The Best And Worst Years For Ford F250s

If you want the best used version of Ford’s F-250, stick with a trim from the 2005, 2009, 2011, or 2020 model years.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Jan 11, 2023
Looking for a strapping Ford F-250 for all your pickup-ing needs? From the 2005 F-250’s reliably smooth ride to the 2009’s standout diesel version, and from the 2011’s thick steel-body construction to the 2020 model’s boosted engine options, we’ll break down the best F-250’s available on the market (as well as the worst ones to avoid).
Since its 1998 debut, the Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck has been the go-to choice for all sorts of tough-as-nails-needs, be they traversing through deep snow or mud, rolling over rocky terrain, or crunching your way over the burnt-out husks of compact economy sedans. 
Whichever year’s F-250 you plan to snatch from the used market (you savvy operator you), make sure you insure that brawny, brawlin’ hunk of a truck with the right
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To find out which F-250 is the right one for you to conquer any and all landscapes—and to learn how you can save on your
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A brief history of the F-Series

Ford’s F-Series has been around for a while—since 1948 to be exact, smack dab in the middle of the Truman Presidency, we’re sure you remember. Anyways, Ford’s rough-and-tumble workhorse has been getting the job done ever since.
The Super Duty (of which the F-250 is a prime example) is relatively new in comparison, debuting in the late nineties and built to offer more towing capacity and power than the ubiquitous F-150.
The F-250 may be the smallest of the Super Duty lineup, but remember folks, size isn’t everything—the F-250 can haul a whopping 43,000 pounds (definitely satisfying the needs of most pickup drivers).
Of course, there are bigger Super Duty versions (all the way up to the 750) for work, industrial, or egotistical purposes.

The best Ford F-250s you can buy

One standout model year from each of the F-250’s four generations to get you to (or over, or through) your destination.

2005 Ford F-250 (1st generation)

Price used: Around $20,000
From the F-250’s first generation, the 2005 version was truly exceptional. It offered a rugged ride accompanied by a smooth, quiet experience free of rattling and shaking, especially in comparison to its hulking rivals.
Performance-wise, the 2005 F-250 offered three engine options to suit your hauling needs:
  • Triton V8 with 300 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque 
  • Triton V10 (high power option) with 310 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque
  • Diesel 7.3 L Power Stroke turbo V8 with 275 horsepower and 525 lb-ft of torque
The ‘05 F-250’s interior was freshened up to include the following:
  • New interior with driver’s side glove box (for all your snacking needs)
  • Dash-mounted auxiliary switches for winches and plow trucks
  • The Ford TowCommand—in-dash trailer brake based off of the truck’s ABS
The XLT was the most common trim, which boasted aluminum wheels, automatic transmission, keyless entry, cloth-wrapped seat and vinyl-wrapped rear bench, manual locks and windows, air-conditioning, and chrome bumpers.

2009 Ford F-250 (2nd generation)

Price used: Around $20,000
The F-250’s second generation was epitomized by its standout diesel engine option, best showcased in the 2009 model.
The ‘09 F-250 featured a robust diesel option:
  • 6.4 L Power Stroke V8 engine with piezo fuel injectors and sequential twin turbos, which helped improve the F-250’s reliability even by the 1st generation’s relatively lofty standards
  • Both gas engine options for the 2009 F-250 were imported from the first generation F-250
The 2009 model also had a new look:
  • New front fascia, updated tail lamps, and different wheels
  • Interior featured new (for the time) panels and gauges 
  • New seats and interior trim
  • Auxiliary switches and the in-dash Ford TowCommand
The XLT continued to be the most popular trim, featuring dual-beam headlights, lumbar adjustable front seating, new cloth upholstery, 17-inch forged aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires, and illuminated entry.

2011 F-250 (3rd generation)

Price used: Around $30,000
The 2011 model featured the F-250’s hulking steel frame, which was the thickest on the market at the time.
In 2011, buyers found an amazingly durable vehicle whose track record has stood the test of time. The gas engine option was improved in the 3rd generation F-250 to the following:
  • 6.2 L 2-valve Ford Boss V8, with 385 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque
  • Diesel came with a 6.7 L Powerstroke V8, with 390 horsepower and 735 lb-ft of torque
Ford cleaned up the exterior for a better overall look and functionality, with a more prominent front end, and with better, streamlined lighting from front to back.
The interior featured a slew of technology, including:
  • New LCD instrument panel
  • Standard AUX inputs
  • Sony audio package across the entire trim line (optional)
Once again, the XLT trim was the most popular, featuring power locks, windows, and doors along with a trailer brake control, keyless entry, rear parking assist, and Ford’s SYNC system.
The third-generation F-250 is a bit pricier to find on the open market, especially a 2011 model with less than 150,000 miles on it.

2020 F-250 (4th generation)

Price used: $50,000 and up
The F-250’s newest generation comes chock full of technological updates and boosted engines for a powerful, convenient ride.
The body and truck bed are now designed with aluminum, making this vehicle much lighter (even with a bigger driveline) and more durable than previous models—this also means far fewer corrosion issues
The engine options have been revamped, and now include:
  • A 7.3 L gas engine with 430 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque
  • A 6.7 L diesel engine with 475 horsepower and a staggering 1,050 lb-ft of torque
You’ll find all sorts of tech goodies across the trim levels (even if the base-level XL remains, well, basic). But the XLT remains the most common choice. Here are some of the goodies you’ll find on newer generation F-250s:
  • Cruise control, Ford’s SYNC 3 system, in-dash tire pressure monitoring
  • Lariat trim features leather seating, automatic climate control
  • King Ranch trim sports Mesa leather seating, heated leather steering, in-dash navigation

The worst F-250s you can buy

Like every model, there are the great ones, and then there are the not-so-great ones—here are the F-250 model years you should definitely avoid.

2002 F-250

This pickup trucking hulk was beset by mechanical issues, including the following:
  • Fuel injection pump breaking problem—you won’t be able to start this rig without a functioning pump
  • Head gaskets that cause oil leaks on the starter
  • Issues with the 2002’s V8 engine, including the engine ejecting spark plugs, which can damage the cylinder and lead to a very pricey repair job
  • Brake and suspension issues were also frequent driver complaints

2006 F-250

Coming off the sublime 2005 F-250 model year, perhaps the 2006 was bound to be a letdown
The 2006 F-250 dealt with a slew of issues, including the following:
  • Similar spark plug issues, with them being ejected and damaging the cylinder, as the 2002 F-250 dealt with
  • Also, the fuel injection pump continued to break easily
  • Radiator was known to leak, and the ignition coil was known to fail
  • The blower motor for the heating and air conditioning systems was reported to fail repeatedly—this often led to the air conditioning only working on the highest setting and, sometimes, not at all
  • The 2005 version offered very poor gas mileage and, combined with all the fixes, meant plenty of money down the drain

2008 F-250

The production of the 2008 Ford F-250 model year was rushed, and it showed! On an overall drive level, it was known to vibrate and shake while on the road, likely due to the driveline not being properly adjusted.
Other issues:
  • The spark plug ejection problem (where the cylinder was damaged) reared its ugly head again in the 2008 F-250
  • The air conditioner speed would often change without notice
  • The 2008 F-250 offered poor gas mileage combined with a subpar towing capacity
  • The engine on this truck was loud, leading to an unpleasant cabin experience

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