Vehicle choices can come down to a particular engine. Let’s take a look at which years of the Ford 5.4 liter engine to avoid when seeking a vehicle.
Table of Contents
- What are the worst years for the Ford Triton 5.4 liter engine?
- Which years of Triton 5.4 engines have problems?
- Are there any other years to avoid?
- Should I avoid the 2004-2008 years?
- Key Takeaways
What are the worst years for the Ford Triton 5.4 liter engine?
While the Triton 5.4 liter engine has been available since 1996 and was shut down in 2010, the later years of the Triton are avoidable. Most mechanics would say that if you want to avoid a set of years, stay away from 2005 to 2008 on the Mustang, Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator. Start earlier with the F-150 and avoid 2004 as well.
We’ll explore websites like AutoWise as well as CarComplaints. Having worked with cars for a long time, we’ll also be able to tell whether or not to really avoid particular years and why.
Which years of Triton 5.4 engines have problems?
To be honest, almost any engine has the ability to last a long time and perform reliably given proper care. Also, every engine made has some level of design flaw that can pop up early on, or when the vehicle has 300,000 miles. We are only highlighting issues with this engine to show which potential risks you are taking by buying a Ford or Lincoln with a Triton 5.4 so you are better prepared for years ahead when driving those vehicles.
2004-2010 Triton 5.4 Problems
Almost all reported problems with the Triton 5.4 revolve around a relatively large set of years for the age of the engine. Six years when the engine was around for 15 is a decent number of years to avoid, but let’s also go into why.
Ignition and acceleration issues
The Triton 5.4 is designed so that each cylinder has a coil positioned over a spark plug. The rubberized boot in the coil can gradually deteriorate, and make it more difficult for the produced spark to hit the plug, as it instead passes into the bottom of the plug right through the rubber.
The most obvious symptoms of this problem are minor problems accelerating, and at high speeds, can feel like the transmission is kicking though, in reality, the vehicle is failing to maintain acceleration.
To be fair, this isn’t a huge deal. Changing the spark plug and coil are part of routine maintenance for a truck engine, so this is a service bill you would already be getting – it’s a matter of noticing performance.
Fuel Pump Driver Module Issues
So this sounds a little technical, but it’s really easy to understand. The fuel pump driver module is an electronic part in a metal case that protects the wires that tell the engine when to send fuel and how much.
While the device itself is OK, it is attached to the steel frame of the Ford vehicle. This isn’t ideal because the tight gap between the frame and the module allows for all sorts of salt, dirt, and corrosion to sneak in. The module cover can eventually be damaged and cause the wires in the fuel pump module to shut off.
Ford did rectify the problem by mounting the fuel pump driver module slightly further from the frame so it doesn’t get surrounded by unfriendly debris.
Spark Plug Issues
The same year range of Triton engine has an odd range of issues. Specific spark plugs within the engine have an odd tendency to get “blown out” meaning that somehow they got hot and so jarred that they can exit the very metal threading that holds them in place – or the complete opposite happens, that they got hot and melt in place, making them difficult to remove.
I am thinking that most prefer the letter because spark plugs can still be removed without damage, while having the threads have issues can involve replacing the plug port or even the whole cylinder head.
Timing Belt Problems
The timing belt can get loose, and start to vibrate or move excessively, causing the plastic gears to break. This is never good – though it makes enough sound you’ll probably notice it. Get this checked out right away if you hear it, because the timing belt is one of the things that keeps your engine from destroying itself.
Are there any other years to avoid?
While the Triton is used across multiple vehicles, and was in service for over a decade, the years after 2008 actually went well. The two years after the Triton’s biggest problems introduced a redesign – then Ford went away from Triton in favor of the Duratec and EcoBoost V8s, which aren’t the subject of this article.
Should I avoid the 2004-2008 years?
Rather than saying to avoid these years, we would suggest getting a potential used car buy inspected.
Check the service history to see if there have been any spark plug issues or if the timing chain was replaced or inspected. While drivers report problems, it can go without saying that not every model of the F-150 or Triton engine has the same issues – and good maintenance raises your chances of having a good experience.
We can offer the above advice for just about any used vehicle though – get a mechanic to look at it, especially if it has more than 100,000 miles.
- If you are going to “avoid” a year, consider straying away from the 2004-2008 Triton engines
- They could have issues with the fuel modules, spark plugs, and timing belt
- Get the vehicle inspected, and be sure to check the vehicle history for previous repairs
- The years after 2008 are considered quite reliable.