The Ford F-150 is the best-selling pickup truck in the United States and has been so for 46 years. Although this truck offers a feature set unmatched by any competitor, there are some issues owners have complained about.
There have been many reports that say the Ford F-150 loses power going uphill, and this can be due to many reasons. Stay with us until the end to find out what they are.
Frankly, clogged air filters, ignition coil damage, transmission issues, and vacuum leaks are among the most common reasons behind Ford F-150 losing power going uphill. If you are new to F-150 ownership, we recommend keeping an eye out for these problems.
A Closer Look at the Ford F-150
We’ll start this discussion by giving you a brief history lesson on the Ford F-150. Initially called the F-1, this truck’s journey started back in 1948. A redesigned second generation appeared five years later, changing the naming convention again to F-100, F-250, and F-350.
However, it took until 1976’s third generation for Ford to offer a model named F-150 in their pickup truck lineup. It was the first to offer four-wheel drive as an optional extra and debuted a new design language that was boxier than what came before.
The model’s popularity grew day by day until it finally became the US’s best-selling vehicle in 1989. Ford continued updating the F-150 throughout this time, introducing different engine options as well as more premium features.
2015 saw the F-150 switch its platform from steel to aluminum, reducing the curb weight by 750 lbs in the process. This, along with the use of Ford’s fuel-efficient “EcoBoost” line of engines, made the F-150 the most fuel-efficient full-sized pickup the world has ever seen up to that point.
With the latest fourteenth generation F-150, Ford offers buyers plenty of luxurious models and the 510-horsepower Raptor, which is more aking to a sportscar than a pickup. With electrification inevitably taking the place of internal combustion shortly, the all-electric F-150 Lightning is set to carry this iconic vehicle’s legacy into the future.
Now that you know all about the legendary Ford F-150, let us look into what causes it to lose power when driving uphill.
10 Common Causes of F-150 Losing Power Going Uphill
It can be annoying when a go-anywhere vehicle like the Ford F-150 struggles to make it up a hill. Several causes can lead to this problem, with the most common ones being;
- Clogged Air Filter
- Transmission Problems
- Fuel Pump Issues
- Camshaft Position Sensor Faults
- Bad Compression
- Damaged Ignition Coils
- Clogged Fuel Injectors
- Vacuum Leaks
- Bad Fuel Filter
- Exhaust System Clogging
Curious to learn more about these culprits? If so, follow along for a deep dive.
Clogged Air Filter
Internal combustion engines require three elements to work – a spark, fuel, and air. Just like your pickup can run out of gas, it can choke if it doesn’t get enough air.
Air from the atmosphere passes through the air filter on its way to the combustion chamber, and the filter plays a crucial role in extracting bugs, dirt, and debris from the air before it does so. If not, these elements can wreak havoc on the engine internals.
When the air filter gets clogged, the engine won’t be able to “breathe” and will struggle to produce power. This will mainly be highlighted when traveling uphill, where the engine needs to work extra hard against the force of gravity.
In some cases, the engine might have nothing to do with your F-150 losing power going uphill. Instead, the transmission system may be the one to blame. This applies to both automatic and manual F-150s.
Automatics are the most common transmission type found on Ford F-150 pickup trucks, and gear slips when driving uphill are common. Internal fluid leaks, low transmission fluid levels, worn bands, and damaged torque converters are some automatic transmission issues that can give you headaches when driving up a slope.
Although Ford doesn’t offer manual transmissions with the F-150 anymore, millions of these trucks are still being used regularly. If you own one of these beasts and experiencing trouble driving uphill, we recommend taking a look at the clutch disc to see whether it is worn or cracked.
Fuel Pump Issues
Modern F-150 trucks come with an electronic fuel pump, which pushes the fuel inside the tank through to the fuel injection system, which then sprays it into the cylinders. As the truck ages, the fuel pump can stop working, causing your F-150 to struggle when driving uphill.
