Ford F-150 Truck 13th Generation 2015-2020 Review

Everything You Need To Know Before A Buying Used F-150 13th Gen

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13th Gen F-150: What Owners Say

  • Buyers of the 2015-2020 Ford F-150 are mostly in agreement on the truck's pros. Especially its competitive towing and hauling capacity - the former maxing out at over 13,000 pounds for a properly equipped 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and the latter being 2,470 pounds on the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6.
  • No full-size truck is thrifty, but the F-150 nevertheless surprises with decent mpg figures, no doubt aided by the lightweight aluminum construction and the ten-speed automatic transmission introduced for the 2018 model. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 is the most economical gas engine, but all the engines are powerful and the ride is comfortable.
  • That ten-speed transmission introduced for the 2017 model year garnered its fair share of detractors too, with some early reliability problems and an inability to make up its mind. Rough, bucking, and jerky shifts have also been reported.
  • Owners complain of excessive oil consumption on 2018-2020 F-150s with the 5.0-liter V8 engine. Ford issued a service bulletin in December 2019 outlining the problem and the relevant service recommendations, which included reprogramming the ECU and changing the oil. No recall was issued for the fault, which could consume more than 1.5 quarts of oil per 1,000 miles. A lawsuit followed for engine failures that resulted from low oil levels.
  • The automatic stop-start system that debuted for the 2018 model year is also criticized for its rough operation and because it cannot be disabled permanently.
  • Some owners experience engine stalls and a loss of power due to a problem with the throttle body on EcoBoost engines.
  • A known problem is brake-fluid leakage into the master cylinder, resulting in brake failure.

F-150 13th Gen P552 Facelift

The F-150 received a fairly substantial refresh for the 2018 model year with new front and rear lights, a new grille design, and new wheel options. Several design elements were taken from the Super Duty and additional new appearance packages became available for the XL, XLT, and Lariat.

2018-2020 13th Gen F-150 Facelift Front Change CarBuzz
2018-2020 13th Gen F-150 Facelift Front Changes

A new octagonal grille replaces the old trapezoidal one with a larger Ford logo and two wide horizontal bars1 extending right into the newly updated headlights2, replacing the previous three-bar grille. A restyled bumper that dips down in the middle to accommodate the new grille rounds off the frontal changes3 and it has larger fog-light slots too4.

2018-2020 13th Gen F-150 Facelift Rear Changes CarBuzz
2018-2020 13th Gen F-150 Facelift Rear Changes

The tailgate is not only visually changed1; it also adds functionality and is available with a pull-out step. In line with 2018 federal regulations, part of the rear-end changes includes a standard backup camera. The tailgate receives a new embossed "F-150" emblem stamped into the metal and a revised tailgate pressing. The taillights are also redesigned to be edgier2.

2018-2020 13th Gen F-150 Facelift Side Changes CarBuzz
2018-2020 13th Gen F-150 Facelift Side Changes

The side view sees the fewest changes, with the most obvious ones being the slightly different wrap-around taillights1 and the new available wheel designs2.

2018-2020 13th Gen F-150 Facelift Interior Changes CarBuzz
2018-2020 13th Gen F-150 Facelift Interior Changes

The interior, which was criticized for a lack of quality finishes, only receives minor updates, most notably the adoption of the Sync 3 infotainment software that provides additional features such as remote access, Wi-Fi connectivity, and other vehicle-related information on certain trims. Some trims do get upgraded materials, new color schemes, and additional options. SiriusXM became standard on the XLT trim and the top-end audio system option changed from the previously used Sony setup to a Bang & Olufsen system1.

Additional safety features are also fitted, including available adaptive cruise control with pedestrian detection and forward-collision warning, as well as a backup camera.

Engine, Transmission and Drivetrain

Initially, four engines were available from the 2015 model year and they were all gas engines - a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter Cyclone V6, a turbocharged 2.7-liter Nano EcoBoost V6, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter Coyote V8. Outputs vary from 282 to 385 hp. Allied to the lowest curb weight in its class, even the base F-150 with the 282-hp engine provides sprightly performance. All engines are mated to a six-speed 6R80 automatic transmission. The most frugal engine in the lineup is the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 with EPA-estimated figures of 19/26/22 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles.

