020 models have inoperative rearview camera problems. Airbag deployment issues, reduced backseat strength, and engine fires were found.
This is the simplest answer that we can give. In the article below, we’ll discuss every problem in detail. This includes identifying it, fixing it, and how much it costs to fix it.
We Use Real World Vehicle Data To Create This List Of Problems
Before we dive into the most common problems, let’s quickly explain how we created this list.
This data comes from vehicle owners like you. It’s based on real data from real drivers. No guesswork or hypotheticals here.
We use resources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and many others, to review the most common complaints issues by owners along with the full history of recalls and active investigations.
From there, our team of automotive experts takes a closer into each problem and breaks down why it happens, what you can do to prevent it, and how to fix it.
We review the data and interpret the results to make your life easier. Now that you understand how we came up with this list, let’s get into it!
1. Rear Window Leaks
Ford’s model from 1997-2014 have a defect that took Ford 17 years to rectify. The defect lies in the rear window. The water leaks from the rear window during bad weather or even when you are washing the car. This can damage seats and other accessories inside the truck which can cost you a lot in damages and repairs.
The reason behind the leak is a damaged or low-quality seal and a broken sensor in the brake light. This fault is very annoying, it can make your truck un-drivable in bad weather.
The simple fix is by replacing the foam gasket on the brake light assembly and rubber packing of the rear window. It will cost you around $100-$250 for labor and parts; it still depends upon the cause and extent of the leakage.
If you are in the market to buy one you should first confirm whether this fault exists in the car or not. If you own one then you should look out for any leakages from the rear window so that you can get it fixed, and get safe from any more damage caused by the water leakage.
2. Transmission Problems
One of the most well-known problems of Ford F-150 is in the 2017-2019 model having 10-speed 10R80 automatic transmissions. This transmission is known for riding rough with loud clunky and banging noise coming from under the hood. Less than 10,000 miles in, you can face this problem with slow-shifting gears.
This causes a hard time shifting while accelerating or decelerating. This is very bad in a situation when you are taking a turn or trying to avoid an accident.
This issue can be simply solved by updating the adaptive learning software of the transmission or by cleaning the module’s memory. You can do it yourself by looking at videos on YouTube like this one:
But the best opinion might be to just go to near Ford dealer and get it updated.
Another problem related to transmission is that the truck runs rough and makes a lot of clanking and banging noise. This is also due to the adaptive learning module that is the main part of the new transmission used in these trucks.
These sounds serve as a massive distraction and may cause you to lose focus and get into an accident. This can also be fixed by a software update of the system.
3. Unexpected Transmission Downshift
Another well-reported flaw of the F-150 from 2011-2013 is related to its transmission problem. The transmission downshifts on its own at any speed. This is a very serious problem as it can cause an accident as the truck becomes difficult to control. Many owners have stated that the truck shifted to first gear on its own. Six accidents have been recorded due to this issue.
The issue warranted a recall by Ford after an investigation was launched by NHTSA. The Ford recall ID was 19S07. The main symptom is the truck downshifting on its own when you are driving the truck.
If you own an F-150 from the above model years then you should get your car checked from the nearby Ford dealership. Or if you’re in the market to buy an F-150 then you should avoid these models or the ones that have not passed through the recall procedure.
4. Loss Of Brake Fluid
F-150 models from the year 2013-2014 are prone to leakage of brake fluid, which results in brake failure. This issue is very dangerous as it can cause an accident, especially on highways. Brake failure also renders your car non-operational, leaving you in a lurch.
The main cause of this issue is a roll or leak of the master cylinder rear cup seal, resulting in brake fluid leakage from the primary reservoir into the brake booster. Ford has recalled all the trucks which are equipped with 3.5L engines from the 2013-2014 model year. The recall no. issued by Ford is 16S24.
The main symptom of this problem is your truck brakes not working properly. If you notice it then get your car checked by a nearby mechanic as soon as possible to avoid any accident in the future due to ignorance.
If you own an F-150 from the above-mentioned model year and engine specification then you should get your car checked by a nearby Ford dealer. It will cost you nothing as all the repairs are covered by the company.
