In the world of heavy-duty trucks, the F-350 holds a special place as it is arguably the perfect balance between the entry-level heavy-duty F250 and the top-spec F450 truck. The first F350 was introduced in 1999, and Ford has kept it in continuous production since. We will focus on all of the issues of the last three generations of the F-350 including the current 2022 model year. So, if you want to know what breaks on a Ford F-350, you’ve come to the right place!
The Ford F-350 suffers from suspension issues which include the infamous death wobble, leaf spring issues, steering system issues (loose steering, power steering issues, sticking/locking steering wheel), rear wide track axle issues, rear right axle issues, front axle issues, various transmission issues, PTO oil leaks, driveshaft issues, spark plug issues, turbocharger issues, engine block heater issues, sunroof issues, and a squeaky cabin.
This was only a taste of all the issues the F-350 suffers from as things are much more delicate than that. As such, we are now going to go in an in-depth look at all these issues, tell you how to fix them, and how serious they really are.
Likely the worst suspension, or even the worst Ford F-350 issue, is the infamous “death wobble”, but the F-350 suspension system also suffers from leaf spring issues.
If you are acquainted with the F-350 even a little bit, you’ve probably heard many stories about the infamous death wobble. Countless owners of the 2009-2021 Ford F-350 reported these issues, but they seem to be the most common for the 2017 and the 2019 Ford F-350. Owners reported driving over a pothole, a speed bump, or any other more noticeable undulation on the road which caused the truck to shake extremely violently.
Ford did not recognize this issue nor did it issue a recall of any sort. However, that didn’t stop Ford truck owners from issuing countless class action lawsuits against Ford, but we do need to mention that nothing came of it yet. Ford has never officially recognized the death wobble phenomenon, but it’s getting a bit difficult to believe that more than 1,000 complaints point to a non-existing issue.
Be that as it may, some independent mechanics believe that the death wobble is caused by various factors, most of which are associated with excessive wear and tear of the suspension, the steering, and a few other associated systems.
Leaf Spring Issues
The Ford F-350 also seems to sometimes be suffering from leaf-spring-related issues, even though these aren’t nearly as common as the death wobble. A few owners of the 2009 F-350 reported instances where they notice a loud clunk coming from the front of the truck which later was traced to a broken leaf spring. The only way to fix this issue is to replace the broken leaf spring, and it is said that this issue is mostly due to the leaf spring becoming brittle and eventually failing.
Issues with the steering system are also relatively common with multiple Ford vehicles like the Ford C-Max, and the same can be said about the Ford F-350.
There are a few different types of issues we need to discuss. These include the steering wheel sticking/locking, power steering issues, and loose steering.
Steering Wheel Sticking/Locking
One of the most common steering-related issues is when the steering wheel becomes sticky or sometimes even locks itself in place. This is obviously a really serious issue as not being able to steer a huge truck like the F-350 is not for the lighthearted, especially at highway speeds. After some time, Ford recognized the problem and issued a recall to combat it.
The recall was issued back in December 2020 (20E090000) for certain 2005-2021 Ford F-350 models due to a foam ring inside the steering stabilizer so-called “through shaft” blocking the piston ports, which may lead to the steering wheel locking itself. As such, the way to fix this issue is to replace the shock assembly, the foam ring, and the steel supports.
Power Steering Issues
Numerous owners of the F-350 also reported issues where the steering can become really difficult to manage which was later traced down to a few different power steering system-related issues. These seem to be more common with the 2009-2014 F-350, but there are instances where these issues have been reported for even the newest F-350 models.
The reason why your steering wheel becomes heavy is usually due to a power steering pump failure or a power steering system leak. In order to fix this, you will have to replace certain broken parts depending on what is really the issue.
The loose steering problem has been reported for various generations of the F-350, but it does not seem to be overly common which means that it can happen to a wide variety of model years, especially the 2011-2017 F-350. The real reason this happens is not 100% certain, but it seems that the main culprit has something to do with a faulty steering box or a faulty steering column.
However, also be sure to focus your attention on tie rods, pitman arms, or the ball joints. It would be a good idea to take your car for a complete inspection if you ever come across these issues.
As far as the powertrain is concerned, the two main areas of focus are the transmission and the axles, all of which can suffer from relatively serious issues. These include problems with wide-track rear axles, front axle issues, rear right axle issues, driveshaft issues, transmission lurching, transmission calibration issues, or issues where you can shift the gears even when your foot is off the brake pedal.
Rear Wide Axle Issues
It is said that a few 2020 Ford F-350 models and possibly even some 2021 F-350 models equipped with wide rear track axles can have issues where the inner rear tires may rub due to the manufacturer not using the proper part. Understandably as these are often used for emergency service vehicles, Ford recalled certain 2020 F-350 models back in September 2020 (20V599000) due to these same issues which were then solved by rebuilding the entire wide axle system with proper wide axle parts.
There are quite a few 2016-2022 Ford F-350 owners who reported issues where the driveshaft can become damaged or completely fails which could cause the car to lose control and end up in an accident. Ford recognized this issue almost six years later when they finally recalled about a quarter of a million 2017-2022 Ford F-250 and F-350 models back in February 2022 (22V087000).
