Good News, Bad News for 2008 Ford Super Duty

2008 Ford Super Duty

What a difference a day makes!  I was starting to draft a post about the 2008 Ford Super Duty F-250, F-350, and F-450 trucks, the long-awaited retool of Ford’s hefty line of workhorse pickups.  Reviewers have been excited about the restyling and re-engineering of the Super Duty models, and the trucks have been flying off dealers’ lots since they started to be shipped in early February.

And then–yikes!  Ford announced a recall of all the 2008 diesel Super Duty trucks sold to date (37,000 of them!) because of a problem with engine temperature control that could result in tailpipe fires.

The good news here is that it’s a very simple fix: a ten-minute update of the engine control software is all that’s needed.  The bad news is that it’s another ding in Ford’s reputation.  Innovation is great.  It’s vitally needed, especially in the lagging US car industry.  But shipping product that just isn’t ready for prime time is always a horrible mistake.

The 2008 Super Duty redesign was already “behind”–it had originally been scheduled for a 2007 model year launch–so Ford’s impatience to get the new truck on the road is understandable.  Understandable, but costly, as it turns out.  Part of the delay had to do with an ongoing dispute with diesel-engine vendor International Truck, which had wound up in the courts and had affected production of the 2007 Super Duty as well as the 2008.  In the way that these problems snowball, the International Truck 6.4 liter diesel V-8 plants at the heart of the production-lag drama are the very engines prompting the product recall.

If you’re reading this, and you just bought a 2008 Ford Super Duty, remember that the recall affects only the diesel models; the gasoline-powered engines are performing fine.  If you do have a diesel ’08 Super Duty, get it back to your dealer and get it fixed!  Then you can go back to burning up the roads the safe way.

Now let’s get to the good news: the truck itself.  It’s a gorgeous machine.  The frame and suspension have been beefed up still further, but the exterior styling has made the Super Duty’s lines more elegant.  That’s a pretty nifty trick; although the big grille and broad-shouldered stance of the truck say “Power!”, the tapering curves of the hood and roofline say “Style!”

The interior cabin designs are luxurious and comfortable.  Reviewers praise the 2008 Super Duty as much for its quiet ride as they do for its plush seating; it’s a long way from the rattle and clank you might remember from tough haulers of the past.  Part of the hush, according to Ford, is because of state-of-the-art acoustical tuning and the use of Quiet Steel, a composite steel laminate.

But the Super Duty’s main selling point has always been its power, and the 2008 delivers this bigtime.  With a hauling capacity of up to 24,000 pounds (for the F-450, fifth-wheel towing setup), and a payload of up to 6,120 pounds (again for the F-450), the Super Duty is a monster workhorse.  Ford’s banking a lot on this truck, and it’s definitely something different: a high-performance pickup with the interior comfort and extras you’d be more likely to find in a high-end SUV.   It’s a bold move toward capturing what other industries call the “prosumer” market, the consumers who are looking for professional-quality products.

And once the initial bugs are dealt with, this gamble might just pay off…but we’ll have to wait and see.  For a great road-test review of the 2008 Super Duty, check out Dan Prescott’s ice-storm saga at  And Motor Trend calls it “a labor of love.”