Servicing Solutions: 15 Tips on Servicing Ford F-150s

Servicing Solutions: 15 Tips on Servicing Ford F-150s

A bold new look and some subtle changes probably best describe the 2004-and-up Ford F-150. To the technician, it is the subtle changes that he or she needs to be aware of. Beginning with the 2004 model year, Ford launched a new body style for the F-150. It is a new vehicle inside and out. However, not all of the 2004 F-150s that you see will be the new body style. The 2004 F-150 was also made available in the older body style pick up that came on the scene in 1996. Just like when they made the body style change in 1996, Ford didn’t just stop one model and start a new one. Instead, they produced both body styles in the same year.

Entering the Bay
Tip 1: In 2004, the older body style F-150 is called a “Heritage” edition. The newer body style is simply referred to as a 2004 “new” model. You do need to be aware of this for correct ordering of parts, and parts look up.

Tip 2: On the “new” model F-Series trucks, be sure to fold the side view mirrors in when raising these trucks on a two-post lift. The mirrors are large enough that they have been crushed by the plate or cap found at the top of the lift posts.

By the way, there’s an additional issue that might seem excessively simple to talk about, but can be very embarrassing in front of the customer if you are not prepared. The secondary hood release handle has moved on the 2008 Super Duty. It is now below the inside lower corner of the right headlight.

Spark Plugs
Watch out when changing the spark plugs on the 5.4L three-valve engine found in 2004-and-up F-150 and 2005-and-up Expedition and Navigator (see Photo 1.)

Tip 3: First of all, you’d better check your cost on the spark plugs. They are nothing like the conventional design of a spark plug in the years past, and the price is nothing near traditional either.

Tip 4: These spark plugs also use a 9/16th spark plug socket. So, if you don’t have the right plug socket, it’s time to buy another socket before one of these pickups roll into your shop.

Tip 5: When installing spark plugs, don’t just grab these puppies and start turning on them. These things have the electrodes located about an inch and a half away from the threads, mounted on the end of a ground electrode shell. See Photo 2. The shell rusts from moisture.

Upon removal, the shell can snap off in the head from a combination of the rust and built-up carbon binding the shell in the head, and from the shell being weakened from rusting.

To aid removal, first turn the spark plug enough to lift the spark plug seat from the head, about 1/8th of a turn to 1/4 of a turn. Then add a tiny amount of penetrating oil to each spark plug. Let the oil soak for about 10 minutes, then remove the spark plugs. You may have to work the plug in and out as you remove it. Some “screeching” sound is normal and about 33 lb.-ft. of torque may be required to work the plug through its threading. Do not do this on an extra-hot engine, or stone cold either. The engine should be warm to the touch.

Tip 6: If a spark plug breaks off, there is a special tool and procedures for removal. At this point, I’m going to point you to Ford TSB 06-15-02, where it explains the special tool and procedure in the event a plug snaps.

On the brighter side, these trucks are not as hard to access the plugs as with the Ford trucks in the past. The driver’s side is fairly open, and the passenger side opens up well if you remove the PCM and bracket. On 2007-and-up models, you’ll find wide open spaces under the hood for easy access. Also, when replacing the spark plugs in these trucks, be sure they’re the updated plugs.

The first design of spark plug caused spark knocking and engine damage. Short blocks and long blocks were replaced under warranty over this. Consult TSB 06-03-03, or the older version 05-25-05, and make sure you’re installing the PZT-1F-F4 spark plugs. If you’re using an aftermarket plug, you’ll need to verify that the aftermarket plug you’re installing is made to the same specs as the PZT-1F and not the PZT-2F. If you install the PZT-2F or an aftermarket plug designed to match that plug, you may end up buying someone an engine.

Oil Changes
Tip 7: Watch out when you change the oil on one of these three-valve engines found on 2004-and-up F-Series. The cam sprockets are variable timing sprockets called phasers. The cam phasers have six metal tabs that stick out from the sides, which excite the cam sensors to tell the PCM the exact position of the camshaft. The right-hand phaser is located directly under the oil filler neck, and can be viewed by looking down the neck. Occasionally, a careless oil change tech will leave the oil gun in the filler neck and start the engine. The tabs are then bent and broken from the phaser. This causes anything from just a check engine light with a cam sensor code to a severe loss of power from the PCM over-advancing the camshaft.

Shakes and Rattles
When dealing with rattles, vibrations and other ride issues on these trucks, be certain to check for TSBs. These trucks have numerous rattle and vibration issues that require very specific repairs to address very specific ride complaints.

Tip 8: TSB 05-21-19 explains an updated rotor design and even an updated rack and pinion design, for very early build dates to address a brake vibration.

Tip 9: TSB 06-19-16 speaks of shimming the center driveshaft support bearing to stop a momentary shudder on acceleration.

Tip 10: TSB 06-12-02 has you install some weights on the frame at the rear of the truck after checking the tires on a balancer that has road force measurement.

Tip 11: For a momentary single “bump” feeling when stopping and accelerating, see TSB 05-26-11 about greasing the driveshaft slip yoke.

Tip 12: Even the ash tray has a rattle concern addressed in TSB 16-13-19.

