Lawsuit Claims Ford 'Rigged' Its Diesel Truck Engines

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Are you an automaker that’s currently producing, or has ever produced, a diesel engine? If so, the odds are pretty good you’ll eventually be sued over its existence. A new lawsuit by truck owners, filed on Wednesday, alleges Ford Motor Company installed emissions-cheating software in F-250 and F-350 Super Duty trucks — built between 2011 and 2017 — to ensure they passed federal testing.

At this point, all of the Detroit Three manufacturers have been accused of some form of diesel deceit. Which makes us wonder how warranted these lawsuits are. Volkswagen’s scandal started when an independent source tipped off U.S. regulatory agencies, but these truck cases frequently begin as class-action suits on somewhat specious grounds.

Further complicating the issue is the fact that many diesel systems are intentionally designed to burn off accumulated particulates during a filter-regeneration process before returning to normal operations. In this way, the software responsible for regulating diesel-particulate filters (DPFs) could theoretically be confused with a defeat device. However, the lawsuit, filed by automotive class-action heavyweight Hagens Berman in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, makes no obvious reference to DPFs.

According to Bloomberg, the suit against Ford assessed fuel consumption over time. The group pursuing it claims to have conducted rigorous testing to support its claim of the F-250 and F-350 emitting 50 times the legal limit for nitrogen oxide pollutants.

“Emissions are routinely as high as five times the standard,” the lawsuit read, dropping the insult that the Super Duty trucks should referred to as “Super Dirty.” The suit includes 58 alleged violations of state consumer law, false advertising, and racketeering claims.

Maybe we’re just burnt out after the string of lawsuits that followed Volkswagen’s emissions scandal, but it’s clever stuff like the Super Dirty pun that makes us wonder how seriously we should take the accusations. Ford is at least the fifth carmaker accused of diesel cheating in the United States, which raises questions about the effectiveness of diesel technology and the ability of various groups to effectively measure emissions. We’re going to wait until the Environmental Protection Agency chimes in before making any assumptions.

The lawsuit also names German auto supplier Robert Bosch as a defendant. Bosch said allegations against the company “remain the subject of investigations and civil litigation,” adding that it will take all claims of diesel software manipulation seriously. Bosch faced similar accusations in cases against VW, Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors.

Ford’s team said the automaker will issue a comment on the matter soon.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • E85 E85 on Jan 11, 2018

    stupid really. all you've got to do is run these engines on ethanol. we've got plenty and can make more. they run cleaner and make more torque and power, and it's cheaper. what's not to like? you just need a cetane enhancer. all diesel engines in brazil run on ethanol. it can be hydrous too, with 5% water, which makes it even better and cheaper since you don't have to bother taking the water out.

    • See 2 previous
    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jan 11, 2018

      @Flipper35 There are additives for fuel to prevent this occurring. Its used in the aviation industry. But the stuff is carcenogenic.

  • Kosmo Kosmo on Jan 11, 2018

    Hagens Berman are just the automotive equivalent of scumbag ambulance chasing personal injury lawyers. Maybe reason will prevail, and this will get tossed out of court. Bwahahahaha!

  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).
  • Lou_BC There are a few in my town. They come out on sunny days. I'd rather spend $29k on a square body Chevy
  • Lou_BC I had a 2010 Ford F150 and 2010 Toyota Sienna. The F150 went through 3 sets of brakes and Sienna 2 sets. Similar mileage and 10 year span.4 sets tires on F150. Truck needed a set of rear shocks and front axle seals. The solenoid in the T-case was replaced under warranty. I replaced a "blend door motor" on heater. Sienna needed a water pump and heater blower both on warranty. One TSB then recall on spare tire cable. Has a limp mode due to an engine sensor failure. At 11 years old I had to replace clutch pack in rear diff F150. My ZR2 diesel at 55,000 km. Needs new tires. Duratrac's worn and chewed up. Needed front end alignment (1st time ever on any truck I've owned).Rear brakes worn out. Left pads were to metal. Chevy rear brakes don't like offroad. Weird "inside out" dents in a few spots rear fenders. Typically GM can't really build an offroad truck issue. They won't warranty. Has fender-well liners. Tore off one rear shock protector. Was cheaper to order from GM warehouse through parts supplier than through Chevy dealer. Lots of squeaks and rattles. Infotainment has crashed a few times. Seat heater modual was on recall. One of those post sale retrofit.Local dealer is horrific. If my son can't service or repair it, I'll drive 120 km to the next town. 1st and last Chevy. Love the drivetrain and suspension. Fit and finish mediocre. Dealer sucks.