Ford Motor Co. has ordered dealers to stop selling the new Super Duty pickup with the 6.4-liter diesel engine and is recalling more than 37,000 of the 2008 F-Series trucks after reported tailpipe fires in the diesel version of the pickups.
Ford has received three reports of flames shooting out of tailpipes after either fuel or oil leaked into an area of the exhaust system where diesel particulates are burned off to meet emissions requirements, according to a Ford spokesman.
In Texas, one Super Duty diesel's hot tailpipe set grass fire when the driver pulled off the road, according to Ford. The fire was quickly put out and no one was hurt.
"This is an important product for us and an important customer base, and we want to move swiftly to make sure this does not become a safety issue for our customers," Ford spokesman Dan Jarvis said.
The heavy-duty work truck is an important aspect of financial recovery at Ford as the automaker tries to pull itself out of $12.7 billion in red ink from last year.
Ford dealers have an inventory on hand of roughly 29,000 Super Duty trucks with the 6.4-liter diesel engine. Sales of the hot selling truck will not resume until the engine control software can be updated.
The software upgrade resets the Super Duty powertrain control module on the Ford trucks to recognize improper levels of heat in the exhaust system. If heat is detected the system will power down the truck so the driver can pull to the side of the road and allow the truck to cool off.
Ford estimates the software can be modified during ten minute procedure. Super Duty trucks that have not been shipped from their assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky will receive the engine control software update at the plant.
Customers with the first 8,400 diesel Super Duty trucks already on the roads will be notified that they should bring their vehicles into dealerships for the software update.
Ford will send out a recall notice to customers in April and dealers will contact consumers as soon as possible to warn them of the potential problem.
Gasoline-powered versions of the Super Duty and previous model-year diesel trucks with 6.0-liter or 7.3-liter engines are not affected by the recall.
Almost 70 percent of the Super Duty trucks sold are equipped with diesel engines.