What Ford Bronco Years to Avoid

When Ford manufactured the first Broncos in 1965, it was Ford’s answer to Jeep’s CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout. The idea was for Bronco to drive well off-road as it did in the city. It was the first Sports Utility Vehicle Ford made.

Before Ford stopped producing Broncos in 1996, they made some terrible models. Some of the years to avoid are the 

  • 1989 Ford Bronco (Ignition). 
  • 1991 Ford Bronco (Engine).
  • 1984 Ford Bronco (Stability Issues).
  • 1995 Ford Bronco (Oil Leakage).
  • 1980 Ford Bronco (Engine).

There are also other reasons why these Bronco years are the worst made.

If you are one of those thinking of buying, there’s is also still a considerable demand for the Broncos of the past, for the power they possess, and well for nostalgic value. Let’s check out the Ford Broncos to avoid.

Ford Bronco Models to Avoid

1989 Ford Bronco (Fourth Generation)

If there were a poll to pick the worse Bronco model, the 89 models would win by a mile. The engine is one of the most common complaints owners make about the car. Another issue the car had was a bad ignition. These problems cost a lot of money to fix.

The 1989 Bronco’s ignition module usually start to malfunction around 105,000 miles. The electrical problem causes overheating, smoke, and sometimes fire hazard in the steering column. Fixing a bad ignition module could cost a lot. The ignition problem also leads the vehicle to a breakdown, such that it is unable to start. To save yourself time and cost of towing, carry along a spare ignition.

According to some complaints, critics alleged that Ford knew of the malfunction. Still, they didn’t recall the car delay rollouts until the car owners sued.  Overall, the 1989 Ford Bronco cost more to repair over shorter mileage than other Ford years.

By the time Ford ordered recalls in 1996, over eight million Bronco had ignition complaints.

1991 Ford Bronco (Fourth Generation)

Next on this list is the 1991 model as the second worst Ford Bronco. The major problem associated with this vehicle is the transmission. You could lose power without warning while driving, and that could lead to life-threatening situations.

Transmission problems usually occur once it crosses the 100,000-mile mark, and the first symptom is a hesitancy to shift. You could also experience rough shifting or deposition of debris in the transmission fluid.

The only thing to do with a bad transmission is to either rebuild or replace it. Neither option is cheap. If the problem is not severe, DIY repairs could solve the problem. However, if the damage is severe, a total overhaul of the transmission system will be the best bet.  

Apart from transmission problems, the 1991 Bronco has some issues with its fuel system. There is a problem with the fuel distribution that causes the car to stall at idle. The fuel system issue also prevents smooth running.

1984 Ford Bronco II

The Bronco II is in a class of its own when it comes to car disasters. When they initially introduced Bronco II to the market, the compact off-roader got rave reviews. Those reviews soon turned to criticism when people became aware that the car had the tendency to tip over. Worse, Ford knew all about it before introducing the vehicle to the market.

At the time of testing, Ford engineers realized that Bronco II had stability issues. Test drives confirmed their suspicions, but Ford did nothing about it. They rejected the fixes suggested by their engineers because they did not want to delay the new car launch. 

By 1989, the world knew about the Bronco’s problem. Even at low speeds, the car had a high possibility to roll over. Consumer Reports gave an Avoid advisory on purchasing the 1984 Bronco II.  Ford ended up paying over $2.4 billion on settlements.  Production of the ill-fated Bronco II ended in 1990.

1990 Ford Bronco (Fourth Generation)

The 1990 and 1991 Bronco were in the same model generation. 1990 happens to be the year Ford took the dangerous Bronco II off the market. The 1990 Ford Bronco isn’t the worse of the bunch. It did receive a high percentage of complaints, especially recurrent problems.

The first engine problem is that the oil pressure goes to zero when warm. So on a cold day, one wouldn’t have any issues with the car, but on a hot day, loads of problems. This oil pressure issue seemed to be recurrent. The vehicle usually starts; however, at a stop at an intersection or the red light, the car stops. A temporary fix would be to put the car to neutral to help stabilize the oil pressure. 

This oil pressure issue is usually caused by the gasket blowing off. Replacement of the damaged gasket, usually makes the problem go away.   

1995 Ford Bronco (Fifth Generation)

One of the unique problems associated with the 1995 Bronco is that its gear shifter falls off (yeah, you read that right). You are driving in your Bronco feeling like a superstar, and for some reason, you need to change gears. If you are driving a 95 Bronco, there’s a chance it might fall in your hand. One can only imagine what would happen it such occurs on a freeway. It costs about $300 to fix this issue.

Another issue that plagues the car is its gears that refuse to change correctly. A vacuum leak causes it. When this leak happens, there’s a rough shifting or gears not changing correctly. 

Added to the list of things wrong with this model is the problem with the transfer case. There have been cases where the transfer case doesn’t disengage from the transmission. A malfunctioning control module triggers the issue.

That’s not all. There are also complaints about intense rattling in the dashboard. The rattling can get so bad that anything on the dashboard falls to the floor.

1980 Ford Bronco (Third Generation)

There are few third-generation Broncos still around now because Ford was battling many issues with the cars, and it showed. Because of the oil embargo and subsequent rise in fuel costs, Ford improved fuel efficiency in the 1980 Bronco.

Being the first in the new generation, Ford experimented with an underpowered engine that failed most of the time. There were also problems with the carburetors supplying fuel to these engines.

Many engineers complained about the engine, finicky carburetors, and general drivability. While the 1980 Bronco isn’t as bad as some on the list, you should still take precautions before purchasing it.

What Year Is the Most Reliable Bronco

We aren’t considering the recent incarnations of the Bronco. We are considering the Broncos that ended in 1994. The Bronco that takes the prize is the 1974 model of the Bronco. There are several reasons we think the ’74 Bronco is the most reliable.

When you consider its elegant design, relatively low number of complaints, and the sheer pleasure derived from driving the car, then no Bronco comes near. 

However, when are considering a Bronco from the daily grind, look to the recent models or the 1992 model.

How Long Does a Ford Bronco Last?

We have seen that most Broncos last a long time. There are Bronco that is more than thirty years old still on the roads. As a rule, the third, fourth, and fifth generations of Broncos last over 100,000 miles before developing severe issues.

It would help if you considered these Broncos because they are old and require a lot of gentle handling and regular maintenance. As long as you do your due-dilligence, you will enjoy a beautiful driving relationship with your Bronco.

Why Are Ford Broncos Hard to Find?

There’s a long waiting list for the recently released 2021 Bronco, and it’s making people wonder what’s causing the SUV so hard to get? There are two primary reasons. First is the global pandemic of 2020 and the attendant shut down of factories and the economy.

The second reason is a shortage of semiconductors that are vital to car production. The earliest time before there are enough new Broncos to go round is 2022.

Are Ford Broncos Good in the Snow?

Broncos are one the best vehicles to drive in snowy terrain. Their off-roading abilities are one of the best. With three different driving modes, enough ground clearance (11.6 inches), large wheels.

The new Broncos also have enough driving and safety tech to guide a driver in the situation of a snowstorm.


As an icon that was ahead of its time, Ford Bronco was one of the best off-roaders. It might have lost its way in its later years before Ford finally pulled the plug, but no one can deny the Bronco its cult status.

Avoid the bad years of the Bronco. Ensuring proper maintenance and watching out for its parts prolongs the life of your Bronco. Don’t go close to a Bronco II. Avoid the 1989 Bronco as well. No matter what you do, inspect your Bronco before buying.

And if you are looking for vintage cars, be sure to check out of rankings for the best Ford Thunderbirds.

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