Ford Saves Weight Throughout F-150

Ford 7 II

Saving weight on a pickup truck is an idea that's been around for quite a while. During the last several decades just about every full-size truckmaker has made some kind of weight-saving decision to increase the efficiency or capability of its pickups. Some manufacturers offer smaller, more efficient pickups to provide their customers with cost savings (like better fuel economy and a smaller transaction price). Manufacturers that do not offer smaller trucks, like Ford (it killed the compact Ranger in 2012), devised other strategies.

Truckmakers have been using aluminum body panels and composites to decrease weight in hoods, doors and tailgates (remember the Chevrolet Suburban-fighting Ford Excursion?) for quite a while. Now it's what they're doing to the significant mechanical pieces of the trucks, especially in the case of the 2015 F-150, that is the real story.

Admittedly, most of the F-150's weight savings still come from making all body panels and internal cab structural components out of aluminum. But there are a few important truck pieces that Ford has reengineered to save weight:

  • Rear axle: Internal strengthening helped increase towing capacity and capability; the lighter truck requires smaller ring-and-pinion gears, and the outer axle casing has been fine tuned and reshaped for a total rear-end assembly weight savings of 35 pounds.
  • Transfer case: The outer castings went through computer modeling and are now made of a higher grade of magnesium; every seam and molded surface has been reengineered to save 3.8 pounds.
  • Steering knuckles: The redesigned steering knuckle and surrounding parts and pieces save a total of 16.3 pounds per side, with a single steering knuckle itself saving almost 12 pounds alone.
  • Other weight savings: Other, less obvious places where Ford saved a great deal of weight include the bumpers, front and rear seats, fenders, the instrument panel and substructure, and the electronic parking brake. Total weight savings from those systems add up to as much as 92 pounds. photo by Evan Sears and Ford Motor Company


2014 Transfer Case outer

2014-transfer-case[5] II


2015 Transfer Case outer

2015-transfer-case[7] II

Weight Savings F-150 knuckle II

F150_700lbs_Graphic_R09.indd[1][1] II




All that weight savings and they are only 100 pounds lighter than a Silverado and aren't as fuel efficient as a Ram.

aluminum knuckles nearly the same size as its iron counterpart are not nearly as structurally sound........ I would rather have a truck built to last thanks

Good job ford for giving your customers what they want!!!! Cheapest to operate, best fuel efficiency of all gas powered 1/2 tons with the highest capacities with the best performance in the 1/2 ton segment. You can guaranteed that the other manufacture will be coping you ford.

The 2015 F-150 is lighter than the 2014, but it does not seem to be substantially lighter than a comparably equipped 2015 Silverado. Also, one of the comparisons I saw between the 2014 and 2015 F-150 had the 2014 equipped with an iron block 6.2L while the 2015 had an Ecoboost, a much lighter engine. Smoke and mirrors?

Meanwhile consumers will continue to opt for useless weight ADDING features such as heated everything, entertainment systems, 50 USB outlets, front/rear view cameras, lane departure sensors, the list goes on...

So we save weight in one area (powertrain) only to put the pork back on through luxury trim features. Brilliant!

all of the engineering and design teams at the major automakers have been doing these things for a very long time. Cars and trucks today are vastly better, stronger, safer and longer lasting than trucks in the past.

Hasn't GM had aluminum transfer case housings in 1/2 tons for years? Maybe late 90's.

Ram and Chevy gets better MPG and in some cases better performance numbers WITHOUT the weight savings.

Bob, GM has been making lightweight trucks for years. Difference is they compromise integrity by using thinner materials. Reports of fingers denting hoods to acorns denting roofs are not unheard of. Also body panels rust through quickly once paint is chipped.

Where is the crash rating?

aluminum knuckle? I don't know about that. Press a few bearing in and out, see if it's still good.

Still not impress. Too much ford advertising it's rather annoying now.

We have a 2008 Jeep Liberty with aluminum knuckles and 155K miles on the clock. No issues to report, honestly, except one. When I replaced the front hubs at 112K miles, I was forced to buy the new knuckles too. The old iron hubs fused themselves with the iron dust shields through rust, and the whole setup became one with the knuckles through galvanic corrosion. Not a big deal, just extra cost and annoyance. Total cost was $120 per hub + $185 per knuckle + $9 per shield, all times two for the other side. Bolts and nuts have been reused. Just keep in mind the extra cost on this new Ford when there is time to update the driveline components.

