What To Look For When Buying A Used Ford Truck (Best & Worst Models Revealed!)


Trucks are highly versatile. You can drive them on the streets, and you can take them off the road. Although there are so many trucks to choose from today, Ford has the first all-American truck, which is the Ford F-150.

The company has many more trucks, including the Ranger, the F-250, and F-350 among others. When buying a used Ford, you need to pay attention to several features as outlined below. 

What Should You Look for When Buying a Used Ford Truck? 

Consider the reputation of the model, mileage, towing and hauling capacity, engine power, general and maintenance history, and condition of the truck. If you’re buying online, you need to ask several questions to the seller to ensure that the truck is in good condition. 

If you buy the truck from a local dealer, you will have the chance to inspect and test-drive the truck. The used truck you buy should fit your lifestyle. This means you need to decide your budget and stick to it when shopping. 

It is best if you do not spend more than 35 percent of your annual income paying for a truck. 

Do a little math and see what is left after you pay your bills, taxes, and do you savings. If you spend about 10 or 20 percent of your income on the truck, then you are within your budget. 

Do not forget to consider gas, maintenance, parking cost, and insurance among other costs that come with your car. Once you set the budget, consider other factors below. 

What Factors Should You Consider When Buying a Used Ford Truck?

Mileage

Ford trucks have the capacity to drive and haul heavy loads for long distances and for many years. However, as the truck ages, its capacity might suffer, thanks to wear and tear. 

When shopping, you need to buy a truck that will last you many years to give you value for money. 

On average, a vehicle drives about 12,000 miles per year. This means a 60,000 miles truck will be about 5 years old. This number fluctuates based on how the precious owner used the truck.

It is important that you consider how the truck accrued its mileage. If the truck has a less than normal amount of mileage for its age, it may not have been used or maintained occasionally. 

If a truck has a higher amount of mileage, this should not worry you as Ford trucks sport a tough design that allows them to last long. 

Towing/Hauling Needs

Over the years, the engines for most Ford trucks have changed severally. If you are looking for a used Ford truck, you will have several engine options to choose from. Your towing needs should dictate the size of the engine you go for. 

When you buy the right engine size, your truck will be more efficient. Picking the right size ensures that you do not overload your vehicle as that can be dangerous for you and other motorists on the road. 

For instance, the Ford F-150 has had several engines, including a 3.0-liter, 3.5-liter, 3.7-liter, and a 5.0-liter engine. There are several other engine sizes, giving the truck different capabilities. 

These engines will give different towing and hauling capacities, and you have to do your homework to ensure you get the best engine for you. 

Choosing a 4×4 Ford Truck

Is a 4×4 system important to you? How much do you plan to drive off the road? If you plan to buy a truck that goes off-road several times a week, you need one with a 4×4 system. 

Such a truck will never get stuck when you drive it on rugged terrain. If you haven’t driven a 4×4 in the past, you need to take it for a test drive and get the feel of what it takes to drive such a truck. 

General Condition of the Truck

The little things will matter a lot when buying a used truck. You need to check the history of the truck, especially when you are buying from an individual seller and not a dealer. 

Ask for the VIN of the car and do an online paid or free search. 

The vehicle history data will show you whether the car has a salvage title. Cars with a salvage title are totaled by insurance companies because of extensive damage on their parts from an accident, flood, fire, or any other event. You need to avoid salvage and branded title trucks. 

You also need to check the maintenance history of the truck. 

If the truck has major modifications on its engine, suspension, or any other parts, you need to be very cautious when considering it. 

While modifications can make a truck better, they lead to major issues if not done right. 

You also need to check the condition of the seats, the lights, the bed, the wheels, and the engine. When shopping online, ask for as many pictures as possible from the seller. The pictures should be recent and show all the parts of the truck. 

From there, you need to take a test drive to ensure that the truck is in good condition as promised by the seller. You can hire a mechanic you trust to inspect the truck and ensure it is in good condition. 

Only after you are sure the truck is in perfect condition should you pay for it. 

What Is The Best Used Ford Truck To Buy? 

