Ford F-150/F-250: Buying Guide

Buying a new or used Ford F-150 or F-250 Super Duty can be overwhelming. What do you need to look for? How to look for it? What do you need to do to get the best deal? The answers are here.

By Pizzaman711 - October 14, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014), and the F-250, F-350 Super Duty (2005-2013).

Buying a new F-150 or F-250 Super Duty can be a very exciting experience. It also can be a headache if you what you buy isn’t all you thought it was. Knowing what to look for can be the difference between buying the perfect truck and buying something that’s in poor shape and will end up costing you way more than it's worth. Of course finding problems isn’t always a bad thing if you know how to fix them, because then you can use that problem as a haggling point to get the price down even lower. The main things you’ll want to check are the engine, transmission, mileage, amount of rust, and the general overall condition.


Not only is this one of the most important components on your truck, but also one of the most expensive to replace. You’ll want to both inspect the running condition and its overall condition.

  • Pop the hood and look for any leaks. Leaks can be signs of problems.
  • A dirty motor can be a sign that the owner didn’t care to maintain it.Look at the cleanliness of the engine bay.
  • Check all fluid levels. Low fluid can be a sign the engine wasn’t maintained.
  • Start the motor and listen to it. Any loud clanging, banging, or ticking noises are signs that the motor is damaged.
  • Let it idle. A very low or very high idle when warm is a bad sign.
  • Drive it. Take notice of any misses or stumbling during acceleration. Don’t be afraid to take it on the interstate.


This ranks up there with the engine in both importance and in cost to replace or fix. This one is a little bit harder to dig into than the engine, so taking the truck out for a test spin would be advisable.

  • Crawl under the truck and inspect for any leaks.
  • Start the truck and pull the transmission dipstick to check the fluid and the fluid level.
  • Also inspect the fluid. Brown or burnt fluid is a sign it needs to be serviced.
  • Pink or foamy fluid is a sign the whole transmission needs to be rebuilt.
  • Drive the truck and test it for all scenarios, interstate, city, etc. Don’t be afraid to accelerate hard.
  • Any loud popping, clunks, etc., are a sign the transmission is bad.
  • Transmission missing gears or having trouble changing gears could be a very bad sign.


Low mileage can be both a bad and a good sign. It’s always best to ask why the mileage is so low. It could mean it was just used as a weekend vehicle or it could mean it had problems so it never got driven. Likewise, high mileage can be either bad or good. However, unless you’re just looking for a beater work truck, it is recommended that you just walk away from anything over 200k miles. These trucks usually last around 200-250k miles, but it’s still a risk. A good estimate for the average driver is around 13k miles a year, so do the math based on the year and you can get a good idea of how much it was driven.


You'll definitely want to visually inspect for damage both on the inside and the outside. Small dings and dents aren't a huge deal, but still make sure the price is adjusted accordingly. If there's bigger damage, you need to be a little more cautious as big collisions could lead to damage on the suspension components or even the frame. An easy way to see if the frame is straight is measure the distance between the frame rails at multiple points, it should always be the same.


Rust is inevitable, but too much rust can be an unfixable issue unless you are willing to replace everything. You’ll want to bring a pencil with you, and wherever you see rust, lightly push on it using the eraser end. If it feels like it has any give to it, chances are that piece is shot and it’ll need to be cut out and replaced or the whole piece replaced. You’ll want to check over the whole body and the frame, paying special attention to the wheel wells and rocker panels along the doors.

Surface rust on the other hand isn’t always necessarily bad. With permission, ask if you can scrape some rust off. If you can hit bare metal underneath, there’s a good chance all it needs is to have the rust buffed off and have an anti-rust coating like POR-15 applied. One place you’ll definitely see rust coated in the surface is the exhaust system. As mentioned earlier, check for holes with your pencil eraser.

Pro Tip

If you decide to buy the vehicle with parts rusted through, you’ll want to get it fixed immediately. Rust spreads like cancer, and won’t stop until it eats through all the metal it can touch.

Overall Condition

The overall condition of the truck you are considering buying can also give you a better idea of how it has been treated.

  • Check the interior for rips and stains.
  • Check the trim pieces to see if they’re all intact.
  • Check all window seals to make sure nothing is dry rotted.
  • Operate all the controls such as power windows, door locks, windshield wipers, etc.
  • Make sure all doors open and close properly.
  • Check the alignment while driving.
  • Check all the lights.

Remember use your best judgment on everything and take your time. An impulse purchase can leave you with something you really didn’t want just because you thought it was a good deal. Never be afraid to bring a mechanic along either. If the seller objects, chances are there’s something drastically wrong with the truck. That's when you know it's time to walk away.

Common Problems with the Ford Trucks

Below is a table summarizing some of the common problems associated with the Ford trucks from 2004 to 2014.

  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • Loss of power while accelerating
  • N/A
  • Engine almost stalls when accelerating
  • Poor MPG
  • Transmission shifts hard
  • Rear window shattered (caused by defroster)
  • Rear window leak
  • Hard down shifting from 2 to 1
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • Cam phasers failure
  • Premature brake problems
  • Engine knocking
  • Spark plug failure/ejection
  • Transmission fault Planetary gear failure
  • N/A
  • Spark plug breaks off in head
  • Blown transmission
  • Shakes/Loss of control
  • Hyper shaking
  • Power window regulator failure
  • Window falls into door
  • Engine knocking
  • Spark plug breaks when changing
  • Transmission failure
  • Rear differential failure
  • N/A
  • Window doesn't roll up
  • Spark plug breaks off in head
  • Engine knocking
  • Transmission failure
  • No overdrive
  • N/A

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