The Ford F-150 is an American icon, but its deep and rich history is nearly overshadowed as each new generation reaches new levels of “Ford Tough.” Each year, Ford releases the latest and greatest versions of what’s affectionately referred to as the “F-series.” This includes the F-150 and its Super Duty brothers, the F-250, F-350, and the F-450, through the work trucks, and remains one of the top-selling trucks in American history. It’s brawny enough to work overtime, efficient enough to be a daily driver, and with Ford’s ever-evolving engineering and design technology, it’s comfortable enough to take the entire family across the country. In short, it’s easy to see why many people would choose to make one a permanent member of their family by purchasing a new or used Ford F-150.
As a result, the market for used Ford F-150s is practically insatiable. Though truck fans across the country are thrilled to learn more about each year’s new updates, there is still a very competitive market for used F-150s. They’re a known commodity. After 72 years of building trucks “Ford Tough,” it’s clear that Ford knows what they’re doing. Due to their incredible popularity, they’re easy to find, find parts for, and there’s a huge community of mechanics who can help you keep your truck on the road for longer than ever before.
For the average American consumer, that means that any time you’re shopping for a used Ford F-150, you’re in luck. From new to Certified Pre-Owned to new-to-you, the F-150 is a dependable truck that makes a great road partner in nearly every situation.
There is some debate about when the first Ford F-150 hit the streets. Officially speaking, the name “F-150” first appeared in 1975 as a follow-up to the highly successful F-100 that started production in 1953. However, none of these trucks would be the all-purpose movers, haulers, and drivers they are today without some pretty hefty ancestors.
The Ford Model TT, produced in 1917, was the first Ford-branded pickup truck. In its early days, only a chassis was provided by the manufacturer. This changed in 1923 when the full truck was sold as one solid investment. Sitting on solid tires, the ride probably wasn’t anything compared to today’s smooth-sailing beauties, but it was capable of carrying up to one ton of payload, which was monumental in farming and industrial communities.
Fast forward to 1935, and the TT had transformed into the larger AA, and again into the Model 50. Produced until the war tapered off civilian manufacturing in 1941, the Model 50 looks familiar. It’s said that the exterior genetics of today’s F-150 is rooted in this model, which included a V8 engine.
After the war, the great-great-grandparents of today’s F-series appeared on the market. 1948 saw the release of the half-ton F-1, along with the F-2, heavy-duty three-quarter-ton F-3, and 1-ton F-4. Consumers now had the ability to choose a truck to match their payload. They also had a choice between an inline-6 engine or two optional V8s, setting the standard for today’s highly customizable “build the truck you need” production model.
1953’s F-100 topped 100 horsepower with a choice between two engines, and it also featured the first automatic transmission within the F-series. While 100 hp seems paltry by today’s numbers, this truck could handle up to 1,465 lbs of payload.
As the years went by, it became clear that the F-series was a permanent fixture on the American roadways. While style options came and went, such as the failed integrated body design of 1961, some of the terms we see today, such as “Ranchero” and “Styleside,” first entered the Ford lexicon in the 1950s and 60s.
The history debate ends with the introduction of the first official F-150 in 1975. The F-100 would continue into the 1980s, but the F-150 was designed to take over the throne. Stylistic similarities between these early models and today’s Fords are very apparent, such as the SuperCab body or the brand-stamped grille.
In the 1990s, the name of the game was “horsepower.” With SUVs taking over the “people moving” scene, trucks such as the F-150 had to step up and take over their own niche. The 1999 version offered a supercharged Eaton engine with 360 hp. Ford also acknowledged the need to achieve a work/life balance in their popular truck, adding a four-door SuperCrew style that made it easier than ever to pack the whole family in for longer trips.
The F-150s of the new millennium have more comfort and convenience features than ever before, as longer commutes and more vast job sites have people spending more and more time in their trucks. From Wi-Fi to ergonomics, the trucks formerly known exclusively as workhorses are now mobile boardrooms, office suites, and road-trip-friendly family trucks with all the bells and whistles that attract today’s amenity-driven consumers.
