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1999 Ford Econoline

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.5

Reviewed by 14 users

Ease of Conversion:
Seat Comfort:
Build Quality

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Reviews written: 3
View all reviews by lounova

Heavy use report - E-350 Cargo Van - 5.4 liter Triton Engine

by lounova:      Feb 21, 2004

Product Rating: 4.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: Dependability, 4 wheel ABS disc brakes, 4200 lb. weight capacity.
Cons: Ball joints don't have grease fittings. Gas mileage is so-so. Larger tires cost more.
The Bottom Line: 168,000 miles with no breakdowns. Good value.

This has been my 4th Econoline van, and it has been the best out of the bunch so far.
I have owned a
1981 E-150
1989 E-350
1993 E-350
1999 E-350
All have been used in the delivery business, which means
pretty heavy use.
The reason for the E-350 series is for the cargo capacity
of about 4200 lbs - not that it's filled to capacity all the time, but it's there if I need it.
The E-350 series has larger wheels, brakes, rear axle, to name a few differences compared to a lighter duty model, such as the E-150.
My 1999 E-350 has about 168,000 miles on it, and it is running very well so far.
I will separate this into 2 parts.

The Good:
Like I mentioned before, the E350 has a weight capacity of
about 4200 lbs. The Gross weight capacity is about 9500 lbs., which is the maximum this van can legally weigh when it is fully loaded. This van is about 5200 lbs. when empty.
(I have to give estimates due to lots of variables like
gas, fluids, persons,accessories.)

The Triton 5.4 liter engine has plenty of power, especially when loaded. The gas mileage has been between 11 - 13 mpg, which is to be expected when hauling cargo.
In addition, there is no distributor, or, spark plug wires on this motor. Each spark plug has a coil cap on it.

Oil change intervals have averaged 6000 miles.
I have went from convention oil, to synthetic blends, and
now to full synthetic, which I have now pushed to 10,000 mile intervals.

This van has started up every morning for the last 4 1/2 years, except for the time I left an accessory plugged in the cigarette lighter - it drained the battery overnight.

The braking system has been the best that I have experienced in a cargo van. I have had many panic stops, (I work on Long Island), and have been very impressed with the stopping ability of this van in dry, and wet weather.
The E-350 has 4 wheel anti-lock disc brakes, which makes
it a snap for the backyard mechanic to do brakes on this vehicle.

The ride is a lot better then previous generation Econolines, however, the ride can be a bit jarring on bumpy roads, unless you have a full load, which softens the ride.
I have used 3 sets of Pirelli Scorpion tires on this
van, and I think they are a great match for it.

The not so good:

A few days after I purchased the E-350, I noticed a tapping noise from the engine when first started it in the morning, especially when it was cooler outside.
The dealer said this is normal. I think I remember reading on some Ford forums that this is something called
"piston slap".
I got a little concerned, so I went for the extended warranty for $1500.00, which was for 5 years 75,000 miles.
It appears that the tapping noise does not affect engine
durability being that I now has over 168,000 miles on the engine.

The extended warranty did not cover a bad coil cap $100,
(instead of a distributor and coil, each spark plug has it's own coil). This produced a slight "miss" in the motor,
but did not disable my van.
This was the only engine problem that I had so far.

The tires on this van are 245/75 16, larger tires - more money.

The ball joints do not have grease fittings.
Ford uses sealed "lifetime" balljoints. Arrrrhhhh.
My 1993 E-350 got about 40,000 miles of service from the
"lifetime" ball joints.
After I replaced them with aftermarket ball joints (with grease fittings, I think they were TRW) I got up to 120,000 miles with no apparent wear, most probably because
I was able to keep them full of grease.
The van was totalled in an accident, so I couldn't tell if they would last any longer.
I started to notice balljoint wear on my 1999 E-350 at around
120,000 miles, which is a lot better than previous models,
however, if there were grease fittings, I would get a lot
more life out of them.
It costs around $600 to replace the upper and lower ball joints, which is why I was whining about the above mentioned matter.

Traction in snow is not good at all unless I have a load
of at least 1500 lbs. Tire type will not make much of a difference.
Road noise can get pretty loud being that there is no
insulation in the cargo area, except for the rear floor mat. (Remember, I have the cargo van - no seats in the back).

Due to the fact that I have driven 168,000 miles without
a breakdown, which is very important in my business,
this van has been a good value.
Being that the current year model (2004) is similar,
It should still be a good buy.

End note:
Anyone considering a conversion van purchase should go for the E-250, or, the E-350 - not the E-150.
Although the E-150 will produce a softer ride, the capacity is not very much, especially when all the conversion stuff is added, (extra seats, carpet, insulation, headliners, hitop roof, accessories, etc).
I feel it would be easy to overload the E-150 - the
capacity is about 1500 lbs.

Amount Paid (US$): 22,222
Condition: New
Model Year: 1999
Model and Options: Automatic A/C
Product Rating: 4.0
Recommended: Yes 
Build Quality  
Ease of Conversion:  
Seat Comfort:  

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