Ford Mustang Years to Avoid: Most Common Problems | REVISION (2023)

When it comes to Ford muscle cars, the top model that comes to mind is the well-loved Mustang. Along with Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, it forms the holy trinity of cars that still feature old-school sporty styling in their flagship models along with powerful V8 engines under the hood.

The Mustang is Ford's longest-running production car, having started its journey in 1965 and is still on track in its sixth generation, with a seventh on the way. Reliable or not, it's still a beloved car and our team wanted to give you a rundown of the worst and least reliable years. Hence this guide furtherFord Mustang years to avoidHe will show you the way to get a wild horse that is as reliable as possible.

The most common Ford Mustang problems

With such a long production history, it would be impossible for a car in certain years of production to have had no problems. Luckily, major engine problems were extremely rare in any Mustang generation, but certain model years featured some annoying problems.

One of the most common problems is mainly caused by automatic transmission failures, and by that we mean both old and modern transmission systems. Even the latest 10-speed automatic transmission has had some issues that drivers have reported as bothersome while driving. There were also some minor oil leaks and similar engine-related issues, but rest assured that the engines themselves were the most reliable.

If you're considering becoming the new owner of a sleek sports car like the Mustang, you may also be familiar with brake-related issues. Finally, there is sort of an airbag situation here, as many Mustang owners of various models have reported airbag issues that eventually required official recalls.

transmission problems

Transmission problems have been more or less present in Mustang vehicles since the introduction of automatic transmissions in Ford sport models. There are several transfer-related issues that deserve your attention as a buyer. First we looked at driver reports and complaints and discovered the situation with the fourth generation Mustang where the car lurched forward after braking.

Although owners initially thought it was a braking system failure, it was later found to be due to gearbox problems. Unfortunately, there's more: Ford issued an official recall in 2018 and should have taken care of the problem axis that was preventing the transmission from reaching park correctly.

As you might have guessed, this issue can cause rollover and is therefore a major security concern. Finally, drivers reported several instances where the 10-speed automatic would shift, resulting in increased vibration when changing gears.

engine related problems

Fortunately, Ford Mustang owners rarely report engine failures and similar problems with their cars. While that's fine, it's not possible for a model that's been in production for so long without engine-related failures. The first thing that comes to mind is an oil leak from the valve cover gasket, and even the trusty 5.0 liter Coyote V8 has motorists reporting problems with oil leaks.

In addition, there are numerous reports ofSlow marchand electronic throttle problems, as well as oil-covered spark plugs. All of this is characteristic of even Mustang GT models, so we want to make sure you're aware of them.

brake problems

Unfortunately, some Mustang models have no shortage of brake system issues, but the good news is that we'll talk about all of these issues and help you avoid pesky model years. Brake system failures primarily include problems with unlubricated caliper guide pins and damage to the brake pedal bracket.

Brake system problems are safety issues and it's good that Ford has recognized them and initiated official recalls. These 2015 and 2020 recalls were mostly for existing brake issues and it's important to buy at least one unit that was recalled with the brakes repaired.

Airbag system failure

Over the years, Ford has identified many airbag failures in its models, including the Mustang. Some of the biggest problems were faulty modules, causing concerns about airbags not inflating in emergency situations, and faulty inflator bags. The defective gas generators were generated with increased triggering pressure, which led to explosions and metal splinters that flew through the cabin.

One might assume that this is a dangerous situation, which is why Ford has initiated a number of airbag recalls for the Mustang model. The most notable were in 2015 and 2017, and a 2021 recall addressing possible gas generator explosions in the 2005-2014 Mustang.

What years of Mustang to avoid?

Ford Mustang Years to Avoid: Most Common Problems | REVISION (1)

Well, along with a few reports of broken door handles and peeling paint, the above issues aren't much given how long this model has been in production. As well as giving you a rundown of the Mustang's biggest issues as a model, we want to make sure you're aware of its worst production years.

This way you can avoid certain Mustang models of several generations and only go for the most reliable ones.

Fourth generation Mustang (1998-2000 model years)

Some of you might say that we skipped the first three generations of Mustangs because of their sleek, vintage looks, but Ford got most of them right. The biggest problems and problem years began with 1998 being one of the worst model years for the Mustang.

