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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 7
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,647 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

1997 Ford F-150 engine problems

engine problem

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1997 Ford F-150 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 10)

problem #197

Jan 102009

F-150 6-cyl

  • 128,000 miles


My 1997 F-150 4.2L V6 with 128,000 miles started experiencing an unaccountable for water loss that quickly turned into a rough idle on cold starts and then very noticeable steam from the exhaust at what time it was taken in for repair with a suspected blown head gasket. Dismantling the engine, there was water in the top end but there is no indication of head gasket failure and the heads have been pressure tested for leaks and turned out ok. It appears that the intake or intake gasket is the problem and upon online research it was discovered that Ford has had prior complaints of intake and gasket failures.

- Lexington, KY, USA

problem #196

Jun 182005

F-150 8-cyl

  • miles
1997 Ford F-150, wipers quit while using them in rain, head gasket leaks oil on exhaust which intern smokes and could possibly cause fire.

- Sweetwater, TN, USA

problem #195

Apr 242008

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 102,974 miles
I purchased a Ford factory motor 4.2V6 crate motor for my F150, back in 2004. The motor has 10,000 miles on it and has blown for the 2nd time during this trucks lifetime. I had it serviced because the check light came on. Ford replaced the sensor and took it for a test drive and the service technician came back with blown motor, and will not fix it. Their are currently hundreds of complaints against this motor and no one has had any luck with it. I would like to know if their is anyone that could help me with this matter.

- Ansonia, CT, USA

problem #194

Apr 052008

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 116,000 miles


I have owned a 97 Ford F150 xcab for >7 yrs. I kept up on all maint & oil/fluid changes. I have cared for my truck as I have my own kids! it ran well on Friday night (4/4/08) then on Saturday morning husb turned the key and the engine started to bang loudly and spit out white smoke. There were no prior symptoms or engine warning lights leading up to this so I checked the internet to look into it. I came to find there are thousands of people this has happened to and that Ford knew all about it! my truck has only 116,000 original miles in 10 years! not abused. Apparently, Ford issued a recall on a faulty gasket that allowed coolant to leak into the plugs/oil but it was not a recall I was offered or told of when we asked if there were any recalls on the vehicle over the years! today I found 2 more recalls 4 it on their site (not the gasket 1) that they didn't tell me of on 4/7/08 when asked 4 a VIN when calling about the problem. I asked 4 the price of a rebuilt engine as they said they wouldn't fix a rod & quoted $5,500. When I asked if it was for everything, he replied "no - parts can really add up, honey"! I took great care of this truck! I opted to tow it to another accredited shop since they wouldn't give me a total price. Not including 2 tows & paying $150 to diagnose I was quoted a min of $7,300 to fix w/rebuild +/- 12%. why should I have to pay 4 something that is Ford fault? they made a faulty engine & left thousands of us to pay 4 it! I can either buy a new car or walk now! im handicapped w 2 disable adopt foster kids & husb who's a police officer! 1 income/ we rent, so wont qual 4 cash loan! please see this: forums.treemedia.com/fb/archive/index.php/T-224.html where other Ford 4.2 owners noted same issue & their responses fm Ford. We need help or direction on how to start/join a class action suit against them to get repairs done or $ to pay for it!

- Long Beach, CA, USA

problem #193

Feb 242008

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 78,813 miles
Engine locked up from coolant from intake gasket leak at 78813 miles fordfleet.com there was a recall for intake gasket but never received recall 1997 Ford F150 4.2L engine.

- Hebron, IN, USA

problem #192

Jan 012008

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
I have a 97 F-150, V-6 4.2L engine pickup. I have always a coolant leak coming from somewhere, but lately it has got worse. I've researched this subject and found that there are alot of Ford owners with this same vehicle and engine with the same issue. Loss of coolant. Intake gaskets, headgaskets and timing chain cover gaskets. This is not only a consumer issue but a safety issue and it seems Ford does not recognize the problem. I contacted Ford and it was stated there was no recalls concerning this issue. You would assume that with a large population of Ford owners having the same issues something would be done to rectify the problem. Instead its left to the owner to conduct the repairs with a heavy financial costs. It can only be assumed Ford is fully aware of the problem that consumers are having. Why isn't anything being done? not only do I have the timing case leak, but now I have to worry about when my engine will seize due to intake or headgasket leaks.