We recommend a used Ford F-150. The F-150 was the first truck to feature a truck platform as the earlier models were built on a car platform. Over the years, Ford has enhanced the performance, efficiency, and comfort in this full-sized truck to make it stand out. 

If you need a smaller truck, Ford offers the Ranger. The range is also a great choice if you are looking for maneuverability, power, and comfort. 

If you need a more powerful commercial truck from Ford, the F-250 or F-350 will meet your needs. These trucks are more ideal for commercial applications. The majority of people go for a full-size truck, the F-150, thanks to its versatility. 

You can drive the F-150 on and off the road and its performance will be impressive wherever you take it. Over the years, some Ford trucks have stood out.

What is the best used ford truck to buy?

2013 F-250 Super-Duty Platinum

This truck offers power, style, and comfort. Lower trim lines have a more rugged, stripped-down interior, and they cost less. However, the Platinum has a luxurious feel to it while still gives the power of a workhorse. Its 385 ponies allow it to tow up to 18,500 pounds. 

The 2014 through 2018 models were among the best heavy-duty truck models from Ford. Ford fixed most of the engine and transmission issues with the 2014 model, making the truck perform as it had always. 

The models from 2014 to 2018 have some of the highest truck ratings as drivers find them reliable and dependable. If you want to tow and haul heavy loads, these are the trucks to go for. 

2010 and 2011 Ford Rangers

Ford Ranger is a small truck for anyone looking for an inexpensive used truck. If you want to go all the way back to about ten years ago, the 2011 ranger was one of the top models. 

It offers an impressive amount of power to haul and tow, it is highly responsive, and it has a host of comfort features. Under the hood of this truck is a 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine that gives you power. 

The 2010 Ford Ranger was the most affordable truck at the time of its release. It was also highly efficient.

This truck had a 2WD system that still offers the power to drive off the road. It was a tough truck that most people enjoyed driving, and you can have one too. 

There are some earlier models of the Ford Ranger that performed exemplary, but they may not be available anymore. These models include

  • 1988 Ford Ranger 2WD
  • 2000 Ford Ranger 2WD
  • 2003 Ford Ranger 4WD
  • 2001 Ford Ranger 2WD
  • 1994 Ford Ranger 2WD
  • 1999 Ford Ranger 4WD
  • 2008 Ford Ranger. 

If you can get any of these Ford Ranger models, they will meet your towing and hauling needs and allow you to drive off the road comfortably. 

Ford F-150 Best Models

The Ford F-150 is one of the best models of Ford trucks. It offers the best of everything from power and towing capacity to comfort and drivability. 

One of the most popular models is the Ford F-150 Raptor. Ford engineered the Raptor as a high-performance pickup truck designed for hauling and towing. 

The Raptor is in its second generation and the first generation is available for those who need a used model. 

The Raptor was so successful that Ford released the Ford Ranger Raptor (which, unfortunately, is not available in the U.S.). You can take the Ford Raptor off the road and drive it in the city, thanks to its powerful engine and the wide range of comfort features. 

If you are wondering what years are best for the F-150, look for a 1993, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2009, and 2018. 

The newer models in the best models above received so much online reputation that we hailed them as the top. 

The 2001 model is one of the longest-lasting models with drivers noting that it can last longer than 250,000 miles with good care. 

The 2009 Ford F-150 may not have been the most powerful, but it offered a comfortable ride with great towing and hauling capacity. It also delivers responsive handling.

A 2018 Ford F-150 is also a great choice, thanks to the choice of four engines. It can tow up to 10,800 pounds and has a fuel economy of 22 mpg. It is a light truck, but you can take it off the road when you need to. 

Which are the Worst Models? 

Are you wondering what years to avoid when buying a used Ford truck? Although the FMC has set a track record of producing the best trucks, SUVs, and cars, they may make a few mistakes once in a while.

Below are some model years to avoid if you want peace of mind with a used truck. 

Ford F-150

The Ford F-150 is one of the most popular trucks from Ford. It is no wonder Ford takes so much care to ensure that every truck they produce offers the best features and doesn’t fail the drivers. However, there are some years you should stay clear of. 

