In this guide, I’ll analyze the latest Ford F-150 generations, revealing the best years of the F-150 to buy and the worst Ford F-150 years to avoid.
Drawing from reliable sources like NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and VehicleHistory, I’ve meticulously dissected each generation to provide insights into the Ford F-150’s best and worst years, highlighting key features, problems, and recalls.
You’ll understand clearly what Ford F-150 years to avoid, which F-150 years have transmission issues, and which are the most reliable Ford F-150 years.
So, let’s dive right in.
Table of ContentsShow
Ford F-150 Generations
The Ford F-150, a staple in the American pickup truck market, embarked on its journey in 1975. However, for the scope of this article, we’ll start our exploration with its 10th generation, introduced in 1997.
To provide a clearer image, here’s a concise table detailing the F-150’s generations from 1997 to the present:
|10th generation (PN-96)||1997-2003|
|11th generation (P221)||2004-2008|
|12th generation (P415)||2009-2014|
|13th generation (P552)||2015-2020|
|14th generation (P702)||2021-Present|
Generational shifts can be vital for potential buyers or enthusiasts to discern, as subtle or drastic generational changes can significantly influence purchasing decisions.
Ford F-150 Best, Neutral, and Worst Years
We consider the following components in our rankings and categorizations of Ford F-150’s best and worst years:
- Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
- Annual maintenance costs
- Safety ratings
- Consumer Reports reliability scores
- Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
- NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
- Edmunds owner ratings
- JD Power owner ratings
- Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
- VehicleHistory owner ratings
- Cars.com owner ratings
For a comprehensive view, an upcoming graph illustrates the combined ratings from the above sources. This is the result of our many hours of unique research.
Next, based on our extensive research, you’ll encounter a table categorizing each Ford F-150 model year as best, neutral, or worst years.
|Generation||Best Years||Neutral Years||Worst Years|
|10th generation (PN-96)||2002|
|11th generation (P221)||2007|
|12th generation (P415)||2009|
|13th generation (P552)||2019|
|14th generation (P702)||2023||2022||2021|
“Neutral Years” represent a balanced blend of strengths and weaknesses, falling between best and worst categorizations.
Some factors, for instance, NHTSA recalls, are pivotal in influencing a vehicle’s reliability score. The more complaints and recalls a model year receives, the more its reliability diminishes.
Now, let’s dive into the specifications of the best, neutral, and worst Ford F-150 years.
Best & Worst Years for Ford F-150 10th Generation (1997-2003)
Introduced in 1997, the 10th Generation of the Ford F-150 ushered in a new era for Ford’s flagship pickup truck, merging tradition with innovation.
Due to a high number of NHTSA recalls and owner-reported complaints, the earlier years – 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000 are the Ford F-150 years to avoid, while later – 2002 and 2003 are the best and most reliable Ford F-150 years of this generation.
The Best Years: 2002, 2003
While these engines were generally reliable, there were some instances of spark plug blowouts that potential buyers should be aware of.
Technological and safety advancements during these years included the introduction of anti-lock brakes on all four wheels, which provided better stopping power and control.
However, fuel efficiency remained a concern, registering at about 10 mpg for city driving and 19 mpg on the highway.
The Neutral Years: 2001
The year 2001 Ford F-150 stands as a transition phase. The truck wasn’t free from issues while there were enhancements, especially regarding engine performance and technological integrations.
The 2001 model offered the 4.6L and 5.4L Triton V8 engines like its succeeding years.
Yet, this year wasn’t immune to issues and recalls, particularly concerning fuel leaks, fuel tank strap failures due to corrosion, and problems with the speed control deactivation switch.
The Worst Years: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
What year is the Ford F-150 to avoid? The early years of the tenth generation – 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000 are the Ford F-150 years to avoid.
The 1997 Ford F-150 was notably fraught with challenges. Not only did it top the list for the highest number of NHTSA recalls, but owner complaints were rampant.
Critical areas of concern spanned the electrical system, engines, transmission, brakes, steering, and suspension.
The 1998 Ford F-150 continued this trend, with engine problems becoming more pronounced, especially concerning spark plug blowouts. Fuel leakage, attributed to corrosion, further tainted the model’s reputation.
Recalls continued in the 1999 and 2000 Ford F-150 models, predominantly around fuel systems, leaks, and transmission concerns.
