Ford - 1997 Ford F-150 XL, with a 4.2 L V-6 engine - recall notice from Ford reported engine coolant leanks, severe engine damage if not corrected

Posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2004 at 12:00am CST by f7199899

Product: 1997 Ford F-150 XL, with a 4.2 L V-6 engine

Company: Ford

Category: Cars, Motorcycles, Boats, Vehicles

In December of 1996 I purchased a brand new 1997 Ford F-150 XL, with a 4.2 L V-6 engine. Over the past seven years I have followed the maintenance schedule to a "T". In January of 2000, I received a letter, from Ford Motor Company, in reference to a recall which stated "affected vehicles may experience engine coolant leaks at the engine front cover gasket; this could cause severe engine damage if not corrected". At that time I was stationed in Kaiserslautern, GE, due to military service.

I promptly contacted my local Ford dealership service department to arrange for the recall work to be performed. The service manager had no knowledge of the recall, but due to the fact that I had the letter from Ford, he agreed to perform the work at no charge to me.

Since they did not have the gasket on hand, they had to order one. Several weeks later, I received a call from the service manager, who told me that the required parts were in and that I could bring my truck in to have the maintenance performed. The maintenance was only supposed to take one day. The next day, I called the service desk to find out if my truck was ready, and I was informed that the mechanic performing the maintenance had broken the gasket when he was trying to put it in and that another gasket had to be ordered, which might take several days.

About a week later, I contacted the service department again, and was informed that the parts had come in, but that the mechanic had broken the tool needed to put my engine back together. The service manager told me that they had ordered one and that it should be in within a couple of days. At this point, of course I am furious and wondered if I would ever get my truck back in one piece.

Finally a couple of days later I got my truck back. Skeptical about the quality of workmanship performed on my engine, upon returning to the United States, about one year later, I promptly took my truck in to my nearest Ford dealership, in Clarksville, TN, and asked them to look at it to ensure that the maintenance was performed properly. When I picked my truck up, the service department ensured me that the maintenance was done correctly. This past Sunday, November 30, 2003, I started up my truck and it sounded as though the engine was coming apart.

I had it towed to my mechanic who checked it out and informed me that the engine was a total loss. He stated that I had no compression on two of the cylinders and that one of them only had 40% compression. He also stated that a valve was knocking severely. Upon finding out this news, I did some research, (www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov), to find out that I was not the only Ford truck owner to experience this exact same problem with this particular engine (1997 4.2L V-6).

Over 100 complaints on this web site, and all incidents were related to the failure of the gasket, which the Ford dealership had supposedly replaced. After contacting Ford, in reference to this problem, they told me that they had no knowledge of such a problem with this particular engine. My truck only has 81,000 miles on it, and since I had taken such good care of it, I had expected it to last me many more years without major repair issues.

Thank You,

Darrell


18 Comments

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9c2d73d8, 2008-03-24, 04:46PM CDT

my1997 ford has 4.2 v6 it run fine but when engine warm up the oil pressure gauge starts to jump up and down. if you keep your foot on gas it alright,but if it idles the oil light comes on.

e20063e8, 2008-03-25, 08:17PM CDT

This sounds just like me.I had the exact same problem only having 61,000.00 miles. I had my engine rebuilt and seven months later the same thing happened all over again. The engine was rebuilt by a Ford worker and he told me that they have had several complaints of this from other customers. That is when I threw my hands up and bought me a Chevy. This happend three years ago and I am in the process of putting a new motor in my 1997 F150 ang giving it to my son. I am very skeptical of doing this due to the problems in the past.

be0ce577, 2008-09-05, 11:00AM CDT

Dont feel bad, I have a 1997 f-150 setting in the driveway with same problem. I bought it from an individual that had the engine repaced at 40,000 mi and at 170000 the other motor is shot with the oil looking like chocolate milk. I think Ford has a problem but does not want to admit it.I thought about replacing the motor with a long block. but why? Good luck.

b36027ba, 2009-08-13, 03:12PM CDT

3 years ago, with just 150,000 km's on it, the 4.2L in my '97 F-50 suffered a hydro lock. The timing chain cover gasket had leaked, filling the #1 cylinder with coolant on an intake stroke. The damage occurred when I tried to start the engine and the valves closed for the compression stroke.

The private mechanic I went to was familiar with the timing chain cover gasket issue and suggested that it might be cheaper to replace the engine with a used one.

I bought a wrecked '98 F-150 with 75,000 Km's on it from an insurance auction and swapped the motors. Total cost? $5265,00 including labour and taxes.

That worked great until 50,000 Km's later when the same problem occurred and I'm right back to square one.

Of course the Service Manager at the local Ford dealership "has never heard of this problem occurring" but suggested that, at this point, it might be cheaper to replace the whole truck than to find a rebuilt engine. The dealership wants $4980.00 for a factory rebuilt engine including labour but the book price for the truck is only $1100.00 - $2100.00.

Don't think you're the only one this has happened to, this is a huge problem that's been going on for years and, despite what the Service Manager might say, Ford is aware of it.

I'm a die-hard Ford fan but I've come to see that at Ford, quality isn't job one, selling poorly constructed vehicles is.

