Ford F-150: 8 Common Problems (Useful Solution Guide)

The F-150 has been the bestselling vehicle in American since 1981. 

Popular due to its affordable price tag and capability, the F-150 is a great truck.

However, like all vehicles, the Ford F-150 is not without its problems. 

In this article we’ll look at some common problems associated with the F-150 and uncover what could be the root cause… 

Ford F-150 Shutting Off Whilst Driving 

Some F-150 owners have reported that their vehicle continually shuts off  whilst driving. 

A vehicle that shuts off while driving will leave the driver with no power steering, an inability to accelerate, and a stiffer brake pedal (due to no brake pedal assist). 

This is a problem because the vehicle becomes much more difficult to control, leading to unsafe driving conditions.

Stalling while driving is an issue across many years of F-150, and what can cause stalling is a broad subject. We have compiled a list of the most likely  possibilities:

Alternator Failure

The biggest cause of any year F-150 engine dying while driving, is the alternator.  

The alternator charges the battery and provides electrical power to the entire vehicle, including the computer and electrical systems that run the engine.  

If the alternator fails, the engine will eventually stall out, and the battery will  be dead so it will not restart. Labor costs for alternator replacement is  about $100, while the part is about $450. 

Throttle Body Issues

Another very common cause for this complaint is the throttle body, though  it seems to be more prevalent among 2015-2016 F-150s. 

Throttle bodies were defective on some 2015-2016 F-150s and can be  replaced under a recall campaign at your local Ford dealership. 

Drivers experienced the vehicle shutting off while driving on the highway,  but when the vehicle was finally stopped, it would start again. Either way,  this problem would continue happening until owners had their throttle body replaced. 

Internal Engine Failure 

Never rule out the possibility that the culprit could be a major engine issue. 

Some early designed 3.5L V6 Ecoboost engines in 2012 models have suffered massive engine failures, such as a burnt piston or broken connecting rod.

The cost of this repair varies a lot, but can reach upwards of 10,000 dollars. 

Usually due to significant damage, the whole engine needs to be replaced.  This is costly in parts, and labor intensive.  

Ford F-150 Shuts Off Whilst Stopped / When Idle

This is a complaint, not to be confused with Auto Start/Stop. 

Auto Start/Stop is a system designed to purposefully turn the engine off at a stop in order to save fuel and reduce emissions. 

If your F-150 stalls at idle, and is not equipped with Auto Start/Stop, then  the problem may lie in the engine bay.

Here is a list of engine components  that could cause stalling at a stop/idle: 

  • Dirty throttle body 
  • Faulty MAF sensor 
  • Faulty EGR valve 
  • Vacuum leak 
  • Intake/intake gasket leak 

Sometimes, when this issue is present, an engine light will come on and a  code will be stored. This indicates an issue with the engine and can point  you or your technician in the right direction. 

If you are experiencing stalling and the engine light is on, take the vehicle into a repair shop right away. Depending on the cause of failure, the cost  of repair may vary significantly. 

Please note that while the majority of stalling issues stem from a faulty engine component, it may lie in the transmission as well, specifically the torque converter.

A torque converter is a device used in an automatic transmission, that functions in a similar way as a clutch in a manual transmission does. 

Inoperable torque converters that do not function as intended can result in  a vehicle that stalls when it comes to a stop. 

A torque converter  replacement averages out at about 1000 dollars. 

Ford F-150 Shutting Down to Save Battery 

F-150s come equipped with an infotainment screen that will display a  message reading “system off to save battery” when the Battery  Management System (BMS) detects a low charge.  

This is because the vehicle’s BMS shuts off certain electronics to save battery life. Nonetheless, if it happens very often and consistently, there may be a problem. 

This problem could be caused by a weak battery. A battery test must be performed before determining the state of the battery, and a replacement or recharge may be required. 

However, if the battery has been replaced recently, the Battery Management System should be reset.

This basically informs the system that a new battery has been installed and it can monitor the state of charge accordingly. 

A new battery costs around 200 dollars according to RepairPal, with parts  and labor included.

You may also be interested in our article: how long do Ram 1500 last?

Ford F-150 Keeps Saying Trailer Disconnected 

The F-150 is great for towing small to medium sized trailers. But owners  started to experience “trailer disconnected” warnings with an audible  chime while towing, even though the trailer was plugged in properly and  the lights and brakes worked as intended. 

This could be the effect of a few factors, listed from most to least likely: 

  • Integrated Trailer Brake Controller needs updating 
  • Poor connections at trailer wiring 
  • Integrated Trailer Brake Controller needs replacement 

Ford dealers can perform a quick module update on the Integrated  Brake Controller. 

This might require a small service fee, or may be done free of charge depending on the relationship with your dealer and the vehicle’s warranty. 

Some owners found if they cleaned up the connector and applied dielectric grease, the problem was seemingly eradicated. This is due to a  better electrical connection between the truck and trailer. 

In very few cases, the Brake Controller may require replacement. However, this is uncommon.

Software updates and wiring should be extensively checked for faults first. 

Ford F-150 Keeps Cranking but Won’t Start 

This issue is very common among 2009-2014 F-150s. The most prominent cause for this issue among F-150s in this model year range is a burnt fuse. 

A burnt fuse causes an open in an electrical circuit, and in this case, will  prevent the fuel pump for operating.

If your F-150 cranks but does not start, check fuse #27. If it is burnt, it  needs to be replaced. 

The fuse does not “pop” due to an electrical short, rather it melts because of poor contact to the fuse box terminals. 

To prevent this from happening again, Ford sells a fuse relocation kit for about $20, but it requires soldering.  

