2018 Ford F-150 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, fuel system, engine, door latch and steering issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

For years, the Ford F-150 has been America’s favorite truck, but it’s not immune to severe troubles. While the company claims that new models are “A Tough Performance to Follow,” we simply can’t agree. In fact, we hope that other automakers don’t follow the Ford example when building a truck. Otherwise, we will have roads filled with pickups that have faulty engines, terrible steering and defective structures.

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Problems with the Engine

The engine is the heart and essential aspect to a properly running truck. When it doesn’t operate correctly, nothing goes well.

Just look at what this Edmunds user wrote. “I purchased this thing in 09/18. Right after the 5K oil change the 5.0 Coyote engine developed a “tick” sound as the dealership called it. i called a knock. They also said that the noise is typical of the 5.0. I’ve also had it in for transmission problems that they say are typical to the new 10 speed transmission. I’m not buying that either. After the 10K oil change I was going to take a short trip and decided to check the oil. It used 1 quart in 2K miles. I took it in and they said they would do an oil consumption test. Which is a pain if you drive a lot. They determined that my truck used 1.25 quarts within 900 miles. Ford has decided to replace the engine. i wonder how that’s going to affect it’s future value. They also said they will check the transmission issues after the new engine just in case that is the root cause. After all of that my dash is starting to bulge up on the passenger side, which Ford has a service bulletin out on. They are going to replace that at the time that this thing is in for the engine replacement. At this rate this thing will be a brand new truck again before I even put 15K miles on it. Can you say Heartbeat of America.”

While it’s common to find small problems with engines from time to time, no one expects to see three engine-related recalls on a pickup. That’s exactly what you get with the 2018 Ford F-150. The first one, NHTSA Campaign Number 19V278000, discusses a diesel engine’s block heater cable’s splice connector that’s damaged and leads to possible fires. On the same subject, NHTSA Campaign Number 18V894000 says that contaminants reach the block heater cable’s splice connector, which causes the damage. The final recall is labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 17V672000 and addresses how 3.5-liter engines might contain cylinder heads machined without lubrication supply holes. This problem increases the chance for a crash due to intermittent stalling. It seems that Ford offers a nice variety of engine options, but they can’t seem to get any of them right.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford F-150 Engine Problems:

Vehicle is a 2018 F-150 with the 5.0 v-8. When the engine is first started after a long period, it will exhibit an engine rattle noise when letting of the gas pedal between 1500 rpm to 800 rpm and sometimes when slowly accelerating. Once the engine gets to operating temp, the noise goes away. The truck must be in gear and under load, it does not happen when in park or neutral. The truck has been taken back to the dealership to have TSB 18-2354 preformed with no success.

5.0 v-8. My truck consumes over 2 quarts of oil every 2500 miles. Ford says this is normal. My truck’s fuel economy in any driving conditions is never better than 11.9 mpg’s which should be and was much better than this when I first bought it. My engine knocks. My engines whines and whistles. My engine is down on power noticeably on the interstate which makes driving the truck dangerous. All of this ford says is normal. None of this is normal unless it was a 1976 pinto. This truck should be removed from the road permanently

Excessive oil consumption approximately one quart per 1000-1500 miles

Problems with Electrical System

When someone thinks of the electrical system in a vehicle, most people assume it references the battery. While that’s a valid component, there’s much more that goes into the electrical system. A malfunction on any level is annoying and dangerous.

Just read this review left on the NHTSA website. “Tailgate randomly opens while driving and after driving when parked. Will also happen again repeatedly after closing. While tailgate is open after falling in open position you can hear relay clicking noises in passenger side dashboard area. Sounds like relays are constantly triggering to open tailgate. Initially though key fob was triggering problem, but isolated key fob and determined key fob is not the issue. Am concerned that items in back of bed area are going to fall out when truck is moving and cause accident or worse. Sometimes do not hear that the tailgate opened when driving. My vehicle has factory installed bed cover and cannot see if tailgate is down from inside of vehicle.”