2004 Ford F-150

The 2004 Ford F-150 has a few issues that Ford needed to address. Those who bought the truck first reported a few engine problems and these reports prompted 16 recalls on vehicle parts. 

Window regulators were among the issues drivers reported. The reports noted that the plastic clips broke, causing the window to crash into the door. This created a horrifying noise, which was a distraction for drivers. 

Drivers also reported sudden spark plug ejection for most of the engines. Other issues reported include over-tightening, issues with spark plugs, and issues with the cylinder head. 

2005 Ford F-150

Although Ford rectified most of the issues from the 2004 F-150, there were still other issues with the 2005 model. The issue with their power window regulator persisted into the 2005 model. 

Again, the spark plug issues were not resolved by the time Ford released the 2005 model.

The 5.4 L engine produced a knocking sound that made it distracting to drivers. This model has a total of 14 recalls on parts, and it was a bad time for Ford, a leading automaker. 

The years that followed did not have any issues – it seems Ford learned a lesson, and they rectified the trucks to offer better performance. 

2010 Ford F-150

Drivers of the 2010 model said they experienced some structural difficulties. One of the main issues reported was with the My Ford Touchscreen feature. Drivers noted that the feature was unresponsive and the screen would fail severally. 

Most of the units would not recognize a smartphone while others had issues with the rearview camera. In some instances, drivers reported that the touchscreen features stopped working completely. 

During the cold weather, the system would fail completely and was difficult to update. 

Another issue was with the head gasket leak. This might have been caused by the failure of the exhaust gas recirculation sensors. 

There were issues with spark plugs, which resulted in ignition coil failure, making the engine fail to start. 

Drivers complained of the automatic transmission system saying it caused downshifting into the second gear. 

If you avoid the above three model years, you will find yourself a good Ford F-150 for your city or out-of-the-city driving. Although there were minor issues with other model years, these were not enough to warrant recalls. 

Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger is a reliable truck. Some drivers have reported driving for longer than 500,000 miles with the earlier trucks while most have reported hitting more than 200,000 miles. 

Over the years, the Ford Ranger has had some issues with its systems, most of which have been resolved. Some of the issues include:

V6 engines that are less efficient – Some 3L and 4L V6 engines guzzle gas in a bid to offer great performance. These larger engines may go off the road and tow so much load, but they do not offer impressive fuel economy. 

Other issues include rust and transmission issues. These two problems are especially lethal if you buy a used Ford truck. Some of the years to avoid are as shown below:

2001 Ford Ranger 

This model had nine recalls with drivers citing transmission problems. 

2002 Ford Ranger

This model suffered seven recalls. Most drivers reported that the engine had engine and transmission problems.

2004 Ford Ranger

This truck has eight recalls. Like the 2002 model, this also has engine and transmission problems. 

2005 Ford Ranger

Ford rectified most of the issues from the earlier models to create a more reliable 2005 model. However, the engine of this model guzzled gas and drivers complained a lot. There are also minor engine issues reported. This model had seven recalls. 

2006 Ford Ranger

2006 was a rough year for Ford as the Ranger had eight recalls. Drivers reported engine issues and others had fuel system problems. 

The period between 2002 and 2006 was a bad time for Ford. The Ford Ranger and the Ford F-150 had several recalls. We advise that you research well before you buy a Ford truck from that period – especially models from 2004 and 2005. 

Ford F-250

The Ford F-250 is a favorite heavy-duty pickup truck. Ford has achieved a high level of greatness with the F-250 that most other automakers have not been able to achieve.

However, there are some years that you need to avoid. 

2002 Ford F-250

While the 2002 model has a comfortable interior and a rugged, yet stylish exterior, the model did not sit well with most drivers. There were several mechanical issues with drivers reporting engine failures. 

One of the issues was with fuel injection pump breaks that made the engine fail to start. 

There were also issues with the head gasket oil leaks. Those with a V8 turbo engine reported issues with spark plugs that could lead to the damage of the cylinder head. 

The braking system and the transmission system also had issues that lead the vehicle to suffer recalls. 