For the 2018 model year, the engines and transmissions were refreshed with the debut of the ten-speed automatic transmission, which was eventually rolled out across the range. All engines received a power bump, the base engine now displacing 3.3 liters and developing 290 hp, and the high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost putting out 450 hp. A new PowerStroke turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine was added with 250 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque.

3.5-liter V6 Gas Engine
283 hp | 255 lb-ft
283 hp
255 lb-ft
Six-speed automatic

The 3.5-liter Cyclone V6 was a big step up from previous generations of Ford V6s such as the Vulcan and Essex V6 and is noted for its fuel efficiency and good reliability. There have been some issues with faulty throttle bodies, cam chains, and cam phasers, but the internet tends to blow these problems out of proportion. This engine should give long and trouble-free service. It had already been in service for nearly ten years by the time the 2015 F-150 rolled by, so its minor issues are known and most problems have been solved. A service life of well beyond 200,000 miles should be expected with proper care and maintenance. The 3.5-liter naturally aspirated version developed 283 hp at launch in the 2015 F-150.

3.3-liter V6 Gas Engine
290 hp | 265 lb-ft
290 hp
265 lb-ft
Ten-speed automatic

For the 2018 update, the base 3.5-liter engine was replaced with a more efficient 3.3-liter version of the same engine, with slightly higher power and torque outputs. Advances include a new twin-injection system with new indirect injectors in the intake manifold that work in tandem with the direct injectors in the combustion chambers. Mated to a new ten-speed automatic transmission, its EPA fuel consumption improves from 20 mpg combined for the 2WD 3.5, to 22 mpg for the similarly configured 3.3. The manifold injectors also prevent the problem of carbon buildup on the intake valves at high mileages that direct-injection engines often suffer from.

2.7-liter V6 Turbocharged Gas Engine
325 hp | 375/400 lb-ft
325 hp
375 lb-ft
Six-speed/ten-speed automatic

At launch, this was the most efficient F-150 engine, achieving a combined EPA figure of 22 mpg in 2WD format. While F-150 fuel efficiency is generally good, it isn't quite the advance most people were expecting, given the 700-odd-pound mass reduction by going for aluminum construction. Blame turbocharged engines' propensity to be heavier on fuel in the real world than in the EPA tests they are designed to ace. Unfortunately, the 2.7-liter engine is prone to carbon build-up on the intake valves, as are many direct-injection engines, and common symptoms are rough running, misfiring, hesitation, and power loss. It's not always severe and rarely debilitating, but can affect efficiency. Having the valves walnut blasted to clean them is a labor-intensive job that requires no replacement parts but can cost up to $600. Oil-pan leaks and dodgy ignition coils can also rear their heads occasionally. Ford added port injection for the 2018 model year, increasing torque output to 400 lb-ft and addressing the carbon-buildup problem in the process.

3.5-liter V6 Turbocharged Gas Engine
365/375/450 hp | 420/470/510 lb-ft
365/375/450 hp
420/470/510 lb-ft
Six-speed/ten-speed automatic

The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine first appeared in 2009 and is a proven unit, with most of its kinks having been ironed out over the years. That being said, the first-generation 3.5 EcoBoost suffered from carbon buildup on the intake valves, just like various other direct-injection Ford engines, in addition to timing-chain issues. The carbon buildup is addressed in the second-generation version of the engine from the 2017 model year, with Ford adding port injection. The design of the cam phasers is also changed to improve reliability and curb the tapping noise they tend to make when they age. Ford made changes to the cam-chain in the latter part of the first-generation 3.5's production run and by the time the 2015 F-150 came along, these problems were mostly relegated to the past. Only 2015 and 2016 F-150s use the older engine and six-speed automatic transmission. From the 2017 model year, the new version of the engine is used, mated to the new ten-speed automatic transmission. Outputs vary from a minimum of 365 hp at launch to 450 hp in the facelift flagship trims.

