CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Bought a lemon! - How to proceed? 1999 Ford F-250 Super Duty

Well, I talk about scams all the time and I got scammed. I bought a 1999 F250 Super Duty with a 5.4L engine and it seemed OK when I test drove it. I knew it had some work needing to be done but the body and frame are rust-free and the engine was running well.

That is the engine was running well until the 5W30 oil specified by Ford was put in the crankcase. Oil pressures dropped and clattering started. I took it to a shop and basically the guy who sold it to me put some type of thick oil like 20W50 to mask the fact the engine was trash and sell the truck. The main bearings are trash and at least one rod bearing is knocking towards the rear of the engine. The oil pressure is in the toilet and there are signs the head gaskets may not be so hot either although they are only leaking under vacuum at this point.

The truck runs and drives. I could sell it as a truck with a bum motor that runs and get back what I can get. It has a tad more than 200,000 miles and is overall in good shape otherwise. I had everything else checked out and it is good but the engine is not.

For now, I plan to put 20W50 back in the crankcase and only drive it in a limited manner, if at all. Once the engine is warmed up, you have to get it up to around 2800 RPM to keep the oil pressure light from coming on. Should I go with 20W50 in this case or something thinner like 15W40? The engine is trash so what more harm can be done by using a very thick oil?

I was also considering using some head gasket stop leak but then figured that would trash the good radiator and heater core so figure that isn’t a good idea if I intend to fix it right. I could care less about this engine. Based on what the shop told me, a good quality reman is the only option.

They quoted me like a $6000 price, more than I paid for the truck. I like the truck but not that much. Yes, the rest is in good shape but it is old. Is it time to sell out for whatever I can get and take a loss or are these other options that don’t cost quite as much?

Other options are to find a decent junkyard motor from a wreck, or whatever. The shop that quoted me $6000 was using a Motorcraft reman. They said this is a better way to go than a Jasper based on their experiences and not to even consider a parts store brand reman. It almost sounds like a junkyard motor might be a better choice over something like this.

It seems the junkyard motor would be the cheap option. I would at least want to pull the valve cover and maybe the oil pan to give it a look over and make sure it looks like the oil was changed and such. You can usually tell pretty quickly how well an engine was cared for based on some simple inspections like this. I would want anything easy changed like the front and rear seals, oil pan gasket, etc. while it was out of the truck.

If going the reman route, does anyone have any suggestions? I wouldn’t be in any huge hurry to get this thing back on the road. If someone did the work and it took a month but I got it back done right, I wouldn’t be against that route. The truck is not needed in a timely manner and that would be fine with me if it was done correctly and I got it back done right.

Anyone have suggestions on how to get the maximum value from this truck, whether I sell it or keep it?

Gee, your truck is old enough to vote. My brother has a 1999 Ford F-150. He is now fighting a rust problem, but the engine runs very well.
You might want to look for a Ford truck or van with an engine that will fit your truck but a body or frame that is in bad shape. You could test drive the vehicle to.make sure the engine is good and swap.it into.your truck.

4 Likes

Up to you but sometimes you have to dance with the one that brung ya. You’re in a good spot to either stop now or put an engine in and not loose more. I guess I’d check on the availability of a used engine and see how that shakes out. But really it went 200K so not a lemon, just tired.

3 Likes

Yeah, I have one of those crazy 1997 F250 light duty trucks with the 7 lugs rims. The 1999 was supposed to be the replacement but the 1997 runs great. You kick it and 5 lbs of rust falls off! I know rust will kill it in the end but the engine and transmission work well. It has like 300,000 miles so if decent care is taken, it seems engines will run a good long time. That one is a 4.6L with a manual transmission. All the drivetrain fluids were changed right after I go it, either by myself or a shop.

The 1997 is running well after all the brake issues were fixed. The rust won’t kill it immediately and the 1999 can sit for a while while I sort things out with a new replacement engine or whatever. The 1997 let me down at a time I needed it most due to a complete brake failure so kinda rushed into replacing it with this 1999. The body and frame of the 1999 are great for the age of the truck.

The 1999 truck was sold to me as something it wasn’t so I consider it a lemon. This was bought private party and obviously the guy put something in the crankcase to mask the fact the engine was shot. I wish I had saved the oil that came out of the thing for analysis but got it recycled before I realized the oil change exposed what was really going on. I suspect he used a very thick grade oil or some type of additive.

If the truck was sold to me as one with no oil pressure, a rod knock, and questionable head gaskets, that would have been a different story. It wasn’t sold as a parts or repair deal. It was sold as a good running truck so I consider it a lemon.

I specifically avoided the newer generation of 5.4L engines. Those are the ones with the problematic cam phasers. Mine is the older 2V design.

Triedaq’s suggestion is by far the best way to get a good used engine near me, or anywhere in the rust belt. Most of our cars go to the junkyard because of rust with good motors in them.

1 Like

Would the engine from the 97 maybe fit the 99?

1 Like

Yep, you are now making lemonade. Too bad you can’t duplicate oil mix that was in it during test drive. Was it a dealer?

I wondered about putting the 1997 engine into the 1999. I bet it would fit but would maybe need to source accessories from a 1999 F250 with the 4.6L. I know these are both Ford modular engines but there are differences.

