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1997 - 2003 F150 1997-2003 F150, 1997-1999 F250LD, 7700 & 2004 F150 Heritage SPONSORED BY:

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Old 07-22-2014, 08:11 PM
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Question Teach me/sell me on one of these trucks

Hi guys. I infrequently hang around the classic section of this forum but am considering buying a more modern truck for towing duty. In browsing trucks on Ebay and Craigslist I was surprised to find I can get one of these trucks for as little as $2500-$3000. Granted, that's with high miles, but miles don't really scare me if the truck has been cared for. I need to tow a 2500# car on a steel dual axle trailer, plus haul extras like tools, extra wheels, etc to the track on weekends. What I have been using for the past several years has been this:

Click the image to open in full size.

It's quite the hit in the paddock, and it's done surprisingly well (352, 3 speed, disc brake conversion) but advancing age on both truck and driver are starting to take their toll. Things I once tolerated because it was fun having the old rig for occasional duties such as this have started to really wear me down as I race towards the age of 50. Like, power steering would be nice.

If I go with a 'new' truck, it will simply be a tool. It will sit outside, and cosmetics won't be important. Reliability is a must, and the high mileage thread indicates that these trucks can be dependable with a modicum of care. Though I vastly prefer the looks of a SuperDuty, the added expense for the use it will see can't be justified. So, an F150 will have to do.

What I want would be a V8 (4.6 or 5.4? No clue), auto trans, a/c and a cloth interior. That's pretty much it for requirements. I don't need or really want 4x4, but they seem to be very plentiful, priced about the same (odd) and resale should I ever want to get rid of it would be better. Not sure if the 4x4 adds anything in the "stronger/heavy duty" category? I'll shop for an extended cab, but wouldn't pass up a standard since I'm used to that. Don't want a double cab; bed is too short.

What I'm asking the collective here is the probable trouble areas on trucks with 150,000 or more miles on them. Engine, trans, suspension, emissions, etc. I know about the spark plug ejection feature and have heard rumors of bad exhaust manifolds, radiators and trans seals. I've heard of issues with fuel/brake lines rusting out. I won't buy a rusty truck, and am aware of the rockers and door bottoms turning to dust. My '65 has hardly any rust on it; I'm not about to accept any on whatever it is I get. Dents, peeling clearcoat...that I can live with.

Were there different ratios for the rear available as options? Is there a handy chart somewhere that spells out all the drivetrain combinations?

I know very little about these trucks but FORD is the only choice for me, so teach me all I need to know before I start shopping. And no, I'm not selling the '65...having another truck would allow me to actually work on restoring the thing!
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:06 PM
MJE426 MJE426 is offline
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Well I've been told I could sell toilet paper to Mr. Whipple, so here goes. Since your all ready a Ford guy we are half way there. Not knowing how deep your pockets are and you posted $2,500-$3,000, I'll talk about that range. I'm in Ohio, so you being in PA we deal with the same rust problem. that being said, about a year and a half ago I bought a 99 F-250LD 4x4 with a 5.4 auto with 113k on the clock, for $3,000. This is a Work Truck model, no A/C, no power anything and a butt load of rust. Similar model year up scale trucks where 1-2 grand more expensive. Mechanically, I have replaced the fuel tank(rust out), pump and filter, alternator, air filter, coils and plugs. I just got an estimate on paint and body work, $2500 with me replacing the bed and the driver door(shot due to rust), he is going to fix the rockers and cab corners and repaint it. Unless you can find an exceptionally well cared for 97-04, northern trucks are rusty underneath. My truck was originally a PA truck.

For towing, my personal preference would be a F-150 with a tow package or light duty F-250(think F-150 with a heavy duty suspension) with the 5.4 and the 4R100 automatic. If you can find a WT and you don't mind cranking your own windows down, you can save a good amount of money.

The good part about my truck is it has oil, heavy duty trans and power steering coolers, 130amp alternator, trailer hitch, 12 inch disc brakes front and 12 inch drums in the back, skid plates. Oh and no carpet, rubber floor mat.

I hope this information helps.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:39 PM
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Based on an interpretation of you post, I would guess your total trailer weight would be in the 4800 + lbs range.
Then add parts and tools plus in the bed would run the weight something above 5000 lbs.
Take the average gross combined weight rating of these F150s in the 11,500 lb range.
If you take an average truck weight of 5000 lbs + 5000 lbs that puts right in the max GCWR range of most F150s.
I would select the 5.4L motor and a 3.73 rear to be the most effective.
The 5.4 is a 330 displacement just under the 352 displacement you now have.
To go larger, look for a V10 in an F250.
They are out there usually at a good price due to lack of a rush on them.
You would be much happier with the pulling power of the V10 and the higher GCWR as long as fuel mileage is a secondary consideration.
I would take the time to look for the V10 machine if your not in a hurry.
Good luck.
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Old 07-24-2014, 02:38 PM
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I have a '01 and picked it up in '03 with 31K miles on it. Currently it has 154K on it and I have had to replace the upper and lower ball joints twice, inner and outer tie rod ends, gas tank straps (handled under the recall) & tank due to holes where the old straps were. It has the 5.4 and the only motor work has been to replace the spark plugs, filters, oil etc. along with 3 or 4 COP's (coil on plugs) due to a skip in the motor. Have also replaced the front pads and rotors a few times along with the rear ones.
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Old 07-24-2014, 05:13 PM
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V10...I think I see one for every thousand or so 5.4's I come across. I've seen more V10 Econolines than pickups!