5.0-liter V8 Gas Engine
385/395 hp | 387/400 lb-ft
385/395 hp
387/400 lb-ft
Six-speed/ten-speed automatic

The 5.0-liter Coyote V8 engine can trace its lineage back to the SOHC 4.6-liter Ford Modular V8 of the 1990s and has been redeveloped and refined ever since. It has been used in the F-Series since 1997. For the 13th-generation F-150, the Coyote is available in two forms, with the older 385-hp version doing duty until the updated 395-hp engine arrived for the 2018 model year, adding direct injection to the existing manifold injection and utilizing a new plasma spray-on bore liner that eliminates the need for cast-iron cylinder liners. However, this version tends to drink oil. Like many Ford engines, ticking and tapping sounds may affect the Coyote and while some of these are completely harmless, like the sound the direct injectors make on the later engine, others can be caused by piston slap, cam phasers, or be tappet noise. The older, port-injection engine should be free from any clicking or tapping sounds.

3.0-liter V6 Turbocharged Diesel Engine
250 hp | 440 lb-ft
250 hp
440 lb-ft
Ten-speed automatic

The 3.0-liter turbo-diesel PowerStroke V6 engine was introduced as part of the 2018 mid-life F-150 update and while it is the least powerful engine in the lineup with 250 hp, its torque output is a stout 440 lb-ft and its EPA fuel economy is also the best in the range with figures of 22/30/25 mpg. However, this is not worlds apart from the best gas engines in the lineup and you have to take into account the increased running costs of the diesel engine, including more frequent oil changes, topping up diesel exhaust fluid, and cambelt replacements, as this engine does not have a cam chain. You're unlikely to save much in the long run, despite the superior economy.

2015-2020 F-150 Real MPG

As vehicles get older, the EPA publishes real-world fuel-economy statistics in order to compare with claimed and EPA-estimated results. More often than not, turbocharged engines perform relatively worse in the real world, as they consume as much or more fuel as larger naturally aspirated engines under high loads. This is true of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 in the F-150, which seems to hover between 16.2 and 16.5 mpg overall in actual driving, compared to the combined EPA figures of 19-20 mpg. Interestingly, the 2.7-liter engine does a lot better and actually matches the EPA's 20-22 mpg on the road. Somewhat predictably, the 5.0-liter gas V8 beats its estimates handsomely - by up to 5 mpg, in fact. Its real-world figure sits between 19 and 23 mpg compared to the claimed 17-18 mpg.

3.5L NA V6 (2015-2017)18/24/20 mpgN/A
3.3L NA V6 (2017-2020)19/25/22 mpgN/A
2.7L turbo V6 2WD (2015-2017)19/26/22 mpg21.9 combined
2.7L turbo V6 4WD (2015-2017)18/23/20 mpg20 combined
2.7L turbo V6 2WD (2018-2020)20/26/22 mpgN/A
2.7L turbo V6 4WD (2018-2020)20/25/22 mpgN/A
3.5L turbo V6 2WD (2015-2017)17/24/20 mpg16.2 combined
3.5L turbo V6 4WD (2015-2017)17/23/19 mpg16.5 combined
3.5L turbo V6 2WD (2018-2020)18/25/21 mpgN/A
3.5L turbo V6 4WD (2018-2020)17/23/19 mpgN/A
5.0L NA V8 2WD (2015-2017)15/22/18 mpg23 combined
5.0L NA V8 4WD (2015-2017)15/21/17 mpg19 combined
5.0L NA V8 2WD (2018-2020)17/23/19 mpgN/A
5.0L NA V8 4WD (2018-2020)16/22/18 mpgN/A
3.0L turbo-diesel V6 2WD (2018-2020)22/30/25 mpgN/A
3.0L turbo-diesel V6 4WD (2018-2020)21/28/24 mpgN/A

* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.


Safety takes a step up with the 2015 Ford F-150, which received a full five-star crash rating at the NHTSA upon launch. The 2016 model earned a Top Safety Pick award at the IIHS. Standard safety features on the base XL trim for the 2015 model year include ABS, stability control, tire-pressure monitoring, and six airbags. A backup camera only became standard for all F-150s from the 2018 model year but from launch, it is fitted to the Lariat trim and up. The 2018 facelift also gets pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection and optional adaptive cruise control. So even the base XL had a reasonable safety specification for a truck.

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

Overall Rating::
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating::
Side Crash Rating::
Rollover Rating::

2015-2020 Ford F-150 Trims

There were initially five trims of the Ford F-150: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum, joined by the Limited from the 2016 model year and the Raptor from the 2017 model year.

