Are you in the market to buy a Ford F250 but you’re not sure which one to buy? This can be a tricky question to navigate considering that each year Ford releases a new version of the truck. In this article, I want to highlight some of Ford’s most successful F250’s and also talk about a few models you’ll want to avoid.
Before 2014, F250’s had many mechanical problems that made them difficult to maintain. From 2014 to 2018 however, Ford received their highest ratings in dependability. F250s made between 2003 to 2008 are among those models that are extremely difficult to maintain.
As you research the best F250’s on the market, I hope this article will be informative. I have put together some information that may further help you decide which year of F250 would be best for you.
The History of the F Series Trucks
In 1998 Ford introduced a new line of trucks titled “Super Duty” trucks. These trucks were built just a bit differently than your average F150. Super Duty Trucks included a few different trucks that had much greater power which gave the owner more freedom when it came to towing capacity. Super Duty truck used Ford’s new Powerstroke engine that was powered by diesel fuel instead of your normal F150 that is powered by gasoline.
The Super Duty included the F250 and above, however, the F250 and F350 were previously made as part of the Ford F-series. Ford expanded their F-series in 1954 to include the F250 however these trucks were not made using the diesel engine until 1998 when they became a part of the super duty line of trucks. (source)
The F250 or “3/4 ton” was made to be able to tow anywhere up to 43,000 pounds. The F250 is the smallest of Ford’s super-duty models. Ford makes trucks up to F450 and even manufactures some trucks all the way up to F750. Although generally for the average truck driver like you or me, the F250 has plenty of towing capacity even for our biggest at-home project. F550 and above are trucks generally made for industrial purposes.
Even though Ford has only been doing Super Duty trucks since 1998, they have a lot of experience when it comes to trucks. Ford came out with its first truck in 1948. Ford has been building trucks for a very long time and though they may be newer to more heavy-duty trucks, the F150 is among the most iconic trucks on the market.
The 5 Best F250s
To be honest this is kind of a tough list to make because what is considered “best” and “worst” is going to be different for each person. Though I did state at the beginning that trucks between the years 2003-2008 were difficult because of maintenance, that may be something that you don’t mind. Though older trucks have a lot more to fix, they are also much easier to fix. Most newer trucks have longer-lasting parts, however, it is primarily electronic which can be difficult to repair if you don’t have very specialized skills.
Though I may have stated that newer versions were better previously, I am going to focus mainly on consumer ratings in this list rather than mechanical flaws. It is also going to depend on what you are looking for. Are you needing something with lots of power or do you just need something for driving around town?
- 2005 Ford F250 – In 2005 Ford decided that they wanted to redesign their line of Super Duty trucks. This resulted in a couple of minor issues but overall the 2005 model is a very solid truck. Despite those minor issues, the 2005 model is generally very quiet and there is not much rattling or shaking. That is always a good sign in a truck. According to Kellly Blue Book, the customer rating for a 2005 Ford F250 is 4.3 stars out of 5.
- 2002 Ford F250 – Before the year 2003 Ford was using a 7.3 L engine which is a fan favorite for those who drive trucks. This truck does not provide amazing gas mileage, but you will likely save money owning this truck as it is known to be one of the more durable models. The KBB consumer rating for the 2002 model was about 4.5 out of 5 stars. This is a great rating especially considering this truck was made over 18 years ago. (source)
- 2016 Ford F250 – This is a truck that has an amazing towing capacity. This truck can realistically tow up to 31,200 pounds of weight. If you plan on using this truck to tow heavy loads then you are making the right choice. Despite the immense power that comes from this truck, it can also be very expensive to drive if you are just going to use it around town. There were also some great tech features added to the F250 in 2016 including Led warning strobe lights and improved cabin heating elements. The KBB rating for the 2016 F250 is 4.5 stars out of 5 which is also a great rating. (source)
- 2000 Ford F250 – This is a great truck when it comes to durability and can be a very strong truck allowing you to tow up to 10,000 pounds which is really good for a truck that is 21 years old. Ford did a very good job making the F250 from the years 2000 to 2003 making trucks that will last their customers a very long time. The KBB rating for this truck is 4.5 stars out of 5.
- 2001 Ford F250 – Much like the 2002 F250 the 2001 model was built to last. Many owners reported that although it was expensive to fill up the tank it was relatively easy to maintain. These trucks are said to be able to last over 300k miles if they are properly maintained. If you are looking for a truck you can use for a long time then this is a great option. The KBB rating for this truck is 4.5 stars out of 5.