There are almost as many opinions on the number of “official” F-150 generations as there are generations themselves. Some Ford experts feel that the first generation started with the first F-150 nameplate. Others feel the generations begin with the start of the F-series in 1948, while others still claim the F-series wasn’t truly defined until the F-100, 250, and 350 were released in 1953.
If all of the ancestors leading up to today’s Ford F-150 are given recognition, there are a total of fourteen generations of heritage behind today’s leading truck.
In this timeline, the first generation starts with the TT, which sold over 1.3 million by 1928. Though there were many changes to the body and attributes of Ford’s first pickup truck, the second generation started with the 1953 F-series.
You could say that the third generation was one of the biggest for the Ford F-150 with the introduction of four-wheel drive to the popular series of trucks in 1959.
With the fourth generation in 1961, the F-150 began to gain its current size and shape. While low-riding pickups were en vogue at the time, larger cabs and beds were starting to make the scene, as well. The fifth-generation picked up in 1967, growing even larger still, pushing the boundaries of size and engine capacity.
The sixth-generation ran from 1973 through 1979 and saw the introduction of the first-born modern F-150. Interestingly enough, Ford used this generation to experiment with the F-series, introducing the Bronco as an F-variation. However, these designs finally took shape as the series we know today with a full line re-release with the seventh generation in 1980. Everything from the exterior aerodynamics to the engine size and capacity was thoughtfully re-engineered to take the F-series to a new level of performance.
The eighth generation, running from 1987-to 1991, saw a multitude of changes in engine performance and capability, introducing a direct fuel injection technology. The introduction of the ninth generation in 1992 coincided with the 75th anniversary of the TT, and a variety of special edition packages were offered in celebration.
It was in the tenth generation, from 1997 to 2004, that the F-150 found its niche as a work/life truck, neatly splitting its time between dashing through the mud with various heavy loads, and acting as a usable family vehicle. As a result, more and more luxury features were added to the cabin, while the functionality of the bed and towing apparatus were improved as well. You can find models from this generation at used car lots, more so than the trucks from the generations before it.
The eleventh generation started in 2004 with another top-to-bottom redesign. This time, technology was the focus, as Ford took major strides to make the F-150 a comfortable truck for longer drives in various conditions. The twelfth generation then started in 2009, adding more computerized elements, improved safety features, and greater technology.
The 2020 Ford F-150 is the last model of the thirteenth generation, and when placed side-by-side with its ancestors, both the similarities and differences are striking. The brawny, capable, box-like styling is still evident, but today’s models stand taller, tow more, and can handle larger crowds than ever before. When shopping for a used F-150, the best generation with the most modern features is the thirteenth generation, but a twelfth, eleventh, and tenth generation F-150 will suit you well.
The F-150 entered into its fourteenth generation in 2021, sporting a brand-new design from front to back, inside and out. In addition to a new hybrid powertrain joining the lineup of excellent engine options, the F-150 also showcased a higher level of modern style with its upgraded interior, featuring premium appointments and plenty of space to sit back and enjoy the ride, along with a dedicated work surface. This particular feature made the F-150 the ideal truck to have on the job site. You’ll also find an available onboard generator to help power tools and other necessities, in addition to the latest and greatest tech features, just waiting to make the ride better in every possible way.
With all of the generations to choose from in the Ford F-150 lineup, finding the right truck for you is easy. Not only that, but you’re also able to choose from a slew of engines designed with peak performance in mind. There are many powertrain options that can still be found today, while others have since been discontinued, but the beauty of buying used is that you’re not limited when it comes to its engine options. A perfect example of this is the now discontinued 3.0L Power Stroke Turbodiesel V6, which was a beloved engine by many who prioritized efficiency and strength. Able to tow up to 11,500 lbs, this diesel favorite is still highly sought-after for those searching for a powerful truck for work.
One of the newer powertrains available is the 3.5L PowerBoost Hybrid V6, which showcases favorable power, can tow up to 12,700 lbs, and get up to 23 mpg on the highway, providing the F-150 with the best of both worlds. In addition to ample towing strength, this handy hybrid can also haul an impressive amount of payload, accommodating up to 2,120 lbs without issue. Ford is known to be one of the most legendary brands around, and as drivers’ needs shift, Ford is answering back with hybrid and electric offerings that continue to perform among the best in the business.