5. Oil Pan Gasket Leakage
Owners of the 2013 model Ford F-150 have reported an oil smell coming from the car cabin. The smell is irritating and can be a menace while you drive. This can lead to health deterioration of the people sitting in the car or worst-case scenario, can lead to a serious accident.
The common cause of the smell in the truck cabin is oil pan gasket leakage. What happens is that the gasket starts to leak and the oil spills into the exhaust. This problem won’t make your truck come to a standstill but the odor will severely mar your driving experience.
The recommended solution is to replace the oil pan gasket entirely. Replacing the oil pan gasket is relatively cheap but the process is complicated and can take several hours. If you are not experienced enough – or you don’t have enough time on your hands, then you should take your truck to a near mechanic. It will cost you $1,010 to fix this problem.
If you own an F-150 and you are smelling odor in the truck cabin – be ready for a hefty repair bill.
6. AC Not Working Properly
One of the issues faced by the owner of the F-150 is a bad AC. Ford is known for their subpar AC performance but the F-150 takes it to another level. This issue does not make your truck useless per se – but severely hampers the driving experience.
The causes for this problem are many but the most common reported cause is the failure of the compressor. This is the most expensive repair you can have regarding your AC in the truck. The compressors of the 2013 model of Ford F-150 are giving up way earlier than their expected life.
Sometimes the AC won’t turn on for 1 hour after the truck is running. It sometimes starts but shuts off or is unable to maintain a temperature – negatively affecting your driving experience.
A bad or broken compressor is irreparable. If you don’t turn on the AC on your F-150 for a long time, the parts will start malfunctioning. The result will be a defective compressor that cannot be repaired. The only thing that you can do to solve this issue is to swap it with a new one.
If you take your truck to a nearby mechanic then it will cost you $1,100 including labor. If you own an F-150 with a faulty AC, it’s better to get it repaired before the problem gets to other parts. If you are in the market to buy an F-150 then you should check it from the seller before buying the truck so that you know what you are getting.
7. Inadvertent Airbag Deployment
Ford F-150 models from 2004-2006 come with a design defect that causes the airbag of the steering wheel to deploy or, at minimum, make the airbag light come on. This is very dangerous as the force with which the airbag deploys can injure the driver or render them unconscious. While driving, if this occurs, you and other people in the truck can be in danger.
This problem is caused by the airbag horn mounting plate’s sharp metal edge which can eventually chafe/cut the airbag clock spring jumper wire – leading to a short circuit.
This causes the airbag to deploy. 182 reports of airbag deployments were made – 56 of them resulted in the victim injuries and 48 those reports of airbag light illumination. One owner reported that their teeth broke and two owners reported that they were knocked unconscious.
The main symptom of the problem is the airbag light illuminating. But if it illuminates when you start your truck and then goes away then you should not worry about it as it is a system procedure. If it stays on then you should take your car to a nearby Ford dealer.
There are no obvious symptoms of this problem. If you own a Ford F-150 from the model year 2004-2006 then you should get your truck checked from a nearby Ford dealership as it is a design error.
Ford has issued a recalled number which is 11S18. Ford has also changed their design of the steering wheel and airbag mechanism addressing this issue in the 2007 model of F-150.
If you are in the market to buy one then you should avoid 2004-2006 models of F-150 or you can check from the seller whether the car was taken to a dealership for fixing or not.
8. Reduced Seat Back Strength
One of the glaring issues of the new Ford F-150 models is that their seat back recliner mechanism doesn’t work. This issue is mostly found in trucks that have manual front seats and back recliner mechanisms.
This issue is a safety hazard because it reduces the strength and may not adequately restrain an occupant in the crash. This increases the risk of injury or potential loss of life in severe accidents.
The problem lies with the improperly assembled recliner mechanism. The mechanism may be missing the third pawl that is essential for seat back strength, the lack of which results in a loose seat back.
If you are having a problem with the seats of your truck, you feel like they are loose or are not bearing your weight on the back then you should get it checked by the nearby mechanic.
Fortunately, Ford listened to the myriad complaints of F-150 users, and getting it fixed won’t cost you anything. The Ford recall number is 19C07. After diagnosing the problem you should take your car to a nearby Ford dealership and get the problem fixed.