As you can see the years 2000-2003 almost completely takes over our list. Ford also does a really good job of keeping its trucks fresh and updated with all the latest technology. This can be a great thing, but in 2003, they stopped using the 7.3 diesel engine which left a lot of customers disappointed.
The 5 Worst F250s
- 2011 Ford F250 – In general, you are not going to completely have to convert to bike riding if you buy this truck, however, trucks made around this time by Ford struggled to pass safety and emission test because of how they were built. This is obviously not important in every state, but if your state requires these tests then you may be in trouble. In 2011 Ford introduced the new 6.7 L Powerstroke engine which has proven to be durable. Others reported that the truck was poorly designed and they were constantly facing issues. (source)
- 2006 Ford F250 – The trucks made around this time tended to have a lot of problems. There were many flaws in how this truck was built that make it seem like it causes problems. Many reported that the truck had lots of power to tow things, but the engine problems can feel like a lot to deal with. Just like many other diesel trucks, this one gets very poor gas mileage, which usually wouldn’t be a problem, but when you are constantly having to fix things it can get pricey. (source)
- 2008 Ford F250 – Just like the last truck, this one tends to be very expensive. Not only is the gas mileage very high, but this truck really is not going to be a good option for you if you are not towing something regularly. This is not your average “take the wife and kids to get ice cream” truck because that will end up being a very expensive ice cream trip. It was also reported that the engine on the 2008 model is very loud. The 6.4 engine that is used in the truck is one that Ford customers had problems with during this era of F250’s. (source)
- 2017 Ford F250 – This truck is a unique one in the F250 game because in 2017 Ford decided that to keep up with their competitors they needed to include more tech in the trucks they made. This was the first of that type of truck for Ford. It included a lot of new features that made the truck a fun one to drive. However, this meant that it could get pricey. It also means that for you to fix it you must have specialized knowledge. It is not like older models where you could easily fix most problems your truck faces. (source)
- 2019 Ford F250 – I won’t keep beating on the technology thing, but just know that the same thing happens with this truck. This truck is very expensive and unless you’re willing to put out lots of money it is probably not going to be worth it. There have also been multiple recalls on the 2019 model since it came out just 2 years ago. That along with poor gas mileage can cost you a lot of time and money. This truck has plenty of nice new gadgets that will make you feel like your living in luxury, but don’t be fooled, this truck is going to be a major pain.
What to Look for in an F250
Likely if you are reading this article you are on the market to buy yourself an F 250. I have talked about some of the models to avoid, but the truth is you can make any F 250 you buy work for what you need. Here are some things that you may want to look at no matter what model you are buying. (source)
The first thing you want to do is check the engine. Even if you don’t know exactly what you are looking at, there are some things that you can look for that will indicate that the engine may not have been taken care of the best. A good start would be to pop the hood and look at the actual condition of things under the hood. Is there a lot of damage or are things very dirty? This may be a sign that there has not been a lot of maintenance done.
Then you want to check things like the engine oil. If you don’t know how to do this, it is very simple. A simple google search will show you how to check the oil level of your specific model and year. Then once you have physically inspected everything and looked for signs of neglect, it would be wise to actually start the engine. When the engine is running listen to how it runs. Is there any clicking or banging noises? Though you may not know exactly what these sounds mean, they could be an indication of a much bigger problem. Next, if it is allowed, it would be very smart to take the truck for a test drive. Look for any stumbling while accelerating.
Next, you want to check the transmission. A simple thing you can check for this is looking underneath the truck. If there are any leaks then that may be a sign that the transmission needs to be serviced. While you test drive the truck also pay attention to things like how smoothly it shifts from gear to gear. This can be a pretty good indication of whether or not you need to be worried about the transmission.
You also want to check for any damage that is done to the exterior of the truck. Depending on what you are buying your truck for this can be very important. if you just want a “beater” truck to help you with household projects then it may not matter that there is a dent in the bumper, but if you want something nice, then it is wise to look all around the truck and determine if the condition is good.
The last thing you want to check is that the overall condition of the truck is good. You may not be a truck expert, but you have probably driven enough at this point to know how a car is supposed to look and run. Check the interior and check to see if it is something that you feel comfortable driving.