Standard: 3.5-/3.3-liter V6; Optional: 2.7-liter turbocharged V6, 5.0-liter V8
Six/ten-speed automatic transmission
2WD or 4WD

The base XL comes as standard with the advanced new aluminum body and five-star crash rating, but is a fairly basic offering with 17-inch steel wheels, a manually adjustable tilting/telescoping steering wheel, manual air-conditioning, cloth seats, and six airbags. The audio system has four or six speakers, depending on body style and the infotainment system has a 4.2-inch display. The windows, door locks, and mirrors are all manually adjustable. It comes as standard with the 283-hp 3.5-liter engine, but the 325-hp 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 or 385-hp 5.0-liter V8 can be optionally specified, all mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2018 facelift introduces the updated engines and the ten-speed automatic transmission.

Standard: 2.7-liter turbocharged; Optional: 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, 5.0-liter V8
Six/ten-speed automatic transmission
2WD or 4WD

The XLT comes with the 325-hp 2.7-liter turbocharged V6 engine as standard, with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 or 5.0-liter V8 being optionally available. It gets 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, front fog lights, cruise control, a 4.2-inch driver-information display, and power adjustment for the door locks, windows, and mirrors. The infotainment system gains smartphone integration, Bluetooth, and auxiliary and USB inputs. The 2017 model year brings in the new ten-speed automatic transmission on the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine only and the 2018 facelift brings in the updated engines and wider availability of the ten-speed auto.

Standard: 2.7-liter turbocharged V6; Optional: 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6, 5.0-liter V8
Six/ten-speed automatic transmission
2WD or 4WD

The Lariat is available with the same engines as the XLT but runs on 18-inch alloy wheels and adds the 302A Luxury Option Group with its ten-way electrically adjustable, heated, and ventilated front seats, a 110-volt power outlet, remote engine start, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, keyless start, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch digital gauge cluster with a trip computer, and an updated MyFord Touch infotainment system with an eight-inch screen. The 2018 facelift adds the more advanced Ford Sync 3 infotainment system with additional connectivity features.

King Ranch
Standard: 5.0-liter V8; Optional: 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6
Six/ten-speed automatic transmission
2WD or 4WD

The King Ranch is a luxurious trim near the top of the range and comes as standard with the V8 gas engine, with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost or diesel engine optional. It isn't much cheaper than the Platinum and the main differences between these trims are that they have different approaches to interior styling and material choices and the right one for you would come down to your personal preference. It adds a few features to the Lariat's list, including running boards, remote engine start, a heated steering wheel and rear seats, a universal garage-door opener, HD Radio, navigation, and a premium audio system.

Standard: 5.0-liter V8; Optional: 3.5-liter turbocharged V6, 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6
Six/ten-speed automatic transmission
2WD or 4WD

The Platinum comes with the same standard and optional engine choices as the King Ranch. Some additional features over the King Ranch include 20-inch alloy wheels, power-retractable running boards, rain-sensing wipers, massaging front seats, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

3.5-liter turbocharged V6
Six/ten-speed automatic transmission
2WD or 4WD

The top-of-the-line Limited arrives for the 2016 model year and is the most luxurious and expensive of the range. Powered exclusively by the 387-hp turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine (uprated to 450 hp for the 2018 model year), it runs on 22-inch alloy wheels and has various unique, model-specific exterior styling features. Other features that set it apart is a standard dual-pane panoramic moonroof, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning.

3.5-liter turbocharged V6
Ten-speed automatic transmission

Based on the XLT trim in terms of most of its standard features, the Raptor is a specialist off-road focused F-150 only available with the high-output version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine producing 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, mated to a ten-speed automatic transmission and standard 4WD system. It joined the lineup as a 2017 model. It is 6.4 inches wider than normal F-150s and Fox off-road dampers and a ride height increased by a full two inches are par for the course. It runs on a special set of 17-inch alloy wheels shod with chunky BFGoodrich tires and its advanced AWD system has various terrain modes. The entire frame is reinforced and it comes with under-body skid plates and trim-specific interior finishes, including leather/cloth upholstery.