If you are in the market to buy a one- or two-year-old F-150 then you should avoid the ones that come with a manual seat back recliner – or before purchasing talk with the seller about this problem to remove any doubt from your mind.
9. Engine Compartment Fires
Ford F-150 from 1998-2002 is known for its faulty speed control deactivation switches. Due to this short circuit occurs and fire is broken out in the engine compartment. This issue is a serious one and can cause the whole truck to burn down.
The main cause is the brake system in the vehicles that generate a vacuum while driving – it can cause the speed control deactivation switches to fail and consequently, your engine catches fire. In some instances, the orientation of the switch installation causes it to catch fire.
This issue is especially problematic as there are no symptoms before the event of the fire; you are always at the risk of being in this unfortunate event. Props to Ford they took notice of the problem as soon as possible and recalled all the vehicles that were fitted with speed control deactivation switches. Ford recall no. is 05S28. About 6.7 million vehicles were affected by this problem.
If you own a Ford F-150 from 1998-2002 years then you should get it checked from a nearby Ford dealership. Or if you are in the market to buy one then you should check with the seller beforehand so that you don’t face any problems after you have bought the vehicle.
10. Inoperative Rearview Camera
One of the issues faced by the new 2020 Ford F-150 is a nonfunctional rearview camera. In this day and age where trucks have become bigger, the use of technology has made it easy to drive them and make them safer. F-150 gives a wider field of view, making your driving safer – for you and for others.
This issue is caused due to poor electrical connection which may cause the camera to intermittently display a blank or distorted image. In most instances, having no rearview camera makes driving an F-150 more difficult. This is particularly problematic for newcomers who’re just still getting the hang of driving a large truck.
Ford has issued a recall letter for the vehicles affected by the problem. The Ford recall number is 20C19. If you own a Ford F-150 of the 2020 model year and have a problem with our rear-view camera then you should get it checked from a nearby Ford dealership. It will be solved free of cost.
11. Door Opens While Driving
Many owners of the Ford F-150 from the model year 2015-2017 have reported that their doors open while unexpectedly driving. This predicament can lead you into an accident, and its abrupt nature might not give you enough time to prepare for your next move.
The main culprit of the problem is the actuation cable. The actuation cable might be bent, kinked or the door latches may freeze after water gets into the latch. Both of these conditions can result in the doors opening while driving. The door might seem or appear to be closed but they aren’t. You should thoroughly check the door before driving the truck.
Ford has acted on complaints and issued a recall of all the vehicles that are victims of this problem. The Ford recall no. is 17S33 and NHTSA recall no. is 17V652000. If you own a Ford F-150 and are having this issue then you should get it checked from a nearby Ford dealership. If you are in the market to buy one then you should keep a look out for the truck with this issue.
12. Ejection of The Spark Plug from the Cylinder Head
One of the most commonly known issues of a 2004 F-150 is its ejecting spark plug. Owners have reported that first, they observed that their car was misfiring or starting much quieter than usual, and after the checkup, it was diagnosed that the spark plug has ejected itself causing damage to the cylinder.
The reason for this failure is that the threads on the cylinder head are too soft and short. This allows pressure from the combustion to overwhelm and destroy the threads on the cylinder. As a result, the spark plug ejects and the cylinder head becomes damaged.
The symptoms to look out for are tapping or knocking sounds coming from the engine. The engine will begin to misfire at all speeds. The check engine light will also illuminate to let you know that there is something wrong with your engine.
The typical repair cost for this problem is $610. Ford has recommended a method of repairing the cylinder head that prevents the spark plug from ejecting on its own like an aircraft-abandoning pilot.
Replacement of all the spark plugs in the engine is not necessary, but as we mention in the F-150 Throttle Body Problems article you should definitely check the spark plugs. We also advise you to upgrade all your spark plug designs to new ones in order to prevent this problem from occurring in the future.
13. Window Regulator Failure
One of the glaring issues of the 2004 F-150 is its faulty door-side window regulator. This causes the window to drop into the door, get stuck, or make an annoying grinding noise while operating the power window. It’s an annoying fault and can be fatal during environmental hazards when you need your windows working properly.
