September 6

2007 Ford F150, 5.4L Engine Replacement



Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 17 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Ford F150, 2007, what was going on with this truck?

Bernie: This vehicle got towed into our shop because it wasn’t running properly. Suddenly when the owner was driving it the engine started misfiring and when we did a diagnostic on it we found that there was a number of trouble codes on the right cylinder bank for misfires, also codes for camshaft timing. So usually when that sort of sequence of codes happens, especially if the misfires are all in one bank, it usually indicates a problem with a timing chain issue. So we did a diagnostic on it, we found that the timing, we pulled the valve cover off, we found that the timing chain had actually, the guides that hold the timing chain tight had broken so the timing chain skipped a tooth and caused a few engine problems, pretty severe in this case.

Mark: So how common are timing chain problems with these Ford engines?

Bernie: Fairly common. We do see a number of them, over the past year we’ve seen several. It’s a complex system. It uses two timing chains, plus it has variable valve timing mechanism, so there’s solenoids, there’s sensors, plus the guides and tensioners. So there’s quite a few pieces that are in play when the engine is running. It’s one of those engines that’s critical to change the oil regularly because you definitely don’t want to gum things up but even that being said they can still fail.

Mark: So what options do you have as an owner do you have when timing chains might fail so catastrophically?

Bernie: Well it depends on what stage of the failure. There’s a solenoid that will sometimes fail that can be replaced and that will fix the issue but once it’s catastrophically failed like this, usually the best option is to have a re-manufactured engine. It’s definitely costly, but it’s the best way to just fix everything and just start fresh. Other options are to take the engine apart, you can take the timing cover apart, maybe replace the chain but if there’s any damage to the pistons and valves, that’s going to cause, obviously that’s not going to fix it. The other problem that happens on these engines too is that the oil passageways can sometimes be blocked and they can be hidden, I mean it’s a very complex system throughout the whole engine and if you can’t find the blockage or you don’t know that there’s a blockage and you put all the chains back together, and the engine will still run crappie, you’ll have really wasted a lot of money because doing timing chains on this engine is an extremely expensive job. So really the best option is a re-manufactured engine. I mean, another option is a good used engine, but with used you never know if you’re, you might have something that’ll last for 10 more years or 6 months down the road and have the same or some other problem.

Mark: So that’s a pretty huge expense, an expensive kind of job, is it worth it?

Bernie: Well I think for the most part it is, so for this particular truck and I think I kind of lied when I said it was an F150, this truck is actually a Lincoln Mark LT, which is basically an F150 but it’s a Lincolnized model. So this truck has more value than an average F150 but for the most part, a truck with a reasonable mileage it’s worth fixing because trucks do tend to hold their value fairly well and they’re a little more useful than cars I think so they tend to last longer than cars and are often worth spending the money on but it’s up to the individual owner, you’ve got to kind of crunch the numbers and go am I better so spend $10,000 bucks fixing this thing or should I just trash it and get something else. So that’s up to the individual owner but of course if the engine’s not working the truck’s really worth zero. I’ll just share a few photos here of the job. We went with a Ford re-manufactured engine. I really like these engines because they come complete. You get all the valve covers are on, the timing covers are on, it comes with new, the cam sensors are located here, you get new cam sensors, it comes with all the gaskets, it actually even comes filled with oil and new spark plugs. So it’s still a lot of work but it’s really a nice drop in job and done very complete and they work really well. So it costs a little bit more than some other re-manufactured engines but not a lot and I think for the owner you’re getting a better product. There’s a side by side, here’s the new engine ready to install, there’s the old engine with the valve cover off, you can see where my mouse pointer is, that’s the timing chain there and the guide that failed is located down in this area here. There’s the cam shaft, cam lobes, yeah so that’s the old engine, there’s the new engine and then what do we got here, here’s the engine bay with the engine removed. So a couple interesting things to look at here, this is the transmission bell housing where the transmission bolts to the engine and this is the torque converter that’s like basically a fluid clutch which is used in all automatic transmissions, so this is what engine couples to the torque converter that drives the transmission, and just here, the exhaust pipes where the exhaust pipes hook up, you’ve got your steering column here and all these wires are basically just hanging loose for the time being but they’ll all get connected up as we put the vehicle together. The air conditioning compressor sort of sits in place. So basically that’s the view of the engine compartment without the engine in and then when we have the engine  back in, that’s kind of the view which still looks kind of cluttery, because this thing is not by any means ready to run or go yet but you can see the alternator is installed and all that wiring that was hanging down below most of it has been re installed in various spots.

Mark: You still have the radiator and basically the serpentine belt etc to put in?

Bernie: Yeah that all needs to be put in. The belt, the radiator, fan, more wiring and the engine computer and then it’s ready to run.

Mark: So it’s a tough call, even with oil changes regularly you still might run into this problem with these motors?

Bernie: Yeah, they still do. I mean owner for this vehicle, he’s taken pretty good care of it and changed the oil, so it does happen from time to time. Your best defence is absolutely change your oil regularly, every 5 to 6 thousand kilometres is a good safe interval without changing it too often, you know just do that regularly and the engine will last as long as you can get out of it.

Mark: And how do you find these Ford trucks overall for reliability?

Bernie: Well I just say fair, I mean we’ve talked a lot about these in the past, the timing chains are one thing, but the engine that happens. I often like to compare what are the other brands, like equivalents and I always think of Chevy and Dodge but I guess there’s always the Japanese make a lot of large trucks too and the Japanese trucks, we very rarely ever see any problems with them but the GM’s, really the engines are fair more reliable than the Ford’s. They don’t have spark plugs that blow out or strip in the heads,they don’t have the timing chain problems like these, really just as reliable as can be. The Dodge is the same, they’re pretty reliable as well so I’d say Fords are definitely the lowest on the totem pole of reliability but for some reason they keep selling more and more. I mean, when they run and usually they do, they run really well. So it’s a nice truck it’s just stuff goes wrong.

Mark: So how are they, to be fair to Ford, how are they, this is a 10 year old vehicle, how are they as they got newer, say in the 3 to 5 year old range, are they having this kind of issues?

Bernie: Well you know, we don’t see a lot of them in the 3 to 5 year old range for some reason, but definitely things like the spark plug problems that Ford had with their V8’s are definitely gone and on some of the newer trucks too they have the eco boost engine and we haven’t see a lot of problems with that, it’s a V6 engine with twin turbos which is a fantastic idea because you’re getting a lot of power and economy in a small engine in a larger truck but there’s a lot of complexity to that that’s bound to be causing problems and I know they are out there but for some reason we just don’t see a lot of them yet. It’s kind of interesting in the after market business we get things in waves, you know all of a sudden we’ll be working on nothing but ’07 to 2011 vehicles and the next year we’ll start seeing all the 2013’s, they just kind of come trickling in. So 3 to 5 year models, I don’t really see a lot of problems with them yet which is good, they’re still pretty new.

Mark: So there you go, if you’re looking for service for an older or newer Ford vehicle in Vancouver, the guys to see who have a lot of experience are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment or check out their website or our channel on Youtube, we have hundreds of videos on there all about cars over the last few years. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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