Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.

8.4

pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
$884.00
Average Mileage:
139,668 miles
Total Complaints:
31 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (14 reports)
  2. install threaded insert (13 reports)
  3. replace the engine head (3 reports)
  4. replace coil and all spark plugs - torque down plugs (1 reports)
2003 Ford F-150 engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Ford F-150 Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Nov 122015

F-150 Crew Cab 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 208,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

This occurred in 2016 and again has happened in September of 2016. Now they say I need a new head at a cost of around $1900. This is crazy for a known problem! Not happy with FORD right now.

- , Rock Hall, MD, USA

problem #30

Sep 282016

F-150 XLT 4.8L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

click to see larger images

spark plug ejects from the engine

It seems unacceptable for there to be a widespread ongoing issue of this nature with Ford's engines.

- , Liberty Township, OH, USA

problem #29

Sep 032016

F-150 XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 167,000 miles

The spark plug blew out while driving down the highway. Luckily there was no body damage or injuries.

- , Roseville, MN, USA

problem #28

Jan 072016

F-150 XL 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 131,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I am finding this is a common problem with these engines! This sounds like a defect in ford engines. Why is there no recall?

- , Salem, NY, USA

problem #27

Oct 312012

F-150 XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,013 miles

Long time Ford customer. This is an significant issue which should of been, and still should be, addressed by Ford. As I look to my next Ford purchase I will definitely be concerned about the long term reliability of the Ford products, especially when buying anything used. As a follow-up this issue happened again in 2014.

- , Stillwater, MN, USA

problem #26

Apr 282014

F-150 XLT 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 136,567 miles

Now this is the second time for the same problem (different cylinder), at this point a recall or FORD sponsored fix should be out there. I am the original owner, no good deed goes unpunished,so much for taking excellent care of one's vehicle only to find Mfg. design issues that have reduced the vehicle's long term useful life. I wanted to go cross country with this vehicle, now I get to worry about this the whole time or spend the $1800.00 to repair the remaining 6 - with 150,000 miles on a nearly 13 year old vehicle. Go figure.

- , Stillwater, MN, USA

problem #25

Aug 262015

F-150 XL V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I went to start truck, loud bang, spark plug blew out. I thought engine had blown, stressed me out.

- , Searsport, ME, USA

problem #24

Jul 162015

F-150 XLT 5.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,652 miles

This is the second blow out of the same housing and Ford's temporary fix never works. When the first one occurred, it was after the warranty expired and I was never given an option on how to correct it. Hawk Ford went ahead and replaced the spark plug and sleeve and it eventually blew out again. Obviously this is severe enough to justify a recall but the only sure way to correct it is to replace the aluminum heads and Ford doesn't want to incur the cost.

I spoke with "Dan" in customer service and was told there was nothing Ford was willing or able to do to help me even after I asked if Ford was willing to help with the cost of head replacement and denied. I told Dan he was losing a long life Ford owner and future buyer and all he could say was that he was sorry to hear that and informed me to have a nice day! Unbelievable

- , Chicago, IL, USA

problem #23

Jun 212015

F-150 XLT 5.4L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 222,050 miles

After owning 5, F-150 4x4s, 2 Mustangs, a Ford Explorer, 2 Mercury Cougars, a Thunderbird, a Grand Marquis, an Escort, & a Pinto, knowing that Ford will not take care of the problem. Knowing that Toyota in order to keep there customers, take care of there problems, ie, the frame problem that they had. They did 1 of 2 things, no matter how many miles on the truck, they either bought the truck back or replaced the frame. I am not asking them to buy my truck back from me, just to take responsibility for and to fix the problem. In a time where the market is so tough, I would think that they would want to keep there customers & keep them happy & coming back. Now I am in the market for a new truck & car... Toyota??????? Honda??????

- , Columbus, OH, USA

problem #22

Jun 272015

F-150 XL Sport 4.6L V8

  • Manual transmission
  • 207,000 miles

I bought this truck about 2 months ago and was really surprised at the power and condition it was in to be such a high mileage truck. The first big hiccup came within the first month (about 2500 miles from the purchase date), the slave cylinder started to leak. When I sank the first $1000 into it, everything from the clutch master cylinder to the flywheel was replaced, leaving me satisfied with the truck yet again.

Another 2500 miles later I started hearing a ticking sound and that made me think it was low on oil, but the level was normal. As I continued to drive the truck daily, I noticed that it would lose power at times. I immediately assumed the clutch was slipping because I was pulling some weight on my trailer that was borderline over the limit, so I pulled over to let it cool off for about 50 mins. Once the truck was cooled off, I went to start it and BOOM! A loud noise came from the engine with a sound that is only comparable to a knocking power-plant. I popped the hood with the expectation of seeing oil and pieces of block everywhere, but was completely wrong. I found the spark plug and coil laying on the top the engine as if someone laid them there.

I called several places to get estimates done and the lowest one was $350 and some stretched above $1300. I've never experienced anything like this before with any other vehicle, but after doing some research, I realized this is a common problem with these trucks.. My first and last Ford..

- , New Castle, VA, USA

problem #21

Mar 212015

F-150 4x4 5.4L Triton

  • Manual transmission
  • 158,705 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

So we started the engine, heard the "backfire" noise, and instantly the rough running like the truck had been submerged underwater... and then the acrid smell of something burning.. something that shouldn't be. We turned off the engine immediately and popped the hood... a passerby in the parking lot said "is that a triton engine" Sure enough, it was.. and he said "you blew a spark plug. It's a common problem..." and explained a bit more on the fix and how everyone who owns the F-150 will go through this on every plug....

