While not featuring as wide of a lineup as GM, Ford has a variety of trucks from the compact Ranger to the F series light trucks extending into the very heavy duty F450. Econoline vans are also very popular.
Fords trucks feature a wide variety of engine options from straight and V6, to small and large V8 gas and diesels. A four cylinder is available in the small trucks. Most gas engines have been very reliable with some notable exceptions: the 4.2L V6 option was weak and had numerous problems which is not surprising as it was based on the troublesome 3.8 liter engine featured in so many Ford cars and mini vans.
The overhead camshaft V8’s have had a mixed reputation with many blowing out spark plugs at random (and usually very inopportune times). This is due to poorly designed cylinder heads with not enough threads to hold the spark plugs in tight. So bad is this problem that a class action lawsuit against Ford is still in progress.
Strangely, considering how common this concern had been, we have only had one vehicle in our shop with a blown out spark plug.
Diesel engines have been a popular option in many Ford trucks including the F350 Super Duty. This is one tough 4X4 pickup truck but be aware: it is very expensive to repair.
Just an example of the expense can be found with the front ends on these vehicles. Wear occurs as in other vehicles but because of the F350’s large size and complexity with unitized wheel bearing/hub assemblies, the autolocking hubs and the front drive axles there are a lot of costly parts to replace and the process is labour intensive.
As for the diesel engines, the earlier offerings with the 7.3 liter and then the 7.3 liter Powerstroke were fabulous engines and everything you’d want and expect from a diesel: great power, fuel economy and durability.
With the introduction of the 6 liter Powerstroke things really went down hill. This is a bad diesel engine; not for the way it runs, for it is quiet, smooth, powerful and economical.
The bad comes from reliability: blown head gaskets, leaking EGR coolers, leaking oil coolers, bad EGR valves and many other problems. These concerns are all expensive to fix, so be forewarned that if you own one of these, you are in for expensive repairs. The good news is that doing these repairs right will bullet proof these engines (and we do a lot of that). The 6.4 liter engine, while a bit better still has many problems. Starting with the 2011 model year Ford introduced its completely redesigned 6.7 liter diesel: hopefully this will be known as a reliable engine.
Overall Ford trucks are well built and tough in spite of a few recent blemishes to their reliability. Unfortunately when you buy a new vehicle you really don’t know how it’s going to fair long term. They all drive perfectly when new and usually for the first couple of years.
This is one advantage of used vehicles as you can make your choice based on proven reliability and repair costs.