For this reason, the repair should be done by a professional. The Technical Service Bulletin issued by Ford states it should take about half an hour,  so labor should not hurt your wallet too badly. 

The part number for this kit is EL3Z_14293-A. 

It’s worth noting that if your F-150 does not fall under model years 2009- 2014, you should still check the fuel pump fuse. If the fuse is okay, other  possible causes could be: 

  • Faulty fuel pump 
  • Fuel pump wiring 
  • Clogged fuel filter 
  • Defective spark plugs/ignition system 
  • Inertia switch 

There are many components that could fail, leaving you with a truck that  cranks but still won’t start. Most will have to be diagnosed and repaired by  a professional. 

Though, it’s worth mentioning that older F-150s are known to have an inertia switch. This switch is essentially a safety item used to stop the flow of fuel in the event of a collision.  

A collision does not always have to take place for the inertia switch to be triggered though. Sometimes just hitting a pothole or slamming a door too hard can set it off, so it’s worthwhile to check the inertia switch before towing the vehicle to a shop. 

The inertia switch for a ford f150 is located underneath the glovebox.  The switch has a red button, if the button is raised, the inertia switch has been set off. Push it in to supply power back to the fuel pump,  and try to start the vehicle. 

Ford F-150 Won’t Start in Cold Weather 

A ‘no start’ in cold weather is an issue F-150 owners have reported, however cold weather is hard on many vehicle’s starting systems.

Here’s a list of common cold-weather starting problems: 

Battery 

If the engine does not crank, the first thing to check is your F-150’s  battery.  

When the cold weather comes, batteries do not perform as well as they  should. 

A proper battery test needs to be performed in order to determine the state of the battery. Some shops or even auto part stores may test your  battery free of charge. 

If the battery is testing properly, but still seems to underperform, it should  be confirmed that you are using the right size battery. 

Car batteries have a rating called cold cranking amps (CCA).

A Ford F-150  with a 6-cylinder engine may have a battery with a lower CCA rating than a  F-150 with an 8-cylinder engine does.

All too often the wrong battery gets installed by a former shop or previous  owner, and when winter arrives, current owners are left scratching their heads. 

According to RepairPal, battery replacement  usually cost approximately 200 dollars. 

Please also read our article: Fords and rusting

Wrong Viscosity Engine Oil 

If the engine oil is too thick in your F-150 when the temperature drops, it  could cause a no start.

This happens as temperature drops, because oil thickness increases, placing excessive resistance on internal engine parts as they attempt to turn over. 

Engine oil has a temperature rating, usually referred to as winter grade. 

The first number followed by the letter “W” in oil viscosity indicates the  thickness of the oil. “W” stands for winter. 

This is why most manufacturers recommend running oils such as 0W20 in places like northern U.S. and Canada. 

We strongly recommend using the proper grade of oil to prevent unwanted  no starts from happening in the winter.

Check with your local Ford dealer on what they recommend using in your engine. 

Frozen Fuel Lines 

Moisture can find its way into your F-150s fuel system and cause it to crank but not start. 

This is due to the moisture freezing up, and blocking the fuel from getting to the engine. 

Certain additives can be used as a prevention method, otherwise you’ll  just have to get it into a warm shop until it thaws.

Ford F-150 No Electrical Power 

Having an F-150 with no electrical power can be troublesome. The truck  does not start, run, and nothing seems to work, not even the headlights. 

It’s important to note that owners should have the battery checked and tested first. Faulty batteries are responsible for the vast majority of lost electrical power complaints. 

However, if the battery is in good working condition, then connections to the battery are the next most likely issue. Terminals need to be clean and tight. 

But when an electrical problem stems from something different than the  problems mentioned above, a professional technician should be involved.  

It may be a vast number of things – a bad ground, blown fuse, or even  something as complicated as a control module.  

Either way, electrical issues have a wide range of causes, and varying cost of repair. It can be difficult to gauge how expensive an electrical repair may be. 

That’s why it’s important to have your vehicle diagnosed and repaired by someone with plenty of experience. 

You might also be interested in our article: Ford F-150 Beeping Problems? (Quick Troubleshooting Guide)

Ford F-150 No Power When Accelerating 

Listed below are some of the main reasons why your F-150 may be experiencing no  power on acceleration:

Intercooler Condensation 

Most F-150 owners that came across this issue had Ecoboost engines.

So, they brought their trucks into a Ford dealership to have them investigated. 

What the dealers found was condensation in the intercooler. Intercoolers cool the air on turbocharged engines before it gets burned. 

When the intercooler has a build-up of condensation, the moisture in the cooled air enters the engine and causes hesitation or misfires. This seemingly always happens on acceleration, or 100 percent load. 

Ford addressed this problem by moving the air deflector on the intercooler. New models have an updated intercooler. 

You might also be interested in our article, Ram 1500: 16 common problems

Clogged Catalytic Converters 

Catalytic converters are a device used in the exhaust to reduce emissions. 

A clogged catalytic converter can happen if your F-150 is starting to get old. This will most definitely cause a major loss of power when trying to accelerate, as gases flowing out of the exhaust are extremely restricted. 

The average cost for a Ford F-150 catalytic converter replacement is between $1,312 and $1,338, according to RepairPal. The converter itself is made up of precious metals, which is why the repair tends to be expensive. 

Spark Plugs 

One of the most common causes of this complaint on any vehicle is worn  spark plugs. 

Spark plugs are responsible for igniting the air/fuel mixture in the engine.  

If spark plugs are worn, they will not ignite the air/fuel mixture, causing reduced power and therefore a reduction in power when accelerating. 

Resources

https://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/models/