Seriously, Ford? No recall for this issue??

The Tow Truck driver pulled up and said, "Let me guess, a loud Pop, then the engine ran rough, right?" Yeah, it's so well known that everyone expects it- and knows that's what's wrong, I imagine when our mechanic sees the truck parked in the lot early Monday morning (it happened Saturday, so we had it towed to the shop same night) he will see its an F-150 and know its a blown spark-plug without even talking to us or popping the hood.....This problem needs to be addressed by FORD!

Update from Mar 27, 2015: So once we got it to the shop, the mechanic determined that the spark plug damaged the coil on its way out. Had to replace the coil. There is also an ear or lip inside the manifold that holds it all in, well it was sheered off too. Options were - fabricate something inside the manifold to hold the coil in place, or replace the manifold (additional $900) - we went with fabrication. They did have to put some kind of insert into the hold that had blown. It was the #3 plug.

Total charge $583. The mechanic recommended replacing the remaining 7 spark plugs and torquing them down - which is what they normally do to this model. They have special tools for the 2004 and up models too - where they break off. They did say that fix was much more expensive...

- , Cottonwood, CA, USA

problem #20

Jan 302015

F-150 5.4L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 119,000 miles

Driving on the highway when I heard this loud bang thinking I blew I tire. But then I heard the engine making a real loud noise like I blew it up. Had it towed to local shop, he started it up, open the hood and told me my engine ejected a spark plug, seen it happen several times with this 5.4 L engine. He immediately told me Ford should have a recall but instead there is a temporary fix.. Seriously, what the hell Ford, fix it or I will never buy a Ford as long as I live. Back it up, it's your problem, everyone is complaining about it. This is why there are more foreign vehicles on the road than domestic. Seriously, wtf.

- , South Dartmouth, MA, USA

problem #19

Jan 102015

F-150 XLT 7700 5.4L V8 Triton

  • Automatic transmission
  • 139,085 miles

Don't have time to "rant"

Ford engine design review process is clearly inept.

- , Amesbury, MA, USA

problem #18

Apr 142010

F-150 5.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,145 miles

Ford should really recall the heads of these triton engines. They can keep the aluminum material head but redesign them with a better thread reach.

- , Norfolk, MA, USA

problem #17

Sep 072014

F-150

  • Automatic transmission
  • 160,000 miles

This is the 4th time it has blown a plug. Right now the truck is in the front yard because I don't have the money to fix it again. I love my truck but I'm getting ready to trade up.

- , Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #16

Sep 132013

F-150 Lariat 5.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 112,200 miles

Second time a plug has blown in this truck! This time it blew just trying to leave the parking lot where I work. Not the same plug either, so now I have TWO heli coil kits installed and have spent another $400 for something that Ford should have recalled by now...It seems everyone and their brother knows about this recurring problem, but Ford doesn't!

- , Martin, TN, USA

problem #15

Apr 152012

F-150 Lariat 5.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

We were on a 300 mile trip back to our home in the middle of the night when the plug blew an hour from our home. Nothing was open and we had to hobble the truck home in order to get it to a garage the next day. It spent a week in the shop and cost $400 for a heli coil kit to be installed. It was then that we learned Ford F150 Triton 5.4 engines were NOTORIOUS for doing this, but that Ford had been avoiding the issue and not put out a recall for it. That is just bad BAD customer service. I used to pride myself in this truck and this first plug blow really made me second guess my decision. I am filing multiple complaints as suggested by this site because it is now 1.5 years later and I am now have had a THIRD plug blow. ENOUGH FORD! Recall this issue!

- , Martin, TN, USA

problem #14

Jan 172013

F-150 LX 4.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles

spark plugs pop out of engines .. definitely a bad aluminum head design by ford .. cheaper than iron.. there is also a chance of a engine fire and personal injury ..why was there never a recall to fix this problem?? what happened to this country .. allowing big companies to put bad products out there , just as long as they contribute to their cam panes... what a shame.

- , Bluebell, PA, USA

problem #13

Feb 092013

F-150 5.4L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 148,584 miles

Ford should have a recall on this problem and pay for it. I looked on internet and this problem is terrible especially when you are 1200 miles from home and nowhere to get it fixed. will probably not buy another one.

- , Rushsylvania, OH, USA

problem #12

Jan 032013

F-150 XLT 4.6L V8

  • Automatic transmission
  • 156,025 miles

ONLY NINE (9) YEARS OLD, NEVER ABUSED, NO REASON FOR THIS TO HAPPEN ACCORDING TO DEALER, HEIL CORE DID NOT WORK NOW REMOVING THE HEAD AND SENDING IT OUT TO FIX MIGHT NOT WORK THEN WILL NEED NEW MOTOR SINCE IT HAS OVER 100,000 MILES ON LOWER END AND CANNOT HAVE NEW HEAD PLACE ON IT SO SPEND ALL THIS MONEY FOR THE TRUCK WITH INTEREST FOR ONLY NINE YEARS AND 156,000 MILES, NO MORE FORD FOR THIS OLD MAN NEVER, AND I SAY NEVER PUT SOFT METAL WHERE TOUGH METAL IS NEEDED, BUILT FORD TOUGH, HAHAHAHAH, NOT THIS ONE

- , Louisburg, NC, USA

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