Ford V10 Years To Avoid: Which Years Should You Go For?

Ford Motors, the legendary American car company that has put the world on wheels since 1903, has one of the most underestimated V10 engines. The Ford V10 high-performance engine is used in several Vans, RVs, Project cars, et cetera.

However, the Ford V10 is not the best engine in the company’s engine lineups, but it deserves a page in the company’s history.

However, I won’t give much credit to the engine as I will discuss Ford V10 problems and years to avoid. You’ll also learn the years to consider if you want to acquire a car with this engine.

ford triton v10 engine

Ford V10 engine Explained.

The Triton Ford V10 engine made its first debut in 1997. Due to its reliability, the production continued until 2021. It was used in several Ford E-series, F-250, F-350, Cargo vans, and Buses. The Ford V10 Triton engine belongs to the Ford Modular engine family.

The V10 engine is a 6.8 liter, naturally aspirated engine with a single overhead cam (SOHC) design in a V configuration. It has two banks with five cylinders on each and 2 valves on each cylinder — one exhaust valve and one intake valve. The engine underwent a minor upgrade in 2000 to increase its horsepower from 275 to 310 hp.

In 2005, the V10 engine underwent a major upgrade where Ford engineers switched from two valves on each cylinder to 3 valves on each, allowing the engine to increase the horsepower and torque. While it has a simple design, the V10 Triton engine is a powerhouse for most Ford trucks, Vans, and Buses.

Common Problems with Ford V10 Engines

The Ford Triton V10 engine is known for its durability and reliability. However, there are some potential problems to be aware of: exhaust manifold bolt failures, cracking PVC valve hoses, and spark plugs that would blow out of the cylinder heads.

Exhaust manifold bolt failure

One common Ford V10 engine problem is issues with the exhaust manifold. The engineers tightened the exhaust manifold on the head cylinder with small bolts. These small bolts usually rust and break, causing exhaust leaks from the manifold. In some cases, the leaking exhaust fumes can find its way into the cabin and cause health issues.

Watch this YouTube video for a visual clarification on how a mechanic from South Auto Repair fixed a broken exhaust stud issue on an F250 V10 Ford.

Cracking PVC valve hoses

Another common Ford Triton V10 Motorhome problem to avoid is cracking PVC valve hose. PVC stands for positive ventilation crankcase, and it is the hose that travels from the passenger side engine compartment to the intake manifold.

The hose is designed and built to allow engine vapor and gas to travel through it. If it breaks, it’ll cause engine stalling, misfiring, hissing sound, and many other engine issues. This is a common issue with many Ford Triton V10 engines.

Here’s a forum thread where one of the owners complained about this issue.  A cracked positive ventilation crankcase valve hose can be small, but it has severe consequences if you ignore it.

Spark plugs shootouts

The earliest and most dangerous Ford V10 problem that the owners complained of is situations where the spark plugs shoot out of the head cylinder. Read that again. Owners and mechanics reportedly complained on different forums about spark plugs shooting out of the head cylinder while the engine was running.

Another problem with the plug blowout is a loud popping noise and a sudden loss of engine power the moment the spark plug shoots out of the head cylinder.

The spark plugs can sometimes weld itself to the engine block. Trust me, if not fixed on time, these problems can degenerate into severe issues.

However, according to threads on Reddit and several other auto forums, the spark plug blowout issues were prevalent in early models. Ford engineers fixed this problem by 2000. Vehicles with the Ford Triton V10 engine manufactured from 2002 upwards do not suffer this problem. 

So, if you are asking, what year did Ford fix the spark plug problem v10? You now know the answer. Ford fixed the problem in the year 2000.

ford v-10 problems

Ford V10 Engine Specifications

Before looking at 1997 to 2018, Ford v10 years to avoid, let’s see the engine specifications to better understand its capacity.

