What we do know is that it's pretty shocking to watch a truck throwing flames in idle, even more so when it's revved. We think it's important to be clear about what may be causing this and why Ford issued the recall in the first place. Fortunately, the purveyor of forddoctorsdts.com published a very clear, concise explanation of why the recall was issued and what may be going on in this video.
See the video and continue reading our account of this hot situation after the jump.
[Source: YouTube, forddoctorsdts.com, Automotive News, Pickuptruck.com]
Basically, the new 6.4L Power Stroke uses a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to collect and burn off particulate matter in the truck's exhaust. On occasion, the engine will intentionally inject a metered amount of fuel in the exhaust cycle that will raise the temp in the DPF high enough to burn off the collected particulates. This is called regeneration, and it's a process that diesel engines from GM and Dodge do, as well. What you see in this video is a rare case in which leaky injectors or a cracked turbo has allowed an unmetered amount of either fuel or oil to reach the DPF and raise the temp to combustible levels. The fuel or oil then ignites and you get this "thermal event", otherwise known as flames shooting out your tailpipe.
Recall 07S49 was issued to address the cause of this thermal event. Again, from what we can tell, the engine management system on over 37,000 trucks that have been built and/or sold will be reflashed. The new program monitors temperatures in the DPF, and if temps spike when they're not supposed to, the system will restrict the engine's power and alert the driver. This, we assume, will save the engine from damaging itself further, giving the owner enough time to reach a technician where the cause of the spike can be discovered and fixed.
If we were owners of a 2008 Super Duty with the 6.4L Power Stroke, we'd be calling for Ford to not only reflash our engine management system, but also carefully inspect the injectors and turbos to ensure there's not a problem waiting to happen. Ford engineers claim that fuel could leak into the exhaust system if these trucks are started in subzero temperatures and not warmed up properly. They also say no parts in the engine are defective. Nevertheless, inspecting injectors and turbos would go a long way in creating peace of mind for owners of these very expensive, and profitable, trucks.
Considering the quality issues that dogged the last generation Power Stroke diesel and this new recall that, while more isolated, is still damaging to the Super Duty's reputation, it's not surprising we've learned that Ford is accelerating its own development of a new diesel engine that would eventually replaced the Power Stroke that's designed by Navistar International. The bad blood between Ford and Navistar is well documented, and it would obviously be best for both parties if this relationship were no more.
[Much thanks to Mike Levine from Pickuptruck.com for following this story with us and teaching us Diesel 201]