Shopping for a Reliable Used Truck? Avoid the F-150 With This Engine

For every good pickup truck out there, a manufacturer has built a truck that is best to avoid. And for Ford, that is especially true due to an engine update that the brand put out in 2004. For a while, Ford trucks offered a 5.4-liter V8 engine known as the Condor. It was basically seen as an indestructible engine worthy of a full-size truck. But in 2004, this engine was changed. And if you are shopping for a used Ford F-150, it’s best to avoid this engine like the plague due to its well-documented issues.

Is the 5.4-liter Triton V8 a good engine?

While the Triton V8 may not be the worst engine for a truck, it is certainly not the best. It was an update to the Condor V8 that was put into F-150 models from 1997 until 2004. In 2004, Ford introduced a 3-valve V8 engine that would last until 2010. And during these years, owners reported a variety of issues. 

According to AutoWise, the 5.4-liter V8 was prone to spark plug failure, which could cause some serious problems. The spark plugs would break off out of nowhere, causing expensive repair bills that could sometimes hit $3,000.

Unfortunately, there was not really a permanent fix to this problem. Even if you fixed the spark plugs once, they could break off again. And that is truly frustrating, especially for those who need a pickup that they can rely on. At the end of the day, this engine may have some of the worst spark plug design in automotive history. 

Is the 11th-generation F-150 a bad truck?

Generally speaking, the 11th generation Ford F-150 is not a bad truck. And, it was available with a variety of engine options. Because of that, it is possible to get this pickup without the Triton V8, which means you can get a more reliable used truck. Now, the Triton V8 was the most powerful engine option for this version of Ford’s F-Series truck. So, it’s understandable why some buyers may want it. 

A Ford F-150 with green paint sits on a paved road, with the Triton V8 engine, it may not be reliable.
Ford F-150 | IFCAR

But, keep in mind that this engine does come with issues, and it is very possible that you could get a lemon. The last thing you want from your used pickup is a headache from being in the shop too often and having to face the financial burden of repairs.

Should you buy a pre-owned F-150?

There are plenty of used F-150 trucks that have admirable reliability and plenty of life left in them. If buying a new truck is not for you and you want the benefits of the blue oval, shopping for a used Ford F-150 is likely the right call. But, before you do so, be sure to conduct the proper research. That way, you know you are getting something that is ready for the miles ahead. 

A blue 2018 Ford F-150 full-size truck with mountains in the background.
2018 Ford F-150 | Ford

In the case of buying a used full-size truck, it is also important to research the history of the vehicle that you intend to buy. If the service records show recurring issues, it is unlikely those problems will stop just because the truck got a new owner.

RELATED: How Many Generations of Ford F-Series Trucks Are There?