10 Least Reliable Ford Engines We Stay Away From

Credits: Photo by Grahame Jenkins on Unsplash

Ford has produced some incredible engines over the years, but some have managed to tarnish the brand’s name and reputation with poor reliability. Over the years, Ford engines have won our hearts, with some earning a legendary status due to their rock-solid reliability. Ford’s catalog of reliable engines includes efficient four-cylinders, powerful V6s, and bowel-shaking V8s. However, like every automaker, Ford has also had its fair share of awful motors that we wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Here are five least reliable Ford engines we stay away from and five that last forever., reports Hotcars.

10. Least Reliable: 2003 – 2007 Ford Super Duty 6.0-Liter Power Stroke V8 Engine

Although the Ford Super Duty Diesel is a stunning pickup truck, underneath its hood is one of the worst Ford engines. The 6.0-liter Power Stroke is a money pit and a headache to its owners, with enough mechanical problems to make you avoid the 2003-2007 Super Duty trucks like the plague.

We are talking about Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) issues, failed head gaskets, injector problems, coolant leaks, turbocharger failures, extreme temperatures, and vibrations. As if that isn’t enough, replacing something like injectors required the mechanic to remove the entire cab, contributing to expensive repair costs. Many 6.0 Power Stroke V8 truck owners have since received class action lawsuit payments from Ford. Others who opted out and went to a fraud case got awarded over US$10 million.

9. Lasts Forever: 2011 – 2023 5.0-Liter Coyote Naturally Aspirated V8 Engine

The 5.0-liter Coyote V8 is a powerhouse of an engine, whether it’s propelling the Mustang GT or hauling cargo in the F-150 pickup truck. Introduced in 2011, the engine produced 412 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. Several upgrades in the subsequent years saw its power increase to 480 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Although it offers less torque than the equally reliable EcoBoost V6, there’s something about the Coyote’s V8 grunt and rumble that the smaller V6 engine just can’t replicate.

In terms of durability, the Coyote V8 is a fantastic engine with very few reliability issues, and according to VehicleHistory, it should have no problem racking up over 200,000 miles. It’s an engine built to last, boasting high-strength internals. And thanks to its solid build, tuners have found ways to coarse over 900 hp from the engine by fitting powerful turbos and other mods.

8.Least Reliable: 2008 – 2010 Ford Super Duty 6.4-Liter Power Stroke Engine

Like its predecessor, the 6.4-liter Power Stroke V8 is another example where Ford missed the mark regarding reliability. Up front, yes, the engine is a better-performance beast, but it was plagued with the same gremlins that killed the 6.0-liter Power Stroke V8.

7. Lasts Forever: 1986 – 1995 Ford 5.0-Liter (302 CID) EFI High Output V8 Engine

Following the end of classic muscle cars in the early ‘70s, American automakers resolved to produce low compression and lackluster power plants that were shadows of the former glorious and screaming V8s. Power outputs were pathetic, and any meaningful performance was just a mirage.

However, Ford offered its revered 5.0-liter V8 engine in Mustangs and other models, continuously upgrading its output from the unimpressive 140 hp in 1979. The biggest change came in 1986 when Ford introduced EFI (electronic fuel injection) to the existing 5.0-liter HO engine, creating a hot-rodding craze. The engine was incredibly reliable and an excellent tuning platform. Even today, 5.0 EFI HO Mustangs are highly desirable for their bulletproof nature and make some of the best drift weapons for beginners.

6. Least Reliable: 1965 – 1977 V4 Essex Engine

Produced from 1965-1977, Ford’s V4 Essex engine was available in 1.7-liter and 2.0-liter displacements, producing between 73-92 hp and 100-122 lb-ft of torque. It powered models like the Corsair, Granada, Zephyr saloons, and Consul.

While the cars it powered are popular, the Essex engine is not a popular engine by any means, and for good reasons. Firstly, it was massively under-powered, leading to plummeting Corsair sales. But the Essex’s biggest problem was faulty gaskets, especially in the Corsair, that would blow up before 150,000 miles.

5. Lasts Forever: 1965 – 1996 Ford 300 CID “Big Six” Inline-Six Engine

Ford’s 300 cu-in (4.9-liter) inline-six engine debuted in 1965 in the F-Series trucks. The engine became a staple in the American automotive industry for the next couple of decades. It powered everything from Ford trucks, SUVs, tractors, commercial trucks, farm trucks, and even irrigation pumps.

The 300 CID inline-six was reliable, and its output of 150 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque was more than enough for F-150 trucks and other bigger trucks. The engine’s simplicity and high-quality engineering made it tough and virtually indestructible. Even though Ford terminated production of the 300 CID in 1996, the engine is still in use in some UPS trucks today, making it one of the most reliable inline-six engines ever produced.

4. Least Reliable: 2002 – 2008 5.4-Liter Triton V8 Engine

The 5.4-liter Triton engine is a member of Ford’s Modular V8 engine family, introduced in 1997. The three-valve version produced from 2002 to 2008 is the most problematic and one of the most unreliable Ford engines. Although it produced decent power (295-390 hp), the engine had several glitches.

The engine suffered from timing chain issues, ignition problems, blown spark plugs, vibrations, fuel pump failures, and engine misfires. According to CarComplaints, the 2007 and 2008 model years had the most reported issues, with the 2007 model year alone having 49 engine knocking problems and 24 broken spark plug complaints. The year, 2008, didn’t fare any better, with chewed-up cam phasers and more broken spark plugs. VehicleHistory also reports NHTSA complaints that affected 2004-2007 F-150s. Keep in mind that the engine needed replacing in most cases, leading to expensive repair costs.

3. Lasts Forever: 2002 – 2016 Ford 4.0-Liter Barra Inline-Six Engine

The 4.0-liter Ford Barra is arguably the most reliable modern inline-six engine and one of the best Ford engines. Produced from 2002 to 2016, the Barra earned its rightful place among gearheads and tuners.

With an output that ranges between 209-436 hp and 276-425 lb-ft of torque, the 4.0-liter Barra’s stout internals can withstand over 1,000 hp with aftermarket mods. The bombproof engine can easily last over 250,000 under regular maintenance.

2. Least Reliable: 1982 – 2004 3.8-Liter Essex V6 Engine

The 3.8-liter Essex V6 is basically a V4 Essex with two extra cylinders and a bigger displacement. After all, it was as unreliable and uninspiring as the latter. It started life as a diesel engine in concept form but ended up as a gasoline version, making it quite heavy.

There was nothing to love about its performance, as it produced a maximum output of 193 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque in naturally aspirated form and 230 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque when equipped with a supercharger. However, the Essex’s biggest letdown was the prevalent gasket failures that would blow up when the engine neared the 150,000-mile mark. When this happened, owners had to rework all engine internals and replace the head bolts, translating to expensive repair bills.

1. Lasts Forever: 2009-2023 3.5-Liter EcoBoost V6 Engine

One of the most reliable V6 engines, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 is arguably the best Ford engine. Compared to the bigger 5.0 Coyote V8, the EcoBoost V6 is the better all-rounder; it is reliable, powerful, and fuel efficient. Introduced in 2009, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 produces between 375-660 hp and 470-550 lb-ft of torque.

For over a decade, the engine has had a reputation for racking up miles. According to Vehicle History, the EcoBoost V6 engine should last over 150,000 miles without major issues. As a testament to its indestructible nature, the Fast Lane Truck channel on YouTube hosted two F-150 truck owners in 2021, where one V6-powered truck had over 200,000 miles on the odometer.

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Source: Hot Cars