Truck woes

Regular readers may recall my truck’s electrical system woes, which have been a problem off and on for three years now.  Furthermore, three and a half years ago, I had to replace the gearbox after the original unit was drained of transmission fluid when a hose came loose.  I bought a Jasper reconditioned unit, with a three-year warranty . . . and sure enough, just after the warranty expired, it’s broken down.  (The mechanic at the local service station rolled his eyes when I told him that, and said he’s seen it more than once with such units.  He advised that if I want to fit any major reconditioned component like a gearbox, buy it from the manufacturer and from no-one else, because only the manufacturer will stand behind it as they should.)

I suspect I’m going to have to give up on the truck.  I can’t pour another three thousand dollars plus into yet another gearbox, and the ongoing electrical problems are eating up smaller amounts on a regular basis.  There’s no point throwing good money after bad.  It’s a pity, because the truck (a 2005 Ford F-150) has only just over 70,000 miles on the clock (I bought it at about the same time as my disabling workplace injury, so I simply haven’t driven it very much).  The engine and all other components have never missed a beat, and have been very reliable.  However . . . enough is enough.

I won’t sell the truck as a going concern.  I regard it as a lemon now, and there’s no way I’m prepared to sell a lemon to anyone – not even if they know about the problems.  (It’s been my experience that sooner or later, someone will sell that lemon to someone else without being fully up-front about its problems.  I’ve had that happen to me once before, and I’ll be damned if I allow anyone to do it to someone else using my truck!)  I won’t even trade it in.  I’ll sell the engine to someone who needs a good one, and perhaps some of the other parts (wheels and tires, body bits and pieces, camper shell, etc.) to local folks who can use them on their vehicles.  I’ll junk the rest.

I guess I’ll have to look for a cheap local runabout to tide me over until I can afford something better.  I can’t monopolize Miss D.’s car – she needs that herself.  Maybe I can trade the engine for something suitable.  Otherwise, if any of my readers are interested in buying an excellent-condition 2005 Ford V-6 4.2-liter truck engine, needing only to be transplanted into their vehicle, let me know.



  1. I have the same truck and engine you do, just six years older. The engine runs like a top, it's the tranny that leaks. Good luck on the part-out.

    Consider a Subaru Outback, very reliable cars.

  2. Sorry to hear about your automotive woes, Peter. I've got a 2004 F-150XL Heritage with the same engine, AT, 2WD, & it turned over 215,500 miles today. I'm not gloating, just observing. I wish you had the same luck I've had with mine.
    I reckon there's no way to tell. My former landlord, on seeing I'd obtained my truck (this was in 2009, when I got it with 104k on the odometer) was horrified, & advised me to resell it immediately, as he'd had a terrible experience with the same model. The cause of his dislike of the truck was–(cue dramatic music)–catastrophic failure of the automatic transmission.
    Parting one out takes longer, but you're likely to get more out of it. I come from a long line of rednecks–oops, I mean to say "used parts recyclers". Most of the family had at least one dead vehicle about their homes. I just have dead motorcycles–they don't take up as much room. Then again, mine aren't for sale.
    –Tennessee Budd

  3. Your mechanic is absolutely correct. Always get transmission work done by a dealer. That way you have a country-wide network of dealers to stand behind the work. When you are out of state you will be much better off being able to call on any dealer rather than only having a local transmission shop 1000's of miles away.

  4. Suggest you send a letter to Jasper. They are stand up people. I say that as a retired competitor (ATK Engines rep).

  5. Parting out a vehicle can be a major amount of hassle. Messy, time-consuming, frustrating and generally annoying. Your neighbors will be less than amused. If it can sit in an enclosed garage, that might be acceptable.

    Frankly, I would not bother in your case. Simply sell it as a parts vehicle, with the problems clearly noted. Selling it as parts doesn't exempt if from ending up as part of someones problem child.

    Perhaps you could check with a local vo-tech school. Someone might be interested in obtaining a project vehicle for training purposes. That, or maybe a mechanic at a Ford dealer might be interested. An advert in Craigslist detailing your travails with it would winnow out the less able or adventurous in troubleshooting.

    For some reason, Ford, (and Dodge, I hear) has had a history of inadequate transmission longevity for many years now. Engines last much longer than their transmissions do, it seems. Historically, engines and auto trans's had a comparable life expectancy, but that changed in the 80's, as I recall, especially in their small trucks. Even their manual units tend to be a bit weak. Part of this is that with CAD-CAM, and finite-element analysis, parts can be designed much closer to their actual failure point than traditional engineering would allow. I don't think that covers all the problems, though.

