Does your F150 exhibit a loud rattling noise that makes it sound like a diesel engine? Is the rattling sound more audible when you raise the RPM or when starting up in extremely cold weather? Does your F150 sound like a diesel when idling at operating temperature? Does this mean that the motor is not good anymore and for how long is it safe to drive it in this condition?
Certain model F150s were reported to emit a diesel-like rattle at idle. The rattling noise could be caused by a loose heat shield, contaminated injectors, or the infamous Cam Phasers and VCT phenomenon which causes the Ford F150 to rattle at startup.
In most cases, the truck isn’t throwing out any codes but just sounds like a loud, rattling diesel engine. Many owners have taken their trucks to the dealership for a diagnosis only to be told, everything was normal and the noise will eventually go away. If you’re not satisfied with that diagnosis, as many aren’t, then read this article further to determine the possible cause(s) and the solutions available.
Table of Contents
Why Does My 2018 F150 Sound Like a Diesel – HERE’s WHY
This section explains in more technical detail exactly what happens with the cam phasers which results in the unpleasant rattle. We then look at a 6-second DIY quick fix.
Option #1 – Cam Phasers and VCT Causing Ford F150 Rattle At Startup
What are Cam Phasers and what job are they designed to do? Basically, Cam phasers are located in the head of the engine and are designed to lock at base timing after shutting down. Why is this important? It’s important because this allows time for oil pressure to build in the heads on the next cold start. How does this happen? The oil pressure unseats the locking pin and the PCM (Power Control Module) can then control the phaser position via the VCT solenoid.
What happens when the phasers don’t lock properly? When the phasers don’t lock properly, they rattle until there is sufficient oil pressure to fill the VCT unit.
Quick test: How to Perform the Extended Cranking
You can force the engine to build sufficient pressure by holding the gas pedal to the floor and simultaneously turning the key for about 6 seconds. Do this after a few hours of standing or on your first-morning start-up. By depressing the gas pedal and starting the ignition, it will swing the starter without allowing the engine actually starts.
What does this do? It will allow the engine to build enough oil pressure. After about 6 seconds, let off the gas and turn the key again. If you don’t hear the startup rattle then the problem is confirmed to be your cam phasers.
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Option #2 – Pre 08 model Injectors – The Load Ones
Firstly, let’s briefly understand what exactly “injector rattle” is.
Now that we understand what “injector rattle is”, In the case of the F150s, it’s widely reported that the 05 and 06-year models do make a little diesel rattle sound at idle but you have to listen for it. In fact, pre-08 models are reported to be affected. It’s not a major concern and as long as it runs fine things should be ok. it’s just an annoying sound to contend with.
Apparently, the direct injection uses more pressure than the prior injection system, which is the reason for the additional noise.
If you are 100% sure your injectors are doing okay, let’s look at some other common causes of this diesel rattle phenomenon.
Option #3 – Low Octane Fuel Causing misfire and rattling
A common cause of rattling noises and rough idling could be due to the use of low-quality fuel. It’s the owner’s responsibility to check the grade of fuel recommended by your car’s manufacturer. for example, your truck won’t idle smoothly if you use 87 octanes when 93 is recommended.
Option #4 – Cold Weather
Cold weather is another contributor to your engine having a bit of a diesel knocking sound. This is particularly noticeable at startup on a cold day when your engine operating temperature is still low. When you first start it in the morning, it takes a short while for the oil pressure to build allowing the oil to circulate properly throughout the motor. Hence, It is very important to use the correct oil viscosity for your truck. Cold ambient temperatures can cause a bit of knocking and is “normal” to a degree, provided it is not prolonged and not excessive. Never rev your engine high at cold startup and always allow for a bit of “mechanical sympathy” to prolong your engine’s life.
Option #5 – Inferior Metal Complex
An inferior metal complex is another cause of certain F150s suffering from a diesel rattle at startup. Many mechanics are of the opinion that the F150 year models ranging from 04-06 were made with recycled metal. This results in the strength of the engines not being as good, and they end up knocking when running. The cam phasers seem to wear out often too, and that definitely adds to the knocking.
Watch – F150 Sounds Like a Diesel (Video)
Why Does My F150 Rattle Under Acceleration?
Does your Ford F150 emit an annoying rattling noise when driving between 20-35 mph? Is your rattle only at the very first part of the throttle and happens at any time with the engine being hot or cold? Does the rattle come from the engine area or is it coming from the driver-side catalytic converter or transmission area?
Most F150 rattles under acceleration have been caused by a loose heat shield or loose heat shield clamps that have become corroded. Once the clamp breaks it simply hangs on the exhaust pipe causing a rattling noise under acceleration.
F150 owners report the noise to occur under any driving conditions and at any operating temperature as well. Be it in drive, reverse, neutral, park, or when leaving from a stop, the rattle can be heard.
Of course, the sound is not only annoying to the driver and occupants but also embarrassing as hell since pedestrians walking down the street can actually hear the noise and apparently turn to see what it is. Owners describe the metallic noise to be similar to that of a marble rattling in an empty can. NOT COOL!
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What F150 Owners Say
Owner Feedback/Experience #1
Owner Feedback/Experience #2
Owner Feedback/Experience #3
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