really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 9
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
61,097 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 11)

problem #207

Nov 102005

F-150 6-cyl

  • 89,000 miles


I have a 1997 F150 4.2 V6 that I purchased new from Ford. I noticed that it was losing coolant, but could not find a leak. In 2005, with only 89000 miles on the vehicle I started it up one afternoon when I was on my way home from work and it was running rough. I drove it home and parked it and went out approximately an hour later and started it up and it had a very loud rod knock. I was just researching rebuild kits and rebuilt engines when I came across all the posts about hydrolock. I now know that this was a situation that Ford was aware of, but did nothing to correct and left people like myself with a vehicle that was well maintained and did not last. Unfortunately, I did not have the means to repair and the vehicle has been sitting all this time. I think they should have taken responsibility when they found out and people like myself would have had protection on our investment.

- Madison, FL, USA

problem #206

Dec 092010


  • 91,848 miles
1997 Ford 4.2L F150 - 91,000 miles vehicle properly maintained, "babied" it. It never had oil, coolant, or any engine problems. Started vehicle and heard an engine sound "pop", and noticed white smoke emitting from tailpipe. The gauges were reading all normal, as well as oil and transmission fluid levels. The check engine light came on. I immediately took the truck to my shop, they said without taking engine apart it sounds like a rod or bent crankshaft. They mentioned that it appears to be a common problem with Ford 4.2 engines. It is now at the local Ford dealer - they have not explained how this happened but that I need an engine rebuilt. Really. Thank you Ford for standing behind your product. Cheaper to buy a rebuilt engine" does it have the original engine gaskets? then I can expect to spend another $4000,00 in three years or just after the warranty expires. If you have an engine problem with the Ford F150 4.2L just do an internet search! where is the class action lawsuit"

- Ft. Pierce, FL, USA

problem #205

Nov 222010

F-150 6-cyl

  • 61,850 miles
Purchased a used 1997 Ford F-150 truck from a private one owner person, the truck had less than 58,000 original miles, this truck has a 4.2 liter V-6 engine, which was well maintained. After driving the truck for less than 4 months of owning it the engine suffered a catastrophic engine failure due to a defect in engine gasket, torque sequence and other specific specs, have not been notified of this problem from Ford Motor Co. As of yet. The engine suffered what is called hydraulic-lock and when the engine cranked up it bent piston rods in the motor and the piston skirts are now hitting the crankshaft, requires a total engine rebuild or new engine replacement.

- Citra, FL, USA

problem #204

Oct 302010


  • 101,000 miles


The contact owns a 1997 Ford F150 XLT. The vehicle was parked for over 18 hours and caught on fire. The fire department extinguished the fire. The origin of the fire was unknown. The fire started under the hood of the vehicle and it was destroyed. No one was injured. The manufacturer was called and offered no assistance. The failure mileage was 101,000.

- Henderson, KY, USA

problem #203

Jun 102005

F-150 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
My 1997 Ford F-150 started to leak coolant into the cylinder. I decided to buy a brand new motor from Ford back in 2005 because repair the leaking gasket was not worth it. There is a group of people saying that Ford should have or indeed have recalled these motors and I never new about it. I was never informed when I took to a Ford dealership. I paid $2500 for a motor Ford should have paid as I am understanding from what I read online.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #202

May 292010


  • 67,000 miles
The contact owns a 1997 Ford F-150. He stated that while exiting a driveway at approximately 5 mph, there was a loud, unusual noise followed by the vehicle independently decelerating. The vehicle was driven to a local repair facility where the contact was informed that the spark plugs had detached from the vehicle and stripped the threads holding the spark plugs in place. In addition, the failure caused the spark plug wires to melt. The vehicle was repaired with a coil spark plug kit. Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer was contacted. The failure and current mileages were 67,000.

- Allentown, PA, USA

problem #201

Feb 032010


  • 270,000 miles


The contact owns a 1997 Ford F-150. While the contact was at work she was informed that the front end of her vehicle had caught on fire. The hood of the vehicle, interior, and both front end tires were burned and damaged beyond repair.the fire department was called to extinguish the fire and the vehicle has not been diagnosed by the dealership or the insurance company. There were no prior warnings and the current and failure mileages were 270000. The VIN number was unavailable.

- North Plains, OR, USA

problem #200

Jan 022010


  • 132,600 miles
I was driving my truck and heard a loud pop, as if a tire had blown or drive component broke. My truck began to run rough and shake after the noise and continued when I came to a stop very shortly after the sound. It also continued after I came to a stop and put my truck in park. Also, it increased in severity but lessened in time interval, of an obvious knock. I learned I had blown a spark plug out of my head, taking the threads in the head with it. The two options are to remove the head from the motor, which costs about what the truck is worth, or to fix it with the head on the motor and take chances that no metal shavings enter the cylinders. Both options require a heli-coil for the head. I had to heli-coil my head to replace the spark plug since there were no threads for the spark plug to attach to.

- Owasso, OK, USA

problem #199

Dec 292009


  • 158,264 miles
Sparkplug blowing out.

- New Underwood, SD, USA

problem #198

Nov 052009


  • 219,000 miles
The contact owns a 1997 Ford F150. The frontal head gaskets were leaking. Also he hears knocking in the engine caused by a defective connection rod. The vehicle was taken to the dealer. He was refused service because he purchased a vehicle from a different dealer. The manufacturer was notified and he was advised that there was a class action law suit for the failure. He was then advised to file a complaint with NHTSA. The failure mileage 219,000. The vehicle identification number was unavailable.

- Peachtree City, GA, USA

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

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