5 Most-Common Problems With Ford F-350 & F-450 (Explained)

The Ford F-350 & F-450 are popular for their hauling capabilities. This makes them the go-to for heavy duty jobs.

Still, every vehicle under the sun has problems peculiar to it. Let’s explain the frequent ones for the F-350 and F-450.

1. The Tachometer Can Fail Because of a Faulty Sensor

The tachometer measures the velocity of the engine shaft in revolutions-per-minute (rpm). This makes it an important component for determining the engine’s overall output.

However, in certain F-350s, the tachometer may fail. On average, the problem occurs at about 166,000 miles and mostly affects the 1990 to 1994 model years.

Other than the obvious monetary cost of dealing with a failed tachometer, it breeds other problems.

A faulty tachometer cannot gauge the speed of the engine shaft. This can cause damage to the engine itself, since some drivers rely only on the tachometer reading to change gears. Hence, in manual trannies, faulty tachometers can be bad for the engines.

Also, drivers won’t be able to tell when the engine’s rpm is too high and needs to be checked.

Precautions and Solutions

If the needle moves erratically, it’s usually a sign something is wrong. As soon as you experience this anomaly, call your mechanic and avoid driving for the time being.

It’s a good idea to monitor your tachometer reading when running the car engine. Most times, tachometers in their early stages of malfunctioning would exhibit symptoms. Check your car manual for ways to monitor such readings.

If you notice slight irregularities in readings over time, you have the advantage of fixing the problem early. You may not have to replace any parts. This helps tackle the problem before it escalates to a jumping needle.

A major indicator of a faulty tachometer sensor is an unstable tachometer needle.

Sometimes, drivers complained of the needle going down to zero. This then caused their automatic trannies to shift irregularly. Other times, it simply prevented it from shifting smoothly.

A hard shifting transmission is a further confirmation that the tachometer is faulty. Whatever the case, seek professional help early. Hopefully, it’ll only be a wiring problem and an electrician will easily fix it for you.

2. The Catalytic Converter Can Go Bad

The catalytic converter can malfunction as early as 16,000 miles. However, the average mileage of occurrence, according to RepairPal, is 85,200 miles. It functions as an emission control device that reduces pollution to the environment.

However, a bad catalytic converter is harmful not only to the environment but also to the car’s engine. It causes the engine to be less efficient and reduces its output.

Some drivers even reported that their cars become difficult to restart when they turn their engines off. The problem is more common in the 1990 to 1997 model years.

Other than the environmental repercussion and engine degradation, there’s more. All cars are required to have proper functioning catalytic converters. This means you’re required to replace them and not remove them.

Precautions and Solutions

The catalytic converter is bound to become clogged, eventually. We can liken this to how a rag is bound to get dirty after a while of usage.

However, cleaning the catalytic converter is not as easy as simply washing a dirty rag. In fact, some automakers would even void your warranty if you clean the catalytic converter yourself, according to YourMechanic.

They advise that most of the time, it’s better to replace it instead. This is because by the time a problem develops, it is usually already too late. Except, of course, you inspect your catalytic converter regularly.

Hence, the first precaution is to inspect it regularly. This will enable you to clean it before it becomes too clogged for use or cleaning.

Excessive oil consumption because of damaged fuel injectors or damaged piston rings may be a sign.

This usually implies that your catalytic converter is too far gone. Sometimes, the problem may originate from the catalytic converter itself and it’d have damaged parts. Such damaged parts are hardly, if ever, repaired.

The only available option will be to replace it. The average cost of replacing the catalytic converter ranges from $3,362 to $3,403. Such costs can make some drivers opt for new trucks instead.

3. The Radiator May Leak

This is carcomplaints.com’s most reported problem for the F-450, where it also got an 8.0 severity rating. Sometimes, the plastic leaks and causes the engine to overheat.

The radiator is part of the engine’s cooling system, so it contains the coolant. The engine overheats because the coolant would eventually leak out completely.

This problem may not seem as severe as an oil or gas leak. However, it has the potential to cause just as much damage to the engine as any other type of leak. Severe cases could cause a total engine failure.

It can also cause the spark plugs to blow out.

The leakage typically occurred before the 100,000 mile mark and cost hundreds of dollars to repair.

Precautions and Solutions

The best precaution is to always be on the lookout. An overheating car might be a sign of a leaking radiator.

  • Ensure your F-450 has an average temperature constantly. Do not always blame it on the weather.
  • Regularly check for spilled coolant in your garage or wherever you park your car.
  • If your coolant level seems to go down faster than you consider usual, it might be because of a leak.
  • Pay attention to your coolant light.

If you have a radiator leak, you may still get it repaired. However, severe conditions would have you spending more money to replace it instead.

Related: 5 Ford Models With Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

4. The Engine May Fail

As expected, engine failure is the worst problem reported on carcomplaints.com.

There are many reasons the F-350’s engine may fail. One of these reasons is a leaking radiator.