  6. Forgot:

    you can get a code reader, with cheap or free software available over the web, to read trouble codes in the truck's system. This may help you look for a fix for the problems it currently has.
    FORSCAN is the software, and a reader can be ordered from Amazon. Stay away from the really cheap Chinese crap, and buy an American scanner. I'm using OBDLink SX.

  7. Wow! We have a 2005 f150 with a V-6 pushing 200,000 miles. The only problems we have had is a dealership (not the one we bought it from) putting in under-sized plugs, as in, the plugs were 3/8 of an inch too short. An independent mechanic found the problem as the truck wasn't throwing any codes.

    I know the dealership we bought the truck from, new, puts transmission coolers on all of his trucks and vans before he will sell them. I'm guessing/thinking he probably got tired of eating transmission repairs or replacements.

  8. Realizing that Will (above) is correct, and many model years' "trashmissions" have problems regardless of transmission type, might it be possible to convert it to manual? That year F150 was offered with a manual transmission, so factory components are available, and probably available at less expense from a junkyard; don't overlook a same-year/same style F150 that's being "parted out" engine or bodywork problems. Yes, it will be an expense and a headache to convert, but a grand or two might turn your truck into something with another deceade or more of life in it.

    FYI, before buying a vehicle being parted out get a Carfax report on it. It's one thing to buy "parts on the hoof" that you know have suffered mechanical problems, it's another to get a vehicle that has taken a hard hit or two which may have damaged the components you want to salvage from it.

  9. I second the emotion of always using a dealer. After a rebuild of the automatic gearbox of our 2007 Hummer H3 * which didn't cure the problems we settled on a new gearbox at a 50%discount which comes with a guarantee.

    * My wife's car. She loves the little money pit!

  10. I'm driving a 2005 F-150 with about 110,000 miles on it so far. No serous issues aside from the spark plugs on the 4.6 liter. Like another guy said above, an upgrade to a 5.4 liter would be sweet. If you'd really like to get rid of it, there's going to be plenty of guys who live in the upper Midwest who could use a truck body and parts without all the underbody rust they get from salted roads in the winter.

  11. Some vehicles are just particular pains about something.
    I had a Mits. that threw up power steering problems (leaks, pump going bad) consistently, even with brand new dealer installed parts. No real reason we could find for it, and always the power steering.

    Second Will's comment, try the local high school or a shade-tree mechanic. They will sometimes buy up problem vehicles to scavenge for parts.

  12. I would never buy a Ford, because when you buy a ford your directly benefitting Mexico, but worse you benefitting the Ford indirectly , and the Ford Foundation directly are worse than George Soros at Funding the Communist.

    Americans won't get Ford Jobs.

    Ford Finances the Communist through the Ford Foundation

    Ford Foundation puts George Soros to shame.

    Don't buy Fords, it is not worth it. just don't do it.

  13. Peter- What are you looking to get for the engine and trans? I wonder what it would cost to ship it to Phoenix…

    On another note: I have a 1997 Oldsmobile cutlass supreme that I will be parting out, as well.

  14. If you can deal with a manual transmission, swapping it out is a viable alternative. Same with your electrical problems. Find a junkyard truck with the proper manual setup, and strip out the entire electrical harness. Dashboards can be fun! 8)
    (The engine/trans computer is different for a stick type.)

  15. Sorry for your woes. The gearbox probably does put the truck beyond worth repairing.

    I recently came across this youtube channel, Schrodinger's Box, of a microbiologist who repairs cars as a hobby. He's very much about diagnosing before repairing and gives good short courses in the sensors and systems. Also, diagnosing bad wiring which is increasing a problem due to the increase in thin wires on a moving platform exposed to road dirt and winter salt. Voltage drop is an increasing important concept to understand.

    I'm spending time building up my skills in anticipation of electrical problems like yours. Those intermittent electrical problems that sensor swapping doesn't fix. Had an issue like that on my old Explorer that the dealers couldn't ever fix but fortunately didn't cause use problems, although I did get a ticket when the cruise control punched the accelerator when turned on one trip. After restarting the truck to leave the traffic stop, the system worked fine.

    BTW, steering columns are their own nightmare to tear into so if the short is there, it also may be more costly to fix than worth it.

    Here's a link to videos on really going over a used car at Schrodinger's Box, including the quick and easy way to check for a coolant in the oil, the sizzle test.

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