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Which Used Ford F-150 Models Should You Avoid at All Costs?

Car Complaints is great for researching used vehicles and figuring out which are riddled with lemons. With trucks as popular as the Ford F-150, you’re sure to get valuable information.

For example, the 2004 model has the most complaints from owners, but Car Complaints ranks the 2012 as the worst due to the number of complaints, repair costs, and repairs at lower mileages.

2004 Ford F-150

If you look at Car Complaints’ graph, the 2004 model stands out like a sore thumb. The 2005 has the second-highest amount of complaints with a total of 659. Notably, the 2004 Ford F-150 has almost twice this amount with 1,156 complaints.

So why do drivers hate the 2004 model so much? Turns out the windows won’t roll down. For drivers who enjoy the weather, this is a major deal-breaker. 

Unlike vague sounds that are easy to ignore, especially if you turn up the radio, it’s hard to ignore a window that won’t roll down. It’s even worse when it won’t roll up, and it’s supposed to rain. According to Car Complaints, this problem can be fixed for about $300, but that’s more money than many consumers want to spend.

Other complaints reported by consumers include engine failure, engine knocking, transmission problems, and drive train problems. 

Consumers gave the 2004 model a rating of 4.6 stars on Kelley Blue Book. The ratings seem mostly positive. Kelley Blue Book reports that 74% of reviewers rank the 2004 model as a five-star vehicle, while only 2% ranked it as one star.

2012 Ford F-150

Looking at the bar graph, you may question why Car Complaints is so hard on the 2012 model. There are only 184 complaints, which is far less than many other model years. 

Car Complaints considered other factors, however, like the price of some of the repairs. The biggest complaint revolves around engine failure while driving. To repair this, it costs $2,380. This means it not only costs more than repairing a broken window, but it’s also extremely dangerous.

A window that won’t roll up is annoying, but an engine that quits while you’re driving can get people killed. One reviewer stated that her truck broke down on a bridge as she drove home one night.

This was after she had taken it to the Ford dealership, and they had replaced the throttle body three times. The truck continued to break down, and her last review states that a solution was never found.

Three reviewers said replacing the engine fixed the problem, while 22 reviewers said they had no idea what would fix it because they never found a solution. 

Another major problem for the 2012 model involves the power steering going out. This is another dangerous issue that can result in death.

The body of a 2002 Ford F-150 Raptor truck is lifted off its chassis
A 2002 Ford F-150 Raptor truck is lifted off its chassis | Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images

There are four recalls on the 2012 F-150, and none of them include the power steering or engine problems. According to Car Complaints, the recalls include two unexpected transmission downshifts, “PRNDL” illumination and backup lamp activation, and occupant classification system. 

Kelley Blue Book gave the 2012 F-150 four out of five stars. The expert review was mostly positive, with no mention of the engine or power steering problems that face the 2012 model. 

This may be a good wake up call for consumers about reviewing multiple sites in order to get the most information. One site may give it a good rating, while another completely trashes it. But if you’re investing a lot of money into a truck, having more information helps make a difficult decision easier.