Drivers complained of the engine failing before 100,000 miles. It’s possible that a leaking radiator, if not handled, quickly leads to a failed engine.

Others stressed that despite regular maintenance, the engine failed regardless. Still, that’s no excuse to neglect engine maintenance. We suggest you take care of your engine the best possible way you can.

Precautions and Solutions

While it is not likely you’ll use the wrong type of fuel, we feel the need to point it out. Ensure you’re using the right fuel for your truck.

F-350 and F-450 trucks have different engines with different specifications. That’s why some use gasoline engines while others use diesel engines.

Also, never ignore oil leaks, coolant leaks or your check engine light.

There are multiple reasons the check engine light would come on. Once it does, your mechanic will have to diagnose your car if you can’t find anything wrong with it yourself. The diagnoses can cost anything from $88 to $111.

Your vehicle manual also comes with routine maintenance for your car. This maintenance is healthy for your engine because it also includes intervals at which you should change your engine oil.

If your engine still fails, you’ll spend thousands of dollars to repair or replace its major parts. Again, some drivers usually feel replacing an engine does not differ from buying a new car. Such drivers don’t think it’s worth it.

5. Ejecting Spark Plugs

This problem is notorious for causing the truck’s engine to misfire while driving. The spark plugs forcefully eject from the cylinder heads, possibly damaging them sometimes.

This means ejected spark plugs cause damage not only to themselves. This problem can occur on average within about 150,000 miles.

Solutions

The spark plugs may have to be replaced if there is significant damage. Replacing the spark plugs cost over $200.

The cylinder heads would also need to be worked on.

Related: Ford F-350/F-450 & Keys: 12 Questions Answered

Other Common Problems with the Ford F-350 & F-450

Here are other commonly reported problems of the F-350 and F-450:

  • Premature brake wear
  • Paint problems
  • Cracking exhaust manifolds
  • Oil leakage into fuel system
  • Failed fuel injection pump level sensor

The following problems are peculiar to diesel engines:

  • Diesel fuel tank degradation through delamination
  • Inconsistent Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) cleaning cycle
  • Engine cranks but doesn’t start

General Pros and Cons for Ford F-350 & F-450

Here are some of the pros and cons of the Ford F-350 and F-450:

Pros

  • Excellent towing capacity
  • Massive payload capacity
  • Multiple configurations to choose from
  • Great handling
  • Embedded four-wheel-drive system
  • Impressive safety technologies and remarkable luxury

Cons

  • The Tachometer may fail because of a faulty Sensor
  • Catalytic converter may get damaged
  • Leaky radiator
  • Total or partial engine failure
  • Blown out spark plugs

What Do the Reviews Say?

There’s no doubt the Ford F-350 and F-450 get accolades constantly for their tremendous off-road capabilities.

They’re known to “offer an incredible amount of horsepower and torque, especially with available diesel engines. Additionally, they’re packed with features and provide expansive cabin options.”

While these are all impressive, “they can be difficult to precisely control at high speeds. Additionally, lifted models aren’t the easiest to get into and out of for all passengers.”

[Source: Motorbiscuit.com]

Related: Ford F-350 & F-450 In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

What’s the Resale Value on the Ford F-350 & F-450?

For the F-350, the resale values for previous model years are given in the table below, according to Caredge.com.

Year Mileage Price ($)
2012 120,000 24,220
2014 96,000 27,331
2016 72,000 32,115
2017 60,000 37,462
2019 36,000 48,433

[Source: CarEdge.com]

However, Edmunds has a lower resale value for the F-350. Let’s use the 2019 Ford F-350 super duty truck as a case study. Their data suggests that the 2019 model has a 3 year resale value of $38,746 and a 5 year resale value of $32,468.

This means it’ll depreciate $21,538 in 5 years, which is about 39.8%.

Their 3 year resale value of $38,746 for the 2019 model differs from CarEdge’s $48,433.

CarEdge further says a Ford F-450 will depreciate 43% after 5 years. So, for the F-450, the resale values for different years are given below.

Year Mileage Price ($)
2012 120,000 42,426
2014 96,000 46,283
2016 72,000 47,758
2017 60,000 55,443
2019 36,000 68,566

They calculated the above appraisals based on an average yearly mileage of 12,000 miles.

Final Thoughts

The Ford F-350 has 373 reported complaints on carcomplaints.com while the F-450 has just 52. This may have little to do with the F-450’s reliability and more to do with the F-350’s popularity.

It is noteworthy that some problems are peculiar to certain model years and avoiding them is the best option. Some problems are more pronounced in the 1990s models. This makes sense since car brands constantly address common issues with their vehicles.

However, it’s best to take precautionary measures against all the listed problems irrespective of the model year you purchase.

Sources

Ford F-350 Problems | RepairPal

Ford | carcomplaints.com

How to Clean Your Catalytic Converter | YourMechanic

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