Ford F-150 2009-2014: pros and cons, common problems

By Vlad Samarin, March 29. 2024
The Ford F-150 is a rugged full-size truck for serious work. The 2009-2014 Ford F-150 comes as a Regular Cab, SuperCab or the most popular SuperCrew (in the photo).
2010 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew 2010 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew.

Engine choices include a 4.6-liter or 5.4-liter V8, a 6.2-liter V8, a 3.7L Duratec V6 and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. The 3.5L Ecoboost V6 offers decent fuel economy for a 4WD full-size truck.

You can choose between a 5.5-foot, 6.5-foot or 8-foot bed. The F-150 is a solid, easy-to-maintain truck, but there are several common problems to watch out for. Let's start with the pros and cons:

Pros:

  1. Powerful Engines: The Ford F-150 offers a range of powerful engine options, providing impressive towing and hauling capabilities suitable for various needs.
  2. Spacious Interior: With comfortable seating and ample room, the F-150's interior provides a comfortable space for both driver and passengers, especially in SuperCrew cab configurations.
  3. Strong Payload and Towing: The F-150's strong frame and available towing packages make it well-suited for heavy-duty tasks, such as hauling trailers or carrying construction materials.
  4. Advanced Technology: Depending on the trim level, the F-150 offers a range of advanced technology features, including touchscreen infotainment systems, driver-assistance technologies, and connectivity options.
  5. Off-Road Capability: Certain trim levels of the F-150, such as the FX4 package, come equipped with features designed to enhance off-road performance.

Cons:

  • Fuel Efficiency: The F-150's fuel efficiency is lower compared to some other vehicles in its class, especially when equipped with larger engine options.
  • Large Size: Maneuvering the F-150 in tight spaces may be challenging due to its large size.
  • Reliability Concerns: Some potential problems such as transmission issues or problems with a timing chain or turbochargers are expensive to repair.
  • Resale Value: The F-150 may experience faster depreciation compared to some rivals.

2009-2014 Ford F150 Reported Problems:

We checked the NHTSA website and as of March 2024, the early model years (2009-2010) received relatively small number of complaints, most filed under Vehicle Speed Control and Electrical Systems. For example, a number of owners of the 2010 F-150 mention that the truck stalls at random. Some mention the issue with the fuse 27 (read below) or the junction box.
The 2011-2013 F-150 received significantly more complaints. Most of them were filed under Powertrain, Engine, Steering and Service Brakes. Complaints under the Powertrain section often mention sudden downshifting of the transmission (read below). Complaints filed under the Engine section include problems such as a stretched timing chain and worn cam phasers in the 3.5L EcoBoost, as well exhaust leaks for the exhaust manifolds (read below). Problems filed under Service Brakes often mention the electric vacuum pump (read below). In the Steering section, a number of owners mentioned that the power steering assist become disabled occasionally mostly in cold weather.
The 2014 F-150 again received less complaints (almost half of the number for the 2013 model year).
Transmission Shifting Concerns: Ford issued a few TSBs for various transmission concerns (e.g. harsh downshift) that advised reprogramming the transmission control module (TCM) and possibly powertrain control module or PCM (e.g. TSBs 11-8-12, 13-11-3) as a solution.
This post at f150forum.com also describes the issue with shifting.
This very explanatory YouTube video explains the problem with the transmission molded leadframe in the 2011-plus Ford F-150. It's a part of the transmission and can cause many problems including the speedometer showing zero while driving and harsh downshifting into the 1-st gear.
Ford issued Customer Satisfaction Program 19N01 that extends the warranty coverage of the automatic transmission molded leadframe to 10 years of service or 150,000 miles from the warranty start date of the vehicle, whichever occurs first.
2010 Ford F-150 interior 2010 Ford F-150.

Blend door actuators: The actuator is a small part that operates various blend doors in the HVAC system. Symptoms of a bad blend door actuator include a clicking noise from under the dash when changing the HVAC settings or issues with the HVAC system. For example, when the air from the vents is hot on one side, but cold on the other side.
The part is not very expensive and there are plenty of YouTube videos describing this problem and repairs.

Front O2 sensors: In the 2009-2010 F-150, the Check Engine light with the codes P0130 - O2 Sensor Circuit Malfunction (Bank 1, Sensor 1) or P0150 O2 Sensor Circuit Malfunction (Bank 2, Sensor 1) can be caused by a bad front (upstream) oxygen sensor. If confirmed, an oxygen sensor will need to be replaced, which is a fairly simple job. In the 5.4L V8, Bank 1 is on the passenger side, Bank 2 is on the driver side. Sensor 1 is the one that is closer to the engine, before the catalytic converter.
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Exhaust manifold leaks: The exhaust manifold leak is noticeable when the truck is started cold. It sounds like a loud ticking noise from the engine bay that disappears once the exhaust manifold warms up. The leak could be caused by a crack in the manifold, broken manifold studs (often the ones closer to the back) or a failed manifold gasket.

