New or Used? : I Loves My Truck

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
new or used i loves my truck
Thanks for your recent article about buying auto parts. I recently bought a well used ’95 F-150 with the venerable 302 and Mazda five-speed. When I say well used, I mean the engine has about 253,000 on the clock and sounds like it is on its last legs. I’m pretty sure I can hear the jugs rattling in the cylinders when I first fire it up, the idle hunts all over the place and it has about as much power as the Ukrainian president. I’d like to put a new mill in it. The previous owner spent a lot of time and money doing everything but engine work. Where’s a good place to start looking for a used motor, or should I spill the coin to have this tired old unit rebuilt?Steve Says:
I wouldn’t be sold on replacing the engine just yet.For some reason, old Fords tend to have more idling issues than any other manufacturer I see at the auctions. They can be a pain to track down, but that that doesn’t necessarily mean that the engine is on it’s last legs. It just means that you or your mechanic is going to have fun tracking down vacuum hoses and a long, long line of other diagnostic possibilities. If you want to do this yourself I would strongly recommend buying up the Alldata information for your F150.As for the start-up noise, that can be a variety of things. However if the timing chain and guides haven’t been replaced at this point, that may very well be your noise at start-up. I see a lot of Explorers, Rangers and F150s with this issue, and it can require the removal of the engine in order to properly replace the chain and guides.Let’s assume for now that you have a truck that now drinks, smokes and hangs out with the bad boys. If your engine is as wore out as an old mop then you definitely need to take a tour through the automotive scenery of the nearby auto recycling centers.First go to Since the 5.0 Liter V8 was only offered for two years on the F150, you will only have about 1000 of them to choose from. The going price will be around $500. However, I would strongly advise that you buy a new water pump, a chain and guide replacement set, and take the time to replace any hoses that may be in need of attention. Especially in those areas where hoses can be near impossible to reach.This engine is easy to install but time consuming. Would I rebuild it? Not unless you have the time and some serious achievements when it comes to DIY work. You can get a nice rebuild done that would give you more power. But you are looking at north of $1500 for it to be done right.I prefer durability upgrades (a.k.a. relying on enthusiast forums for guidance and getting a transmission cooler) and stock engines instead of mods when it comes to older trucks. There also may be an opportunity to get the VIN number for the engine that interests you online and find out if it was regularly serviced at the dealership through a Carfax history. Ones that have been serviced at the dealerships will at least be given a quality oil filter and the recommended oil weight. Although with an older vehicle this information gets to be a bit scanty.Good luck!
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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Feb 28, 2014

    The first engine I would look at is a Coyote based supercharged 5 litre Miami engine. We use them in our GT Falcon's in Australia. The second engine would be a FPV (Ford Performance Vehicle) 4 litre in line turbo six from a Ford Falcon. Each one of those engines should liven up the old truck. If you want to go diesel, ring someone you would know at Ford and see if you can get hold of one of those 3.2 5 cylinder, Duratorque's that will shoved be into your US Transits.

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    • SomewhereDownUnder SomewhereDownUnder on Mar 21, 2014

      @Big Al from Oz The FPV 4.0 sounds like a good idea.

  • Roader Roader on Mar 01, 2014

    Check the shift rail plugs. New steel plugs, staked and epoxied, is good insurance. Easy to get to by removing the trans tunnel sheet metal.