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F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

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RobbieAG
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F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #1 by RobbieAG » Tue Jan 15, 2013 3:47 pm

Hi my name is Bob and I just joined the forum (though I’ve been browsing for quite a while). I would like to buy an F150. I prefer the inline six because of its reputation for durability, torque and inherent smoothness. The years I’m considering are 1981 through 1996 and was hoping those here that know these vehicles will advise me of the best options. I’ll use the vehicle part time for projects around the house, commuting maybe once a week (other vehicles rest of the week), moving a mower, motorcycle, furniture, towing a utility trailer etc. I like the fact that there’s huge aftermarket support for it. I also like the fact that they’re pretty easy to work on. I’m not viewing it as anything collectable, but enjoy maintaining and doing some tinkering with my vehicles. Generally, I’d go for the newest/best condition one I can find. I’d also prefer a manual transmission but would consider automatic if it’s a great truck. I may also consider an F250 if I could find one with the 4.9. I think if it’s carbed, I’d be more inclined to tweak and tune things; if it’s EFI just maintain it and leave it alone. Here’s what I have so far. Let me know if this info is off base. Thanks in advance.

80 thru 83 – carbureted so easiest to work on and modify, but also potentially more troublesome. Obviously a thirty plus year old truck will have more issues than something newer.

84 thru 86 – I’d probably avoid these because of the feedback electronic carb setup

87 thru 91 – EFI so has the advantages of that. How are these early EFI systems? I’ve heard/read that these are more prone to rust than the later models

92 thru 95 – 5 speed manual trans made by Mazda. Is it reliable? I’ve heard that you have to pull the trans to replace the clutch slave cylinder. Are the E4OD automatics reliable for these years? Are the F250 transmissions better?

96 – same as 92 thru 95 except MAF and EEC-V/OBD-II. I have an OBD II scanner so to me that’s a good thing. The downside is the emissions laws in NC are tougher for 1996 and later vehicles. Are there any other differences? Are these hard to get parts for?

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tom954x4
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #2 by tom954x4 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:17 pm

Hi Robbie and welcome to the forum.

I think you have the situation pretty well pegged; it is really a matter of condition of the actual vehicle you are looking at and whether you are going to go Carb or EFI. My sense is that, for most people, EFI is the way to go. The mazda 5 speed manual has wide ratios and reverse is geared way too tall, but it is reliable (mine has 171,000 + miles and works flawless, as does the 4WD). For your purposes, I think the ideal truck would be a clean, rust free '91-'96 2wd, manual with OD and with a 3.08 or 3.55 axle ratio.

Ther early e4ODs had some problems but the later ones were more robust/reliable.

The F-250s had a beefier transmission with a granny low, helpful for towing or hauling heavy loads. The sixes in these engines tended to come in bare bones "XL" trim, often with manuals. They are rare now (in good condition). Saw one for sale out here, EFI, late '80s, 2WD regular cab, a cream puff with 200,000 miles. Asking ~ $ 2,000. Now that would be a good one to get.

Parts availability for later models is not an issue.
1995 F-150 XL, 300-6, 4x4, ex-cab, sb, 3.08 5-speed, 2 1/2 in. exhaust w/flowmaster 50, MSDignition failed with no warning, now out, canopy, 179,000 + miles. Gone but not forgotten 1965 F-100 240 3spd lwb "the green hornet"; 1960 F-250 4x4, 223 six, 4sp with wrap-around rear window, two-tone paint, overhead camper.
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Asa
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #3 by Asa » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:23 pm

If you're just daily driving, or even towing a load once or twice a year there's nothing wrong with the early E4ODs, an oil cooler and regular trans flushes will keep you runnin right.

I recently hit 290,000 miles on my '93. I have replaced the trans though as the cooler lines rubbed against each other while on a road trip and it ended up puking out almost all the fluid. I still had 2nd and 3rd gear though!
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #4 by 79granada » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:54 pm

any of them are good and they seem to be priced roughly the same from 80-96. that being said im partial to the 80-86 bodystyle. the feedback issues are pretty easy and cheap to deal with you simply remove the feedback carb and toss it into the nearest river or lake then replace with an older style non feedback and your done. we're talking less than 400 bucks if you pay as much as possible for the parts.
'79 granada 250 inline six 80,000 miles (gone)
'96 ranger 2.3 4cyl 5 speed
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #5 by Asa » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:03 pm

If the vehicle is going to be sitting for somewhat long periods of time, I'd probably stay away from a carbed vehicle. In my experience EFI is a little more forgiving about that.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #6 by 80broncoman » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:21 pm

If I could have my own dream truck it would be a 79 F150-or F250 with a stock 1995 300 EFI engine. hooked to a NP435 trans.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #7 by RobbieAG » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:24 am

tom954x4 wrote:The early e4ODs had some problems but the later ones were more robust/reliable.


Any idea when they became more reliable? I'd like to stay away from the trouble prone years if I can (and I go automatic).