- Cibolo, TX, USA

problem #191

Feb 142008

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,200 miles


Hydrolock on 1997 Ford F-150 V6 4.2 engine. Was not aware of any problems with the engine until the engine seized and was quoted $4500 for a new rebuild engine. I was curious of why the engine would seize and did some internet searches only to find it is a common problem with engine year and build. Why was I never notified of the potential for this problem if so many others have experienced it, and what to watch out for if symptoms of this condition are evident?

- Owensboro, KY, USA

problem #190

Dec 012007

F-150 6-cyl

  • 60,500 miles
My 1997 Ford F-150 4.2 L 6 cylinder engine has been consuming antifreeze at a low but steady rate for a couple years....I did not know why. Now I do the gasket has a leak into a cylinder and the truck has a major engine problem, that will require overhaul or replacement. For some time I have had very hard starts where the engine will not roll over without difficulty this is an ongoing problem among others with this engine.

- West Bend, WI, USA

problem #189

Nov 152007

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 123,000 miles
Truck running great, turned on next day loud rattling water out the exhaust oil pressure gone, intake manifold leak, possible bent rod and motor needs to be replaced. 4.2L motor has a know defect that Ford did not let the public know.

- Charleston, SC, USA

problem #188

Jan 172007

F-150 4WD 8-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 143,000 miles
'97 F150 4.2 V8 coolant leak, engine blown @ 140,000 after several head gasket repairs.

- Belgrade Lakes , ME, USA

problem #187

Jul 202007

F-150 4WD 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles


The contact owns a 1997 Ford F-150. The contact stated that a rod punctured the oil pan and ruined the engine. The vehicle is unable to be driven and has not been to the dealer. He has discovered several other people who have experienced the same failure. The VIN, speed, and mileage information were unavailable.

- Caponsville, MD, USA

problem #186

Jul 132007

F-150 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 170,000 miles
The contact owns a 1997 Ford F-150. The contact noticed flames coming from under the hood while the vehicle was parked. The dealer has not inspected the vehicle to determine the cause the vehicle was deemed totaled. Updated 09/05/07.

- Lindenwold, NJ, USA

problem #185

Jul 062007

F-150 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,050 miles
I own a 1997 F-150 Ford pickup with the Triton V8 4.6L engine. After having 10,5000 mile schedule service to replace spark plugs and tune up the number 4 cylinder plug began to pop-out" of the block. So far no damage to the vehicle, but it was not fixed yet. I knew this was a"common problem that was investigated before, but I wanted to document that the problem continued, and Ford needed to acknowledge the defect. I was told by my Ford dealership that if I drove with number 4 cylinder misfiring for an extended period it may cause hydro lock or fire damage to the engine. That was pretty serious and sounded like an admission from Ford dealers that there was a serious problem. The dealer has been very helpful, and was working to fix the problem so I have no complaint against the dealer. However, just because there hasn't been a fatality with this defect did not mean there shouldn't be an admission by Ford of the design defect, and a recall to fix the problem without charge to the customer.

- Chesapeake, VA, USA

problem #184

Feb 052007

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,000 miles
I went outside one early morning to start up my vehicle when I heard a loud pop that originated from the engine of my 1997 Ford F-150 XLT. I took a look at the engine; however I am no mechanic. I attempted to start the engine again, but the engine would not turn. I later found out that the engine was locked because of the coolant leaking from a gasket into the cylinder causing one of the rods to bend. My mechanic informed me that the liquid was not allowing the rod to fully compress because of the pressure caused by the liquid. Needless to say, he told me that the Ford pick ups' engines have that problem and I would just be wasting my money repairing the original engine. He advised me to search for a rebuilt engine that had a warranty on it. Due to the expense, my pick up is sitting there with a defective engine. This is the second Ford I had purchased because I was so pleased with the first Ford vehicle. However after this disappointment, I purchased a Nissan instead. I make sure that I tell all my friends and relatives of this experience with Ford and the unsatisfactory product they have put out. No wonder the Toyota Tundra and Nissan titan are leaving Ford behind! "built Ford tough, right....

