FORD F350 Super Duty, Beautiful but Deadly, a Service Nightmare.
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA -- In '06 I came late to the game, bought a low-mileage (17k) '04 6.0L super duty F350 dually long-bed, full double cab & great ground-effects and interior upgrade CENTURION package. Beautiful truck.
My biggest mistake was to have the FORD dealer in Riverside CA install a KELDERMAN airbag system on all 4 corners seeking a softer ride when empty. The KELDERMAN system is excellent, but the installation and service was a nightmare, failed in 3 months. $4K for system, $2K to install, $750 for a 3-month in repair, which turned out to be a failed relay at the compressor (they installed it upside down & water fouled the relay connector.)
Soon, both front tires of low mileage had catastrophic failures 3 months apart, major down-time for body damage & repairs to wiring & sensors, twice. $500 deductible twice, 4 months with no truck. Ride quality remained very rough throughout, which, in frustration, I cured myself with 4 adjustable RANCHO shocks. I removed all tires of that brand & invested in 7 brand new MICHELIN top of the line 80k mile warranty tires - $1500. This improved things, but only long enough to get me out in the middle of a long highway in Nevada with a fully loaded 18' box trailer. That's when I discovered that the dealer tech had routed the wiring and the air lines to the front end directly above the turbocharger.
While tie-wrapping to the under-side of the factory wiring device that routes the OEM wiring around the turbo, he caused the mounting to become loose so that the entire wiring loom sagged and rested directly on the turbocharger unit. I became aware of the situation when the air lines included with the wiring melted through and blew out, leaving my front airbags flat. It took quite a while, but I was able to re-route some lines to get all bags on one system and get off the desert. I returned it again to the dealer & after 4 days I got the call that it was ready. I looked under the hood and discovered that the tech had simply taped the melted wiring, again tie-wrapped it under the OEM wiring harness, and the whole thing was still resting directly on the turbocharger! The manager I had been working with refused to get up and go even look at the issue until I sat in his office and informed him I would not leave until he did. I then got 1 bolt in the OEM harness support, raising it up off the turbo, and the same taped melted wire, but at least they put it over the top of the support at my insistence.
I have moved too far from Riverside CA to take it back to the dealer again, but at 85k vehicle miles I have replaced both front tires 3 times, worn to the steel mesh on the inner edge, almost new on the outer edge. When I had it in for alignment the last time, they came out and got me & demonstrated how badly gone all 4 front ball joints are - impossible to properly align. They also pointed out that when the dealer installed the airbag system, he had seen-alled off all but 1 leaf of the front springs, and had severely cut into the one remaining leaf with the saw-all, both in front of and behind the U-bolts. The one remaining damaged spring leaf is now in an upside-down smile (frown) shape, on both sides of the front end. This caused the axle to impact the cross-member frame support under the engine, which they cured by cutting-torch - removed most of the center of the cross-member support. Now the front axle doesn't hit the support, but it comes very close to the oil pan. I also discovered that the rear leaf springs had been cut so the leaf could not contact the over-load stop, rather than raising the position of the stop.
After all the money invested in this truck's suspension, I have now been advised by 2 different FORD specialists not to drive this vehicle because it is extremely dangerous to myself and others on the roadway.
I have also had to become a pseudo diesel mechanic by default due to the extreme expense of keeping this thing running. When it first failed to start while a long way from home, it cost me a new FICM + installation and 4 extra days off work. I then began reading the horror stories on-line while researching cures for the multiple issues that began to deteriorate both the ability to reliably start the engine, even in warm weather, and the lack of power until FULLY warmed up.
To date, in addition to the frustration and expense of the suspension nightmare, I have replaced the ICP sensor, conveniently made of plastic and placed directly under the TURBO on the rear of the engine ($650), the FICM, all 8 glow plugs, and invested $350 in a computer based diagnostic tool in an attempt to keep up with the maintenance requirements of this truck. Many expensive oil changes, a variety of costly fuel and oil additives constantly, fuel from the high-end stations or truck stops and hundreds of hours scouring the internet, watching the videos, getting professional diagnostics and lots of friendly advice from the best pros I can find, and the best prospect of ever even hoping to have a reasonably reliable vehicle comes down to some form of the âbullet-proofingâ process, which will run me from $2500 if I do all the work, up to 5 or 6 times that to have it done under warranty by professionals. That does not include the suspension replacement I am now faced with.
What was FORD thinking?? Maybe they were just tired of having return customers and needed a lot of negative word of mouth help in that effort.
At this time, it takes me a minimum of Â½ hour to leave the parking lot after work on a warm summer day, double that in colder (anything below 70) weather. The routine involves hundreds of key on, key off, key on/key off's to force the glow plugs to warm up the engine cylinders enough to fire the fuel. Then when it does fire it won't idle on its own without holding the pedal to the floor until it quits popping, sputtering & belching clouds of black smoke while mis-firing violently for up to 5 minutes before it dies. After an average of 3 of these sessions, it has warmed up just enough that it will idle at WOT anywhere from 400 â 2200 rpm until it gets warm enough for the PCM to try to reinstate a few more of the injectors, and the turbo to decide it will function to add some Oxygen to the mix.
I guess my question is, does FORD really give a **** about any of our lives, and will it be closer to $20k or more like $30k to get this thing road-worthy?