The typical repair includes replacing the studs and gaskets and, if needed, the exhaust manifold itself. It's not a fun job, here is a good video showing the repair. In a shop, this job may cost up to 6.4 hours of labor (for the passenger side, 5.4L V8) plus the parts.

Transmission fluid leak (6-speed 6R80 transmission): Many owners report that the transmission fluid leak was originating from the electrical plug of the transmission (bulk head connector sleeve) on the rear passenger side of the transmission. Replacing the sleeve involves removing the transmission pan and draining the fluid.

It's a good idea to change the transmission fluid filter and clean the magnet in the transmission pan at the same time. Ford issued the TSB 14-0069 for this issue. Watch this video explaining the problem and repair.

Coolant leaks: The key is to catch a coolant leak or a low coolant level before it can cause the engine to overheat. Signs of leaks include a dropping coolant level, drops on the driveway and a smell of coolant from the engine compartment.

One of the common sources of leaks is a crack in the coolant overflow tank. Replacing an overflow tank is not difficult and the part is not very expensive.

In the Coyote V8, the quick-connect spots at the "Y" coolant outlet and at the top radiator hose are known to leak. This is also a fairly easy repair. Watch these videos.

A leaking water pump is also not uncommon. Replacing a water pump in the 5.0L V8 will cost 1.7-2.0 hours of labor (2.3-2.8 hours for the 3.5L V6) plus the part and extra coolant.
If the leak is not obvious, the cooling system will need to be pressure tested to find it.

Water leaks in the cab: We found many reports of water leaking into the cab causing stains on the headliner, rust in the lower corners of the cab, rocker panels and other areas. In the long term, water damage can also cause the corrosion of the electric wiring and mold under the carpet.

This means that it's a good idea to check your truck for signs of water leaking into the cab and repair any leaks before they cause problems. Common sources of water leaks are the third brake light, satellite antenna and the rear window seal.

We found many videos explaining the water leak issues and repairs. If you are looking to buy a used F-150, the areas in the corners of the cab and under rocker panels need to be inspected carefully for rust. Check for stains on the headliner and signs of moisture under the carpet.

3.5L EcoBoost - Cold Start - Ticking/Tapping Or Rattle Type Noise: Check out this service bulletin: 18-2305 - it recommends replacing all four VCT units and the primary timing chain. It's a big expensive job if not covered by the warranty. When buying a used F-150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost, make sure to try starting the engine cold and listen for the rattle from the engine. If the noise is present, the car will potentially need this service bulletin done.

Fuse 27 Crank no start: The Ford TSB 15-0137 describes the problem where the fuse 27 in the battery junction box (fuse box) can overheat and cause starting or stalling problems. According to the TSB, the fuse 27 relocation kit must be installed if there are signs of excessive heat at the fuse 27. Youtube has many videos on this topic.

3.5L EcoBoost V6 sputtering/misfiring on acceleration: One of the common causes for this issue is the condensation in the turbo intercooler. The intercooler is located in front of the radiator. It cools down the intake air that comes out of the turbochargers before it enters the engine.

What often happens is the crankcase oil vapors and water condensation that accumulate at the bottom of the intercooler can get sucked into the engine on hard acceleration. This can cause sputtering, misfiring, spark plug failures, the Check Engine light and other issues. The catalytic converter can also fail as a result of misfiring. The problem is more pronounced in humid weather.

Ford came out with the TSB TSB 13-8-1 that, following the diagnostic procedure, advises removing the top air deflector and installing the bottom air deflector on the intercooler, as well as reprogramming of the PCM.

2010 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew rear seats 2010 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew rear seats.
Youtubers suggest several different 'use at your own risk' type fixes (not approved by Ford) from installing aftermarket oil separators (catch cans) into the PCV system to cleaning the sensors in the intake system. Search Youtube for '3.5L Ford EcoBoost shudder on acceleration'.

Spark plugs if they are fouled/cracked or worn, can also cause misfiring and may need to be checked. Many owners report that replacing spark plugs fixed the misfiring. Some owners mentioned that ignition coils had to be replaced too. In general, spark plugs in a turbocharged engine fail more often.
2010 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew rear seats folded 2010 Ford F-150.

