4.2L engine in 1997 F150 bombed at 80k miles. No warning to speak of. Came to work, and it was running good. Left work, started truck, and the engine responded with a loud "clack, clack, clack ...". Oil was clean. The only evidence whatsoever of a malfunction was a slow subtle loss of coolant, but since there was no green puddles under the vehicle, I simply ignored it, topping off the coolent at every oil change.
I am original owner, and at 25k miles, had to get a new front cover gasket, as the engine was leaking green fluid onto ground. Luckily that was under warranty. According to leakingfords.com, there is also a defect with the lower intake manifold gasket, that can stealthily leak coolent into the cylinder heads
My garage installed a Reman'ed motor, at $3700, which included a lotta new gizmos, like new lifters, water pumps, belts, hoses, etc. I got tagged with additional $400 for rental car as well. The mechanic said "oh yeah, we get these 1997 Fords in here all the time. In fact, I have 2 more come in right behind yours".
I sent an email to "[email protected]
", and received a call back from Duncun Alderson, of Ford Executive Offices. Phone 313-322-3000. Hit 0 twice, and ask operator for Duncun. Duncun patiently listened to my story, got my VIN# and put me on hold to "talk with engineering". He returned about 10 minutes later, saying that there is nothing he can do. Me: so thats that? Him: yes, thats that. Sorry ....
Consumer Reports lists the 1997 F150s as very reliable. I suppose most of those surveyed have the good Triton V8 motors.