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Experiences with infamous engines?

I figured this might be an interesting question to pose. Who here has owned vehicles with engines that have a bad reputation, such as the 5.4 3-valve Triton V8 or the Mopar 3.7 V6 or 4.7 V8?


I think the closest I come is probably my ‘83 Celebrity with the 2.8 60-degree V6. I don’t know that they are especially bad but I remember someone telling me they were unreliable. In any case, mine sure was reliable. That thing was damn near unkillable. At one point in my sisters’ keeping, all of the motor mounts were bad and the mechanic told her the engine was pretty much resting on the axle. We never even had carburetor problems. Now, it may have had other problems given that the Check Engine light was on for oh, about 5 years, but they never impeded it from running or getting us where we needed to go.

I could maybe count the Iron Duke from my first car, a ‘80 Pontiac Phoenix. I know I hated that miserable boat anchor. It was slow and not very efficient, but at least it was also unreliable and noisy. I don’t know that they have a real widespread rep for being unreliable though. Might just be me that hates them.


I currently have an ‘08 F-150 with the 2-valve 4.6 Triton V8 which like the 5.4 had those two-piece spark plugs that like to snap off in the head. When I had it checked by a mechanic I trust, it sounds like the factory plugs were replaced long ago with some less-stupid plugs. But other than that this engine is relatively reliable so I don’t think it quite counts.

Other than that, most of my engines have all been pretty good ones. Some have had problems but wouldn’t necessarily be considered the fault of the engine. The 3.8 Series II V6 in my LeSabre had electrical and computer problems, but I suspect it all stemmed from a shitty install of an aftermarket stereo by Circuit City. I never got to find out if my 2.4 GDi Kia Optima would develop the carbon buildup I’ve heard about in those because it got totaled by a careless high schooler. Up to that point I loved it. One of my Chevy Sprints with the 1.0 Suzuki 3-pot threw a rod, but it was certainly my fault.

I started thinking about this because of the 5.4 3-valve Triton V8. I had 4 or 5 of them in my fleet at my previous job (and a couple 4.6s) in my E-series vans, but I think these were the revised ones. A few of them made it to well over 300k and are still going strong. Only one ever spit out a spark plug like they sometimes do, and that was one that we bought from a company that wanted to outsource their deliveries. That van had been neglected, but I got all the maintenance caught up when it still had low miles on it. The incident didn’t happen till around 220k. Fortunately the driver was smart and stopped the engine immediately. We towed it to the shop and the mechanic replaced the plug. It had no further engine problems but was retired at 278k because the transmission crapped out.

So, what’s been your experiences with the worst of the worst? Did they live up to the hype, or was yours the exception?

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