Ford said this issue was only associated with models equipped with aluminum driveshafts mated to gasoline engines. Ford supposedly repaired this issue completely by replacing the driveshaft and all of its associated components.
Transmission Lurching Issues
A few owners of the 2016 Ford F-350 reported issues where the truck either lurches forward harshly or it shifts in a really delayed manner. However, the 2020-2022 Ford F-350 also seems to be suffering from harsh transmission changes, often seen across various F-350/F-250 owner’s forums. Some say that this can be due to a faulty transmission speed sensor while others believe that this is just a case of a faulty body of the main transmission control unit.
It is also worth mentioning that some 2020 F-350 models tend to experience sticky transmission valves which can cause similar issues, but it is said that these tend to fix themselves after the car crosses 5,000 miles or so.
Transmission Calibration Issues
A few owners of the 2014-2015 Ford F-350 reported that their cars move into reverse while the drive is selected or vice-versa. This is a massive problem for obvious reasons which is why Ford issued a recall almost immediately, taking care of the issue as it seems so far. This recall was issued in April 2014 (14V204000) and Ford recalled certain 2014-2015 Ford F-350 models and updated the transmission software accordingly.
Unintended Rollaway Issues
To finish off our list of the most common Ford F-350 powertrain-related issues, we also need to discuss the 2011-2012 Ford F-350 which suffered from an equally serious issue where the car was known to roll away on its own because the shifter enabled you to shift the gears even if the brake pedal is not pressed. This also prompted Ford to recall certain 2011-2012 Ford F-350 models back in December 2011 (11V582000) and replaced the brake shift interlock switch.
The Ford F-350 uses very impressive engines which, in general, do seem to be fairly reliable. However, no engine is perfect, and we will now list the most common Ford F-350 engine issues. The most common engine-related issue is the one where the PTO pressure causes oil leaks, but there are some issues associated with the spark plugs, the turbocharger, and the engine block heater issues.
PTO Pressure Oil Leaks
The most common Ford F-350 engine-related issue is one where the 2009-2013 6.8L gasoline engine leaks oil through the PTO pressure switch. It is common knowledge at this point that oil leaks are nothing to ignore as lack of oil can cause enormous issues in itself. However, the issue here was that these leaks found their way onto the thermal blanket that covers the exhaust which regularly leads to fire.
Because of this issue, Ford issued two separate recalls, these go as follows:
- 14V382000 – Ford recalled certain 2009-2013 Ford F-350 models back in June 2014 due to PTO pressure oil leaks reaching the thermal exhaust blanket and causing the car to burst into flames.
- 14V379000 – Ford recalled certain 2010-2013 Ford F-350 models back in June 2014 due to PTO pressure oil leaks reaching the thermal exhaust blanket and causing the car to burst into flames.
Spark Plug Issues
A relatively common issue for pre-2009 Ford F-350 models is one where the engine shoots out spark plugs through the cylinder head due to the pressure from the combustion process. However, this issue was also reported for a few 2009 and 2010 models. In order to fix this, you need to fix the threads and sometimes even replace the cylinder head and gasket if the damage is too severe.
A fairly common issue across multiple generations of the F-350 is one where the turbocharger emits a loud bang and leads you to lose all power. This issue is usually known as the “turbocharger blow-off” issue where the plastic housing that sits between the intake and the turbo cracks and thus releases pressure in a really violent manner. To fix this, simply replace the plastic housing, and you are good to go.
Engine Block Heater Issues
The last Ford F-350 engine problem we are going to mention today is when the 2015-2019 F-350 suffers from engine block heater issues which also caused Ford to recall the F-350 twice These are:
- 18V894000 – Ford recalled certain 2015-2019 Ford F-350 models back in December 2018 due to a damaged cable causing a resistive shot and thus melting and potentially even causing a fire.
- 19V278000 – Ford recalled certain 2017-2019 Ford F-350 models back in April 2019 due to a damaged cable causing a resistive shot and thus melting and potentially even causing a fire.
The last category we will mention today is equipment with a few F-350 issues in store. The first one is a leaky sunroof which seems to be happening on various generations of the F-350. The second one is a squeaky cabin, also customary for various F-350 generations.
Leaky sunroof issues have been reported for almost all generations of the F-350 that come with a sunroof. Even though these aren’t common, they are disquieting for obvious reasons. It is said that these are mostly due to clogged roof drains which will have to be cleaned to solve this issue for good.
The 2017 F-350 and all of its succeeding model years sometimes tend to suffer from squeaky cabins which can be a real pain in the (you know where), especially because these issues have not yet been traced to anything in particular.
Marko´s interest in cars runs in the family. His father was a car trader and regularly took him to car dealerships when he was younger.
These days, when he isn´t watching Drivetribe or Doug DeMuro videos, he´s building up quite a resume as an automotive writer since he´s also a regular contributor on Cararc.com, Tirehungry.com, and Luxurycarsa2z.com.