While there aren’t any service bulletins discussing this particular concern, Ford has issued more than 40 other electrical communications. Many of these relate to issues with the infotainment system and other interior equipment. While the problems aren’t as dangerous as an open tailgate, they become a distraction while driving, which can quickly turn into an accident. Plus, you might not be able to listen to your favorite tunes while heading down the highway, which is an emergency to some people.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford F-150 Door Latch and Electrical Problems:

2018 F150 – Freezing door latches. In cold weather (<30f) the locks on the door do not open…or if they do, and the door opens it will not latch securely. The doors have flown open as I’ve gone around corners…when I thought they were closed. Took to dealer yesterday, they are trying to replicate issue. They told me that ford has yet to really come up with a fix for this issue. There is a safety recall on some models but not my specific vim yet it has exactly the same behavior as earlier models.

During cold weather the door locks do not work. Cannot lock or unlock the vehicle. Condition remains when in park or when driving

Problems with the Steering

When the truck’s engine decides it wants to perform and the tailgate chooses to stay shut, drivers want to experience responsive steering that keeps them on the road. Again, this is one area that Ford appeared to fail with.

One Edmunds reviewer wrote, “Buyer beware. My first truck.Traded my KFC to get a horse hauler. Big mistake. Buyer regret at 500 miles. Awful ride.Younger very bump. Steering wheel shimmys. Constant drift and need to correct leads to driver fatigue. Was pushed by dealer to accept this model and found there was no NAV. No front collision warning. I feel ashamed that I was “took” by this dealership. And now I’m stuck with it.  A beautiful uncomfortable lemon.”

Ford clearly didn’t take these concerns seriously. They issued Service Bulletin #SSM 47638 which discusses steering wheel vibration, steering pull and vehicle drift. Their solution is to inform customers how the lane departure system works. Now, owners are expected to believe that these unsafe conditions are part of the safety systems designed to prevent accidents. If that were true, these systems wouldn’t be as popular as they are, considering they might be the very reason someone gets into an accident.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford F-150 Steering Problems:

My 2018 F150 raptor has a vague steering feel and occasionally the truck will auto over correct the steering when trying to compensate for wind and weather. The alignment has been checked multiple times by both the dealership and independent shops and verified as correct. The steering when center will occasionally drift to one side or the other, also happens when cornering. It feels as though it’s constantly windy when driving, even when there is calm weather. I’ve had the truck inspected by the dealership twice and they have contacted ford direct who has replied the truck is behaving normally.

While driving the the electronic power steering system faulted and steer ability diminished greatly. There was no warning. It quit working. I was traveling at a low speed and was able to maintain control.

The truck has been to the dealership 3 times now for the steering pulling to the left. This occur at city or highway speeds on any road conditions and has been reproduced by the dealership. The dealerships have been unable to determine the cause and have told me they opened a “hotline” case with ford corporate for engineering/technical guidance. The dealerships have checked the campers and casters along with re-programming the software for the power steering control module.

Problems with the Vehicle Structure

This automaker is known for vehicles that are “Built Ford Tough,” but the F-150 structure screams otherwise. There have been far too many complaints related to the body to report on, but here’s a noteworthy one.

This reviewer on Edmunds wrote, “The 2018 was 8th F150 that I have owned since 1988.  I have been a fan until this one.  At first it was great.  7000 miles later and its being bought back by Ford.  It has been in the shop 4 times because the doors were frozen closed all winter long.  It was in the shop 2 times because the reverse sensors would not work in the rain.  Now the transmission is making a clunking sound when it shifts.  Ford has agreed to buy it back but that process is a f#$%^& nightmare.  They have the worst customer service that I have ever experienced.  It gets worse.  The reacquired vehicles division is outsourced to a company called Concentrix and its employees make Ford’s terrible customer service seem great.”

In Service Bulletin 18N03-S6, Ford addresses how some trucks have defective doors that allow water inside which freezes latches in cold temperatures. The fix is listed as installing new sealing to the doors to prevent water intrusion. Aside from this complaint, there were several structural recalls on these trucks as well. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V568000 talks about how the front seat belt pretensioner can deploy in an accident and lead to a fire. There’s also NHTSA Campaign Number 17V598000 which documents how rivets might be missing at the roof rail attachment which reduces the structural integrity.