Manufacturer Ford Motors
Production year 1997
Assembly sites Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Valvetrain layout Single overhead cam (SOHC)
Number of cylinders 10
Number of valves per cylinder 2


Cylinder head material Aluminium
Engine block material Cast iron
Fuel system Gasoline
Fuel type Regular gas
Compression ratio 9.2:1
Bore 92.5 mm
Stroke 105.8 mm
Engine orientation Longitudinal 
Precedessor Ford 5.4L V8
Successor Ford 7.3L Godzilla
Horsepower 362 hp @ 4,75o rpm
torque 460 lb ft. @ 3,000 rpm
Applications Ford F450/F550, Ford Super Duty, Ford E350, Ford E450, Ford Excursion, Ford E550 F3 Motorhome, Ford E250/E450 F3 Motorhome

Ford V10 Engine Maintenance

The general average Ford V10 life expectancy is 200,000 miles. However, it can travel much more than that mileage if you maintain it properly. But if you don’t have a good maintenance habit, then it won’t reach the 200,000 benchmark.

Here are the recommended maintenance services and their intervals on a V10 Ford gas engine.

  • Engine oil and oil filter change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles
  • Rotate tires at every oil change
  • Replace the engine air filter every 15,000 miles or when it becomes clogged
  • Change cabin air filter every 30,000 miles or when it becomes clogged
  • Change transfer case fluid every 30,000 miles
  • Check brakes at every oil change interval
  • Change front and rear axle oil every 30,000 miles
  • Inspect and change wheel bearings every 30,000 miles or when they go bad
  • Change brake fluid every 30,000 miles
  • Change the transmission fluid and filter every 30,000 miles
  • Change power steering fluid every 30,000 miles
  • Change spark plugs every 60,000 miles
  • Flush engine coolant every 100,000 miles or 5 years
  • Replace the serpentine belt every 100,000 miles or 5 years.

What year for the Ford v10 to Avoid?

Ford V10 Triton engine is a fairly reliable and strong engine. There’s no doubt about it.

But after a thorough research by the RX Mechanic writing and mechanic teams, I can confidently say that the Ford V10 years to avoid are 1997-2002. These engines reportedly have spark plug issues. When the plugs get hot, they can shoot out of the cylinder head, causing a loud popping sound and sudden loss of power.

Let’s have an in-depth look at these and see other problems associated with these models. I’ll also discuss the best year for the Ford V10 engine.

1997-2002: Spark plug issues

I pointed out earlier that Ford V10 engine owners and mechanics complained of spark plug issues. According to several Ford V10 years to avoid Forum discussions, the spark plugs can shoot out of the engine when hot, causing a popping sound and a sudden loss of power.

But why do the spark plugs shoot out? Spark plugs and cylinder heads are made of different materials. The Ford V10 engine is made of cast iron engine block and aluminum cylinder heads, while spark plugs are typically made of steel.

Cast iron, aluminum, and steel have different heat tolerance. So, the steel material used in manufacturing the plugs has the potential to melt while the aluminum and cast iron are still okay. Secondly, Ford engineers made the plug well thread too small, meaning they had to cut down the number of threads by more than half.

Normally, the spark plug wells usually have 10 threads, but the Ford V10 engine has only 4 threads. This is the more reason why the spark plugs shoot out when the engine gets extremely hot.

The best solution to this problem is to get a repair kit and then replace the spark plugs with longer ones that can be removed easily in case of melting. Also, ensure that you tighten them properly to prevent them from coming loose.

Earlier years that are not compliant with the OBD2 system

In all fairness, the Ford V10 is a reliable engine with a simple design. The early models did not have an onboard diagnostic system because the engineers did not see a need for one. The onboard diagnostics is a system that allows you to plug in a scan tool to detect why the engine is malfunctioning or why it is showing any warning light on the dashboard.

While the scan tool doesn’t point directly to the root cause of any engine problem, it gives you a clue as to what could be causing the problem. If you are looking for an engine with the OBD2, Ford V10’s earlier models are not the right choice.

However, experienced mechanics can still pinpoint engine and other system issues without using any scan tool since it has less electronics. The lack of OBD II means different things to different owners and mechanics. To some, it is an advantage, while to others, it is a disadvantage.

Now that you have seen the worst years to avoid in the Ford V10 6.8L engine, you may be asking, what year Ford V10 is best? You’ll find out in the next section.

Best year for the Ford V10

While the Ford V10 engine is a strong and reliable engine, all versions are not created equal. Some have the highest flaws, while other versions are reportedly the best among them.