Steering, brake, and external lighting issues were also reported, making these years less attractive for those prioritizing reliability.
Best & Worst Years for Ford F-150 11th Generation (2004-2008)
The 11th generation of the Ford F-150, launched in 2003, represented another significant leap for the iconic pickup, boasting an all-new platform, innovative features, and refined aesthetics.
The later years – 2007 and 2008 are Ford F-150’s best years in this generation, whereas 2005, 2006, and especially 2004 are the Ford F-150 years you should avoid.
The Best Years: 2007, 2008
These years have benefited from a broader range of engine choices, including the reliable 4.2L Essex V6 and the tried and tested 4.6L and 5.4L Triton V8 engines, paired with 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual transmissions.
The upscale Lariat, King Ranch, and the new Harley-Davidson editions offered opulent interiors, advanced technological features, and unique aesthetic tweaks.
Ford introduced advanced safety features, including an anti-lock braking system, tire pressure monitoring, and an improved crash test rating from NHTSA.
Fuel efficiency saw a minor improvement, but figures hovered around similar stats as the 10th generation, with city driving metrics at approximately 10 mpg and highway figures at around 19 mpg.
The Worst Years: 2004, 2005, 2006
With low ratings from platforms like VehicleHistory and Cars.com, 2005 and 2006 are categorized as the worst years of the Ford-150 in this generation. 2004 is a particularly problematic Ford F-150 year that you should “avoid like the plague.”
Notably, engine issues plagued the 2004 Ford F-150, such as spark plug blowouts and stalling.
Transmission problems, such as shuddering, occasional shifting to neutral without warning, and window regulator failures, added to owners’ complaints.
Persistent issues with the 5.4L Triton engines, like spark plug blowouts and faulty camshaft sensors, were reported in the 2005 Ford F-150.
Furthermore, owners indicated that the fuel pump module was susceptible to corrosion, causing engine stalls and restart issues.
Brake-related recalls, especially those addressing the brake booster vacuum supply tubes, only heightened concerns about safety and reliability.
The steering column’s sensitivity to corrosion became a widespread complaint in the 2006 Ford F-150, leading to steering wheels locking or becoming hard to turn.
Issues like faulty camshaft sensors, fuel pumps, and timing chains persisted.
Best & Worst Years for Ford F-150 12th Generation (2009-2014)
The 12th generation of the Ford F-150, introduced in 2008, symbolized the brand’s commitment to modernization and innovation by integrating technological advancements.
Unlike other generations, earlier years – 2009 and 2010 performed way better than later years of the generation, and so are Ford F-150’s best years. 2011, 2012, and 2013, the Ford F-150 years to avoid, have a considerably higher number of owner complaints.
The Best Years: 2009, 2010
The 2009 F-150 model introduced the dependable 4.6L 2V V8 engine, and by 2010, the lineup was expanded with choices like the 4.6L 3V V8 and the high-performing 5.4L 3V Triton V8.
The Platinum trim boasted leather-upholstered interiors, a state-of-the-art infotainment system, and chrome exterior accents.
Safety technology has made strides in recent years, including features like the Trailer Sway Control and the Integrated Trailer Brake Controller.
However, the fuel efficiency was poor, with figures like 11 mpg for the city and 22 mpg for highway driving.
The Neutral Years: 2014
By 2014, the F-150 was on the cusp of transitioning to its next generation. This year was characterized by a balance of achievements and problems.
Notable was the inclusion of the new 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 engine, offering an equilibrium of performance and fuel efficiency with figures at 13 mpg for the city and 26 mpg for highway driving.
However, some owners reported electrical system issues, brake problems, and particular transmission concerns.
The Worst Years: 2011, 2012, 2013
The 2011 Ford F-150 saw numerous complaints concerning the power steering assist, engine performance, and particularly with transmissions in the F-150s equipped with the 3.5L Ecoboost engines.
These trucks tended to downshift to first gear without warning, raising significant safety concerns.
The 2012 Ford F-150 carried forward many of these challenges, particularly with the 3.5L Ecoboost engine, including issues with the timing chain and the unexpected downshifting.
The 2013 Ford F-150 owners reported that rear windows would shatter or crack when using the defroster.
Ford recalled the 2013 and 2014 models concerning master cylinder rear cup seal leaks in the F-150s equipped with the 3.5L Ecoboost engines, resulting in brake fluid leakage and compromised brake performance.
