I wasn’t quite sure of what I wanted. It had to be a full-size truck, and four-wheel drive. The 07-up GM trucks that we had at work I did not like at all. They had the cheapest interiors I had ever seen in a recent truck, even on the LT model we had for a shop runner. The door handle placement on them – under my thigh – was awkward to reach and was a known item to break off. It seemed like GM was punishing the customer for buying a cheaper truck. So what did that leave?
The first one was a Hemi-equipped Dodge SLT. Much nicer than the GM trucks I had tried, it was a nice looking truck. The engine sounded good, and had a lot of power. I had it checked over, and it was starting to rust on the seams underneath and under the box liner. The boots on the front axles were cracked, and the transmission mount was seperated. There was also a strange vibration at certain RPM’s. I ruled the Dodge out.
The salesman brought me a 2009 F-150 to look at. It had oversized tires, a lift, and a bad exhaust leak. I took it for a quick drive, and ruled it out. It felt like it was rode hard and put away wet.
They brought another F-150 from another lot. It sounded and drove much better than the other two. Being under 60,000 KM and 4 years old, I was able to put extra warranty on it too. It turned out to be a good idea.
I literally bought it and two days later we took it on vacation, towing our camper. Performance-wise, it worked very well. It was an XLT model, and as such was equipped with the 295 HP 4.6 litre 3-valve engine, and the excellent 6-speed transmission. The 4.6 wasn’t scared to rev to make its power, and the 6R80 transmission was always in the right gear for the job. It’d deliver 22 MPG on the highway, and 19 MPG mixed driving back and forth to work. Towing, it was usually around 15 MPG. It seemed to be able to do this by picking a gear and locking the torque converter. I wasn’t aggressive in my driving, which probably helped.
The interior of the truck endeared me to it as well. Unlike the GM trucks I’d been in, the Ford was trimmed in shades of brown, beige, and silver. It also had cruise, air conditioning, trip computer, and outside thermometer. The seats were comfortable, the cab was airy, and the truck was quiet and tight. Outside, the truck had aluminum rims, running boards, and I added a trifold tonneau cover. It was great until I hauled a snowblower for a co-worker without tying it back. The wind caught it, and over the chute of the blower it went. Darn.
The controls and gauges were well laid out in the truck, too. Having a nice ice-blue backlighting was easy on the eyes at night, and they all felt good. Nothing felt cheap or cheesy, either. I’ve been in some Hyundais with the blue backlighting, and found it to be overly harsh. This one was pretty good – a big improvement from the green used by older Fords. All the switches except the four-wheel drive switch was illuminated. Something that suprised me was that if the window lockout switch was pressed, the illumination would go out for them as well.
We made many trips around the Maritimes with the truck hauling the camper. It gave no trouble. We were to PEI, New Brunswick, and the Mainland. We also travelled one year while the exchange rate was good to Bangor. With the truck’s 36 gallon tank, you could go a long distance without having to refuel it. Unfortunately, when gas was expensive, it meant a $150 fillup from empty.
As far as trouble goes, it had some. On one of the oil changes, the service advisor noticed that one of the exhaust manifolds was leaking. Thankfully, it’d be covered under the warranty I bought. I don’t know if the Modular V8’s were known for this elsewhere, but the salty wet environment played hell on the manifolds in these. The tiny little 5/16 studs and nuts would rust and come off, and the manifolds would start leaking and warp. The next service, they did the other side. I think they billed the warranty over $900 per side to do the work.
The transmission developed a bad leak – the passthrough electrical connector’s seal failed, and when parked on an incline, it would leak out. Another warranty repair covered. It also developed a weird noise while driving. Another trip to the dealer, the locking hub for the 4WD had failed on one side, allowing one shaft to spin. The second one failed shortly after.
Once out of warranty, it had two more locking hubs fail, and one of the fuel injectors also failed. It had swollen up and split, and failed electrically. The brakes gave some trouble as well. All of the calipers started sticking in quick succession when the truck was 8 years old.I replaced those with some remanufactured calipers, and all was well there. However, the body of the truck was starting to show its age. Despite my having it sprayed with Rust Check, the rocker panels had rotted out.
After cleaning it up, and putting rust treatment on it, I welded in a new set of panels. That would have been OK but a few months later, the box was starting to bubble around the wheel wells. Additionally, the exhaust manifolds had started ticking again. I didn’t feel like repairing the exhaust – as the manifolds are located behind the frame on these, meaning access is tight. Dealing with the body rot was no more palatable. So, this past January (2018) I decided to trade it in. Having parked our new camper full-time at a campground, I no longer needed a truck. I figured I’d get something smaller. It was the longest I’d owned a non-classic car – 4 and a half years. Did I pick the best truck? I think I did – the bodies on GM and Dodge trucks seem to be just as bad as the Ford, or possibly worse.
Next to come – a convertible for my wife, a cheap beater, and a cheap classic for me.