Rust is a concern, and I try to buy vehicles from Maryland or beyond for this reason. F150's here tend to be either/or: they are either horribly rotted or have virtually none. I'm trying to get hold of a guy who has a pretty clean one with rockers that are starting to go bad; not afraid to replace those if that's all it is. Not shopping for doors, beds or tailgates though.

Do these come with external trans coolers or are they only internal to the radiator?

Is a 4x4 fitted with heavier duty underpinnings than a 4x2? Seems to me the springs/shocks/axles would be heavier...

I'm told 2000--> is better for the plug issue. Also 99 and newer extended cabs have four doors vs three.
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Old 07-24-2014, 11:37 PM
MJE426 MJE426 is offline
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The plug issue was not addressed by Ford till 2004 when they went to an 8 thread casting instead of 5. I have had 4 and still have 3 Fords with either the 4.6 or 5.4, changed plugs in all of them and never had a problem. As long as you do not try to change them when they are hot and don't over torque them on the install you will be fine.
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Old 07-25-2014, 05:19 PM
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Looked at a '99 today...good grief, these trucks rust as bad as my '65! No rocker panels left, bed corners going, brown seams underneath...yuck. $1900 was too much.
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Old 07-25-2014, 10:17 PM
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i own a rust free 1997 f150. I live in montana though. anyway i have never had a spark plug issue. the motor i have is a 4.6l. I pull a 20 foot camper with a full fresh water tank about 50 gallons, all kinds of camping gear in it, and a fourwheeler in the back of my truck. i did put coil over shocks in the rear though. anyway it tows just fine (just remember to turn the OD off). it does struggle quite a bit up hill though but it makes it. for a racecar and some tools you should be just fine. Now that being said i would much rather have a f250 with a v10 anyday over what i got.
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddavidv View Post
Do these come with external trans coolers or are they only internal to the radiator?

Is a 4x4 fitted with heavier duty underpinnings than a 4x2? Seems to me the springs/shocks/axles would be heavier...
There are no external coolers or kits that i've seen, so everything is routed through the radiator. There is no change between a 4x2 and a 4x4 besides a skid plate on the gas tank and the both come with either 3 or 4 leafs in the rear. I speak from owning a 98 f150 4x4 shortbed. I'd say their decent on gas and towing as I run a trailer from Syracuse to Fulton every week.
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddavidv View Post
Do these come with external trans coolers or are they only internal to the radiator?
My 1998 has a trans cooler approximately 12"x12" besides the other rad. Then again it's a 250LD... ?

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Old 07-26-2014, 06:52 AM
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I'm an insurance estimator so I looked up some parts in my database. There are 3 different trans coolers listed for these trucks, depending on application. Perhaps they were optional?

Hoping to look at a '99 today that looks rust-free in the photos, but you know how that goes.
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Old 07-26-2014, 12:42 PM
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They must've offered em on the heaver duty trucks because my 98 f150 4wd doesn't have one, just the skid plate under the gas tank. Then again the front's also IFS and the transfer case is tucked behind a wider transmission mount. Sticker says Canada, so not sure if there's a difference between units made there and here in the states.
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Old 07-26-2014, 10:10 PM
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The auto trans aux cooler is part of the Factory Tow package.

For my 1997 (I ordered it) the Factory Tow package consisted of:
The trans aux cooler.
Class III/IV receiver.
3.55 rear end.
7-pin trailer receptacle out back and under-hood tow relay box.
7-pin to 4-pin plug-in adapter.
Wire harness to plug in under dash to the user-supplied electric trailer brake box.
I think heavy duty rear shocks, not sure anymore.
Evidently a block-mounted engine oil cooler, as those without Factory Tow don't seem to have it.
Maybe more, but that's what I remember without digging out the order info.
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Old 07-27-2014, 12:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torky2 View Post
The auto trans aux cooler is part of the Factory Tow package.

For my 1997 (I ordered it) the Factory Tow package consisted of:
The trans aux cooler.
Class III/IV receiver.
3.55 rear end.
7-pin trailer receptacle out back and under-hood tow relay box.
7-pin to 4-pin plug-in adapter.
Wire harness to plug in under dash to the user-supplied electric trailer brake box.
I think heavy duty rear shocks, not sure anymore.
Evidently a block-mounted engine oil cooler, as those without Factory Tow don't seem to have it.
Maybe more, but that's what I remember without digging out the order info.
Not meaning to hijack but doesn't the XLT package come with the towing package already? I have everything but the brake controller and the trans cooler.
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Old 07-27-2014, 07:19 AM
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Candidate #2 $3000 and also needed rocker panels. Geez, these trucks are rust bombs! Did Ford buy their steel from Chrysler? I think the prior generation was more rust-resistant...
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Old 07-27-2014, 07:19 AM
 
 
 
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