In addition to mechanical wear due to old age, using bad or incorrect fuel and the buildup of sediment buildup can all result in fuel pump failure. Luckily, for those that have just bought your F-150, you don’t have to worry about fuel pump failure until your truck’s mileage surpasses 100,000 miles.
Camshaft Position Sensor Faults
The Ford F-150 has hundreds of sensors responsible for various operations. The camshaft position sensor is one of them.
Placed near the tensioner, the camshaft position sensor is responsible for calculating the camshaft rotation speed and transmitting it to the onboard computer. The ECU uses this information for managing various engine performance metrics, such as fuel injection timing and ignition timing.
But, if the camshaft position sensor goes bad, it will send erroneous readings to the ECU. As you might already guess, this interferes with both ignition and fuel injection, leading to power loss when traveling uphill.
Engine compression is essential for an internal combustion engine to produce power. No matter whether you have an EcoBoost V6 or a Coyote V8 under the hood, you won’t go anywhere without compression.
If your Ford F-150 loses power going uphill, along with showing symptoms like misfires, rough idling, illuminated check engine light, and valve train problems, the chances of low engine compression are highly likely. In this case, we recommend running a compression test and fixing the issue before it gets out of hand.
Damaged Ignition Coils
As the ignition coils inside your engine wear out over time, the chances of short circuits and bad insulation skyrocketed. When this happens, the spark plugs won’t receive enough voltage, leading to misfires and power loss when driving uphill.
Clogged Fuel Injectors
Fuel injectors are designed to last between 50,000 and 100,000 miles. After that, they need to be replaced. Otherwise, you run the risk of clogging the injectors, starving your F-150 of fuel in the process.
In addition to age, the quality of fuel you pump in also affects the lifespan of fuel injectors. If you feel that the F-150 is having trouble producing power when driving up a steep hill, we recommend taking out the injectors and giving them a thorough once-over.
Although some consider vacuum leaks to be a mere inconvenience when idling, severe instances of this issue can lead to poor engine performance. Excess air enters the combustion chamber through the leak, making the engine run too lean.
The best way to identify a vacuum leak is via a smoke test. If you find any leaks, make sure to remedy them before heading back out on the road again.
Bad Fuel Filter
We already touched upon several components of the F-150 fuel system, and the fuel filter is no different. It is yet another important part that is integral to your pickup truck’s performance.
Just like the air filter, the fuel filter is responsible for collecting impurities and sentiment, this time from the gasoline in the tank. These need to be swapped out periodically, typically once every 50,000 to 60,000 miles. If not, they can get clogged up, restricting the fuel flow to the engine and making it choke when driving uphill.
Exhaust System Clogging
If your Ford F-150 is showing symptoms like frequent stalling, backfires, and engine power loss when driving uphill, there might be some debris clogging the exhaust pipes or the catalytic converter.
Overheating and internal damage are the most common reasons for exhaust system clogs. You can use a pressure gauge to monitor back pressure and pinpoint exhaust clogs. If the catalytic converter is leaking, your F-150 also runs the risk of failing emissions.
Preventative Maintenance Tips To Minimize Ford F-150 Power Loss When Going Uphill
If you frequently get annoyed when your beloved Ford F-150 loses power going uphill, follow these tips!
- Avoid Overheating
- Do Routine Maintenance
Not only does overheating damage your engine’s internals, but it can also cause exhaust system clogging. Always ensure that the cooling system is in working order. Also, don’t forget to keep the coolant reservoir topped up at all times.
Do Routine Maintenance
Proper maintenance goes a long way in ensuring vehicle reliability. To prevent your F-150 from losing power as soon as it starts driving up a hill, adhere to Ford’s maintenance schedule and only use genuine replacement parts when conducting repairs.
Now that you know why your Ford F-150 loses power going uphill remember to follow our maintenance tips to limit potential reliability gremlins in the future.