13th Gen F-150 Features

XLXLTLariatKing RanchPlatinumLimitedRaptor
Back-Up CameraSSSSSSS
Bluetooth ConnectionN/ASSSSSS
Leather SeatsN/AN/ASSSSN/A
Apple CarPlayN/ASSSSSS
Keyless EntryN/ASSSSSS
Keyless StartN/AN/ASSSSS
Alloy WheelsN/ASSSSSS

Interior, Trim And Practicality

Ford F-150 Truck 13th Gen Interior Overview Ford
Ford F-150 Truck 13th Gen Interior Overview

The F-150 is available in three bed lengths. The 5.5-foot bed has a volume of 52.8 cubic feet, the 6.5-foot bed has 62.3 cubic feet, and the eight-foot bed has 77.4 cubic feet. Not all beds can be mated to all body styles. The Regular Cab accommodates three people on a bench, but SuperCab and SuperCrew models add an extended cabin with rear doors and a second three-seater row of seating. These two body styles can also be optioned with a spacious front center console, which deletes the front center seat. Interior space is generous, even in the rear, with enough space for all occupants to stretch out in, even when the front seats are moved well back. Ingress and egress are eased by grab handles and, from the Lariat level and up, also by running boards.

The five core trims that have always been available are XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. The Limited trim arrived for the 2016 model year and the Raptor reappears after a hiatus of a few years as a 2017 model. The base XL is little more than a work truck with a minimum of luxury and safety features, a tiny infotainment screen, and no smartphone integration. It becomes a lot more liveable from the XLT up, with a proper infotainment system, power accessories, and the like. It provides the bare necessities of truck life and can be optioned up to a higher level, which makes this a sensible trim and the reason why the off-road-focused Raptor is based on the no-nonsense XLT. But for lots of family-friendly features, you have to look at the Lariat. It's all the F-150 you'll ever need, with an upmarket ambience thanks to leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats and more safety features.

TrimXLXLTLariatKing RanchPlatinumLimitedRaptor
Black, Medium Earth Gray vinyl seatsSN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Black, Medium Earth Gray cloth seatsSN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Black, Medium Earth Gray, Medium Light Camel cloth seatsN/ASN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Black, Black/Blue leather/cloth seatsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AS
Black, Medium Earth Gray, Medium Light Camel leather seatsN/AN/ASN/AN/AN/AN/A
Java King RanchN/AN/AN/ASN/AN/AN/A
leather seatsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Black, Black/Dark Marsala leather seatsN/AN/AN/AN/ASN/AN/A
Admiral Blue leather seatsN/AN/AN/AN/AN/ASN/A

Maintenance and Cost

Since the F-150 is the top-selling vehicle in America and Ford has a massive local footprint, you'd be pleased to learn that there are around 3,000 Ford and Lincoln dealerships spread across the country. In fact, around one in six of all dealership outlets in the US falls under the Blue Oval's umbrella. So you are sure to find one near you.

The F-150 should be serviced every 10,000 miles, which requires the engine oil and filter to be replaced every time. Only the manufacturer's recommended synthetic oil should be used. If you use your truck in harsh conditions, for towing, on dirt roads, or in sub-zero temperatures, it is advisable to replace your oil more frequently. At the standard services, the dealership will also thoroughly inspect the braking, exhaust, and cooling system. For the first 100,000 miles, the standard service is repeated, but at this mileage, the dealership will also replace the spark plugs, accessory drive belt, and coolant. At 150,000 miles, Ford recommends that you replace the rear axle's oil and the automatic transmission's fluid, but for the latter, prudent owners often prefer to halve this distance for peace of mind. The dealership checks the transmission fluid at every service and should advise you if it needs to be replaced before the stipulated interval. Enquire with your dealer about opting for high-miler oil when your truck has covered a great distance and check your oil level frequently, as old engines tend to consume more oil. Keep in mind that new engines also often consume oil, so don't assume that you only have to check your oil at services; check it at least weekly.