Best & Worst Years for Ford F-150 13th Generation (2015-2020)
Ford’s 13th generation of the F-150, launched in 2015, marked a monumental shift in the brand’s approach to truck construction with aluminum-intensive construction, slashing weight and promising better fuel economy.
While 2019 and 2020 are the best Ford F-150 years in terms of reliability, the earlier years – 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 faced numerous problems reported by owners.
The Best Years: 2019, 2020
With outstanding ratings on VehicleHistory and Cars.com, 2019 and 2020 are undeniably Ford F-150’s best and most reliable years in the thirteenth generation.
The available engines were optimized, including the 2.7L EcoBoost V6 to the beefy 5.0L V8 paired with the 10-speed automatic transmission.
Tech-wise, the F-150 was outfitted with Ford’s Co-Pilot360, an advanced suite of driver-assistance features that included Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane-Keeping System, and the Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert.
Trim levels, especially the higher ones like King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited, offered luxurious features.
The Worst Years: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
With the lowest Consumer Reports reliability scores, 2015 being particularly the worst, 2016, 2017, and 2018 are the Ford F-150 years you should avoid.
The 2015 Ford F-150 faced door latch failures, leading to a massive recall. Owners reported problems with the SYNC infotainment system, transmission hiccups, and concerns over the EcoBoost engine’s reliability.
The 2016 Ford F-150 brought its own set of problems. Many owners reported brake issues, leading to reduced performance and a related recall.
The 3.5L EcoBoost engine was under scrutiny for oil leaks and occasional overheating. Transmission problems persisted, with some F-150s experiencing harsh or delayed shifting.
The 2017 F-150 saw complaints about the windows, with several instances of spontaneous shattering, especially during colder months.
Additionally, concerns about seatbelt pre-tensioners causing fires in specific collision scenarios led to recalls.
The 2018 Ford F-150 had issues with frozen door latches in cold temperatures, and problematic power steering units were notable concerns for this model year.
Best & Worst Years for Ford F-150 14th Generation (2021-Present)
Ford’s iconic F-150 underwent a major redesign with the onset of its 14th generation in 2021. The most technologically advanced and sophisticated iteration thus far, the F-150 of this generation is presented as a fusion of ruggedness, luxury, and high-tech features.
As for the current data, 2023 is the best Ford F-150 year in this generation, while numerous recalls plagued 2021 – the F-150 year to avoid.
The Best Years: 2023
Ford F-150’s best year in this generation – 2023 saw improvements and refinements, representing the accumulated feedback and iterative enhancements based on the previous years.
Additionally, the integration of technological features became more seamless, with the infotainment system being more intuitive and responsive,
Advanced safety features introduced in previous years, like Ford’s Co-Pilot360, were further refined, improving ratings and consumer trust.
Many users and critics alike appreciated the 2023 model for its build quality, reduced instances of reported issues, and an overall more premium feel compared to its predecessors.
The Neutral Years: 2022
The 2022 model year for the F-150 stands as a bridge between the foundational changes initiated in 2021 and the polished offering in 2023.
The introduction and push towards electrification were significant, with the F-150 Lightning garnering attention.
Representing Ford’s vision for an electric future, the Lightning combined the best of the F-150 lineage with the benefits of an electric powertrain.
Some of the previous 2021 Ford F-150 recalls, and problems persisted in the 2022 Ford F-150 model, including owner-reported complaints with the audio system.
The Worst Years: 2021
Despite being new, 2021 saw a surprisingly high number of recalls, owner complaints, and low ratings, particularly in Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, J.D. Power, and VehicleHistory, which is why it is categorized as the Ford F-150 year to avoid.
Owners mostly complained about rear axle bolts tending to break easily and persistent downshifting problems.
Ford issues numerous recalls concerning trailer brake failures, unexpected activation of electric parking brakes, driveshafts that can fracture, unexpected shift to neutral, and windshield wiper failures.
However, the 2021 model also introduced features like an onboard generator, a revamped and more ergonomic interior, and a hybrid powertrain option.
Ford F-150 Average Resale Values
The graph below showcases the average resale values for Ford F-150 models.
After researching all of the Ford F-150’s recent history, it’s evident that 2007-2010, 2019, and 2020 models stand out as Ford F150’s best years in terms of reliability.
Which year of the Ford F-150 resonated most with you regarding performance, design, and overall experience?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!