When best-in-class attributes are needed, the F-150’s 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is ready to claim its title as the top performer. Able to tow up to 14,000 lbs, this strong engine is a leader in its class, making it a tried-and-true favorite powertrain for those seeking the ultimate workhorse. Another best-in-class winner is the 5.0L Ti-VCT V8, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, able to deliver best-in-class payload ratings of 3,325 lbs. Both of these powerful engine options are chosen frequently by industrial and construction workers and those who tend to stack their days with some of the most challenging tasks imaginable.
Many drivers have the misconception that pickup trucks are gas guzzlers; however, the F-150 has always sought to diminish these rumors. A perfect example of this is its 2.7L EcoBoost V6, which showcases pleasing power and ample efficiency, able to get up to 26 mpg on the highway. Another top contender when it comes to fuel economy is the 3.3L Ti-VCT V6, which amazes drivers with the ability to get up to 24 mpg on the open highway. These two options are some of the best in the industry when overall efficiency is concerned, especially since you can still take advantage of exceptional towing and hauling numbers.
For those who frequently dream about off-road exploration, the F-150’s off-road-ready models, like the Raptor, will get you there. Armed with a High-Output 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine, with 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque to help it power over obstacles without a second glance, this exciting truck has a massive appeal to adventurers near and far. If you’re in the mood to venture off the beaten path without having to worry about whether or not your vehicle can handle it, there’s nothing more thrilling than being behind the wheel of this legendary machine, armed with one of the most remarkable powertrains in the industry.
Although the list of powertrains can go on, especially if you start looking at older F-150 models, these are some of the most recent options in the lineup that you’ll find in used Ford F-150 inventories across the market. They’re powerful, efficient, capable of completing tough tasks, and exciting to drive, allowing you to have the best experience possible in a full-size truck. There’s a reason why the F-150 has been a best-seller for over 45 years, and that’s due to the outstanding options you have when it comes to its engines.
Maintaining your vehicle is one of the biggest responsibilities of any driver, especially when you’re driving a legendary truck like the F-150. After all, this particular truck is a trusted member of work fleets nationwide, as well as a dependable member of many families, which means that adhering to a maintenance schedule is key. Every driver knows that keeping up with oil changes is one of the most crucial elements in the overall operation of their vehicle. How often you’ll need to do this will depend on your driving habits and the age of your truck. For example, newer F-150s take synthetic oil, which has a longer lifespan than conventional oil, ideally being changed every 10,000 miles.
Although this may seem cut and dry, this will depend heavily on how you’re using your F-150. For those who frequently complete tough jobs, like towing or hauling heavy loads, or those who regularly find themselves off-roading in the wilderness, changing your oil should be a more frequent occurrence. Speaking to your service center will allow you to develop a plan of action for how often to change your F-150’s oil.
Maintaining the integrity of your tires is also high up on the list of can’t-miss maintenance services. After all, your tires provide control and traction on the road, and if you fail to address your tire condition, you could put yourself at risk of an accident. Regularly inspecting them and rotating them is necessary to ensure that you remain safe and efficient on the road. It’s also good to keep up with wheel alignments, especially if you’ve made any modifications to your truck, including lift kits, new tires, etc. Any change made to this area of your vehicle will warrant an alignment. Be sure to get this done by a professional so that you can enjoy a comfortable and secure ride.
Every 10,000 miles, you’ll also want to get your brake system inspected. This, of course, may be more frequent for you if you’re covering long distances in your truck. Brake pads and rotors wear out over time, and we all know the importance of a properly operating brake system in a vehicle. This maintenance service should not be taken lightly and should be addressed each time your oil is changed. Regularly checking fluid levels, like transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, and other various fluids, should also be a common practice to ensure your truck is operating as it should for optimal longevity.
In addition to keeping up with these maintenance services, we also recommend partnering with a service center that is well-versed in servicing F-150 models, whether new or used. Here at DePaula Ford, our certified service technicians are educated and experienced in working on any F-150 model, knowing exactly which aspects to address and when, keeping you on the right track with maintaining your truck. Remember, trucks can travel well over 200,000 miles if properly maintained, and when you don’t skip any maintenance services, you should be able to enjoy your truck for years without issue.