The average annual cost of maintaining a Ford F-150 hovers around the $770 mark. It is a little more expensive at a Ford dealership and a little cheaper at an independent one. Thanks to the sheer volume of F-150s on the road, maintenance costs are reasonable and the long-lasting rear brake shoes on a 2019 model 3.3 V6 would typically cost you around $330-$450 to replace at a Ford dealership, as an example. An independent dealership can often do this type of work for less than $300. Edmunds' cost-to-own breakdown of the F-150 shows a spike in years four and five, when the expected maintenance costs will likely exceed $2,000 per year for a gas model, dropping again until major items become due again, such as a transmission service. Repair costs tend to slowly increase every year as a vehicle ages and more parts wear out and fail.

2015-2020 F-150 Basic Service

Engine Oil Change Including Filter

Gas engines: 8.33 L (8.8 quarts) for the 5.0-liter V8 engine, 5.68 L (6 quarts) for V6 engines

Diesel engine: 6.06 liters (6.4 quarts)

Recommended oil viscosity: 5W-20 fully synthetic oil for the naturally aspirated gas engines, 5W-30 for the EcoBoost engines, and 0W-40 for the diesel engine

How often to change: 5,000 to 10,000 miles, depending on use.

Average Price: $110


Naturally aspirated V6 gas engines

Part code: CYFS12F5X

Average price: $26 for six

Turbocharged V6 gas engines

Part code: CYFS12YPCT

Average price: $30 for six

V8 models:

Part code: CYFS12F1X

Average price: $48 for eight

Air Filter

2.7L and diesel engines without stop-start

Type: Ford OEM 12V battery, part code BXT94RH7730

Replacement: Every 3 to 5 years

Average Price: $135

3.5L without stop-start

Type: Ford OEM 12V battery, part code BXT48H6610

Replacement: Every 3 to 5 years

Average Price: $135

Engines with stop-start

Type: Ford OEM 12V battery, part code BAGM94RH7800

Replacement: Every 3 to 5 years

Average Price: $185

13th Gen Ford F-150 Tires

There is no standard tire size for the F-150, because there are so many trims with wheel sizes varying from 17 to 22 inches. Typically, 2WD models use all-season tires and 4WD ones all-terrain tires. Models such as the Raptor use specialist off-road tires that could cost you well over $1,300 for a set of four, but the typical mid-range trim should not exceed $1,000 on average for a set.

Tire Size:
All-season BSW tires:
$744 per set
Tire Size:
All-terrain BSW tires:
$788 per set
Lariat and King Ranch 2WD
Tire Size:
All-season BSW tires:
$948 per set
Lariat and King Ranch 4WD
Tire Size:
All-terrain OWL tires:
$1,068 per set
Platinum 2WD
Tire Size:
All-season BSW tires:
$932 per set
Platinum 4WD
Tire Size:
All-terrain BSW tires:
$880 per set
Limited 2WD and 4WD
Tire Size:
All-season BSW tires:
$1,020 per set
Raptor 4WD
Tire Size:
All-terrain tires:
$1,340 per set

Check Before You Buy

Technical Service Bulletins according to the NHTSA. Check service book for:

13th Gen F-150 Common Problems

Throttle Bodies

On the 5.0-liter V8 engine, an electronic part in the throttle body may fail, causing symptoms such as a loss of power, the engine stalling, and an illuminated Check Engine light. The problem often disappears after restarting the engine, only to return later. A fault code is usually stored in the memory of the engine control unit and will enable a dealership to diagnose the problem. This could happen from 40,000 to 80,000 miles and requires the replacement of the throttle body at a cost of about $80-$150 for non-OEM parts. The part might already have been replaced by the previous owner under warranty, so make sure to check before you buy.

Mileage: 40,000-80,000 miles

Cost: $80-$150

How to spot: Stalling, Check Engine light, and a loss of power

Cam-drive Problems

There have been a few problems with the cam drives of 3.5-liter and V8 engines. The 3.5-liter V6 engines may experience failure of the cam phasers, which may exhibit as rough running, power loss, and rattling or clicking sounds from the engine bay. Problems can manifest as soon as 25,000 miles. Cam phasers cost around $140 each and there are two of them. It's a labor-intensive job that may cost anything from $700 to $1,200 in total. The 5.0-liter V8 engine may suffer from faulty cam-chain tensioners, which will also cause rattling and clicking. Failure to address the problem may necessitate a new chain for around $190 and hundreds of dollars of associated labor costs. Engine damage could follow if the problem is ignored and the chain slips, causing damage to the valves. This will run into the thousands of dollars to fix.

