The Ford F-150 is one of the best selling vehicles of all time. With millions of units on the road, there is no doubt that over time some problems will happen more often than others. While not intended to be an all-inclusive list, we put together this 2009-2014 Ford F-150 common problems guide to help pinpoint a few of the nagging issues we think owners and potential buyers should keep in mind.
A nagging issue with 2009-2013 models are coolant leaks at the heater core. The factory plastic inlet and outlet connectors can become brittle and crack over time, causing a leak. These connectors are located on the firewall and can be repaired using new heater core connectors.
2011-2014 5.0L V8 models may suffer from a leaking upper radiator hose. Ford utilized quick-connect fittings on these vehicles that do not have a classic worm clamp style retainer. Instead, a wire clip holds the connector in place and an O-ring seals the connection. Over time the O-ring can lose its ability to seal the cooling system and coolant loss occurs. The repair is fairly straightforward using a new upper radiator hose.
Certain 4.6L and 5.4L V8 engine powered F-150 owners may hear a “ticking” sound coming from the engine that changes with engine RPM. This could be a leak at the exhaust manifold caused either by loose/broken exhaust studs or a cracked exhaust manifold. Replacement exhaust manifold hardware is available, as are replacement exhaust manifolds. When choosing a replacement exhaust manifold, make sure to choose a part that is improved over the original design so it does not fail in the same way as the factory original. Keep in mind that even though the repair parts are reasonably priced, the repairs themselves can be time consuming.
4WD Hub Actuator Failure
On four wheel drive models the front wheels use a vacuum powered actuator to engage and disengage driveline power to the front wheels. Ford called this their Integrated Wheel End system, or IWE for short. This system can fail and cause the actuators to partially engage the splines of the front wheel hub, creating a grinding noise. During normal operation, vacuum from the engine disengages the front hubs and allows them to spin freely in two wheel drive mode. Shifting into four wheel drive mode causes the IWE vacuum solenoid to stop supplying vacuum to the actuator at the front wheel hub, thus engaging drive power to the front wheel. A malfunctioning solenoid, leaking vacuum reservoir, or leaking vacuum line can cause the hub to engage randomly, resulting in a grinding noise and eventually damage to the hub actuator itself. Repairs to the vacuum solenoid, lines, or reservoir are fairly straight forward while replacing the hub actuators requires disassembly of the front driveline to access the back of the wheel hubs where the axle shafts attach.
Strange Engine Noises or Rough Running
Next on our list of F-150 common problems centers around the variable camshaft timing (VCT) solenoid used in 4.6L and 5.4L V8 engines. The engine may be louder than normal, almost sounding like a diesel engine, and exhibit rough running at low RPM. This may be caused by worn out or gummed up VCT solenoids, which are located near the front of the engine (under the valve covers). Malfunctioning VCT solenoids cause erratic engine timing, and may affect engine performance. Having the problem diagnosed at your local NAPA AutoCare is advised, as this repair can be timing consuming. Earlier versions of these engines (mostly pre-2007) had the VCT solenoids easily accessible via a hole in the valve cover. No such luck on the later models, which require removing the valve cover (and a lot of other components in the way) in order to replace the solenoid.
Camshaft phasers can also be a source of rattling and poor performance. The VCT solenoids control the oil sent to the camshaft phasers, which in turn adjust the timing. Swapping in new & improved camshaft phasers is a fairly involved process, so again a visit to your local NAPA AutoCare would be wise to get a definite diagnosis. If a repair is needed, it would be wise to consider servicing the entire timing chain system (chain, chain guides, and tensioners) while the engine is accessible.
For EcoBoost 3.7L engines there have been reports of timing chain issues which can cause a rattle on cold start-up. This is caused by the timing chain stretching, and may quiet down once the chain tensioners are pressurized with oil. This repair is very involved and requires specialty tools to complete, which makes a stop by your your local NAPA AutoCare a smart idea for proper diagnosis.
Sloppy Console Shifter
2009-10 models with the console shifter option may suffer from worn out shifter cable bushings. Worn bushings can cause the transmission shift selector to feel “sloppy”, or if they completely wear out the cable can become disconnected from the shifter mechanism itself. Luckily the repair consists of replacing the old worn (or missing) bushings with a new set, although some disassembly of the center console is required.
Damaged or Missing Remote Entry Key Fob
While not a critical issue, a missing or damaged remote entry key fob can be a real annoyance at times. Over time key fob buttons can lose their symbols due to thousands of button pushes, making for a guessing game when it comes time to lock or unlock the truck. To remedy the problem simply swapping the key fob case can make things good as new. While you have the fob apart, go ahead and swap in a new battery for good measure. If the key fob is missing complete, the solution is to get a brand new key fob and program it to match the truck. Programming is quick and easy, just follow the instructions in the video below:
Rusty or Broken Spare Tire Hoist
Hanging the spare tire under the bed is a great way to use the space, but it also means that the spare tire and hoist mechanism are subjected to anything & everything that comes up from the road surface. Having a spare tire is useless if you can’t get it off the truck, so having an operable spare tire hoist is a must. Replacement is fairly straightforward with just a few bolts. If you don’t have the original spare tire tool kit that came with the truck, replacements are readily available.
Broken Blend Door Actuator
If you hear a clicking noise when setting your HVAC temperature to full hot or full cold, or if the temperature does not change at all when adjusting the temperature control, the blend door actuator may have failed. The actuator controls air movement through the HVAC ducts, including what air flows through the heater core. Luckily the repair is fairly straightforward, requiring only a new blend door actuator and some minor disassembly of the dashboard.
These are just a few of the 2009-2014 Ford F-150 common problems we have come across. Each truck is different and repair needs can depend on maintenance schedules, driving style, environment, and many other factors.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on 2009-2014 Ford F-150 common problems, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.