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2003 Ford F-350 Super Duty Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 2003 Ford F-350 Super Duty based on complaints from actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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11
Known Problems

The high pressure diesel fuel injection pump may fail, resulting in a "no start" condition.

An illuminated Check Engine Light could indicate that one or more of the ignition coils has failed due to excessive spark plug gap. To fix this problem, the ignition coils that have failed, the spark plugs, and all coil boots should be replaced.

A severe lack of power may develop because the hose from the turbocharger to the intake manifold can come loose, resulting in loss of boost pressure to the engine.

The cooler for the EGR valve can leak coolant internally, which causes white smoke to come from the tail pipe. Hot exhaust gases are cooled by the EGR cooler before being circled back into the engine.

It is common to see the variable vanes inside the turbo seize or bind from carbon buildup. This causes an overboost or underboost condition when driving.

Delamination of the diesel fuel tank can occur resulting in a loss of power due to debris clogging the fuel filters. In some cases the fuel injection pump and/or fuel injectors have also been damaged. Ford has issued a service bulletin (#19728) addressing this concern. This issue can affect all diesel F-350, F-450, F-550, F-650, and F-750 Super Duty models.

The Ford F-350 Super Duty has known issues with the V8 engine ejecting spark plugs. This will make a tapping or knocking noise, plus the engine will begin to misfire at all speeds. The check engine light will also illuminate.

The threads on the cylinder head are too short and soft, allowing pressure from combustion to overwhelm and destroy the threads. 

When the spark plug ejects, the cylinder head becomes damaged, necessitating repair of the spark plug port threads, or replacement of the cylinder head and cylinder head gasket. 

Ford has recommended a method of repair for the cylinder head that prevents the spark plug from ejecting under future use. Replacement of all spark plugs is not necessary, but an updated spark plug design can help prevent this from happening in the future. 

There is a technical service bulletin for the V8 engine.

The VGT solenoid can fail. The VGT solenoid receives signals from the engine control module to adjust the boost that the (variable geometry) turbo is generating. A defective solenoid can also create an overboost or underboost condition when driving.

If the driveline angle is out of adjustment, it can cause shuddering from the vehicle when accelerating from a stop. The driveline angle should be adjusted to reduce vibration in most driving conditions.

An oil leak may develop from the the right side head gasket.  Oil from this type of leak will commonly drip onto the starter. Our technician tell us an updated head gasket is available to correct this concern.

Using the correct oil for this engine is critical. Improper engine oil can foam in the high pressure system and not develop enough pressure for operation. Symptoms of this can be hard starting, long cranking time before start, rough engine idle, and a lack of power. Another sign is tiny bubbles in the oil on the engine oil dipstick after the engine is shut off. The additives in the correct oil that protect against foaming can still break down, so changing the oil at the correct intervals is important.