Mileage: From 25,000 miles

Cost: From $700

How to spot: Cyclic rattling/clicking sounds, especially on a cold start at idle

Oil Consumption

Excessive oil consumption can afflict the 2018-2020 F-150 with the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 due to excessive intake manifold vacuum sucking oil into the piston on deceleration and shut-off. Oil consumption may exceed one quart per 3,000 miles and some owners have recorded 1.5 quarts per 1,000 miles. Ford issued a service bulletin outlining the issue and prescribed replacing the oil-level indicator, oil filter, and oil, and/or reprogramming the powertrain control module, but did not issue a recall. This resulted in a class-action lawsuit against Ford for unexpected stalling and engine failures. No damage will ensue unless the oil level is not monitored and becomes low enough to cause engine damage. Many of these vehicles are still under warranty and Ford is aware of the problem, so at least have the ECU reprogrammed and monitor oil consumption.

Mileage: From new

Cost: N/A

How to spot: Oil level drops and requires frequent top-ups

Carbon Buildup In Direct-Injection Engines

Carbon buildup on the backs of the intake valves is a relatively common problem in engines with direct injection. Early 2015-2017 F-150s with the V6 gas engines also suffered from this. In many cases, the problems were minor and the engines were able to cover several hundred thousand miles before symptoms such as power loss, stuttering, rough idling, hesitation, misfires, and increased fuel consumption reared their heads. Walnut blasting the intake valves to clean them can cost between $400 and $600 and no parts have to be replaced. Walnut blasting is recommended for direct-injection engines every 70,000-100,000 miles. The carbon buildup problem should not apply to the facelifted 2018+ F-150s, as they gained manifold fuel injectors that keep the intake valves clean.

Mileage: 70,000-100,000 miles

Cost: $400-$600

How to spot: Stuttering, power loss, hesitation, misfires, increase fuel consumption, rough idling

Rodent Damage

13th-generation F-150s may suffer from rodent damage due to the use of soy-based wiring insulation that rodents like to eat and use for building nests. This has been a problem for various automakers and prevention includes inspecting for rodent droppings, keeping foodstuffs that may attract rodents away from the vehicle, using mothballs and liquid peppermint, and wrapping the wiring in something that repels rodents. Left unchecked, the damage to the vehicle's wiring can amount to thousands of dollars to put right.

Mileage: From new

Cost: Varies, depending on the damage

How to spot: Electrical faults, evidence of rodents' presence

Transmission Calibration Problems

There were many complaints about the new ten-speed automatic transmission's inconsistent behavior on 2017-2019 F-150s. There were reports of rough shifts, a delayed downshift on the diesel engine, slow shifts, jerking, slipping, bucking, clunking, and a general inability to find the right gear. Most of these problems are related to the new transmission's adaptive learning module and its calibration. Clearing it and updating its software should address most issues. This should be done at the next service. If problems persist, there might be something physically wrong with the transmission. Be sure that the transmission software has been updated to FJDS release 108.04 or newer.

Mileage: Under 10,000 miles

Cost: N/A

How to spot: Rough, delayed, bucking, clunking, or inconsistent gear shifts

Transmission Shift Linkage Disconnecting

Some 2018 F-150s with the ten-speed transmission may experience a disconnection of the gear selector's cable holder. When the shift linkage disconnects, the transmission selector's position may not correspond to the currently selected gear range. This fault is covered by service bulletin 18S10 and the fault should be rectified free of charge, since the affected vehicles were recalled.

Mileage: From new

Cost: Free recall repair

How to spot: The vehicle can still roll away despite Park being selected

Harsh Downshift

Early 2015-2016 F-150s with the old six-speed transmission may exhibit a harsh shift from fifth to fourth gear at partial throttle at speeds between 25 and 35 mph, but this is usually only a calibration problem that can be rectified by reprogramming the powertrain control module to the software with the latest calibration. This problem is outlined in Ford service bulletin TSB15-042.

Mileage: Any mileage

Cost: $125

How to spot: Abrupt or harsh downshift from fifth to fourth gear on a very light throttle between 25 and 35 mph.