The main reason for failure is that the plastic class carrier or the window switch gets carbon built up between the electrical contact. If you want to keep your power window running smoothly use a silicone spray and lubricate the rubber guides on the outside of the glass.
If you own an F-150 and are having this problem then changing the regulator will be the safest and most reliable option. It will cost you $290 -$310 depending upon the type or quality of the window regulator you install in your truck.
14. Rough Running Engine
One of the most annoying issues that are described by the owners of the 2004 F-150 is the engine running rough when idling. This is caused by the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) sensors getting stuck due to the carbon build-up. As the switching slows down due to wear, the F-150 becomes unbalanced.
A clogged mass airflow (MAF) sensor also indicates its hot wire is dirty, causing the engine to run roughly when idle. This flaw can increase your fuel consumption, decreasing your F-150’s fuel economy. In a time when fuel prices are very high and people are moving toward a fully electric future, this flaw is one of the fatal ones for this car.
Owning F-150 when faced with this issue, you can simply fix it by cleaning the sensor. For a more impactful outcome, you should replace your truck’s MAF sensor which will cost you around $181. While the typical cost to fix this issue including labor is $1500.
15. Shutting Off While Driving
Another concerning flaw of the 2004 F-150 is that its engine continuously shuts off while driving. This is a very dangerous issue as when the vehicle shuts off, the driver is left with no power steering and a stiffer brake paddle in a moving truck. The truck becomes difficult to control and can lead to some serious accidents.
There are many reasons behind this flaw but the biggest one is an alternator failure. The alternator’s function is to charge the battery and provide electrical power to the entire truck. When the alternator fails, the engines stall out and the battery becomes dead – all power to the truck is cut off.
The symptom of this problem is your truck shutting off or you noticing any electrical component of the truck not working properly. Replacing the alternator including labor will cost you $550.
If you own an F-150 and are experiencing the same problems then you should get your truck inspected by a nearby mechanic. The typical repair cost will be $500.
What Is The Worst Model Year for Ford F-150?
F-150 is the bestselling pickup truck in America. They are known for their reliability and toughness. It also benefits from a strong after-sales and parts market. So, you can buy an F-150 without any hesitation. Still, we believe that there are some model years that should be avoided while you’re in the market for a new Ford-150.
The worst years of the F-150 are 2004 and 2005. They are the models marred with the majority of problems. They are known for their windows problems, engine failure, and sparkplug issues. These issues make these trucks unreliable and the company has done well to make sure that these issues are not present in other model years.
The year 2015-2017 faced some problems such as doors opening while driving and an inoperative rear-view camera. Although these problems were solved via recalls, it is still a better idea to do away with these models.
Apart from the above-mentioned model years. Other model year’s trucks are reliable and come with minor flaws that can be fixed for cheap and won’t be a burden on your budget or your driving experience. The latest 2021 model comes with strong features and several of the recurring issues have been rectified.
As we wrap things up on this deep dive into the Ford F-150 and its common problems, it’s important to remember that while this truck is a staple on American roads, it’s not without its share of issues.
In fact, you might be interested to know what the F-150’s close relatives like the F-150 Raptor. It’s got its unique quirks too, of course, but don’t be surprised to see similarities like transmission troubles and the odd electrical glitch pop up here as well.
You might want to be aware of potential 4×4 actuator problems, or it’s worth mentioning the 2.7 and 3.5 EcoBoost engines since these guys can be found in several variants of the F-150.
Just like their larger vehicle counterparts, they’ve got some common problems that you should keep an eye out for. You can find a thorough exploration of these issues in our article about the F-150 2.7 and 3.5 EcoBoost Problems.
At the end of the day, being a savvy vehicle owner is all about understanding what you’re working with. Every make and model out there will have its quirks, its strengths, and its weaknesses. The F-150 and its various versions are no different.
Knowing more about these vehicles will make you better prepared and ensure you can keep your ride on the road for many miles to come. So, keep exploring, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the drive.
His interests in cars, motorcycles, and machines led him to the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore where he is currently a mechanical engineering sophomore.
His future aims include the development of an energy-efficient prototype vehicle for the Shell Eco-Marathon competition and getting a Master’s Degree in Automotive Engineering from Germany.