Asa wrote:If the vehicle is going to be sitting for somewhat long periods of time, I'd probably stay away from a carbed vehicle. In my experience EFI is a little more forgiving about that.


I'll be driving at least once a week to commute mainly for just this purpose. I don't like to let my vehicles sit for too long without driving them.

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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #8 by rbohm » Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:31 pm

RobbieAG wrote:
tom954x4 wrote:The early e4ODs had some problems but the later ones were more robust/reliable.


Any idea when they became more reliable? I'd like to stay away from the trouble prone years if I can (and I go automatic).


8) as i recall 1987 was the start of the good years for ford overdrive automatics. ford kept improving them over the years though , so the later the better.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #9 by StrangeRanger » Thu Jan 17, 2013 11:31 pm

Ford finally fixed the E4OD with the 95 model year. The earlier than that the worse. There's a list of the upgrades here: http://www.becontrols.com/techguide_6.htm

The 97 version of the same tranny is called the 4R100. It was used in the 97 F250 which still had the older body style and old engine series. It has a few more upgrades but I don't know about downward compatibility with the 96 wiring harness and processor. It is not compatible with 95 down. The 4R100 from the '97 F150 is designed for the modular engines and will not fit the older engines.

Be careful with manual transmissions in the 96-down F250s. The HD 250 got the ZF, the light duty F250 got the Mazdog. Both use the idiotic annular slave cylinder which is prone to failure and which requires you to pull the transmission to change it.
1996 F-150 (tow missile)
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #10 by 80broncoman » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:13 am

Another easy way to telll a ZF from a mazdog trans is by driving it.
A ZF, even a decent old one you can upshift quite smoothly without useing any clutch action if you are smooth with the shifter.
A little blimp of the throttle and you can downshift it that wasy as well.
I have several thousands of miles on my 89 Rollback without clutching it.

Try it with a mazdog and you will see a whole different story. (even on a new one its Nearly impossible)
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #11 by RobbieAG » Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:09 am

Okay, so it sounds like my best bet is a 95 or 96 with automatic. It just happens there’s a nice 95 and 96 available nearby to check out.

FYI, Wikipedia lists the E4OD through 1998. Obviously, that’s not authoritative and could be wrong. It lists the 4R100 for the E series starting in 1997.

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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #12 by JackFish » Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:18 pm

I'm looking at buying a truck in the coming weeks too, so I appreciate the info coming up here.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #13 by RobbieAG » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:20 pm

79granada wrote:the feedback issues are pretty easy and cheap to deal with you simply remove the feedback carb and toss it into the nearest river or lake then replace with an older style non feedback and your done.


What do you do with the connections - doesn't that cause problems with the computer etc.?

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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #14 by Asa » Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:46 pm

At that point the computer doesn't matter. You end up with just a carbureted engine
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #15 by 79granada » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:22 am

yeah asa is right i think the feedback system is about all the computer does
'79 granada 250 inline six 80,000 miles (gone)
'96 ranger 2.3 4cyl 5 speed
'96 chevy blazer 4x4 4.3 v6(wifes car, im trying to talk her into a ford)
'86 F-150 300 inline six automatic rust free 97000 miles

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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #16 by RobbieAG » Sun Feb 03, 2013 2:56 pm

Well, I missed out on the 95 and 96, but there's a decent looking 86 I'm considering. I hesitate to get into a feedback carb setup, but the guy says the carb's been rebuilt, it runs good, and there's no electronics on it. How would I tell if it's a feedback carb or an older one that somebody swapped on? I'm assuming there'd be fewer connections to the carb, but it'd be nice to know for sure (anybody have pictures?). Also, doesn't the distributor have to be replaced and connections changed out when using an older carburetor? It's a four speed manual, so I'm thinking it's the one with the granny gear (the stout T-18/T-19?), but he says it doesn't have a granny gear. Are there any other four speeds it could possibly be that don't have a granny gear?

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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #17 by bmbm40 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:36 pm

My friend had a 94 , I think, F150 with injection and 4sd auto and it is a much nicer experience than my manual 81 F150. Instantly starts, turbine smooth and according to him about 20 on the highway with no load about 65. I would take one like it if I got rid of mine. He owned it since new up until recently, trouble free as far as I know. With six or maybe eight ply tires and if I recall an add a leaf he hauled at least a thousand pounds of building material in the bed and a trailer regularly.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #18 by bubba22349 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:20 pm

Also, doesn't the distributor have to be replaced and connections changed out when using an older carburetor?


Yes it would need to be changed out. Look to see if it has a DSII distributor and control box.

It's a four speed manual, so I'm thinking it's the one with the granny gear (the stout T-18/T-19?), but he says it doesn't have a granny gear. Are there any other four speeds it could possibly be that don't have a granny gear?


No granny gear they were called a 3 speed with overdrive.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #19 by RobbieAG » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:29 pm

bubba22349 wrote:No granny gear they were called a 3 speed with overdrive.


