1999 Expedition 5.4l buying advice

I am looking at a 1999 5.4L Expedition XLT 4wd with 80,000 miles. It drives great (for a bus). I've read on the Internet about head gasket and "spark plug blow-out" problems with this vintage 5.4l. The problem is, the
Internet can make a few pissed off people sound like a prevailing voice.
Are these engine problems very rare in reality, or am I likely to experience a problem?
Also is the air suspension on these vehicles a problem spot?
Any more problem areas I should be aware of?
Rodney
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I would suggest that you ask this question to the Expedition Owners Group mailing list. See http://xpog.com/mailman/listinfo/expedition_xpog.com .
I don't think the "spark plug blow-out" problem is common, particularly if the engine has been properly serviced. If the plugs have been replaced, and it wasn't done correctly, problems can develop.
I am on my second 5.4L Expedition, a 2003 with 68,000 miles. My first was a 1997 that I drove to 147,000 miles (and it was still in good shaope at that point).
Here are the problems I recall hearing about more than once:
* 5.4L Piston Slap (only when cold, Ford says it is not a problem) * Coil Pack Failures - 1st generation problem (I had one fail in 147,000 miles, and only after the deaeler changed the spark plugs) * Leaky heater hoses - if improperly seated, snap fit heater hoses can leak. This can lead to a coil pack fialure, since hte connection is immeadiately above the #4 coil pack * Sway bar connection link - mostly a rust belt problem * Exhaut manifold stud failure - mostly a rust belt problem * puff of smoke at start-up - random problem, probably valve guides * brake dust - 2003+ problem * driveline vibrations - mostly 1997-2002 problem * air suspension problems - mostly the compressor - cheaply fixed if you avoid the dealer * front axle growl on 2003 4x4's - fixed by a TSB * A4WD inoperative - usually speed sensor failure, eaisly fixed, doesn't affect 4x4 Hi or 4x4 low * OE tires - depending on year people hate both the OE Contientals and the OE Goodyears * Dome lights stay on - pre-2003 - door switches drity and need cleaning
These are just the things I have heard more than once over the years. None of these problems affected all the list members trucks (or even the majority of trucks). Some people in the mailing list have never had a problem. Others have had multiple problems. I think my experience with my 1997 was average (three minor recalls , 1 coil pack, one alternator in 146,000 miles). My 2003 has actually been a little worse, except all the problems were covered under warranty (noisy roof rack, failed drivers window, rust on seat frames, growl in 2WD).
Ed
Rodney wrote:

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We have a 1998 5.4L 4WD Expedition with 60000 miles. Very good truck - no problems at all. The motor has been solid as a rock. I just am not looking forward to changing the spark plugs. If I am not too mistaken, the 99 motor has "better flowing" heads.
One other note, I could buy dinner for the engineer who put the oil filter under the bumper... it doesn't get any easier than that. Freddie
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