The 1997 has high miles but runs well and doesn’t burn oil so it seems to be in good shape. I still don’t think I would go to the trouble to pay someone to move an engine with 281K or whatever over to another truck, especially knowing it wouldn’t be a direct swap. Stuff would either need to be swapped or bypassed.

The 1997 has that IMRC deal which has been a pain for me. That would either need to be removed or bypassed. It sticks when cold but I have kept that problem at bay by pouring Seafoam into the intake before every oil change.

I really think it would be easier doing a direct swap.

It was bought off Facebook Marketplace from an individual. I have had more terrible experiences with this site and it is way worse than any other site including Craigslist if you ask me. There are barely cars on CL anymore as they now charge $5 each to list them though.

1 Like

I have no idea how complicated a swap would be. As with most things like this, there are always a number of peripheral issues that crop up.

I feel for you. That’s pretty low of someone to pull something like that although I have seen people pull this on some car dealers i worked for. An apparently very nice car is taken in trade, sent back to the service department for an oil change, filters, and so on and then upon startup it’s banging like a sledge hammer on a railroad spike once the original doctored motor oil is drained and replace.

Apparently the doctored motor oil with “Slick 50”, 20W50, or whatever isn’t uncommon.

I am really thinking this may be the last private party sale for me. Buying or selling anything online seems to have just taken a turn for the worse these days. I could have bought a nicer truck from a dealer for what I will have spent. If I ever buy another, I might be like “I will change the oil with a store brand of whatever viscosity it calls for and a new filter for free.” That way I can tell if there is something like this going on.

I did find a possible decent used motor and install for $2500. I am going to go look at it tomorrow and see what I think. There is a 90 day warranty on the motor and the labor as well so that is good. The place is reputable, has been around for a decade or longer, and I hear their ads on the radio. They said they took a valve cover off and it looks clean underneath.

I think this seems like a decent option. Spending close to $7000 on a new reman seems out of the question on a truck of this age.

Don’t know what is available in a f250. 4.6 or 5.4? Auto or manual with each! Or a mix?

A 1999 Ford F-250 SuperDuty will definitely have the 5.4 Triton V8

For that year, the 4.6 was reserved for the F-150 and the F-250 light duty

Super Duty F-250’s had the 5.4L , 6.8L or 7.3L diesel. The Light Duty F-250 or F-150 7700 could have the 4.6L or 5.4L. You could get a manual or automatic with any engine at this point.

The truck is a 5.4L with a manual and manual lockout 4WD if that matters.

I am now consulting with an attorney as I think the shop that did some of the work may have contributed to some of troubles I am now having after further looking on my part. I am going to verify my suspicions before proceeding but have paid for an hour in fees and he thinks I may have a decent small claims case.

Basically, it looks like the shop installed a dipstick that was far too long and I have the receipts showing that the dipstick and dipstick tube were replaced. It appeared the shop overfilled the engine by quite a few quarts so I drained the oil out until it was maybe 1/8 inch above the full mark. I called them about the “overfilling” right off the bat. I then drove it and the low oil pressure light came on. I pulled over, checked the level, and verified it was at or slightly above the full mark.

I took it back to the shop. The replaced the oil pressure sender and sent me on my way, all while telling me that the engine was knocking and needed replacement in the future. Why did they replace a faulty oil pressure sender and charge me money for an engine that was junk?

Anyway, the low oil pressure light was right back on. I just assumed the bearings were shot so drove it home with the gauge just bouncing all over and the light flashing. The oil level on the stick was just below the full mark at this point.

I went to Wal-Mart the next day (in a different car of course) and purchased the cheapest 20W50 I could find, figuring this is what would stay in the engine until I drove it to a shop to have the engine replaced. I bought a big jug and didn’t even bother to buy a filter as what is the point for a junk engine?

Anyway, I got a 4 quart container and was going to drain 4 quarts and replace 4 quarts with the 20W50. Although the oil level was near full on the dipstick, barely anything drained out! I replaced the oil with 20W50 and some 5W30, fired the truck up, and the low oil pressure light was off.

Anyway, the engine is now toast. I have an OEM Ford dipstick on order from the local Ford dealer and this is going to be the smoking gun. I feel the wrong dipstick was installed and the shop had at least 3 chances to figure this out. I brought a truck in with an oil pressure light on and not one thing was done to make sure there was actually oil in the engine although the wrong dipstick was installed.

I am going to confront them with the evidence and how many inches off their disptick is from the Ford dipstick and see if they try to make it right. If not, there will be legal action. I really think we are talking about a 4-6 inch difference on this disptick vs. the OEM one but we will see.

The sad part is I have been busy with work and took it to a big name shop in town. I figured I should leave this to the experts. Had I done this work myself, I would have been aware of the problem immediately with the dipstick.

It appears that the dipstick is fine but the tube installed at the shop is far too short so reaching too far into the oil pan. I am waiting to confirm this and will then proceed in seeing if the shop is willing to help or not.

You removed drain plug and barely anything came out? Drain plug is on bottom of oil pan? In my world it is. You put 4 qts in? So you have 4 qts in motor now?

Yes, I have another thread about this. It was the wrong dipstick tube. Now I have a knocking and smoking engine due to incorrect oil readings and oil starvation.