One of the smartest truck purchases you can make (in terms of mileage) is the Ford F-150. Since its debut in 1975, it’s been an American favorite – no doubt due to how long they last. There aren’t many other vehicles that can match the life expectancy of a Ford F-150!
On average, you can expect an F-150 to last anywhere between 150,000 to 300,000 miles. Of course, that number will depend on a multitude of factors such as driving environment and maintenance routines.
Note: not all model years of the F-150 were created equal! Read on to find out which ones were the most reliable (and which ones were complete turds).
What is the average life expectancy of a Ford F-150 in miles?
According to a study of the longest lasting cars by iSeeCars, 1.9% of Ford F-150 trucks cross the 200,000-mile mark. In their data, the truck ranks fifth in terms of longevity. This means it’s a very reliable truck that almost guarantees many years of use without significant issues.
Putting that in perspective, larger Ford trucks (ones with bigger engines) don’t necessarily last any longer. For example, an F-450 with a V10 will last just about as long as an F-150 with a V8 or V6. Ford V10 life expectancy isn’t all that great actually.
On average, the F-150 is a truck that can go between 150,000 and 300,000 miles with ease. If you adhere to the manufacturer’s care and maintenance guidelines, your F-150 can easily hit the 300,000-mile mark. Yes, you will have to do routine repairs and maintenance along the way (tires, brakes, etc), but you shouldn’t have to worry about any blown engines before then.
What is the average life expectancy of a Ford F-150 in years?
300,000 miles is a lot. Thinking about it another way, let’s say you drive (on average) 15,000 miles annually. That’s 20 years of reliable use from your truck.
If you make maintenance a top priority, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to get 3o dependable years out of an F-150.
At that point, due to the popularity of these things, it’s likely to be a collectors item. Hold onto it as a family heirloom, or sell it for a nice chunk of change. The market for vintage F-150’s has been (and will continue to be) strong for decades to come.
What model year F-150 should you avoid?
Autoweek claims that Ford-150 sells approximately 103 F-150s every hour (roughly two trucks per minute). The general public don’t seem to be avoiding the F-150 at all. As a matter of fact, it’s the number 1 selling vehicle in the US.
While the year-over-year stats are amazing, not every model of F-150 has been perfectly reliable. I have friends and family with F-150 models ranging from 1990 to 2021, and some are clearly more problematic than others.
Below are the worst of this truck’s model years, with reasons why you should avoid them:
1. The 2004 model had chronic engine issues
Reports from NHTSA indicate that up to today; the 2004 Ford F-150 has had approximately 16 recalls. That’s massive, since other (more crappy) cars in the Ford lineup have had less. For example, if you read my list of 2011 Ford Fiesta problems, you’ll know that car only had 3 recalls.
Anyway, some automotive outlets have recommended to avoid the 2004 F-150 like a plague, while plenty of other claim it to to be the worst F-150 in history.
This is understandable considering the problems it had. The engines (5.4 land 6.8-liter Tritons) were (and still are) having annoying issues, and it was a point of frustration for many owners. It should be noted that later versions of these engines were much better. For more information, you can read all about the life expectancy of the Ford 5.4 L engine.
Other reasons why you should avoid the 2004 Ford F-150:
- It had faulty window regulators
- The spark plugs were likely to break when removing them
- Not only that, the spark plugs were prone to ejecting abruptly when the engine is under heavy load (no, it has nothing to do with premature ejaculation)
Most Ford enthusiasts agree with the experts and consider this the worst model, primarily due to engine failures. Of all the model years of the F-150 to avoid, the 2004 is at the top of the list.
2. The 2005 model was just as bad as the 2004
After such a disastrous 2004 model lineup, you might expect things to have improved with the 2005 model. Unfortunately, the F-150 had almost the same stupid problems as its predecessor. At the time of this writing, the total number of recalls for the 2005 Ford F-150 stands at 14.
On a side note, I remember thinking how sad it was to see the F-150 falling from grace as what I considered to be the best truck ever. The 2005 model year was brutal for this Ford
- The faulty window regulator issue persisted
- So did the spark-plug problems
- The 5.4-liter Triton was notorious for making a mechanical “knocking” sound. Most mechanics attributed this to faulty cylinder heads or cam phasers. Most owners considered it annoying.
3. 2010 Ford F-150
Of all the modern F-150s, the 2010 model ranks as the worst (my opinion anyway). There are a handful of reasons why you should avoid a 2010 F-150. Don’t take my word for it though. Many owners reported the following issues with MyFord infotainment:
- Sudden screen failure, resulting in unresponsiveness
- Failing of the rear-view camera when reversing
- The system failed to recognize smartphones at times
But the problems didn’t end there. There were still a lot of other issues with the 2010 F-150 that made it one of the worst ever made:
- Engine head and oil pan gasket leaks
- More spark plugs problems!
- The auto-transmission had a bad (and dangerous habit) of dropping down into second gear while driving at highway speeds. Yikes!
Some of these issues, specially the last one, are critical. If you want my advice, avoid the 2010 Ford F-150 by all means.
What model year F-150 is the most reliable?
I’m willing to best if you ask most truck buyers, they would consider the latest model of any truck to be the best due to the added reliability and safety over the previous model. However, this has not always been the case with the F-150. If you want to be on the safe side, go for any model between 2013 and 2020. These are some of the most reliable F-150’s ever manufactured.
However, with the way that F-150’s have held their value over the years, it’s not an easy truck to buy on a budget. If money is an issue, the 2013 F-150 is an ideal choice. It’s a highly reliable truck at (very likely) the least amount of money you’ll pay for an F-150 with modern amenities.
That being said, I consider the 2014 model to be a better deal than the 2013 (mostly because its better reliability ratings).
The 2015 model is nice too. That’s a solid (somewhat budget) option as well, because it’ll have newer technology and safety features. You’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets though. Anyway, the main reason why I like the 2015 model is because it was the launch of the 13th generation F-150 featuring an all-aluminum frame.
But wait. Isn’t the 1993 model the most reliable F-150 ever?
The debate about the most reliable Ford F-150 is endless. However, I’d like to think (hope) that most Ford enthusiasts would agree with me that the 1993 model stands out as being one of the most reliable Ford trucks ever built. Yes, I will admit that the fact that my college roommate had one (and it survived the abuse he put it though) makes me slightly biased.
Although an older model with an equally older framework (and style), the truck was designed to handle whatever was thrown at it. Just look around your local area. You’ll still find 1993 F-150’s all over the place – most of them having been driven hundreds of thousands of miles.
But like I said, I’m biased. My roommate’s F-150 was a total beast, and I can’t end this without suggesting it as the F-150 with the highest life expectancy.