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1997 Ford F-250 Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1997 Ford F-250 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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10
Known Problems

The 4.6L and 5.4L Modular V8 engine used in the 1997-1999 F-250 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-250 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-250 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.

A ticking noise may develop from the engine due to a warped exhaust manifold. Damaged exhaust manifolds will require replacement to correct this issue.

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.

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.

Fuel injector seals can start to leak and allow oil into the fuel system. Symptoms of this might be rough engine idle or hard starting. Fuel that appears gray or black in the filter bowl when changing the fuel filter is another sign.
Using the correct oil for this engine is critical. Improper engine oil can foam in the high pressure system and not develop enough pressure for operation. Symptoms of this can be hard starting, long cranking time before start, rough engine idle, and a lack of power. Another sign is tiny bubbles in the oil on the engine oil dipstick after the engine is shut off. The additives in the correct oil that protect against foaming can still break down, so changing the oil at the correct intervals is important.
The gears for the timing chain can strip, causing the engine to crank but not start.

Catalytic converters can go bad and potentially plug the exhaust, hurting engine efficiency and performance.