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high mileage '97 f150-what can go wrong?


Old 10-03-2003, 10:10 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 44
high mileage '97 f150-what can go wrong?

I'm negotiating a purchase of a '97 F150 XLT 4WD auto 4.6L with about 234,000 miles on it.

I haven't had a mechanic check it out yet, but the thing is showroom-clean, and the guy (original owner) says he's changed the oil every 3k-5k, tranny flush and diff oil changes at 50k intervals, plugs at 100k, etc.

I've read lots about high-mileage 4.6L trucks here with under 200k miles, but what about over 200k?

Does anybody have any technical, or anectdotal history about the timing chains, ignition, head gaskets, fuel system, or drivetrain, or anything else that LIKELY will go on such a high-mile engine? I realize that it's all a crapshoot, a valve could drop at any time, I'm just looking for something NOTORIOUS in the 4.6L or in the 4-sp auto tranny or drivetrain that's due to fail.

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Old 10-03-2003, 11:44 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Starkville Mississippi
Posts: 1,895
Well more than likely you have the 4R70W tranny which is known to fail if its not serviced. At 234,xxx, i would be worried about head gasket leak and possible valve trouble. If the motor still has all the original componets, such as the starter, raidiator, etc, then i would never turn my back on those going bad. I would be more worried about suspension (shocks, ball joints, wheel bearings, etc)

The 4.6 motor is a dam good motor and has proven time and time again that 200k is definetely reachable with proper care. I saw a 97 4.6 on the internet once that had over 440,000 miles on the motor and tranny and it had never been rebuilt. If the trucks in good shape overall, I would drive it and keep it serviced.

How much does he want for the truck? Any pics?
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Old 10-03-2003, 11:45 AM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Lakeville, Minnesota, USA
Posts: 749
Do search for posts by Bent6. I think he's pushing 250,000 by now. It should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

My '97 (sold at 162,000 miles) seemed to be following about the same pattern.
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Old 10-03-2003, 12:02 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 44
response to green_98

Yes, I have a bunch of NICE pics, but I have no idea how to post them. The truck looks new.

The guy wants $6500, and that includes every option, EXCEPT power driver's seat (don't know how that happened-I thought all captain's chairs had power).

Considering he flushed the tranny every 50k, would that be considered proper maintenance?

My gut tells me that throughout a 234k service life, if the engine hasn't seen enough prolonged high temperature/high rpm use by now to cause a head gasket or valve to fail, I'm not likely to produce any condition that will. That's a fool's bet, I know, but I'm curious to see what the Ford Mechanic has to say about it. The good thing is that it is a So. Cal truck, although the owner likes to take trips to Utah and Minnesota.
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Old 10-03-2003, 12:43 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 485
The attached link is from people with over 200,000 on the clock. It's informative because most owners list what they did/had to do to their truck.

200,000 mile club

If you want to SEARCH there's also a 100,000 mile club thread with over 100 responses.
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Old 10-03-2003, 01:50 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: thunder bay
Posts: 150
I bought a 98 4x4 F150 with 238 000 km on it
I've had no problems with the 4.6 and the previous owner
replaced the front ball joints twice,the tranny at 180 000km
the rear axles, bearings and springs at 200 000km, 2 alt, 2 starters, 1 4x4 cv shaft runnig syn oil and changed the fluids every 80 000km
after I bought it I noticed the flywheel was chewed so I changed it and there was crack in the pass. floor by the body mount. I was told that with syn. oil I wouldn't have worry about the eng. till
300 000km (timing chains,oil pump,)

This was a bush truck that had a fuel tank in the back for work
I paid $10,000 canadian for it. See pics in mikemike98
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Old 10-03-2003, 01:59 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Houston Tx
Posts: 129
mine has about 187,000 and i had to replace the heating coil and the ac compressor and the rear diff seal about 5000 ago and had to have major tune up done at about 165,000 but that was bec i went mudding, otherwise no problems, the engine idles a little funny but other wise it's ok, mine was an original owner too and had basically the same service history as that one, but looks great and runs good too. P.s. mine is only 2wd so don't know about transfer case or anything else
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Old 10-03-2003, 04:02 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 44
high mile 4.6L

Thanks, guys.

