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Is the Ford V6, 4.2 Engine a dog?

Just curious how others feel on this subject. I was told by a trusted mechanic that my F150 V6, 4.2 engine was one of the worst Ford makes and he felt that I’d have nothing but problems with it. It does have 136K miles and the engine is definitely “worn”. But I’m wondering if Ford does have a bad history with this engine ??


That does not change your future in any important way at all. I have slightly high blood pressure so the doctor thinks I should take a pill that could destroy my liver. Should I worry about the one or the other? I chose neither one. Your choice should be easier than that.

There are many happy owners with Ford 4.2 liter V6 engines. However, I have also heard about head gasket problems with this engine.

Consulting the Consumer reports history, I find that the Ford V6 as used in the Explorer has a better than average rating and only 2006 had cooling system problems. It could be that F150 owners overtax this engine , while other Ford product drivers treat is less severely.

In other words, I’m somewhat confused why your trusted mechanic calls this a dog. There are plenty of engines on the market that are real dogs and many posters can tell you about them.

My father in law now has over 250k on the same engine in his F150 without any internal problems. Mechanics of opinions about this and that. They see lots of them only because the sheer volume sold.

Fleets which had operated for years with 4.9L Ford trucks seem disappointed with the 4.2L. The 4.2L falls far short in reliability and logevity. Long time Ford fleets are trying alternatives for several reasons, the 4.2L is at the top.

That’s a good example, folks try to go with a smaller motor where a bigger one is needed, and are then dissatisfied. I had a good talk with a tow truck driver, his company tried to ‘down size’ the trucks, had nothing but problems with engines and transmissions.

Depends on what vehicle it’s in.

Back in the 80’s GM made a 2.8l V6. In the S-10/15 pickup or the S-10/15 Blazer it was a DOOOGGGGG. But in the Pontiac Fiero…it was fine.

The 4.2L is basically stroked out 3.8L. The 3.8L has storied history of head gasket failures. Early 4.2L’s suffer from this issue, it’s less of problem with the later ones though. My mother and step-father have a 1997 F-150 4x4 with the 4.6L and 3.55 gears. My dad and step mom just bought a 2003 F-50 2WD with the 4.2L and 3.31 gears. The 97 has a bit more power and returns 2 MPG better mileage overall. The 5.4L is good as well, but it had problems with spark plug ejection in the 97-98 models. The 99-03 models have the P.I heads and intake (on the 4.6L and 5.4L) which improves power and fixes most of the spark plug issues.

Our family has had pretty bad luck with the Ford 3.8L, having suffered blown head gaskets with a 1995 Windstar, a 1995.5 Windstar, and a 1998 Windstar. All failures happened before the 60k mile mark. The only Ford 3.8L that we had that didn’t give us any problem was the one in my old 1992 T-Bird SC, I chalk that up to the fact that heads on the SC were a different (low compression) design.

But if I were looking for an F-150 I’d steer clear of the 4.2L.

I’ve had my 2000 F150 with the 4.2 for a few years, and I’ve had lots of good luck with it. I’ve been able to pull a 4 horse trailer and a 16ft trailer loaded with 48 100lbs bales with no problem. It’s now up to 300,000, with mine even being used and abused.

It is not a dog.





Good grief, you sure found an old enough version of that engine. It’s not even one of the last versions. It looks like it could be the industrial engine, which is still available for sale, I believe

lol…you found a 8 year old post !

I am looking at a 2003 Econoline van with this engine…any thoughts since I’m sure it’s gears lower? Worth 2200 with 190k

Thoughts , yes you revived an old thread and no one over the web can tell you if you should buy a vehicle because we can’t see or drive it.

Tell us more about the van. Passenger or cargo van? What trim level? What is the condition? If it is in clean condition (no major problems or damage) and it drives well, get a pre-purchase inspection from a mechanic you trust. This should be a pro since the van has to go up on a lift for a proper evaluation. Answer the questions, then we can talk about price.

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If it’s an E-150. Then it has 3.55 gears, that was the only choice with the 4.2L
If it’s an E-250. Then it has 3.73 gears or 4.10 gears depending on length.
The 4.2L was not offered in the E-350

Either way, the 4.2L would be over-matched in an Econoline. It’s actually rated for worse fuel economy that the 4.6L V8 is.

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My understanding is that while the Ford 4.2 engine isn’t a dog, Woof’s Head oil is recommended for the engine. (Any of you old timers remember Wolf’s Head motor oil?)

I remember it…haven’t seen it in years. I thought Pennzoil/shell) bought them out.

@MikeInNH. I bought Wolf’s Head oil about 10 years ago at Menards. The oil was on sale at a good price. It let my old Oldsmobile “Run with the Wolf”. That was the slogan for Wolf’s Head motor oil. The oil I bought was bottled by Quaker State when I read the fine print on the bottle.

Read the ratings of this engine. There were issues with bad gaskets in some of the earlier models but they fixed that later on. It actually ranks better than average in the later years. Get one of those and don’t worry about it. Be more worried if it was properly maintained before you got it.