If you're inclined to replace the timing chain cover gasket, make sure it's replaced with a genuine FORD gasket and not an aftermarket gasket because the Ford gasket has been updated.

a89722e4, 2010-03-26, 08:59AM CDT

my 1997 4.2l hunker made it to 300000k before i had the same problem. just died thur march 25 2010

214651bb, 2010-05-29, 11:54PM CDT

Must be a common problem. I also have a 1997 f150 with a 4.2 v6 that was recalled because of the faulty timing cover gasket. The Dealer replaced the ENTIRE ENGINE and a year later on my way to work i stopped to get gas an the truck would not turn over. knowing the problem i pulled the no.1 spark plug out and cylinder was full of antifreez.

b660074f, 2010-10-11, 03:03PM CDT

I have a 97 f150 i bought new and i always did preventive matiance on it to keep it in good shape i even ran synthetic oil in it. It was running good and i parked it in the garage the night before and the next day i got in it and it sounded like the starte had locked so i had the stater tested and it was going bad i put a new one on it and it turned the engine over and broke a pistion rod. I found out that the head gasket was defective and leaked water into the no.1 pistion. so i called ford to see if there was a recall i had missed and they told me right off if i was thinking ford was going to help me pay for it i was crazy. I then went on the internet and found page afther page of the same year doing the same thing.So i ended up having to get the moter rebuilt out of my own pocket.

12c55803, 2010-10-18, 09:06AM CDT

My father bought this truck brand new in 1997, and since it was his first new vehicle he treated it like a baby. About 4 years ago, I went away to college and my dad gave me the truck. While in college, I only used the truck on weekends rarely used it during the week. Instead, I would take the bus to school/work.

Just this past weekend though (10/16/2010), my engine started to sound a little funny, so i called a mechanic and he told me that the engine was out...I was dumbfounded! After telling my dad about what the mechanic said, he quickly became enraged because he believed that I was getting ripped off. Therefore, he drove up from San Antonio to my home in Austin with a private mechanic he knew and was told the same thing.

Now, I know for sure that my engine is out with only 106,000 miles. What sucks even more is that I thought the engine had so many years left before it would go out, so I began investing on the vehicle by updating it with new tint, tires, grill, headlights and a manuel-to-automatic locks/windows conversion kit.

Because the vehicle has so much sentimenal value to me, I went to re-build the engine, but I don't know that it's worth it concerning the defectiveness of the engine...WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK?

cf468aa2, 2010-12-07, 06:31PM CST

i was wondring when the recall expired for the 4.2l engine recall?

e2e37dd6, 2011-02-02, 06:27AM CST

hello l have a 97 model ford the Engine has fulty and l bult another Engine as they insert the engine on it he did not start but l was thinking that they may not fix the wire to the spark plug well or the brain bus could be fult. pls can you send me the dygram of the spark plug of the engine or the whole engine so that l can be able to use my car again. thank you yours Godwin.

60c0c628, 2011-02-12, 03:21PM CST

I, as well, have a '97 F-150 with the same problem. My timing cover gasket was replaced at the dealer on a recall. Apparently, it did not work, because it still caused the problem I now have. Just goes to show you, no matter how good you are at maintaining the service on your vehicle, crappy workmanship will win the battle. Running and knocking for now. Don't know where to turn. Sell it & get what I can or buy a rebuild. Either way, No more Ford's for me or mine.

Scott F

Mississippi

5a4ea78c, 2011-09-01, 02:09AM CDT

Ibuy my truck 1997 and I have't never recive any letter of recall of my truck maybe because I 'm latino.

NOW I looking an a new motor

78295b30, 2012-05-02, 08:58AM CDT

There is a TSB out there, but no recall. Ford never offered to fix it for free, just advised it should be fixed.

5b4b7980, 2012-06-06, 07:46AM CDT

I also have a 1997 ford f150 with a 4.2 v6 engine. it has a blown engine too. I backed in my driveway one night after work, next morning i go to start it up and nothing but loud knocks coming from engine and smoke out the tailpipe. I checked the oil and the dipstick was bone dry. 3 weeks pryor i checked all my fluids and everything was fine. After i checked my oil, finding it was bone dry, i put 4 to 5 quarts in and everything was the same. Hard knocking and smoke. They want $900 for a used engine at a junkyard. But after seeing all the complaints, i'll have it rebuilt or see about a recall.

0b73d7b2, 2012-06-14, 10:37PM CDT

to the person that got the letter from ford due u still have it because my engine too is knoking 97 4.2 v6 xl and i never got a recall something got to be done about this

roger r., 2012-12-09, 12:07AM CST

these engines were redesigned 3-4 times in a 18 month period and still they couldn't fix these problems because they took a 3.8 L block and tried to bore it out to a 4.2 L how ever this did not work very well, the 4.2 Essex engine was an experimental failure and a costly lesson for the Ford buyers who got snookered by Ford, it also happened to the Ford wind star mini vans in that year range Ford should be sue in a class action suite by the burned owners of these yard orniments....don't waste time rebuilding these engines either they won't last very long because of boring out the block it made dimensional problems in the fit of engine covers, lower intake valve gaskets, and add in the poorly designed coolant systems and you a recipe for failure.FORD really does mean>

Fixing

Or

Repair

Daily

mike s., 2014-02-19, 06:30PM CST

I have a 97 f-150 with the 4.6 6 cylynder, have not driven in 9 years, only has 48,000 miles on it, broke her out of moth balls about 9 months ago, started up the other morning and sounds like valves clacking to me the sound dissapears after a few minutes... What the ? is that.

roger r., 2014-03-07, 11:33AM CST

probably sticky push rod lifters, if the sound dissipates after reaching operating temp, it could be lifters or it could be rod or crank bearings, best thing to do would be to change the oil and filter and then let it run for several minutes, shutting it off and starting it back up every 10-15 minutes also rev the engine up and hold it at 3,500 rpms for a few seconds. then do it a few more times to increase the oil pressure, it may un stick that noisy lifter. remember; it's been sitting there for a long period of time. you should start it up every month and drive it around the block or even just back and forth in your drive way. this is to lubricate the oil seals and gears, axle bearings and seals in the transmission, the fluid and or oil gets spread around. sitting is very bad for any vehicle, they need to be drove at least once a month...

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