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1997 Ford F-150 Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1997 Ford F-150 based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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13
Known Problems

The Ford F-150 has known issues with the V8 engine ejecting spark plugs. This will make a tapping or knocking noise, plus the engine will begin to misfire at all speeds. The check engine light will also illuminate.

The threads on the cylinder head are too short and soft, allowing pressure from combustion to overwhelm and destroy the threads. 

When the spark plug ejects, the cylinder head becomes damaged, necessitating repair of the spark plug port threads, or replacement of the cylinder head and cylinder head gasket. 

Ford has recommended a method of repair for the cylinder head that prevents the spark plug from ejecting under future use. Replacement of all spark plugs is not necessary, but an updated spark plug design can help prevent this from happening in the future. 

There is a technical service bulletin for the V8 engine.

The engine oil pan gasket can develop a leak. Leaking oil may accumulate on the exhaust system resulting in a burning smell. Replacing the gasket should correct this leak.

An oil leak may develop from the the right side head gasket.  Oil from this type of leak will commonly drip onto the starter. Our technician tell us an updated head gasket is available to correct this concern.

An illuminated Check Engine Light could indicate that one or more of the ignition coils has failed due to excessive spark plug gap. To fix this problem, the ignition coils that have failed, the spark plugs, and all coil boots should be replaced.

The 1997-2014 Ford F-150 is known for displaying the normal symptoms of a coolant leak, including overheating, especially when the vehicle is idling, the strong smell of coolant from the engine, and illumination of the low engine coolant warning light

This leak is difficult to locate as it is buried underneath the intake manifold, and only begins to leak coolant onto the ground in advanced stages of disrepair. This leak springs from the heater tube, which allows coolant to flow between the water pump and HVAC heater core

When the connection for this tube begins to leak, the coolant burns on the hot engine, and produces a sweet smell that is unmistakably engine coolant. 

The remedy can be complicated, and will necessitate removal of the intake manifold, heater tube, and possibly the water pump. After removal of these items, the connector may be replaced, or a set of o-rings, depending on the year of the vehicle. Most vehicles, model 2002 and later, will have o-rings, and the water pump will not need to be removed. 

The 1996-2001 Ford F-150 with the 100% plastic intake manifold is known for engine overheating, even with normal use, and a coolant leak from the front of the manifold. This will often trigger the check engine light and low engine coolant warning light.

The engine coolant leak is from a factory defect, which causes cracking on the front coolant passage of the intake manifold. In a very short time, this leak will lead to engine overheating issues, especially while the vehicle is idling.   

Between 1999 and 2001, Ford released an updated version of this engine, known as the 'PI' version with a metal coolant passage on the front of the intake manifold to prevent future issues.

There is no factory authorized repair for the intake manifold, and replacement is required to correct the engine coolant leak and overheating issues.

 

The Ford F-150 is known for intermittent rough idling, which may be accompanied by illumination of the check engine light, and poor fuel mileage.

This may be caused by the EGR sensor sticking, causing the EGR valve to stay slightly open, and diagnostic testing must be conducted.

The EGR valve and sensor must be replaced together to correct this concern.

 

The Ford F-150 is known for idling roughly, with a slight whistling noise from the engine compartment. After a short time, this may result in poor fuel mileage, and illumination of the check engine light

This is caused by a cracked positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve hose, which allows a small vacuum leak, and improper evacuation of engine crankcase pressure.

Correction is simple, and requires replacement of the PCV hose. An updated part may be available. 

Drivers may notice the engine idling roughly, hesitation to accelerate, and even engine stalling on the Ford F-150 with the Triton V8.

The mass air flow sensor (MAF) is prone to fail, and commonly is diagnosed as the faulty component when these issues arise.

When the Check Engine Light illuminates, and the diagnosis is a failed MAF, it will require replacement to correct the issue. 

Ensuring the air filter is installed properly, and sealed to the air filter housing, can help prevent MAF sensor issues. 

Intermittent rough idle may be caused by the EGR sensor sticking, causing the EGR valve to stay slightly open. The valve and sensor must be replaced together to correct this concern.

If a noise from the rear end is heard when going around turns or after driving at highway speed for an extended period, there is an updated differential clutch kit available.

The EGR orifices in the intake manifold may plug with sludge. If the truck has high mileage, this may cause engine misfire when first accelerating because too much EGR gas is directed into the cylinders of the unplugged orifices. This makes the mixture lean, which causes a gradual stumble that increases in severity until repaired.