First let me say I'm not brand loyal however I've had really good luck out of my F150's. I have an 04 with 170K and an 07 with 130K both with the 5.4 tritons. Both pull 6x12 enclosed trailers weighing over 4000 lbs everyday in city traffic. Neither has ever been in the shop. I have found similar problems with both. First they say tune up at 100K but they start to run rough at around 60K so I tune them up at 50K. The rear leaf springs are to soft for towing so I had to install an add-a-leaf to them both. The ball joints go at around 110 to 120K. My crew and I replaced them ourselves for around $300.
The lower you have to replace the entire a-arm. Brakes every 30 to 40K on the front and rears at 100K. Other than that we just do standard maintenance. Motors are strong and pull pretty good. I can't believe we have not had transmission problems with all the towing we do. Find you one some old man has driven to and from the office with around 100K or less and you will find you got a great work truck for several years for less than $10 grand. Both mine are 4x2 so I cant speak for the 4x4 models. Good Luck!
I had a '97 F-150 with a 5.4 that never had a problem and traded in on my current truck. '02 F-350 with 5.4. 135k and have only had one more than maintenance problem. It needed a air manifold which was about $700 to replace with parts and labor. My mechanic said that this was a common thing but being that he is a Ford guy I wasn't concerned.
Other than that I have really liked my Tritons. Ford doesn't seem to gear them with a throw your head in the rest feel but I started adding bolt on stuff on my '97 and the power is there. I think Ford just gears their trucks more for work than race. I have always pushed them to the limit and they proved reliable.
My youngest brother has an 07. Only problem was a couple broken exhaust manifold studs in the 3 or 4 years he's had it. Those were self inflicted from bagging on the truck hard and he does not keep up on maintenance.
Obviously older than you intend to buy, but I had a 99 F-150, 5.4. Loved it. 80,000 miles it started leaking oil. Found out is was a bad design. Ford issued a "Maintenance bulletin" for the repair. Then I found out a maintenance bulliten is what they do when they are trying to avoid a recall. In order to fix the oil leak, the cab had to be disconnected and raised up, in order to pull the motor. The estimate was $1,700.
I'm sure they fixed the problem by now as they may still have the 5.4, but they redesign all the time.
I still see the truck on the road. Probably still leaks oil.
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