How Do You Stop Ford’s F-150?

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The question has stumped the rest of the automotive industry for five decades. Consider the statistics: 46 consecutive years as the best-selling truck in the United States, the last 41 as the best-selling vehicle in the country. Since 2005, the Dearborn, MI-based company has sold 13,112,493 F-Series. In 2022, an F-Series was sold every 49 seconds.

The numbers do not lie – for nearly 50 years no one has figured out how to halt the overwhelming sales success of the venerable truck brand but what about the challenges involved in figuring out how to bring the diverse F-Series variants to a halt as they traverse America’s roads, trails and worksites carrying passengers, cargo and pulling trailers filled with building supplies or horses.

“Yeah, it is a huge challenge,” acknowledge Hal Felch, Ford Motor Company’s global head of braking technology. “A lot of the newer brake technology [we use in these trucks], like the electronic brake boost systems, were really designed for passenger car usage. And taking those up into not only the F-150. But expanding it into even the F-250, F-350, F-600 range provides a big, big challenge [that we have to meet].”

Engineering the brake systems of the F-Series trucks to provide passenger-vehicle response and comfort while meeting the demands of a work or heavy-duty environment presents Felch and his international team of engineers and suppliers with never ending conflicting issues.

“The F-Series, although it is a work truck, and it is an off-road fun truck, it also is a people mover,” explained Felch. “It’s a personal everyday use vehicle and the expectation is that it’s going to perform just like your passenger car. Its smoothness in operation is vital; there must be no roughness; there’s no brake noise; no rattles; no brake judder.

“[It is developing systems which] you can do anything; from having a work truck that’s a fleet vehicle; to a police vehicle which is pursuit rated that’s going to be able to go to a Groton Raceway and do hot laps over and over and over again without brake fade; to a Raptor that goes off road and can handle the rough endurance of a real severe environment [and capable of fast acceleration].”

Felch explained buyers of an F-Series, especially those using them as personal transportation, do not care if the vehicle is also suited for more truck-like activities and at the same time, consideration for the manufacturing process is necessary.

This is an expert taken from an article in our BrakeLine magazine. The full article can be found in the January 2024 issue.

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Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.