With more than a century of experience under their belt, it is not surprising that both Chevrolet and Ford Motor Company have had some great engines in their numerous cars. Ranging from cute dinky four cylinders to really powerful V8s and interesting V10s, their motors are among the most respected by the motoring public.
While some of the engines from both powerhouses made good power, had good fuel economy, and were easy to maintain, others were downright horrible to drive. Those are better avoided as they are nothing but trouble and would give the unlucky owner a lot of headaches in costly repairs and frequent visits to gas stations.
While some of these engines were outright flops, others were victims of the energy crisis of the 1970s and the strict emissions regulations. In light of this, read on for five worst engines Chevrolet has ever put in their cars and five from Ford.
10 “Iron Duke” 2.5L I-4
Also known as Pontiac 2.5, 2500, Tech IV, and 151, Pontiac Motor Division built the Iron Duke engine from 1977 to 1993. Originally built to power Pontiac’s new economy car, it found its way into several Chevrolet cars like the 1982 Chevrolet Camaro.
Yes, you heard that right, a real honest to God Chevy Camaro powered by an inline-four engine making just 90 hp. With a 0-60 mph time of 20 seconds (hardly what one would imagine from a vintage Camaro), the Iron Duke was not a good engine choice.
9 Chevrolet 3400 V6
General Motors’ family of 60° V60 engines with displacement that varied between 2.5 liters to 3.4 liters were produced from 1980 until 2005 in the US. The 3.4 liters V6 has a bore and stroke of 3.62 in x 3.31 in, and an output of 160 hp at 4600 rpm and 200 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm.
Although it is a relatively reliable and low-maintenance engine, the Chevrolet 3400 should be avoided because of its corrosive coolant. Corrosion of the intake manifold gasket causes a cooling system leakage, leading to overheated engines.
8 Chevrolet 2300 I-4
Produced by Chevrolet from 1971 to 1977, the Chevrolet 2300 engine is a 2.3 liters naturally-aspirated inline-4 engine with an aluminum block. Producing an output of 70-110 hp and 107-138 lb-ft of torque, it was the power unit for the Chevrolet Monza and Chevrolet Vega for the 1971-1977 model years.
Due to a barely adequate cooling system, the engine suffered from frequent overheating, which distorted the cylinders and caused a wearing of the silica coating by the pistons. Consequently, it burned more oil and also suffered a compromise of the head gasket, which led to cooling system leakage.
7 267 Small Block V8
From 1954 until 2003, Chevrolet produced a series of small-block V8 engines that were legendary in their reliability and potency. In a family of solid engines with displacement ranging from 4.3 liters to 6.6 liters, only the 267 disappoints in performance.
Introduced in 1979, the 267 Small Block V8 was used in the Camaro, Monte Carlo, and El Camino in the heat of strict emission regulations. Although it shared parts with the 350, the 267 was not as powerful, and production was discontinued in 1982 to be replaced by the 305.
6 350 Diesel V8
Manufactured by Oldsmobile between 1978 and 1985, the 350 V8 was a liquid-cooled naturally-aspirated diesel engine that had severe reliability issues. Developed based on the Oldsmobile 350 gasoline V8, the new engine block was built of a stronger cast iron alloy and was sufficiently strengthened.
Problems, however, arose from Oldsmobile’s failure to use stronger head bolts that would have better withstood the much higher pressure that diesel engines operated under. This caused head gasket failures resulting in hydrolock, while the omission of a water separator in the fuel system led to serious corrosion.
5 Ford 4.2 Small Block V8
Also known as the 255, the Ford 4.2 is one of the 90° small-block V8s made by Ford Motor Company between 1961 and 2002. Created for the 1980 model year, the 255 was a quick solution to Ford’s need for an engine that would meet the emission standards of the day.
Practically a 302 with the bores reduced to 3.68 inches; the 255 was used in the Fairmont and Mustang and produced between 115-122 hp. This was a poor performance for a V8 engine, leading to its eventual discontinuation after the 1982 model year.
4 Ford 6.0 Power Stroke
Power Stroke is a lineup of diesel engines that have been in use since 1994 to power vehicles like the Ford F-Series, the Ford E-Series, and Ford Excursion. Brought in to replace the 7.3 in 2003, the 6.0 Power Stroke, displacing 6-liters, utilizes a turbocharger to produce 325 hp and 570 lb-ft of twist.
Unfortunately, many of these engines develop numerous problems, including head gasket failure following a failure of the torque-to-yield head studs. Others are failure of the fuel injection control module, oil cooler problems, and exhaust gas recirculation cooler/valve failure.
3 Ford 6.4 Power Stroke
Introduced in 2008, the Ford 6.4 Power Stroke utilized factory-fitted dual turbochargers to produce 350 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. It was a beastly creature when new, but it had poor fuel economy and was plagued by numerous problems just like the 6.0 it replaced.
Some of the common issues it had include failure of the post on rings in cylinder number 7 and number 8. Others are failure of the turbocharger bearing seal, EGR cooler failure, cavitation erosion, and a comparatively higher cost of service and repair parts.
2 Ford 3.8 V6
Introduced in 1982, the first 3.8 V8 was an option in the Ford Granada and had an output of 112 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. Several upgrades later, the unit powering the 2001 Ford Mustang made 193 hp at 5500 rpm and 225 lb-ft of torque at 2800 rpm.
Although the 3.8 didn’t lack power, it performed poorly on the fuel efficiency front and was also notorious for blowing head gaskets. It was best not to hang onto it after 150,000 miles if you did not want to be flooded with expensive repairs.
1 Ford 5.4 3 Valve V8
The Ford 5.4 3 valve V8 belonged to Ford’s family of modular engines and was introduced in the 2002 Ford Fairmont. Early versions of the 5.4 were notorious for blowing spark plugs while running, which stripped the aluminum head threads.
To take care of the problem, Ford made the plugs too tight in the engine block, causing them to break into two. Although the 5.4 3 valve V8 is a great engine when it is new, beyond 150,000 miles, maintenance becomes an absolute nightmare.
Ford’s 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine has found a home in the Focus RS, the Ranger, and even in the Mustang.
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