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A black 2022 Ford F-150 is shown from the front at an angle.

Basic Ford F-150 Maintenance: What You Need to Know

The purchase of any vehicle is an investment. More than just being a consumer good, vehicles allow us to function, care for ourselves and our families, and elevate our quality of life. That is why getting the most out of your vehicle is of the utmost importance. Like any investment, you need to take the necessary precautions to recoup a sizable return. You can accomplish this by staying on top of routine maintenance at regular intervals to ensure the longevity of what you drive. If you drive a Ford F-150, then getting routine service is essential. Whether you’ve just bought a new model from a dealership or found a used Ford F-150 for sale that you plan on purchasing, we’re here to go over the steps to make sure it delivers the goods for you and continues to do so for years to come.

Oil Obligations

The most fundamental part of any routine service for your vehicle is getting the oil changed at least once a year. Because the powertrains of the F-150 are built for high performance, it’s recommended that you opt for a synthetic motor oil instead of a conventional one. Synthetic oil is much more effective at removing the deposits that accumulate in your engine. It also degrades at a much slower rate, which means you need fewer oil changes overall.

In addition to regular oil changes, it is also advisable to check the oil level in your engine at least once a month, depending on how often you drive. If the oil is low, top it off with fresh oil of the correct weight. Regularly checking the oil level is particularly important for used trucks since older vehicles tend to burn more oil. However, if your truck is burning a lot of oil, it may be time to schedule a maintenance check-up.

Eyes on the Tires

Imagine going out for a morning jog. Everything is going fine until there’s a hole in the bottom of your shoe or the entire sole separates from the seams. So much for going anywhere. Your tires operate the same way. Truck tires need to support a lot of weight, so it’s important that they are fresh and have plenty of tread. Whenever you get your oil checked, ask to have your tires balanced and rotated. A full alignment is also worth investing in at least once a year to keep the tires wearing evenly. When you buy a used F-150, make sure to check the age of the tires. If they are more than a few years old, it is a good idea to replace them regardless of how much tread life they have left.

A silver 2021 Ford F-150 Tremor is shown from the front at an angle while off-road.

Spark of Brilliance

While it doesn’t need to be done as often as an oil change or tire alignment, it’s important that you have your spark plugs replaced on schedule. Modern spark plugs are designed to last 100,000 miles under normal use, so this isn’t something you will likely need to worry about on a new F-150, but if you buy an older used truck, it is something to pay attention to. Regular towing and idling can also cut spark plug life in half. Replacing spark plugs is a cheap and simple task on most engines, but neglecting spark plug maintenance can result in misfires and cylinder damage.

Transmission Fluids

Your transmission does a lot of work to properly shift gears and propel your vehicle forward, and the transmission fluid needs to be monitored. Checking the transmission fluid is a completely different activity than checking the oil. It’s a delicate process that shouldn’t be attempted on your own. Having a professional technician check the transmission fluid during an oil change is a preventative measure to keep your transmission running well. Ford suggests changing the transmission fluid in an F-150 at 150,000 miles, but if you do a lot of towing or off-roading, you may need to change it sooner. Having a transmission replaced or rebuilt will be costly, so it’s important to take care of it.

Give Me a Brake

When it comes to servicing the brakes of your F-150, you might only think of getting the pads replaced, which should be done at regular intervals according to your driving style. This can vary greatly; some drivers need fresh pads every 25,000 miles, while others can hold off until 50,000 miles. It’s very easy to tell when pads need to be serviced; the tell-tale signs can take the form of squeaks or diminished braking ability. However, the pads are not the only part of the brake system that needs maintenance.

It’s also recommended that you have the brake fluid changed every two or three years. Depending on your geographic location, it’s advisable to get it done before the summer months. Braking causes friction, and excess temperatures can have a negative impact on brake fluid. Water also builds up in the brake lines over time, reducing braking performance. Neglecting the brake fluid for too long can result in inoperative braking systems.

Keeping Cool Under Pressure

Some call it antifreeze; others refer to it as coolant. Either way, this is what keeps your engine block cool. Believe it or not, it can be just as important as oil. Your engine is a mass of moving parts working together in unison. While oil keeps these parts lubricated to reduce the friction that naturally occurs between them, a running engine still generates a considerable amount of heat. Coolant allows the engine block to stay at a consistent temperature during operation, especially during hot weather and heavy use. It’s important to use a proper coolant mixture instead of pure water because water can freeze at lower temperatures and cause damage to your F-150s cooling system. The factory coolant is designed to last for 10 years, but after that point, it needs to be replaced every few years.

A grey 2021 Ford F-150 Limited is shown from the front while towing a boat after leaving a dealer that had a used Ford F-150 for sale.

100,000-Mile Maintenance

Years ago, 100,000 miles was considered the end of a car’s life. Thankfully, things have changed since then. A vehicle can last for much longer than this point if it’s properly maintained. Once your F-150 reaches this milestone, it can certainly continue to go the extra mile for you, but there are items that need to be checked and inspected to ensure its lifespan. Aside from the normal services we’ve previously mentioned, it’s recommended that you check the timing chain, which allows your engine’s pistons to operate and function in order. Any belts and hoses should be thoroughly checked and replaced if necessary, and the brakes, transmission, and cooling systems should all be looked over thoroughly to ensure that they’re all in working order.

Routine Service and Going the Extra Mile

For over 100 years, Ford has been producing trucks that have helped build and sustain the infrastructure that can be found from coast to coast. In that time, Ford trucks have become known as some of the most reliable and versatile vehicles on the road, allowing a wide range of customers to utilize them for their leisurely pursuits and occupational duties. Just like you go to the dentist and doctor to ensure that you’re in good health, the longevity of your Ford F-150 is based on how well it’s taken care of and how often it’s brought in for routine service.

Service at regular intervals is how smaller problems are discovered and properly taken care of before they become much larger issues that lead to costly repair bills or a possible breakdown. If you’re unsure how often something should be checked or replaced, any Ford technician can advise you on the proper intervals for the particular F-150 you drive. It is always a good idea to follow Ford’s maintenance recommendations––it’s how you can go that extra mile.