Engine-Block Heater Wiring

Ford issued a recall for some 2015-2019 F-150s equipped with an engine-block heater. There is a possibility that water and contaminants can penetrate the heater's splice connector, resulting in an inoperative heater at best and at worst, a short that might pose a fire risk when the heater is plugged into a power source. These problems are outlined in TSB 18C45 and 19C11. If you buy a used F-150 with an engine-block heater, enter its VIN on the NHTSA website to see whether it was recalled and make sure the heater's cable has been replaced.

Mileage: Any mileage

Cost: Free recall repair

How to spot: An inoperative engine-block heater or a short when connecting it

Corrosion Of Wheel Lug-Nut Caps

Ford's use of aluminum lug-nut caps on steel lug nuts have caused various problems. The lug-nut cap may delaminate from the steel core, swell, or seize, making it virtually impossible to remove the lug nuts, or resulting in thread damage. If you cannot remove the lug nuts yourself, you might be charged a small fee for a specialist workshop to do it. You'll have to buy new lug nuts at around $40 for a set of 24 from a non-OEM supplier for a one-material steel lug nut with no aluminum cap. This is recommended.

Mileage: From 10,000 miles

Cost: $40 for parts

How to spot: The wrench does not fit over the lug-nut cap or the lug nut cannot be removed

Brake Problems

The first three years of 13th-gen F-150 production saw problems with a new type of seal that Ford used in the brake-fluid reservoir that may allow brake fluid to seep into the vacuum brake booster, causing it to fail and resulting in a loss of braking power. Certain 2013 and 2014 F-150s were recalled because of the fault and Ford presumably improved the design on subsequent models, but continued to use the potentially defective seal through the 2018 model year, so failures could still occur. The only solution is to replace the master cylinder.

Mileage: From around 40,000 miles

Cost: $760

How to spot: Huge pressure required on the brake pedal to stop the vehicle.

Door Latches

Ford has recalled millions of cars for defective door-latch pawl springs and the 2015-2017 F-150 is affected as well. Freezing temperatures may cause doors to not close fully, fly open while driving, and leave the "door ajar" warning light on the dashboard permanently lit. The problems are outlined in service bulletin TSB 17S33 and are to be fixed for free under the recall conditions.

Mileage: From new

Cost: Free recall repair

How to spot: Doors don't want to stay shut, door-ajar warning won't extinguish, and doors open by themselves.

Which One To Avoid

The base XL with its basic infotainment system, manual windows, and dearth of features is best avoided for any type of family duty. It's a no-nonsense work truck. As is usually the case, the earlier the model, the more numerous the problems. Although most of these should have been fixed, you'll have to be on the lookout for rough transmissions and engine noises. Walk away if an early model's engine taps or ticks, because either cam-chain or cam-phaser issues will set you back a fair bit. Early transmission problems blighted the F-150's image somewhat and if you're in it for the long haul, the pre-facelift models' EcoBoost engines that require somewhat costly periodic valve cleaning should be avoided.

Which One To Buy

The XLT is the minimum entry point to have a reasonably comfortable driving experience. The Lariat is the ideal family vehicle if the budget stretches that far, but the XLT with a few options will do nearly the same job. The best V8 to buy is the older 2015-2017 version before the facelift because it doesn't have the potential oil-consumption problems of the later engine. Lacking direct injectors, it should idle quietly, with no clicks or taps that may spell expensive cam-drive repairs. The best EcoBoost engines are those belonging to the 2018 facelift, as the teething troubles have been sorted out and the manifold injectors give peace of mind because they eliminate long-term carbon build-up on the intake valves. Just be sure that all the recall work has been done and the transmission software is the latest version. A facelift 2018 2.7-liter EcoBoost probably provides the best combination of power, economy, and reliability.


The 13th-generation Ford F-150 is generally durable and dependable and should give many years of good service if it is properly maintained. Keeping in mind the caveats mentioned above, you will find one that suits your needs at a reasonable price, but it might not be a bargain, because the F-150 retains its value well. However, this is good news for when it becomes your turn to sell it. The earliest models are best avoided unless the relevant repairs have been made. A well-looked-after F-150 with a full service history should give years of trouble-free service.

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