All in all, it doesn’t appear that the structure of the F-150 is strong in any way. It’s hard to believe that anyone would want to tow or haul heavy weights with a truck that’s so unreliable. The truck could rip apart with all the holes and crevices it contains.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford F-150 Tailgate Structure Problems:

Tailgate opened while driving on city street, notwithstanding that the gate was securely closed; had not been opened in weeks; and neither the tailgate release on key fob, nor the release button on the gate had been activated.

Electric tailgate seems to randomly open on it’s own. It does it when truck is running, or turned on, parked or even driving. Very annoying and worried it will cause the tailgate to break or lose things in the bed. It does this several times a day. Most recent was 12 in 1 day.

Problems with the Fuel System 

Finally, we take a look at the fuel system on this truck. After all, it must have a decent delivery system for it to contain such great capability.

One NHTSA user stated, “No power when accelerating from a stopped position and in motion. High-pressure fuel pump cracked and bolt securing the pump was sheared.”

This complaint may relate to the recall for the fuel system. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V392000 addresses trucks with the 3.5-liter GTDI V6 engine that has defective welds on the high-pressure fuel pump assemblies. Because of the defect, the welds fracture which leads to a fuel or oil leak. Owners must have a new fuel pump installed with proper welds. What we’ve seen is that very little on this truck performs as it should. After all the data has been analyzed, it’s difficult to see what Ford thinks is the  “Tough Performance to Follow.”

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford F-150 Fuel system Problems:

Within 30 days of purchase & approx. 1,000 miles on vehicle, the front end of the fuel tank dropped out of truck while in motion at approx. 20 mph on multi-lane suburban street. Vehicle had been filled with fuel a few minutes prior. Driver stopped and turned off vehicle in right lane shortly after hearing dragging noise. Holes in tank caused fuel to pour out and collect on road. Fire department and police responded to neutralize fuel spill. Vehicle towed to dealer. Dealer determined fuel tank strap broke, replaced fuel tank, strap and seal under warranty. Vehicle owner sent letter to ford motor company, awaiting response. Vehicle owner worried about integrity of vehicle and/or repeat issue.

The engine sometimes stumbles on light acceleration like it is starving for fuel. I hit the gas, the engine starts to respond, then acts like it is going to stall. I let off the gas and hit it again, same thing. I have traveled as much as 500 ft. Before the engine responds properly. Dealer can’t find anything, as it is random and doesn’t produce a fault code. Doesn’t matter if the engine is hot or cold. Happened numerous times. Dangerous situation. It has happened in heavy traffic and when I just pulled out of the garage.

On initial startup, fuel line burst directly under drivers side, sprayed fuel all over transfer case/power train electronics. Fire dept came to ensure safety, vehicle was towed to local ford dealer.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Jim

    I purchased a used 2018 f150, with the 5.0 engine. This truck had 40000 miles and ran fine, didn’t have any problems. Here lately the motor has started knocking, you can hear it at an idle. I might be making something out of nothing, but when I read articles about this truck I don’t get a warm and fuzzy. Since I purchased this truck used Im sure that ford will not talk to me,

  • Nick G

    I had a 2018 F150 with a GPS that would tell me to turn into a pond, farmers fields & woods. Ford worked on it a dozen times. Finally, the dealer gave me a partial refund on the GPS cost. I traded it for a 2020 F150. This GPS is just as bad. Nothing can be done with it. I wonder if they told the buyer of the 2018 about it.

  • Loel P

    My 2018 F150 has has the cold start rattle, Ford attempted to fix the issue and it came back. I was told Ford will come out with a fix. It have been over 6 months and no fix.
    My dashboard instrument will go wacko on a cold day and while driving it will activate the up hill and traction happened to me and my wife while driving the kids to school. Safety issue.
    My steering wheel is not centered and while driving the truck will steer to the left. I have video of the cold start engine rattle along with the dash board flickering. I just keep getting the run around.

  • Gary C

    My 2018 f 150 knocks at an idle when decelerating and accelerating dash is warped on passenger side and the radio works when it wants to . The dealer reprogrammed the computer and says it’s all fixed and says the knocking noise it makes is normal and fords says they can’t do anything else . There fix didn’t fix anything and now the dealer won’t return my phone calls.

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