Is that the T-18/T-19 or something else? If something else, is it a durable transmission?

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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #20 by StrangeRanger » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:35 pm

If it doesn't have the granny gear it is not a T-18, T-19 or NP435.
It is a T170 4 speed which is actually a 3 + OD. They are based on the old Ford Toploader so they are generally durable enough but the ratios are NFG.

More info here: http://www.5speeds.com/toploader.html
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #21 by chico71 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:53 pm

i have an 86 f-150, and i really like it. mine has a column 3 speed manual (rare), and i've done the feedback conversion. i chose the DSII dizzy conversion and it was simple and trouble free. some folks here prefer to use the gm module and keep the tfi dizzy & coil. i personally think the DSII is the way to go, but there are fans of the TFI who are far better mechanics than i. in fact, i think that's why i like the DSII, 'cause i am not a genius, just a tinkerer. i also went with an oilfield ignition coil, which is much hotter and longer lasting than a standard coil. living in oklahoma, they are very easy to come by. mine was donated. go to gofastforless.com for a good explanation of how to do it.

also, lmc truck makes it easy to own the 86 bodystyle, as they have just about everything i've needed.

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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #22 by JackFish » Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:41 pm

I'm looking to buy a truck in the coming weeks and have been shopping.
It's practically impossible to find a 4x4 with a 300 up here.
I mean one that isn't ready for the scrapyard.
I have found a couple, one was a '95, but no 4x4s.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #23 by rikard » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:45 pm

Both of my Mazda 5 speeds (94/95) have over 200k without any issues. The first and reverse ratios are too high but my trannies have shifted well and smooth. I did have one 300/automatic work truck (92) and it had no trans issues but was very slow compared to my 5 speeds. I prefer the 3.55s over the 3.08s although the 3.08s are nice for long highway hauls. Check for oil leaks near the top of the trans.
I have had a several 4x2 F 150s, 83, 92, 94, and 95 as personal and work trucks. I prefer the 300 94+ with the 5 speed for reliability. If I was looking at an early 80s I would like the T19 with 3.08s. The 80 to 86 are the best looking IMHO. If changing out the feed back system you also have to change the distributer to a DSII setup as the feedback dist has no advance without the computer.
The 87 to 90 EFI fuel systems with the low pressure and high pressure pumps can be a pain. Up to 92 the 2G alternator is prone to catch fire but can be easily changed to the 3G.
My 95 now has 245k with its original engine and transmission. Its an XLT and everything still works but the cruise which I disabled after the recall. The clutch, water pump, starter, alternator, Map sensor, U joints, and tie rods have been changed over the years and the ball joints are due. This truck is a DD and while I take care of it It does get worked pretty hard. Still capable of 80 plus and regularly gets 16-17 MPG. The interior has held up well. Soon it will surpass my old 86 Burb in mileage (250k) and in much better shape.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #24 by tom954x4 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:03 pm

X2 what rickard says.
1995 - it was a very good year - for cabernet and Ford F-150 :lol:
JackFish - how far away would you consider buying an F-150 with the 300? There are many rust free ones, including 4x4, in the Pacific NW. My arm could be twisted to sell mine since I have another truck now. . . .
1995 F-150 XL, 300-6, 4x4, ex-cab, sb, 3.08 5-speed, 2 1/2 in. exhaust w/flowmaster 50, MSDignition failed with no warning, now out, canopy, 179,000 + miles. Gone but not forgotten 1965 F-100 240 3spd lwb "the green hornet"; 1960 F-250 4x4, 223 six, 4sp with wrap-around rear window, two-tone paint, overhead camper.
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #25 by geezer43 » Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:17 pm

1984 is a great year if you get rid of all the feedback carb and relates c**p and convert the engine back to points. I did that with mine, converted it to 68 Ford six specs and it has been running great ever since. I spent 30 years trying to get the computerized stuff to work well and it never did, just ate a huge hole in my wallet. To do the conversion I bought a 68 distributor and the points, condenser and cap for it and dis connected the rest of the feedback stuff. I did leave the air pump on it so it looks sort of stock. The truck does not get over 3,000 miles per year so it won't need a tune up any time soon. Arizona is an emissions state but I have a permanent Montana plate on it as we have homes in both places. If forced to register in Arizona, I can get a collector plate (over 25years old) and get a waiver on the emissions.

I'm sure this would all work for 85 and 86 engines as well.
Jim Johnson, Chandler, Arizona
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Re: F150 Inline 6 – Best Years

Post #26 by takehikes » Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:02 am

I ordered a new 87 F150 Supercab longbed with the 300-6 and the 5 speed. It was superb. Would and could do everything very well. No issues with it at all and I about cried when I had to sell it due to financial considerations.

I'll say this the EFI is what I'd hunt down, made a big difference in how it ran and drove compared to carbed models. I currently have a 68 with a 240 and the stock 1 barrel and what a nightmare. Its coming out and an Offy manifold and 390 cfm Holley are going in along with DUi ignition.

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