Diesel Exhaust Service
Another issue that a technician should be aware of, pertains to the exhaust tips found on the 2008-and-up F-Super Duty diesels.

Tip 13: These exhaust tips should not be removed or covered with dress sleeves that will seal off the ports on the sides. See Photo 3. As you can see, the new generation of diesel engines from all makes will have some odd-looking exhaust tips on them.

The tips are designed to draw cool air into the tip, by use of venturi action, to cool the exiting gases during filter regeneration. See Photo 4.

During filter regeneration mode, the exhaust temperatures are more intense than normal. Without the special tips, the exiting gases become hazardous to the paint on the truck’s body, dry grass that might catch fire or someone’s legs who happens to be standing too close to the tail pipe.

Filter regeneration mode — another new technology advancement that the independent tech needs to understand — will be something you’ll see more and more in your shops.

Tip 14: Starting in 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has thrown the diesel manufacturers a curve ball. As part of the new regulations, these engines now have to be equipped with a particulate filter after the catalyst. The job of the filter is to trap soot. Periodically, the PCM performs a regeneration on the filter. During regeneration mode, raw fuel is injected into the filter to literally burn the soot out of the filter. The soot is reduced to ash and drops to the bottom of the filter. The ash never leaves the particulate filter assembly, and eventually, the filters will need to be replaced. In time, this will open a new service market as these filters start needing replacement.

Tip 15: If your shop happens to do diesel work, be advised also that these trucks are extremely tight under the hood and cab removal is required to do most repairs beyond basic maintenance on the Powerstroke V8 engines. See Photo 5.

Agenda to Include ASA’s Celebration of Excellence, AMI Graduation
Bedford, TX — The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has announced the dates and location of its next all-member annual convention. The Caribe Royale All-Suites Hotel and Convention Center in sunny Orlando will be the home base for the event April 30-May 2, 2009.

Highlighting the agenda will be open meetings of the ASA affiliate assembly and board of directors. Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive, will deliver his annual state-of-the-association address, and a new chairman of the ASA board of directors will be sworn in during the event. The convention will also include ASA’s Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony, which will again host the Automotive Management Institute (AMI) graduation ceremony.

“The ASA Annual Convention is a great opportunity for members to strengthen their relationship with the organization, meet other members with whom they can network, and learn how to excel in today’s competitive automotive service and repair environment,” said Pyle.

Caribe Royale Orlando is a highly regarded all-suite accommodation known for its hospitality – ideal for business, pleasure or a little of both. And it’s conveniently located just one-and-one-half miles from the Walt Disney World Theme Parks.

Information about ASA’s 2009 convention can be found online as it becomes available. Visit for the latest details.

Schrader Adds TIA-Certified Automotive Tire Service (ATS) Instructors
Altavista, VA — Schrader-Bridgeport International, Inc., announces that four employees and representative agents have been added to the company’s roster of Certified Automotive Tire Service (ATS) Instructors as designated by the Tire Industry Association (TIA). Schrader’s Certified ATS Instructors are available to educate technicians and improve their skills and expertise, reflecting the company’s commitment to providing professional, certified TPMS trainers.

The Certified ATS Instructor Program is the most advanced level of training that TIA offers, and Schrader was the first TPMS manufacturer to make the Certified ATS Technician Program available to its customers. Through classroom instruction, hands-on participation and demonstrations employing leading edge technology, instructors learn how to provide the specialized training technicians need to service current and future model vehicles with TPMS. Equipped with the proper training, technicians who are TIA Certified have the knowledge and skill to profitably service TPMS systems and avoid damaging critical components.

Distributors and technicians who would like to find out more about obtaining instruction should contact a Schrader sales representative.

You May Also Like

Bosch Releases 87 New Part Numbers in June

Bosch’s new part numbers cover 318 million vehicles in operation across North America.

Robert Bosch, LLC announced it has added 87 automotive aftermarket parts to its portfolio in June 2024, covering nearly 318 million vehicles in operation across North America. The new part numbers – which cover Domestic, European and Asian passenger and commercial vehicles – include 22 wiper part numbers, 35 rotating machines, 20 sensors, six spark plugs and more, according to the company.

Driveshaft, Axle and Drivetrain Noise FAQs

Follow along to learn more about these unwanted noises.

Driveshaft Diagnostics

The big challenge with late-model vehicles is the diversity of driveshafts. 

Nissan CVT Clutch Point Relearn Procedure

The Adaptive Shift Control delivers responsive and powerful acceleration.

Diagnostic Test Drive For Drivetrain

A driveshaft center bearing can fail due to the bearing and the rubber isolator.

Other Posts
Schaeffler Recognized as a GM 2023 Top Global Supplier

This is the fourth time Schaeffler has been honored with this award.

Schaeffler, ATSG Partner to Support Technical Education

Schaeffler will provide ATSG members with ongoing education and technical resources.

MEYLE Expands Electronics, Sensor Product Portfolio

The focus is on assistance systems and engine and transmission management, with more than 300 new part numbers.

FCS Introduces 42 New Numbers in May

Complete strut assemblies, shock absorbers, shock absorber assembly kits and suspension struts for popular VIO applications are included.