1990 Ford F250 XL 5.8 351 Windsor from North America


The last of the real trucks


Minor electrical fires due to faulty rectifier plug on alternator. Replace this plug whenever the alternator is replaced to avoid this problem!

Repeated idle air control issues.

Master cylinder, rear brake valve, calipers and hoses have all been replaced twice. Rear brake lines replaced twice.

Exhaust manifold cracked since 92,000 miles. Exhaust system replaced at 135,000 and again at 200,000.

Driver's side of front bench seat has sagged and is uncomfortable.

This truck eats coils.

Front springs sag, replaced with one-ton springs.

Paint fade, severe rust around wheel wells, door bottoms and cab corner.

PCV valve plugged traveling through mountains, blew out every sealing surface on engine. Distributor, oil pan, valve cover gasket. Check PCV valve, and replace regularly!

Timing chain replaced at 95,000 and again at 176,000.

Engine starting to wear, needs rebuild. Sluggish, poor fuel mileage.

Transmission needs rebuild. Makes whining and whirring noises. Tail-shaft housing mounting tabs broke off, a common problem. Solved by bending all-thread around housing and bolting down.

General Comments:

The list of problems may look long, but this truck has seen more than it's fair share of miles.

This is the first vehicle I ever purchased, and I don't intend to ever get rid off it. Although a long line of vehicles have come and gone, nothing beats this truck for reliability.

The ZF-5 transmission is great, the low first gear, combined with the torque of the 351w make a nearly unbeatable combination for pulling. This truck has out-pulled every other truck it has been put up against.

Although it is sluggish now, the engine was once pretty responsive, never the "quickest" truck out there, the trade-off is in all the torque.

Fuel mileage when I bought the truck was 13mpg, no matter what. Loaded, pulling, empty, didn't matter. Down to 10 mpg until rebuild.

The biggest problems with this truck are the braking system and winter traction.

Getting all of the air out if the brake system after replacing a major component can be tricky. Rear brakes are the worst.

Even with a lot of weight in the bed, traction on slippery roads is not good. This truck gets stuck in it's own shadow! However, after you have driven it for eight years, you will be so used to the way it acts that it is easier to drive it then a AWD car. The nice thing about it is that there is no guessing that the road is slippery. You will KNOW, for sure. It has never slid off the road, though, it has always been easy to regain control after making an error in judgement.

The only other thing that bothered me about it was how low the exhaust hangs, low clearance aside, it is just plain ugly. Replacement Flowmaster exhaust looks much better.

235,000 miles and I have never, ever, been left stranded by this vehicle!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th September, 2005

22nd Sep 2010, 12:42

I have a 1990 F250 XL 2wd I6 and have had all of the problems you described except the timing chain and coil. It's funny to hear that you have the exact same things to say about the truck as me.

24th Sep 2010, 09:01

You must really love your truck to put up with all of those horrific problems. Other trucks get higher miles without all of those serious things going wrong. As far as I'm concerned, engine and tranny problems are reason to ditch it. Don't WASTE ANY MORE MONEY.

6th May 2013, 09:44

To be completely fair though, the 351 Windsor is a great engine that will last a long time. It's well worth a rebuild and is tougher than most modern truck engines. The Ford AOD transmissions are another story though. Still a great truck worth keeping around, as these were some of the last made out of solid steel.

7th May 2013, 16:47

"solid steel" which readily rusts, obviously.

10th May 2013, 11:13

I own a 1996 Ford F-250 with the 351 Windsor (the last year of this body style) and I have to say that the "solid steel" doesn't rust if you take some care of the vehicle. AKA you don't leave it out to pasture for months on end without touching it. Of course the frame and under areas will collect some very minor surface rust, but with some basic care, it can stay that way and not get worse.

By the way, the 351 Windsor is a great engine that will run forever in most cases, and these trucks were extremely well built. Today's trucks are more advanced and powerful, but they tend to have a lot more problems in exchange.