Trucks & SUVs

Why a Used Ford F-250 Could Become Your Biggest Regret

Imagine the frustration of buying a used truck and then finding out it has issues. That’s been happening to some owners with used Ford F-250 trucks. Here’s a look at some of the most common problems with this super duty truck and which model years are most reliable.

A used Ford F-250 on a car dealership lot
A used Ford F-250 on a sales lot | Scott Olson/Getty Images

History of the Ford F-250

Introduced as part of the Ford F-Series for the 1958 model year, the Ford Super Duty was separated for 1998. There was briefly a light-duty F-250 and a heavy-duty F-250, but the light version was discontinued after the 1999 model year.

The second generation arrived for the 2008 model year, the third generation came for the 2011 model year, and the fourth generation appeared for the 2017 model year. Despite all the redesigns, this truck remains a solid choice for some of your hardest jobs.

Overall reliability of the F-250

There are several places to find out how reliable vehicles are, including CarComplaints.com and Consumer Reports. CarComplaints collects consumer concerns online. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports surveys its members about any problems in 17 different categories they’ve had with vehicles over the past 12 months. Vehicles are compared to other vehicles from the same model year. Brand new vehicles have their reliability ranked based on brand history or similar models.

While not Ford’s most complained about vehicle, there have been 568 complaints submitted to CarComplaints.com regarding the F-250. Across all model years, engine problems are the biggest complaint.

On the third-generation, Consumer Reports’ reliability verdict for the F-250 has been a three out of five, except for a four out of five in 2015 and a two out of five in 2016.

Owner satisfaction has been either three or four out of five in those years. The fourth-generation starting in 2017 had a reliability rating of two out of five in 2017 and three out of five in 2018, with owner satisfaction ratings of four out of five for both years.

There are still predicted ratings for 2019, with two out of five for predicted reliability and four out of five for predicted owner satisfaction. Earlier model years, from 2003 to 2008 pretty bad reliability ratings.

Complaints for specific model years

CarComplaints.com decided to name the 2011 model as the worst year given that the problems could have higher repair costs and problems might appear at lower mileage.

Owners reported the most complaints on the 2006 model year, and the most-reported problem is for “spark plugs loose, jump out” on the 2003 model year.

There were other model years where owners reported a number of issues. These model years spanned the life of the truck with a many problems being reported in the 1999 model as well as the 2017 model.

The biggest complaint in 2017 was about a death wobble in the suspension. Interestingly, Motor Trend awarded the 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty their Truck of the Year award.

Consumer Reports gave reliability ratings of two out of five for model years 2016 and 2017. In 2016, owner complaints were about the in-car electronics, body integrity, and the fuel system. In 2017, issues were around the fuel system, power equipment, and the body integrity.

Buying a Ford F-250

Keep in mind, there are many years with few complaints. Consumer Reports’ highest-rated reliability verdict was for the 2015 F-250. For the 2020 Ford F-250, Consumer Reports has a predicted reliability rating of two out of five and a predicted owner satisfaction rating of four out of five.

If you are deciding which model year Ford F-250 to buy, it’s important to consider both consumer complaints and expert reviews. Of course, nothing is more valuable than looking at the actual truck itself.