I forgot about the A/C compressor. That alone would cost over 1k to fix, and they ALWAYS go at some point, right?

Should I be searching this site for high-mileage A/C compressors?

The reason I am considering this truck is that I sold my identical truck with only 75k miles on it for the $$, and I still need a truck, and this price sounds good, but a single 1k fix within a year or so, in my estimation, would make it not worth it.

As good as all this testimony is, I guess basically at 238k miles, ANYTHING CAN go wrong, just as at 75k, but the likelihood is far greater.
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Old 10-03-2003, 04:22 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Denver
Posts: 1
I was talkingto my dad yesterday about my F150 I just purchased while he was rolling through montana. As we talked he clicked over 200,000 miles. I asked him how the motor was doing and he replied that it has started to use a little oil but not enough to add inbetween changes.
His truck has been back and forth across the country many many times pulling 5th wheels, trenchers and bucket trucks. If my 2001 lasts as many hard miles then I will be happy.
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Old 10-06-2003, 03:56 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: St. Louis (Out in the woods)
Posts: 6,189
A 97 with 234K miles is worth less than $4000 wholesale REGARDLESS of its physical condition.

That relentless clicking of the odometer chips away at the resale value of the truck like water torture.

If the truck were in perfect mechanical shape with good brakes, suspension, tires, etc. with a good maintenace history, it still might only be worth $5500 on a private party sale. Any needed repairs will only increase your cost basis in that truck.

Have the mechanicals checked by either a qualifed mechanic or a trusted friend if you are not up to performing the inspection yourself. Base any offer on the VALUE of the truck minus the cost of any needed repairs (retail prices, of course).

High mileage like that will scare away most truck buyers because of the perception that there is only very limited service life left in the truck or that it will require extensive or expensive repairs to keep it on the road for much longer. Odds are, these fears will be realized beacuase of the amount of wear and tear on the parts of the vehicle, especially those that are original to the truck.

If you can get a truck with high miles for a very depreciated price, can do your own repairs, and have an emergency repair fund that can cover the likely needed repairs, then go for it.

I also found that owning an older, high mileage vehicle requires three things: 1) Cell phone, 2) AAA card, and a 3) Spare car.

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Old 10-06-2003, 04:14 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 44
high-mile F150

Hey, thanks for the most critical $.02 yet.

Your arguement makes perfect sense, but I am confused with the value numbers I am getting from Kelly Blue Book on this high-mile truck.

KBB says the trade-in value is something around $7.125, and the private-party value is $9k-something.

Based on that, the $6,500 the guy is asking seems reasonable. However, HE must know that those miles are scary to a potential buyer...

I will be having a certified mechanic look at this thing, as I am out of state and considering this long-distance. What specifically should I ask the mechanic to check? I thought I'd have hime do a compression check, then take a look at the wheel bearings and ball jounts, brakes and rotor thickness. Should I have him check oil PRESSURE? What else besides looking at it and driving it to see if everything, steering/suspension/braking-wise, is tight?
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Old 10-06-2003, 11:28 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: St. Louis (Out in the woods)
Posts: 6,189
I got my numbers from the BLACK BOOK, which the local industry uses for determining the wholesale values based upon weekly auctions. Trust me, these guys know how to NOT overpay for a vehicle at the wholesale level.

Even if the car is visually and mechanically sound, it would automatically get classified a POOR condition based only on mileage. Further, the Black Book only has mileage deduction tables that go out to 160K miles for a 97. A 97 4 X 4 in GOOD condition with "correct" mileage of 80K or so and with decent options would have wholesaled in July (last time I studied this) for around $7,000 - 8000. At 160K miles, that truck would have taked almost a $2500 hit at the wholesale level. The prospect you are looking at is another74K miles beyond the book value, however, the book stipulates that wholesale value should not be reduced by more than half of the otherwise normal value.

I don't pretend to be an expert, but if you can talk to the used vehicle manager at a used car dealership, ask him what his opinion of the value of the truck you are considering would be. You will likely find that, with that kind of mileage on the clock, he would give a "real" value that is so low that you would find it ridiculous.

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