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1997-2003 Ford F-150 Pre-Owned

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Justin Pritchard
Used Ford F150 a reliable, hard working truck, but be sure to have it checked at a dealership first.

Of all the pickups made by the "big 3", the Ford F150 seems to have done the best job of finding esteem with hard-working, every-day people after a trusty, reliable and rugged sidekick. If you want further proof, just check out the sales figures.

According to Ford, the F-Series has been "Canada's best-selling line of pickups for 40 years running".

The F150 was available with a slew of engine options, drivetrain configurations, body styles and transmissions. From a simple and inexpensive V6 4x2 to a Triton-powered off-roader, there was one for any need. A six cylinder engine, two eight cylinder engines and various cab-sizes from 5.5 feet to 8 feet could be specified.

I spoke to Mike Babij, a former used-pickup sales rep and enthusiast about some of the common problem areas. If you're looking at a used F150, this is important stuff to know.

Depending on the intended duty for your F150, you'll have three engines to choose from. The first, appropriate for light towing and non-heavy-duty applications, is Fords 4.2 litre V6. It's okay for a daily driven truck that occasionally sees work- though this engine's service life is generally not as long as the V8's above it.

The first of these is the 4.6 litre V8. They're said to be prone to leaky exhaust manifolds which can be expensive to repair and loud if left untended. It's a significant problem should it occur, but Babij stresses "These are external to the engine. Don't let them cast a shadow over this engine, as it is a very reliable, low maintenance powerplant making decent power where is counts in a heavier vehicle".

For heavier duty or more frequent towing of large loads, a 5.4 litre V8 was available, though not as common a choice as the 4.6. Babij recommends this engine only for heavy duty applications and advises that due to problems with oil-rings, a compression check would be a must-have before purchase. The big V8 is also known for piston-slap in some situations caused by faulty pistons. A powerful workhorse of an engine to be sure, but be certain you need it's capability before choosing one, as the less powerful 4.6 litre engine seems a better all-round choice.

This generation of F-150 was available with a 4.2-liter V6, a 4.6-liter V8 and a 5.4-liter V8.
Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert