The currently available F-150 is the 13th generation of Ford’s most popular pickup, though this iteration has been far from unlucky for Ford’s sales figures. Due largely to continual improvements and the addition of new features and technologies driven by customer feedback, the F-150 remains one of the best-selling vehicles in Canada.
Used copies from this generation are available in two- and four-wheel drive, with a variety of six- and eight-cylinder engines, and a variety of body styles and trim packages to suit a wide range of needs and budgets.
F-150 even offered a late-introduction diesel engine, as well as a racy Raptor version, though we’ll cover those specific machines with their own features another time.
Regardless, whether you’re looking for a basic work truck or a luxurious towing rig – or something in between – the F-150 has you covered. Key feature offerings include advanced safety, parking and towing assistance, Ford’s Sync infotainment system with full smartphone compatibility, premium stereo systems, remote start, climate-controlled seating, navigation, memory seating, motorized running boards, and plenty more.
In the used market, many F-150 models will offer one of two EcoBoost V6 engines (2.7L and 3.5L), a non-turbocharged 5.0L V8, or a more basic 3.5L V6.
Model year 2018 included a refresh and update with a slightly tweaked engine lineup and wide deployment of a 10-speed automatic transmission intended to turn in better fuel economy and performance.
What Owners Like
Many owners say the F-150’s wide selection of handy and high-tech features plays a major role in its appeal, with the advanced parking and trailer maneuvering systems being common favourites. A commanding driving position, very spacious cabin, and relatively easy-to-use control layouts round out the package. Performance typically rates highly as well, especially from the EcoBoost engines.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners wish for a more precise and direct feel from the brakes and (especially) steering while cruising the highway at higher speeds. Other gripes include a long initial learning curve to the Ford Sync system, and a sometimes-too-busy ride from certain models, especially with the FX-4 off-road-oriented suspension.
Pro Tip: Take a Closer Look
Below, we’ll be providing some tips and advice to bear in mind when test-driving a used F-150 from this generation – but remember two things: First, this is not a comprehensive list of all problems and issues reported by the ownership community, but rather a means of making readers aware of the importance of careful shopping; and second, taking precedence over all tips listed below, a full pre-purchase inspection (PPI) of the vehicle you’re considering, performed by a Ford technician, is the best way to protect yourself against buying a vehicle that’s concealing an issue that could cost you money.
Pro Tip: Check for Water Damage
On any used vehicle with a sunroof, panoramic sunroof, or sliding rear window (including this generation of F-150), a full inspection of cabin carpeting is advised to reveal potentially problematic water leaks.
Remove all items from the vehicle cabin floor, including floor mats or liners. Then, press your hand (or a rag) into all accessible carpeting, to the very edges and corners of the cabin, inspecting for signs of dampness or leakage. If detected, the likely culprit is a sealing or drainage issue with the sunroof, rear window, or both.
As water leaks like this tend to be frustrating and pricey to remedy, moving to another unit may be best.
The Test Drive
Run the F-150’s climate control system through all temperature ranges and vent settings, confirming activation of all possible fan speeds in the process. If the climate control system has difficulty reaching or sustaining the temperature you select, from the vent you select, have the system inspected by a qualified technician before you buy to avoid headaches down the line.
Further, be sure to confirm satisfactory operation of the heated and ventilated seats, if equipped. Some owners have reported sporadic or wonky operation of the seat-cooling function, which may cut out after just a minute or two of use. You’ll want to know about rare-but-noteworthy problems like this before you buy. Here’s some more info.
Some owners of F-150 models from this generation have reported issues with the refinement and operation of the transmissions. Many have not.
Earlier models from this generation are most suspect, though like a multitude of modern vehicles, most transmission-related issues around hard shifting, vibrations, clumsiness, or sluggishness can be remedied with a simple software update. Still, if you notice anything suspicious about the transmission during your test drive, have the unit checked professionally just to be safe.
Locks and Latches
Confirm proper operation of the locks, latches, and remote keyfob functionality, working systematically through each of the doors on the F-150 you’re considering. Be sure each door can be locked and unlocked via the key, keyfob, and interior switches. Check that each door can be easily opened from both the interior and exterior door handles, too.
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Some owners say that the F-150’s door latches and locks may freeze up in cold weather and, in some cases, can become damaged more easily than expected if forced when frozen. If you detect trouble, call it into your pricing negotiations. Asking an attending dealer technician to reference Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) #16-0155 may make for a faster diagnosis and repair.
More info here.
Give This a Glance
If you’re inclined, take a read of this thread in a popular online F-150 owner’s forum. It compiles numerous TSBs, which are instructions provided to technicians to help diagnose and repair certain problems or issues commonly reported by owners. As a used vehicle shopping tool, a scan of this listing of TSBs can help reveal numerous additional issues to be on the lookout for. Note that TSBs often apply to specific batches of vehicles produced during specific time periods.
The F-150’s Most Reliable Engine
The most reliable engines in the F-150 will tend to be the ones that have been maintained to the letter as outlined in the owner’s manual, and the ones that have been regularly and continuously dealer-serviced. Regular dealer servicing typically ensures that all inspections, maintenance, recalls, and software updates are current, minimizing the likelihood of longer-term issues.
As with all vehicles, a small portion of owners have reported specific problems with each available engine.
As this relates to the F-150, we’d advise owners and test-drivers to regularly monitor oil levels, promptly diagnose any Check Engine lights or warning messages, and to avoid selecting an EcoBoost-powered model that’s ever run a chip or tuner to increase the horsepower output.
Like most vehicles, the F-150 was subject to a list of recalls, which intend to address latent safety defects on some models. In the case of the F-150, a whopping 25 recalls are listed by Transport Canada.
Here’s the full list.
Dealers perform recall work free of charge and, with your truck’s VIN, can check a database to see which, if any, recalls are outstanding for the unit you buy. Since recalls are intended to address safety-related problems, have any outstanding recall work completed as soon as possible.
The latest F-150 generation offered plenty of selection and innovative feature content that’s earned it a place in many Canadian driveways. Shop carefully and patiently for a well-maintained model for best results.