By on January 10, 2018

2017 Ford F-350 Super Duty King Ranch - Image: Ford

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.]

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34 Comments on “Lawsuit Claims Ford ‘Rigged’ Its Diesel Truck Engines...”


  • avatar
    IBx1

    Everyone knows the first three things you do with a modern diesel are 1) straight-pipe it, 2) delete the EGR, and 3) give it a proper tune so it will last 500,000 miles. Makes more pollution to build three trucks to last that mileage rather than making one like the 7.3L Powerstroke that wouldn’t even break a sweat doing that much work.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “And then you fail emissions and can’t register it and also you’ve committed a Federal felony.”

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        Pfft, details.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I wonder what the current EPA would do if all of the manufactures sent out press releases tomorrow that said: “EFF IT. We’re not selling diesel vehicles in the United States anymore – we can’t make them compliant to your standards and everybody and their dog wants to sue us when we try.”

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            More and more fleets are moving to gassers anyway. With Ford now offering livedrive (Power-take-off), as well as decent sized fuel tanks, on the 6.2, that will very likely accelerate quite a bit.

            The “trick,” at least per the Europeans, is to drive a harder wedge between commercial and personal vehicles. Make diesels hard to justify on less-than-dedicated-towbody trucks; then regulate those as commercial vehicles: Lower speed limits (justifiable when towing anyway), truck pricing on toll roads and bridges, etc. The guys pulling big 5th wheels most of the time, aren’t going to notice THAT much either way, but the commute-in-a-Pete crowd will, to a much greater extent be priced out of their chosen steed.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    ““It is not plausible, given this ‘groundbreaking’ testing, that Ford and Bosch did not know that emissions controls do not work when the vehicle is operating in normal stop-and-go conditions, running under heavier loads, and going up modest to steep grades,” ”

    So … do the standards they have to meet *require them to do that in those conditions* or is he really complaining that the legal standards are laxer than he *wants them to be*?

    VW was toast because they ran different controls when doing “testing” vs. “real world use”; if Ford, however, runs the same software in all cases, and it’s just that the test pattern doesn’t cover “high load towing and hills”, Ford’s completely clear from any criminal penalty.

    And honestly likely to be fine in civil suit terms, too.

    Everything I can find from the EPA suggests that literally the requirements for emissions are *as measured during specified test cycles*, not “in any possible real world use including max throttle up a hill under max load”, for instance.

    Comply *honestly* with the tests (no cheater software that only runs on the test harness!) and that’s literally all there seems to be to compliance – and this is fair, because “every possible real world condition” is untestable.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      >>Everything I can find from the EPA suggests that literally the requirements for emissions are *as measured during specified test cycles*, not “in any possible real world use including max throttle up a hill under max load”, for instance.

      This didn’t stop the EPA from bogging down the Ram Ecodiesel. The allegations were quite literally that.

      • 0 avatar
        NOPR

        That’s not true. FCA got in trouble because they had specific changes in their calibration that applied to certain off-cycle conditions which weren’t declared to the EPA during the approval process. They’re allowed to change the calibration and disable or turn down certain emissions controls (EGR, urea, etc.) under extreme circumstances to protect the engine or other components, it just has to be declared and approved. Everybody does this, but FCA got popped because whatever they were doing wasn’t properly declared.

    • 0 avatar
      NOPR

      You’ve nailed it. They’re claiming the vehicle doesn’t meet the limits in all conditions. However, those limits are only applicable to the test cycle and are not relevant to off-cycle emissions; they don’t have to be met in all conditions and this is understood.

      You do need to demonstrate a general consistency in your calibration though, it can’t just change entirely for on-cycle and off-cycle scenarios. You are allowed turn off or turn down certain controls or features under certain circumstances, it just has to be declared and justified as part of the approval process.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Ford must have put a 19 year-old named Cody in charge of testing.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    With the advent of consumer lawsuits over alleged diesel emissions violations, a new breed of attorney is born; Tailpipe Chasers.

    I have a hard time understanding why owners of these vehicles would care, and what damages they’ve incurred. It would seem to me the only ones that would care would be the feds.

    What’s the end game here? The prospect of a big settlement?

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Of course actual owners weren’t harmed and don’t care, this as all other class action lawsuits is by and for the class action law firm. Hagens Berman was built on these shakedowns.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        That’s what I figure. I have a hard time figuring out the payoff, though. Just fishing perhaps.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        It is all to make money but mostly for the law firms.

        My now ex’s Sienna was not involved in the “unintended acceleration” recall but it did show up on a list that was part of a class action suite. All we would have needed is to fill out the form the legal firm mailed us and we’d be part of the settlement. I did not recall the exact amount. It really wasn’t all that much once divided among all of the participants but for the lawyers, their cut was huge.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I get class action suits about safety concerns, but have a hard time figuring out what the potential damages are here. If anything, an emissions “fix” would damage the customers.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      End game?

      Why, to make it legally impossible to build powerful, affordable, reliable vehicles, of course.

      The riff-raff have had it far too easy since the Enlightenment made them all uppity about their “freedom,” you know.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So many problems that could be solved with port-injected gasoline 500CI V8 or V10 engines.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      An 8 liter V8, sounds good to me.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I had a GM crate 502 in my Chevelle and I can’t say enough about what a great engine it was! It was torque monster for sure and with my carburetor set up I can confirm that it did indeed drink gas like the space shuttle.

      I would think you could get one to mid teens with some fuel injection and other technological updates, tuning etc. They make so much more sense than the modern diesels, as ironically the gas engine is now tremendously less complicated with far fewer systems working simultaneously, which obviously brings down the frequency of repair.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Or a smaller V8 with a turbocharger.

      It’s not 1970. We can use modern technology.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Ford gets sued for rigging a diesel NOT to self destruct? Them boys can’t catch a frackin’ break!

    It appears the EPA signed off on it, so nothing to see here. But Ford should offer a free detune to 625 lbs/ft to any snivelers.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    In this day and age, ANY assertion that automotive engines aren’t clean enough should be laughed out of the room, and the intellectual honest and integrity of the accusers should be subjected the the strongest-possible skepticism.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I begin to believe this is little more than piling on after they’re already down. Such stacking of lawsuits should be illegal unless they can PROVE (and they have the burden of proof) that the issue is completely separate from all previous litigation.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I just watched a video where the fellow says that in some circumstances the engine management programming will allow the system to exceed emissions to protect the engine from harm.
    He felt that it is most likely a law firm seeing the money out of the VW scandal and then trying to replicate that. The EPA hasn’t even looked into it and he feels that unless the EPA rules against Ford, this litigation isn’t going to succeed.

  • avatar

    Emissions testing has been a nonsense since the beginning – there is no single test cycle or combination of cycles that can accurately simulate the driving of 100% of end users.

    UK roads are full of cars whose ‘low emissions’ offer tax advantages to the user, but they’re seldom driven in a way that will come anywhere near those low manufacturer emissions figures. Perhaps a solution might be to instead measure how much fallout an engine is CAPABLE of producing in extreme use.

    It seems more valid to assess the environmental damage that a car has the potential to wreak, rather than hoping it’ll be driven in a planet-cossetting fashion.

  • avatar
    E85

    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.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    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!


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