2005-2007: Best overall reliability and performance

In the 2005 version, Ford engineers made a significant upgrade to the engine to improve overall performance and reliability. The upgrades include the introduction of  3 valves per cylinder. Ford V10 engines manufactured from 2005 features 3 valves per cylinder — 2 intake valves and 1 exhaust valve. 

The 3-valve design increases fuel efficiency, horsepower, and torque compared to earlier versions. The engine can output approximately 362 HP, and torque reached 456 lb-ft, making these years the best versions in terms of reliability and performance. If you are looking for Ford v10 performance upgrades, get 2005 or any newer versions.

Plus, the 2005 upgrade made the engine fuel-efficient. However, the V10 still consumes more fuel than other small engines.

2008-2010: Improved fuel economy and Emission

Between the 2008 and 2010 upgrade, Ford introduced more efficient exhaust gas recirculation and catalytic converter to reduce harmful emission that goes into the atmosphere.

The upgrade with the emission-compliant systems does not only prevent the engine from sending harmful gases into the environment, but it’s also beneficial to the consumers. These engines maintained lower emission systems and efficient fuel economy, leading to cost-effective and eco-friendly options for consumers.

Note: While these two sets of Ford V10 versions are the best, it doesn’t mean you should avoid others. Generally, I recommend any versions from 2003 to 2021.

Does Ford V10 performance upgrade?

Ford V10 6.8L engine has undergone several upgrades and changes over the years. However, some folks still want more, at least, to squeeze out a little bit of extra power. There are a lot of mods and upgrades you can do to make the engine reach its peak performance.

I will walk you through the three most effective mods you can do to gain peak performance on your V10 Ford engine. However, you must be prepared to spend some cash and get your hands dirty because this can be expensive.

Install a 5-star tuning module.

One of the likely reasons your V10 on RV is not performing as it should is because of its system gauges are limited.

You need more information when revving the engine to understand the exact system readings.  A 5-star tuner is a device that allows you to reconfigure your V10 engine in RV digitally. With a 5-star tuning module, you will know the exact rpm, mileage, and other information in a digitalized form (actual numbers and percentages) instead of vague gauge readings.

It also displays other information about your engine and vehicle that is not shown on your dashboard, such as tachometer readings and transmission shift points.

To fine-tune your RV using this module, you first need to install the device. It must be connected to your vehicle control system. Then, enter your vehicle information to ensure you get the correct tuning.

You can configure the vehicle to see other readings like engine load, speed, coolant temperature, and RPM. Knowing this information can help you prevent issues like overheating, misfires, and other engine issues.

Replace your rear axle gears.

While you need to rev the engine to generate power, it takes more than that. You need the right gears to generate enough power at average speed.

Many RVs and Buses that use the Ford V10 6.8L engine are equipped with tall gears at the rear axle. As a result, you need to travel between 70 to 80 mph before the engine can produce enough power. The problem is that 70 to 80 mph is too fast for most drivers.

The safe speed to travel with an RV and Buses is 60 mph. Driving faster could cause you trouble with the authorities. But you must increase your speed to get the desired engine power.

The only way to solve this problem is to change the tall gears in the rear axles to smaller ones so you can generate enough RPM even at lower mph. This can be very expensive, so you have to consider this before investing in a Ford Motorhome.

Replace engine air filters frequently.

This is not really a mod, but it can help you gain the desired horsepower. The Ford V10 engine needs more air to burn fuel into energy. This V10 Ford powerhouse consumes more air than several other engines. It takes three times more air than average engines out there. This also means that it gets dirty 3 times faster than an average engine.

Hence, you should change the engine air filter earlier than any average engine. A general rule of thumb is to clean the filter every 2k miles and replace it every 5k miles. This allows enough air to enter the engine, meaning adequate power.

Final Words

To sum it up, while the Ford V10 6.8L engine is nothing crazy with today’s standard, it is a strong and reliable engine with moderate power. The common problems with this engine are cracking PCV valve hoses, and spark plugs shooting out of the head cylinder, and exhaust manifold bolt issues.

The Ford V10 years to avoid are the earlier versions — 1997 to 2002. The spark plugs in these models reportedly shoot out when the engine gets hot. Other common problems, such as the cracking PCV valve hoses and exhaust manifold bolt issues, cut across all the models.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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