A great workhorse truck with reasonable comfort
Worn steering components (tie rods, drag link)
Worn IFS axle pivot bushings.
Brake calipers hung up.
Water pump failed.
Replaced 2 glow plugs.
RABS valve seized up.
Carrier bearing worn out.
Universal joints worn out.
Door striker bolt bushing broke off.
Windshield wipers not operating properly.
Front wheel bearing failed.
Drive shaft vibration (not centered)
Leaking windshield washer tank.
Rear brake line failed.
Leak in both fuel tanks.
Tailgate latch seized up.
Seat release cables broken.
Dashboard mounting brackets broken.
Plastic vacuum lines for heater controls deteriorated.
Camshaft sensor (tach sensor) failed.
Sway bar bushings (front and rear) worn.
OK, I listed a pretty good number of faults, but consider the mileage on this truck - 248,200 miles right now - and most trucks would have a fault list much longer than this. Many of these items are things that are replaced much sooner on other trucks.
What makes this truck a winner is the 7.3L Navistar IDI (InDirect Injection) diesel engine. This engine is NOT the Powerstroke (PS) that was installed in the latter half of the 1994 model year. This engine is fully mechanical and replacement parts are much cheaper - around $50 for a remanufactured fuel injector as opposed to $330 for a PS remanufactured injector. The engine makes 185 HP and about 340 ft. lbs. of torque, which can be improved substantially with the addition of an aftermarket turbocharger. A larger exhaust system and aftermarket K&N air filter also improves power, although less substantially. The factory compression ratio is between 21 and 22:1, which is higher than the PS (17.5:1). The PS is substantially different than the IDI, therefore most engine components are not interchangeable (if any).
The E4OD is an excellent transmission, but is the major weak point of the drive train. Well maintained, they will go for many miles, but they are unforgiving of poor maintenance or abuse. Other major brands however, especially Dodge, have even greater transmission failures. Towing demands an aftermarket transmission cooler, and will certainly require a rebuild (or two, or three) during the life of the vehicle. A transmission temperature gauge is a beneficial addition.
The other major problem with the E4OD is the soft shifting. While this may make for more comfortable driving, it is hideous for the transmission as it causes a great deal of heat and friction. It causes more wear that can lead to premature failure. Aftermarket shift kits or shift improvers can greatly improve the firmness of the shift and reduce wear. The shift improvers work electronically and do not require opening the transmission and are less expensive, while shift kits require replacing some components in the transmission and are more expensive, although they are the overall better choice. The E4OD does have a drain plug on the torque converter to allow for complete fluid change, although it's the writer's understanding that this was not featured on all E4ODs.
The E4OD is a 4-speed transmission with a locking torque converter (which may not be available on all E4ODs), essentially making it a 5-speed automatic transmission. With 3.55 gears and 33" tires (not the factory size), the engine turns a mere 1500 rpm at 55 mph, with an increase of approximately 100 rpm for every 5 mph increase.
One thing that Ford cannot seem to get right is the drive shaft. I have seen more than one Ford, both in cars and trucks, with poorly manufactured drive shafts. One I saw was off-center by 3/16" because the snap-ring grooves were improperly cut (one was nearly at the surface of the flange, the other was almost 1/4" from its respective flange surface). The drive shaft in the reviewed F250 also is off-center by about.030", which causes a vibration at about 40 mph. Because the point of imbalance is with the snap ring ends of the universal joint, it can't be adjusted, although the clamped ends of the u-joint have enough movement to get it centered on their axis.
The chassis is very user-serviceable for a knowledgeable shadetree mechanic. The Rear Anti-Lock Brake System (RABS) control valve was easily disassembled and cleaned of corrosion, and has not failed since. Brake calipers are very easy to service since they are mounted on two glide pins, rather than being bolted in place like many systems. A brake caliper and flexible hose replacement took 20 minutes, including removal and reinstallation of the tire and bleeding air from the caliper. Replacement of the Independent Front Suspension (IFS) axle pivot bushings took about 1½ hours, including time to weld a fillet into part of the axle where the bushing had worn completely through the sleeve and had begun to wear the axle arm itself. Replacement of the alternator took no more than 15 minutes, from hood opening to engine running. Water pump replacement, however, was more difficult and involved than other engines in my experience.
The ride is what you'd expect from a 3/4-ton-capacity vehicle that weighs in at over 3 tons. The factory bench seat has good seat cushioning, but overall truck ride is stiff and bouncy. However, aftermarket progressive-rate front coil springs and the longer rear leaf spring offered in the latest F-series (i.e., the 2005 model) adapted to fit the rear of this year's model should improve the ride quality greatly, although this is theoretical.
The interior is nice, but not luxurious. Heater controls are easy to use and access and both heater and A/C work well. The doors have vent windows which are great for directing any desired amount of fresh air into the cab. The dashboard is simple, and features oil pressure, voltage, and temperature gauges as well as a tachometer. The diesel's glow plug system features a Wait To Start light giving a driver that's inexperienced with diesels no doubt that he/she should wait to turn the key to the Start position. A Water in Filter light also clues the driver in to needed maintenance.
Fuel economy is very good considering the size of the engine, the weight of the vehicle, and the power that the engine produces. Average mileage for this F250 is 16 with daily driving and 20 on the highway, although it's my opinion that a larger exhaust system (4" vice the 2" universal replacement exhaust currently installed) and improved air filter will increase the mpg to 18/22 respectively. The closest size engine is the 7.5L (460) gas engine, which in my experience (or friends/relatives' experience) gets half of the IDI's mileage at around 8 mpg around town. Even the smaller 5.8L (351) gets around 11 mpg in an F150, and the newer 1997 with the 5.4L (330) gets around 12 mpg. Aftermarket conversion kits that allow the diesel to run on vegetable oil can also contribute greatly to fuel economy, but any diesel owner should do a great deal of research before attempting this sort of modification. Many diesel engines are not compatible with this conversion, although the 7.3 IDI, due to the mechanical nature of the fuel system, is listed as being compatible.
The 7.3L PS uses a larger oil filter (about 4" longer) than the IDI and has the same mounting base. Use of the PS filter is recommended. The factory oil capacity for the IDI is 10 quarts (11 with the PS filter). The PS oil capacity is 16 quarts, which makes the IDI more economical to maintain.
The IDI, having no computer, does not share the $1600 price tag for the PS computer and is eminently more user serviceable than the Powerstroke. The Powerstroke is an excellent and more powerful engine, no doubt, but for those on a limited budget, the IDI is the way to go. The aforementioned turbocharger addition, available from several aftermarket manufacturers, can produce similar, if not greater, power numbers than the factory 7.3L PS. A complete drop-in replacement IDI can be purchased at between $4500 and $6000, while the PS can be upwards of $9000. One particular web site lists the IDI at $4750 and the PS at $6975, although I am not aware of this company's reputation of quality.
Overall the F250 is a tremendous workhorse of a truck, whether it's powered by gas or diesel. In my opinion, diesel is the way to go, although it is more expensive to maintain than the gas engines. However, with gas prices at around $2.50/gallon, the imbalance between gas and diesel maintenance is greatly reduced, if not shifted in favor of the diesel, and the diesel engine's longevity cannot be matched by gas engines.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th March, 2007