Electric vacuum pump (EVP) problems in the 3.5L EcoBoost: According to the bulletin TSB 15-0105, "some 2011-2012 F-150 vehicles equipped with a 3.5L gasoline turbocharged direct injection (GTDI) engine may exhibit a hard brake pedal on initial start-up, an electric vacuum pump that is inoperative or excessively noisy and/or fuse F64 is open in the battery junction box (BJB)". The bulletin describes the diagnostics and repair.

Another Ford bulletin 15N05 – Electric Vacuum Pump Extended Coverage for the 2011-2012 F150, extended the warranty for the electric vacuum pump to 10 years of service or 150,000 miles. This post at the f150forum.com discusses this issue with the EVP. The electric vacuum pump is located in the left front portion of the vehicle. There are plenty of videos on Youtube describing the problem and the repair.

Summary:

The 2009-2010 F-150 received less complaints and can last long provided proper maintenance and timely repair of minor problems. The 2014 model year is also less troublesome. In terms of engines, in our view, the 5.0L V8 is the best overall choice if you need more power.
When buying a used Ford F-150, check the service records to see if the spark plugs have been replaced and if the oil changes were done on time.
When checking a used F-150 at the dealer's lot, it helps if you can start the engine when it's cold to see if the timing chain rattles (especially in the 3.5L EcoBoost) or if the exhaust manifold is leaking.

Have the truck carefully inspected by an independent mechanic to check for mechanical issues such as broken leaf springs, a separated driveshaft hanger bearing, leaks, etc. Make sure to test all 4WD modes.

Consider buying a good extended warranty with no limit per claim at least for the powertrain that will cover potential engine or transmission problems.
Overall, the F-150 is a great truck but it needs to be well maintained to last and will need some repairs. We found an informative Maintenance FAQ, courtesy of Haynes.

Engines:

Modular 4.6L and 5.4L V8, 2009-2010 F-150: The 248-hp 4.6L 2-valve V8 ("W" in the 8-th position of the VIN), the 292-hp 4.6L 3-valve V8 ("8" in the 8-th position of the VIN) and the 320-hp 5.4L 3-valve V8 (The 8-th digit of the VIN is "V") are simple modular V8 motors with single overhead cams driven by timing chains. The 3-valve 4.6L and the 3-valve 5.4L V8 are also equipped with variable camshaft timing (VCT) system.

Regular oil changes are the key to the longevity of the Triton V8, as many engine problems are caused by a lack of lubrication. Another important point is not to ignore engine noises. If a problem is caught early, the repair will be less expensive. Here is the Youtube video explaining the 5.4L engine noises from a technical view. Overall, all three engines can last for up to 300,000 miles with regular maintenance.

3.7L Duratec V6 (2011-2014 F-150): The 3.7L 302-hp 4-valve Ti-VCT (Duratec) V6 (The letter "M" in the 8-th position of the VIN) is a good choice if you don't need the extra power. It's a long-lasting, simple DOHC engine with a conventional multi-port fuel injection. It is used in many Ford/Lincoln/Mazda vehicles.

Unlike in other applications, in the F-150, the water pump in this engine is built externally, which makes it easier to service. It's also the most fuel-efficient engine for the 12-th gen. F-150: the 2011-2014 2WD F-150 with the 3.7L V6 is rated at 17/23 mpg.

3.5L EcoBoost V6: (The 8-th digit of the VIN is "T") It's a modern twin-cam V6 engine with a direct injection and two turbochargers (one for each bank). In the long run, the EcoBoost will be more expensive in repairs, but it's a blast to drive. It offers plenty of power and torque at lower RPMs compared to the Coyote V8.

Turbocharged engines in general are more sensitive to a lack of maintenance or the quality of engine oil. Spark plugs will need to be replaced more often. The timing chain may also need to be changed at higher mileage.

5.0L Coyote V8 ("F" in the 8-th position of the VIN) is the best all-around choice if you need the V8 power. It's a solid, no-nonsense, naturally-aspirated DOHC V8 with a conventional multi-port fuel injection.

If you can keep it from overheating and do your regular oil changes in time, it will last long, but watch out for coolant leaks. The 2011-2014 F150 4WD with the 5.0L V8 is rated at 14/19 mpg.

6.2L 2-valve V8: The 411-hp beast is a SOHC V8 that is available in the 2010-2014 F-150 SVT Raptor. Although it's rare on the used car market, the Raptor will turn heads. The 6.2L V8 (the 8-th digit of the VIN is "6") is similar in design to the 4.6L/5.4L engines.

It has a cast iron block and offers 434 lb. ft. of torque. With all kinds of mods available for this truck, it's a good long-term performance project, if you don't care about the gas mileage. Changing the oil regularly and keeping the coolant at the proper level will insure the longevity of this engine.

Read also:
Signs of automatic transmission problems when test driving a used car
Signs of engine problems when test-driving a used car