Ford Recalls Diesel Powered Super Dutys for Fire Risk
By: Mike LevinePosted: 03-21-07 19:31 PT
© 2007

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Update #2: 03-27-07 16:05 PT

As many of our readers are aware, over the weekend a video of a 2008 Ford Super Duty shooting flames from its exhaust appeared on the Ford Doctors Diesel Technician Site and YouTube.

Ford safety spokesman Dan Jarvis told today that, "The video is definitely one of the three trucks we described last week (see below, in the original story). It was sent to us by one of our dealers in Canada, where two of the trucks in the recall were located, and it illustrates why we took action so quickly. We wanted to alleviate any potential safety concerns about this issue right away."

Although not 100% certain of the cause of the fire seen in the video, Jarvis said the truck in the 75-second clip is probably the Super Duty that was started in very cold temperatures (approximately minus 20 to 30 F). Its engine wasn't given enough time to briefly idle and lubricate the turbocharger in the freezing weather before the truck's operator drove off, resulting in a blown bearing seal in the turbo and a leak of combustible fluid (likely oil) into the pickup's DPF.

Jarvis also gave an update on one of the other trucks that had a leaking fuel injector, which caused another instance of flaming exhaust. After shutting off and restarting the motor the problem causing the leak in the injector resolved itself without requiring any further maintenance. It was likely caused by some sort of obstruction that was removed upon the engine's restart.

Asked about what this recall could mean to Ford's launch of the all new 6.4-liter Powerstroke diesel and 2008 Super Duty, Jarvis said, "This is a great engine. We know it's reliable. We've had a few minor cases with individual engines and we're taking very fast action to fix them, and we'll continue to be transparent with any actions we take."

And when asked about if Ford had initiated this recall because this problem might be occurring in a sample population greater than the three trucks originally referenced by Ford, Jarvis stated, "We think these three trucks are very rare cases. We're not seeing this in any other vehicles in the field."

If you own a 2008 Ford Super Duty with a 6.4-liter Powerstroke diesel engine and would like to see if your pickup is included in the recall, you can enter your VIN at Ford's recall information website or contact the Ford dealer where you purchased your truck.

Update #1: 03-22-07 06:20 PT talked with Ford spokesman Dan Jarvis this morning to learn more about the Super Duty recall and its accompanying software patch to prevent fiery exhaust events from occurring. Here's how it will work and what it could mean to drivers with a leaking engine component that allows combustible fluids to enter the exhaust system and become trapped in the diesel particulate filter.

"This software fix will recalibrate the engine's PCM (power control module) so if it senses that temperatures have climbed too high in the DPF it will begin a gradual reduction of fuel and air flow to the engine to help bring the temperatures back down," says Jarvis.

It should be noted that the software patch WILL NOT fix the root cause of any oil or fuel leak in the motor caused by faulty hardware.

In describing driver awareness and action during a 'powering down' scenario, Jarvis said the following, "(The driver) will see a message on their instrument cluster that they need to pull over to the side of the road. Within five to ten seconds, the engine will begin to lose forward power and the driver will need to pull off and stop to wait until the DPF has cooled down. The vehicle will not lose power steering or power braking during the power-down and it won't stop all together. Drivers should have enough time, if they are on the freeway or a bridge, to pull off to the side and shut the engine off. After the DPF cools down the driver can restart the vehicle, and then we recommend that they take the vehicle to a dealer for service."

When first announced yesterday, it was unclear if the problem occurred only during DPF regeneration (see below, in original story) or at any time while driving. Jarvis states, "the problem could occur at any time, not just during regeneration, because the exhaust temperatures in the DPF are hot enough that any fluids could ignite (during normal driving). Hot weather or normal DPF operation will not trigger the power down. Only if there are burning hydrocarbons in the DPF is the temperature going to get hot enough to trigger the power down."

Jarvis emphasized that in order for the phenomenon to happen, something in the engine has to be leaking. At least one of the cases was caused by, "a driver in Canada who might not have let the engine warm up when it was about 20-degrees below zero, causing a crack in the turbocharger."

2008 Ford Super Duty owners with Powerstroke engines can receive the flash upgrade to their PCM at their Ford dealer. The operation takes about 3 minutes to modify the engine logic. Letters from Ford will be sent to owners, and dealers are calling to notify recent purchasers of the recall.

"We're moving immediately on this, and we're proactively notifying NHTSA of the recall," says Jarvis, "because we think it's the right thing to do."


Not sure if this will throw gasoline, er rather, diesel on the fire in Ford's ongoing dispute with Navistar, but the Associated Press is reporting a recall and stop sales notice for all 2008 Ford Super Duty pickups with new 6.4-liter Powerstroke mills under their hoods amid accounts of fire emitted from the truck's dual exhaust pipes when combustible fluids have found their way into the diesel particulate filter (DPF). The DPF plays a critical role reducing soot and particulate matter from the Powerstroke's exhaust system.

AP quotes Ford Spokesman Dan Jarvis as attributing the sources of the flammable liquids to leaky high-pressure fuel injectors in two trucks and a cracked turbocharger shaft in a third vehicle.

Some 37,000 trucks impacted by the recall will receive a software upgrade to reduce engine load when temperatures in the soot trap get too high.

It's unclear how, or if, this fix will affect engine performance during driving, or if the problem is limited only to periods when the DPF is 'regenerating' and very small amounts of diesel fuel are added to the exhaust stream to burn off particulates caught in the DPF - causing the fluid to ignite. We're waiting to hear back from Ford with additional information.

All 2007 model year and up diesel powered heavy duty pickups from Ford, General Motors, and DaimlerChrysler use new diesel particulate filters, with regenerative cleaning solutions, to meet strict federal and state emissions regulations requiring a 90% reduction in soot over 2006 model year levels.

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