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Are Fords Reliable? Models, Facts & FAQ

Low inventory, supply chain issues, and no shortage of demand have caused car prices to surge in recent years. New vehicle prices climbed 23% from 2016–2021. The frustrations likely won’t last forever, but it may take some time before car prices come back to earth.

Buying dependable cars is more crucial than ever in today’s landscape. To that end, brand reputation is as essential as any aspect to consider if you need value.

Ford is one brand that has had no issue establishing itself as a reliable American car manufacturer. Over 100 years after revolutionizing the industry with its assembly line, the brand remains iconic thanks to ever-popular offerings like the F-series: America’s most popular pickup for over 45 years.

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Are Fords Reliable? What the Experts Say

Fords are relatively reliable but by no means take top marks overall. Over the years, there have been deserving highlights, including the Mustang, F-150, and Expedition. At the same time, the company is no stranger to poor designs.

Ford’s failures have ranged from unimpressive duds, such as the Festiva, to explosive devices, as any surviving Pinto owner can tell you. Its modern offerings haven’t been as catastrophic, but they also have a few issues.

ford logo on car's rear door
Image By: Dan Dennis, Unsplash

Consumer Reports Ranking

Consumer Reports supplies an annual reliability report based on over 300,000 survey responses from drivers. It digs into serious vehicle problems experienced during the past 12 months, looking at issues such as engine or transmission failure, electrical problems, and body repair.

Domestic brands have never fared particularly well in the survey, save for Buick. Ford generally hovers around the middle of the pack among all brands. It ranked number 18 out of 26 in the 2021 survey, which was an improvement from the prior year when it sat in 22nd place.

Ford’s redesigns have hindered the Consumer Reports rankings for popular models in recent years. The Escape and Explorer were two of the lowest scoring vehicles in 2020 after taking on new looks. Drivers reported several issues with the Explorer’s transmission, electronics, and powertrain. Despite fixing many of the problems of the previous iteration, the 2021 release also fell well below average in reliability.

The Explorer wasn’t the only model keeping Ford’s ranking down in Consumer Reports’s most recent rundown. Along with the Explorer, the Mustang was among the 10 worst models for reliability. The Escape and F-150, a victim of another redesign, also scored below average.

RepairPal Ranking

RepairPal builds a reliability rating for auto manufacturers based on the repair records of millions of tracked vehicles. Ford’s reliability rating is 3.5 out of 5, making it the 21st most reliable option out of 32 brands.

According to RepairPal, the average repair cost for Ford vehicles is $775 annually. That’s $123 higher than the average across all models in the rankings. Fords have a slightly lower repair frequency, but the issues tend to be more severe, which could explain the more expensive repairs.

Ford’s Super Duty trucks and E-series commercial vehicles have the lowest repair rankings on RepairPal. Average annual costs to fix bottom-ranking models were over $1,000, and for F-series Super Duty pickups, you could expect to pay over $1,200 each year for repairs.

ford mustang in beverly hills
Image Credit: BKD, Pixabay

Most Reliable Ford Models

While the Explorer and some of Ford’s commercial vehicles might not be the most reliable, the company maintains several dependable anchors among its SUVs and trucks.

Even the Mustang, which earned mediocre scores from RepairPal and abysmal rankings from Consumer Reports, received excellent grades elsewhere. Kelley Blue Book scored the 2022 Mustang a 4.7 out of 5 stars, with longtime fans frequently referencing the solid reliability.

Mustang reliability varies by year. Common complaints over the years have included oil leaks, engine issues. On the 2020 models, poor suspension and braking were the primary issues.

If you’re looking for dependability, Consumer Reports gave 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2015 models excellent reliability scores. Meanwhile, the 2019 and 2017 versions took the top prize in J.D. Power’s 2022 and 2020 dependability awards, which measure reliability based on feedback from drivers after three years of ownership.

Ford Expedition

white ford expedition
Image Credit: Dylan McLeod, Unsplash

The Expedition flies under the radar with an average Consumer Reports rating but scores big elsewhere. It won J.D. Power’s 2019 and 2018 dependability awards for its 2016 and 2015 versions in the “Large SUV” category. While it came in second in 2022, it still led in reliability among 2019 models within the category.

Kelley Blue Book loves the Expedition. The full-size Ford has walked away with the Best Buy Award in its category five years in a row. Meanwhile, in an survey, the Expedition was the only Ford represented among the top 15 cars to reach 200,000 miles. It landed in sixth place with 4.5% reaching the mark.

Ford F-150

Ford F-150
Image Credit:
Pavel Anoshin, Unsplash

The Ford F-150 has been the most popular truck in the country for over four decades, and you can chalk a lot of that up to its dependability, power, and value. J.D. Power gave the 2017 and 2014 models top billing for dependability among light-duty pickup trucks. The last decade has seen a consistent theme of reliability from America’s favorite pickup. In the iSeeCars survey, the F-150 landed as the fifth longest-lasting vehicle in its category.

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Other Reliable Ford Models

Consumer Reports had positive feedback for newer additions to the Ford lineup in its 2021 survey. The Bronco Sport and Mustang Mach-E, a crossover SUV launched in 2021, earned the highest marks for reliability in their categories.

The more established Ranger took the top prize in the mid-sized truck category. The Ranger also has an above-average service history of 4 out of 5 on RepairPal. It boasts a low frequency of severe issues and average annual repair costs of around $615.

ford ranger
Image Credit: DanRais, Pixabay

Is a Ford the Right Car for Me?

Newer is better for many individuals looking for the right Ford. The revived Bronco, for instance, immediately took on the Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner as an off-road beast that is equally competent on paved roads. The Bronco Sport earned a 5 out of 5 for predicted reliability by Consumer Reports.

Ford pickups are also a safe bet, especially if you go small. The F-150, Ranger, and the new Maverick are excellent values, and the recently released F-150 Lightning will likely be leading the charge in the all-electric pickup category.

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Final Thoughts

Ford isn’t historically the most reliable manufacturer, but it delivers quality in the models it puts its weight behind. Since it’s no longer competing in most car categories, Ford is an excellent option for SUV and pickup truck shoppers. The F-150, Ranger, Expedition, and newer models like the Bronco and F-150 Lightning are all impressive in their unique ways. They represent the best in reliability from one of the country’s leading automakers and most adored brands.

Featured Image Credit: Jessy Smith, Unsplash


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