- Del Rio , TX, USA

problem #183

Apr 232007

F-150 4WD 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 98,780 miles
The contact owns a 1997 Ford F-150. While driving 60 mph, the contact heard a loud popping noise coming from the vehicle's hood. He was able to drive the vehicle home, but was unable to restart the vehicle once he shut it off. The vehicle was towed to a mechanic who stated that coolant was found in the cylinders due to a cracked head gasket or a crack in the cylinder. The mechanic installed a remanufactured engine and there have not been any more failures. The current mileage is 99,600 and failure mileage was 98,780.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #182

Jun 011997

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 108,000 miles
The contact owns a 1997 Ford F-150. While driving 45 mph, the contact heard a knocking noise coming from the engine. The vehicle was brought to the dealer and the engine was replaced. As a result, the engine began to overheat and a significant lost of coolant resulted due to a reservoir failure. At 80,000 miles, the contact began to experience oil pressure failure, which the dealer stated was caused by a bent piston rod on the crank case. The manufacturer would not assist the contact because the VIN excluded the vehicle from the recall. Ford claimed to have only issued a partial level B recall. The failure originated 6 weeks ago, but has been ongoing since June of 2006. The technician suggesting waiting until the engine fails to have it replaced again. The current mileage is 850 and failure mileage was 108,000.

- Colombus, OH, USA

problem #181

Apr 042007

F-150 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
V6 4.2L engine: Gasket failure causing water/fluid fill up the cylinder which causes the rod to blow.

- Albany, OH, USA

problem #180

Jan 262007

F-150 4WD 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 87,559 miles
1. failure of Ford Motor Company and dealer where vehicle was purchased new, family Ford sales Inc., florence, al to notify customer of defect with 1997 4.2 L V6 engine as published in Ford service program, number 99B29 which could lead to engine failure through engine front cover gasket failing and polluting the oil with coolant, resulting in destroyed engine. Further family Ford sales Inc. Diagnosed this problem on this vehicle 11/20/02 and repaired it for $432.08 cost to owner. No mention of the Ford no-charge service program or possible engine damage was given at this time. 2. failure of 1997 Ford F150 engine with 87,522 miles due to a known failure to Ford motor of faulty gaskets (lower intake manifold (Ford tsb 99-20-7) and engine front cover gasket failing and polluting the oil with coolant (Ford service program, number 99B29) neither of which were communicated to the original owner of the vehicle. This action caused $3,061.20 of damage due to replacement of engine long block 1/26/2007 the babbitt was removed from engine bearings, resulting in low oil pressure and engine oil light coming on which was diagnosed by family Ford on 1/5/2007 (cost $73.50). Again Ford servicing dealer/oem selling dealer did not inform customer of any issues with this engine or earlier no-charge service program. Failure to notify or fraudulent actions by the dealer and Ford Motor Company have cost me over $3,500 and the lost time associated with this faulty product. Vehicle VIN is [xxx]. documentation to prove all claims are available for submittal. Updated 07/11/2012 information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6)

- Florence, AL, USA

problem #179

Nov 112006

F-150 6-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 110,000 miles
Complaint: Ford Motor Company, poor design of lower intake plenum/manifold gasket in the essex 4.2L V-6. 1: events leading up to this failure originally there were no obvious signs of impending failure. The indications of failure are loss of engine coolant with no visible external leak, and coolant in the combustion chamber. 2: failure and it's consequences this defect allows coolant leakage into the combustion chamber, causing a hydraulic locking condition which will break/bend one or more connecting rods. This renders the engine unusable, and it must be pulled, repaired if possible (some are not), and re-installed. 3: failure correction. In most cases the engine can be repaired by replacing a connecting rod, piston, and crankshaft, and all the other associated parts that are involved with this level of disassembly. In some cases the connecting rod will break and damage the block beyond repair. This happened in my case. The replacement engine was over $2000, not to mention the labor involved in it's replacement. Ford Motor Company is aware of this design flaw, and has issued a technical service bulletin regarding it. However, to this day they will still not offer any aid, in any form, for damages incurred due to this design flaw.

- Camp Lejeune, NC, USA

problem #178

Dec 032006

F-150 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 120,000 miles
I own a 1997 Ford F150 4.2L. My truck has been losing coolant for a while! I have replaced the water pump, replaced hoses, replaced thermostats, etc. My truck is now having a ticking sound when I start it in cold weather. I have come to find that Ford Motor Company had previously issued a recall on this trucks engine for a faulty intake manifold gasket. I was never informed of this recall!!! I was informed of other recalls like lug nut failure, cruise control cables, etc, but never about the most expensive, most vital part of the truck the engine. The information of the recall was discover as I was on the web trying to find out how to fix the knocking sound. The web site had over 350 messages of people with the same problem!!! please help!!

- Burton, OH, USA

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