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Colin Merrill has processed over 1,000 cars through his On-Kaul Auto Salvage yard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During all that scrapping and parting out, he has begun to notice some patterns. There are certain cars and SUVs he warns his friends to avoid because he sees how often they break down and get abandoned. In addition, he sees so many Ford F-150s with Triton V8 engines, that he counsels folks to avoid them.

One we run into are the Ford F150s with the Triton motors.  These trucks are OKAY but the motors are getting older and the Triton was just not built to last, the timing chain gets stretched and spark plugs pop and they just aren’t worth saving.  If you’re considering a higher mileage cheaper ford go get a truck with the 5.0.  We see at least one of these trucks at least once a week, usually with a bad motor but we’ve had a couple that were just rotted out as well.

Colin Merrill, On-Kaul Auto Salvage
Salvage yard crane dropping a used crossover SUV onto a junk pile.
Salvage yard crane | Hroe via iStockPhoto

Let’s break down what Merrill means here: Ford used the Triton branding for the V8s and V10s in its “modular” engine family from 1997 through 2010. The Tritons spanned the 10th generation (1997-2004), 11th generation (2004-2008), and some 12th generation (2009-2014) F-150s.

The 10th-gen and 11th-gen F-150s came with either a 4.2-liter V6 or one of the Tritons, the 4.6-liter and 5.4-liter V8s. The 2011 model year F-150, halfway through the 12th generation, got some major upgrades. This included the 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8. This was also the first year of the 3.7-liter V6, 6.2-liter V8, and 3.5-liter “EcoBoost” turbocharged V6.

Note that Ford continued to offer the Triton in vehicles such as the EconoLine van for several years. But what Merrill is saying is that if you want a V8 Ford F-150, try to find one with the 5.0. And he’s not the only one.

The Car Complaints website compiles reports by vehicle owners. It found the 2004 Ford F-150 is one of the truck’s most problematic model years, followed by the 2005. The website recored 245 owner complaints about engine issues with their 2011 F-150 engine and the NHTSA recorded an additional 322 complaints. What about the 2005 model year? Car Complaints got 173 engine-related F-150 complaints and the NHTSA got 276.

The website reveals that one of the most dramatic ways these engines fail is to eject a spark plug under pressure, often damaging other components. Why? The spark plug threads in the aluminum block can wear out long before they should.

Next, read about the two cars a salvage yard owner warns about, or see more Ford Trition V8 engine issues in the video below:

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