2006 Ford F-250

Ford managed to fix most of the issues with the 2002 Ford F-250, but the issues recurred in 2006. All the issues drivers complained about in 2002 came back and there were even more issues. 

One of the additional issues with the 2006 model was with the fuel injection pump, which would break easily.

There are also radiator leaks and the ignitions coils would fail. To make the truck perform efficiently, owners of these trucks were forced to replace the spark plugs, coil boots, and ignition coils.

Some drivers reported issues with the blower motor of the truck’s heating and cooling system. The air conditioner would only work at the highest setting or would fail to work completely. 

2008 Ford F-250

The 2007 Ford F-250 did not have any major issues. However, Ford rushed to produce the 2008 model, and this might be where the problems started. 

This truck had vibration problems, especially when driven down off-road, according to drivers. The issue resulted from a driveline that was not adjusted as it should. 

There were also issues where the spark plug had ejection problems as well as an AC that would frequently change on its own. 

Ford F-350

If you need even more power and ruggedness, the F-350 will give you that. You can tow up to 18,000 pounds with this commercial truck.

Although most of the F-350 has had great performance, there are some models that have had issues. 

The 2008 model was the worst year for the F-350. This model had steering problems that could cause accidents when not corrected. The steering wheel would seize up without warning.

Some drivers reported bumpy and erratic driving that made it challenging for them to drive when on load. Other drivers reported that the engine would smoke whenever they tried to accelerate while the truck would even shut down when in motion. 

There was one case where the engine caught fire. Ford issued one recall for the engine problem, but they later issued nine recalls for other issues. 

The 2008 F-350 also has transmission issues. In most of the reports, drivers said that the transmission seal would burn up completely and needed to be replaced. The cost of repairs was high, up to $5,000. 

Other issues involved the head gasket and engine failures. 

Most of the issues from 2008 recurred in 2009 and a few of them were still in the 2010 and 2011 models. In 2013, Ford had fixed all the issues drivers complained about. 

If you want a Ford F-350, we recommend that you pick any model from 2013 or later. These models have a clean record, except for the 2017 model, which received complaints about its steering wheel. 

The 2018 model is so far the best used F-350 as there are only minor complaints that cannot have any effects on the truck quality. 

What Size of Ford Truck is Best?

So far, the Ford F-150 is the bestselling truck from Ford. It is a full-size truck that offers better maneuverability than heavy-duty trucks and more towing power than mid-size trucks. 

Unless you need a commercial truck, a Ford F-150 will offer enough payload and enough towing capacity for personal use. 

Ford engineered this truck to offer the best when you drive in the city, on the highway, and beyond the pavement. 

However, if you find a full-size truck still so big for your applications, you can go with a mid-size truck, the Ford Ranger. A mid-size truck, also known as a compact truck, is more fuel-efficient and offers great maneuverability when you drive it in the city and on the highway. 

The Ford Ranger is also able to drive off the road, making it a versatile machine for all-purpose use. 

If you need a Ford truck for commercial applications, the F-250 and the F-350 will meet your needs. These heavy-duty trucks can tow 18,000 pounds or more. Also known as three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks respectively, these trucks can haul horses, machinery, and recreational vehicles. 

Heavy-duty trucks offer less maneuverability, and they are also less fuel-efficient. However, they will drive with ease under load. You can take them off the road, and they are great on the highway, but you will find it challenging to maneuver in the city. 

Best Used Ford Trucks

Buying any vehicle is a big step, and you need to be cautious to buy the best model. If you are buying from an individual owner, ensure you understand why the truck is being sold. Some people sell their trucks after it suffers some irreparable damage, and you do not want to lose your money on such a truck. 

If you decide to buy from a dealer, you will have to pay more for a truck. However, most dealers have a reputation for getting you reliable used Ford trucks. All you need is to consider the reputation of the dealer and then go on and buy. 

Our advice is that you buy the best model affordable. Search for the best model years, and if your budget allows, go for these models. Be keen to avoid model years that had several recalls as you may find yourself replacing several parts. 

A good Ford truck is one that is already functional. If the truck has any issues, ask the seller to fix them before you can negotiate the price. Happy buying. 

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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