Ford F150 4.6-liter and 5.4-liter are V8 engines that are part of a modular family with small blocks, and they have an overhead camshaft design.
They were in use from 1997 until their discontinuation in 2010 by Ford in F150 pickup trucks. Both are excellent engines with many shared features and few differences.
F150 4.6 and 5.4-liter belong to the same engine family Triton V8. Both have the same aluminum or cast iron block construction, depending on the manufacturing year. However, they have minor differences in their power and torque ratings. The 4.6-liter has a peak power rating from 205-hp to 297-hp from 1997-2010 models, while the 5.4 engine has 230hp-315hp power available. F150 4.6-liter has torque rating 285-325 lb-ft while 5.4-liter has 325-370 lb-ft range.
This article will guide Ford F150 owners to compare different features with 4.6L and 5.4L V8 engines.
What is Ford 4.6?
Ford 4.6-liter engine is a 90o V8 engine with 279-282 cubic-inch displacement. It is available in 3 versions according to the number of valves and overhead camshaft design.
They have a 16-valve single overhead camshaft (SOHC), 24-valve SOHC, and a dual overhead camshaft design with 32 valves.
F150 is available in the first 2 versions. Moreover, it has aluminum or cast iron block construction depending on the type of vehicle.
It has an individual coil-on-plug system and multi-port fuel injection to prevent residual fuel problems on the intake manifold.
What is Ford 5.4?
Ford 5.4-liter is also a V8 engine of the Triton family, having 328-331 cubic-inch of displacement. Its longer stroke and displacement length give it an edge to have higher power and torque ratings.
It is also available in similar 3 valvetrain variants like 4.6-liter. It is a naturally-aspirated engine in standard F150 models.
But Ford introduced it in a special edition of the F150 known as Harley Davidson and Lightning with superchargers. Its modular nature enables the designers to change their design according to requirements quickly.
Comparison of F150 4.6 vs 5.4 engines
Ford’s 4.6-liter and 5.4-liter are pioneers in the modular engine family by Ford and remain in the top 10 list of best engines.
Both have design and other features in common except a few exceptions, including power and torque ratings and other relevant specifications.
Ford 5.4-liter has higher power ratings due to large displacement and stroke length. Its power rating varies from 230hp to 315hp from its initial model to the final one in 2010 for F150.
On the other hand, the F150 4.6-liter has peak horsepower in the 205-297 range depending on the manufacturing year.
F150 with a 4.6-liter engine has lower peak torque ratings due to smaller displacement.
Still, it is a good value in the range 285-325 lb-ft, suitable for towing applications for a medium-duty pickup truck.
F150 5.4-liter has a peak torque rating from 325 to 370 lb-ft. A special edition of F150 5.4-liter introduced as the Harley Davidson model has a torque rating of 420-430 lb-ft.
Both Ford’s 4.6 and 5.4 engines give the same gas mileage on highways. However, the 4.6-liter has a slight edge in city areas and will run for more miles on a single tank.
The average mileage both engines provide on F150 is 14-16 miles per gallon, including both city and highway areas.
Therefore, you can select according to your work requirements and the total distance you cover daily.
Towing capacity and payload
Both engines have nearly identical towing capacities depending on the transmission, axle ratio, and cab configuration.
F150 5.4 liter has slightly higher ratings due to increased torque and power. Towing capacity for both engines is in the range of 5000lbs-11000 lbs by adding additional towing packages.
The payload capacity for the 4.6-liter is 1450-2000 lbs while 5.4-liter has 1600-3000lbs. However, it needs the installation of a heavy-duty payload package.
Ease of maintenance
F150 4.6 and 5.4 belong to the same modular family of engines known as Triton V8. Both have the same overhead camshaft design and are available in configurations with the same number of valves.
Therefore, they have identical construction and the same maintenance issues. A few common problems are the development of cracks on the intake manifold and spark plug thread stripping.
The 5.4 engine is expensive to repair and has more maintenance issues, while the 4.6-liter is light-duty with minor repair problems.
F150 4.6 is suitable for routine applications that do not require a lot of towing or torque requirements.
Therefore it is ideal for use at home as a family vehicle with most on-road usage on highway or city areas.
However, operating in hilly areas or off-road applications isn’t easy. On the other hand, the F150 5.4-liter is a torquey machine and can easily climb ascents or uneven surfaces. Moreover, you can pull more loads with it.
If you want to replace the Ford 5.4-liter V8 on your F150, a remanufactured engine will cost in the range of $2,000-$3500.
Its price depends on the camshaft configuration and the number of valves. A new machine from a Ford authorized dealer will cost around $7000 to $7500.
F150 4.6 will cost less, from $1900 to $3000. Therefore, it has a lower initial cost.
Ford has manufactured 4.6-liter engines at its Romeo engine plant in Michigan, Windsor, and Essex engine plants in Windsor, Ontario.
In addition, they have developed 5.4-liter at 2 of the manufacturing plants mentioned above in Windsor, Ontario.
Due to its modular design, the same engine manufacturing facility has produced both versions of the V8 engine by changing tooling according to the requirements.
Engine oil capacity
Engine oil and filter replacement are crucial steps of engine preventive maintenance to keep it running without developing any significant issues.
For example, Ford 4.6-liter requires 6-7 quarts of engine oil to fulfill its lubricant requirements. F150 with 5.4 engines have the identical engine oil requirements from the 1997-2003 models.
However, later models from 2004-2010 require 7-8 quarts due to the increased valves and other design changes.
Both engines have the same cylinder order from 1-8 starting at the front to back on each row of cylinders.
The firing order is also the same, following the pattern 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8. Moreover, they have a coil-on-ignition system with individual coils for each cylinder. PCM sends a signal to fire each spark plug instead of a selector switch.
Both 4.6 and 5.4-liter V8 engines have a sequential multi-port fuel injection system. All ports are timed and operate in the order of spark plug firing.
The ports with an open valve inject fuel while the rest remain off until their turn in the sequence. It results in fuel conservation and optimal delivery.
Which engine is more reliable F150 4.6 or 5.4?
Both engines are essentially the same, with few power and torque rating differences.
They have the same maintenance issues and are easier to fix, except that the 5.4-liter is a bit expensive to repair.
Both remained in the top 10 lists of best engines for several years. Due to their reliability and good performance, Ford has utilized both engines for most of their vehicles for 22-23 years.
It isn’t easy to decide which is reliable. However, you can select 5.4-liter if you need more power by paying extra money.
Both F150 4.6 and 5.4-liter engines have their pros and cons. They are available in 2- and 3-valves per cylinder SOHC configurations and have the same design parameters.
However, 5.4-liter has a larger deck height and power rating, while 4.6-liter is economical to operate and maintain. Therefore, it is up to you to select any of these according to your usage and power requirements.