Why Is This Brand New Ford F-450 Shooting Flames Out Of Its Tailpipe? [UPDATE]

Photo: Shelly Shields/Facebook
Photo: Shelly Shields/Facebook
Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

Shelly Shields from Alberta, Canada just dropped some big coin on a new Ford F-450 King Ranch, only to learn that the thing shoots flames out of its tailpipe like a rocket ship. What’s going on?

Here’s Shelly’s post from her Facebook page, which includes two videos of the fireworks:


The post says Ford Canada doesn’t stand behind its products, and that the company is instead placing a burden on the dealership, Carstairs Ford. But the letter she got from Ford (shown below) seems to indicate that Ford offered her a fix under warranty. So that’s good.

I spoke with Shelly and she told me the replacement parts would take three months to arrive, and that a similar replacement truck was hard to come by, so the dealer just refunded her for the price of the truck.

As for what caused Shelly’s issue, I don’t know yet. It’s tempting to look to the past to get an indication, as back in 2007, Ford issued a recall on its 2008 6.4-liter diesel Super Duty trucks for the very same problem: they shot flames from their tailpipes. One in Texas even started a little grass fire, a Ford Spokesperson told Reuters.


The cause, in that case, had to do with oil or fuel getting into the diesel particulate filter, or DPF, Pickuptrucks.com reported. And it’s almost certain there’s a similar thing going on with Shelly’s truck.


The DPF’s job, as its name suggests, is to remove diesel particulates, or soot, from the exhaust system by collecting it in a big filter. Eventually, that filter starts to fill up, and the vehicle burns off that soot with very high temperature exhaust gases (using either an active or passive method to get these temperatures up), often causing a big cloud of ash to shoot from the exhaust pipe.

This periodic immolation of diesel particulates in the DPF is called regeneration, and in the case of the 2008 recall, Pickuptrucks.com reported, a leaky fuel injector and a bad turbo seal was sending flammable fluids into the exhaust stream and down into the DPF. That fluid was then ignited in the regen cycle, and instead of a black cloud of ash exiting the tailpipe, a fireball ensued.


But Ford indicated to me over the phone that this new issue in Shelly’s video, unlike that 2007 recall, is a “one-off.”

And when I asked Shelly to describe to me what exactly was wrong with her truck, she said:

Hello, Ford mechanic said turbo hose blew off and was then dumping raw fuel into the exhaust system.


I’m not exactly sure which hose Shelly is referring to, perhaps an oil hose? And I’m not sure exactly what makes this a “one-off” incident and not something that can happen to other trucks, but Ford has promised me a statement “as soon as possible,” so hopefully we’ll learn more soon.

Update 20 Oct, 2016 9AM EST:

Ford has sent us the following statement:

We have completed our initial investigation into the Super Duty in Canada and have determined it was caused by an incorrect repair after the truck was produced. We are not aware of any other incidents and we are taking action to prevent this from happening in the future. In this unique case, the customer returned the affected truck and received a refund.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.

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Definitely a feature and not a problem. Plus, really an F450? Just store the damned boat at the marina and drive a car instead of a commercial vehicle around. ‘I drive a 15,000lb towing capacity vehicle to Starbucks’ is a travesty. If it doesn’t fit in parking spaces, it doesn’t belong as a personal vehicle.