Drivers have reported issues with the automatic transmission on this model, and this is most noticeable when braking just before coming to a complete stop. The transmission gave that harsh jerk and the vehicle leaned forward under braking, as we mentioned earlier.

In addition, drivers also complained about the car's electrical system and peeling paintwork. Also, cracked headers and oil leaks were pretty common for Mustang 2000 drivers, so that's another thing to consider.

Fifth generation Mustang (2005–2007 model years)

The fifth generation Ford Mustang has garnered a lot of praise when it comes to design and the introduction of the acclaimed Coyote V8 engine in the GT version. However, 2005 was one of the worst model years, and the 2006-2007 models didn't progress far enough to address the major issues.

During these years of production, the Mustang suffered from gearbox failures, poor paint quality, and corrosion in the hood area, as well as frequentlyLow battery statusAffairs. It was also when certain problems related to the engine we are talking about began to appear and oil leaks were the most common problems of this type.

Some drivers even complained about the manual gearbox and noise when shifting.

Sixth generation Mustang (2015-2016 model years)

One of the best looking Mustang generations was the sixth generation Ford Mustang, which featured a modern design with some of the old Mustang elements like taillights and grille. However, in terms of mechanical issues, the early years of production, 2015-2016, were not as reliable as the sales numbers suggest.

Instead, we found numerous rider complaints of steering performance issues and stalling while driving caused by faulty throttle bodies. In addition, drivers have complained of damaged brakes, faulty air conditioning evaporators and even paint problems. Again, the pattern rust that formed under the hood continued to be a major problem as owners complained of vibration and noise when driving.

The best years of the Ford Mustang

Now that you've heard about all the Mustang years to avoid, it's time for us to take a look at our best model years yet. Of course, there are many more reliable Mustang model years than those considered unreliable. In addition to the first three model years, which are considered to be quite reliable and solid, here are the best Mustang model years:

  • Ford Mustang 1994
  • Ford Mustang 1995
  • Ford Mustang 1996
  • Ford Mustang 1997
  • Ford Mustang 2001
  • Ford Mustang 2002
  • Ford Mustang 2003
  • Ford Mustang 2004
  • Ford Mustang 2008
  • Ford Mustang 2009
  • ford mustang 2010
  • ford mustang 2013
  • ford mustang 2014
  • ford mustang 2017
  • ford mustang 2018
  • Ford Mustang 2019
  • Ford Mustang 2020
  • Ford Mustang 2021

For early Mustang models, simply select 1969' and 1974' and you'll have the chance to take a reliable entry-level car that's worth investing in and upgrading to transform into your very own old-school Mustang. As for the newer models, the problems that the 1998 Mustang had have mostly been fixed for the 2001 and 2002 models, making it a safer purchase.

When it comes to the fifth-generation Mustang, the best models are 2004 and 2009, and these received the fewest driver complaints. Finally, the sixth generation Mustangs are considered to be fairly reliable, with the exception of the 2015 and 2016 model years. Some of the best models to buy from this era include the 2018 and 2020 Mustangs.

Is it worth buying or Ford Mustang?

In the end, the answer to this important question is a resounding yes, because the Mustang is one of the best muscle cars and sports coupés in recent automotive history. We have to say that the issues listed in this guide are not that serious considering how long the car has been in production.

At the very least, the list of Mustang years to avoid will help you pick a perfect model year for a full vintage Mustang restoration or get the best modern GT model without a big investment.

What year of manufacture is the Mustang most reliable?

The most reliable Ford Mustang is a 2014 Mustang, while the 2018 is also a worthy rival when it comes to reliability.

What are the best years to buy a used Mustang?

The best years to buy a used Mustang are 2003, 2004, 2009, 2014, 2018 and 2020.

What is the least reliable Mustang?

The least reliable Mustang is the 2005 model year, which received many complaints from drivers.

What are the best years for the Mustang GT?

The best years for the Mustang GT are 2014 with the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 and 2019 with the 5.2-liter V8 in Shelby GT500 trim.

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Filip Gromovic

Filip is a lifelong automotive enthusiast dedicated to researching performance parts, tires and suspension.

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