==== aluminum knuckle? I don't know about that. Press a few bearing in and out, see if it's still good. ====

Well, knuckles do not have bearings that are pressed in. In fact, there is nothing that you need to press into a knuckle. You put a hub into it, attach with three or four bolts, and then mount on the axle by attaching the ball joints and the tie rod. Tighten it to specs and you are good to go for alignment.

One of my biggest gripes regarding the new aluminium F-150 is the cost vs FE gain balance.

The FE gain was around 1mpg. Whilst some of the Ford guys think this is execptional, those gains could of been made better and cheaper.

The bigger gains were made via the engine and drivetrain not through the aluminium. Some will state, as previously, "wait for the 10spd F-150".

The FE gained by the use of the 10spd not be through weight savings. Using a 10spd will make any vehicle more efficient. Look at what the 8spd had done for the steel Ram.

The aluminium F-150 can't even get the FE of 29mpg, like the Ram can.

Once Ford realized they couldn't sell the new F-150 on it's almost non-existent FE gains, they used payload and tow improvements as the major selling point.

In the end I do support Ford for the vehicle, as it's a nice pickup. But I do think Ford can't fool everyone all the time.

The biggest gains to be had will be through the use of better aerodynamics, engine/drivetrain combo's etc.

The gains by the use weight saving materials will be much smaller and the cost much higher per mpg saved.

@Hemi Those same knuckles survive the BAJA 1000!!!!!!!!, hell why don't Ram enter a factory build drive-train and suspension into the race?????????????

I think switching to aluminum had a lot to do with increased durability. Not just weight savings. Sure ford could have more easily gone to high strength steel bodies and just decreased the thickness to save weight, but that makes it weaker and once it rusts, it rusts all the way through very quickly. The aluminum body panels on the f-150 are more than twice as thick as the body panels on a silverado. It is also much stronger. I bet if you compared the weight difference of just the sheet metal on the f-150 and that of the silverado, there wouldn't be a big difference. The silverado might even have lighter panels. Ford switched to aluminum because it can be made to be stronger while at the same time being slightly lighter than steel while also having better corrosion resistance. It's a win win win except for the added cost, which isn't a whole lot. Added cost of aluminum vs steel is estimated to be around $500 per truck.

Will be interesting to see when chevy switches to aluminum how much weight they will save. I'm guessing probably not a lot. It's only a matter of a few years before chevy makes the switch. They have already all but confirmed it.

I have one of these trucks and the biggest advantage of the weight loss is in the driving dynamics.

These new Fords are toss able into corners and down right nimble.

They drive better than the competition, have greater capability and my truck is quiet as a church mouse.

Best engineered truck in the world, good job Ford

@Bigbob what's amazing is that a BIG 6.2L V-8 that any automotive manufacture or engine builder can build is competing against a TINY 3.5L V-6, That's pack with technology and barely loosing. Did you know with a simple exhaust upgrade the 3.5L Ecoboost can produce 450hp plus and more than 500ft/tq. The next gen ecoboost which is in the 2016 Raptor power numbers are going to "EASILY" exceed GM'S BIG POWERFUL ANCIENT V-8 PUSH-ROD ENGINE!!!!

RODS!!!!!!!!! KEEP THOSE RPM BELOW 5,000!!!!!

Almost forget to mention GM is researching more extensive use of aluminum in there 2017 or 2018 pick-up trucks.

Ford is leading the way!!!!!

Wonder what the Ford boys are gunna say when Ford copies Ram and finally gets a transmission 6+gears and Diesel engine in their 1/2 ton.

@Chase, A Diesel engine will out last a gas engine. Also have better resale. Ram still has lots they can do to lighten their truck if they need to. Remember Ram is the MPG king.

Yeah, those GM twins are pretty light. But god forbid anything hit your door. Or your hood. Suckers are paper-thin.
Aluminum wasn't JUST about FE. Duuuuuh. Durability and capability were also very large factors.
Watch what happens to the FE of the 2.7 once it's got a 10-speed behind it.
All you GM fanboys knocking Ford's switch to aluminum will be eating your crow, and saying it tastes like steak no doubt, when GM follows Ford's lead once again and switches to aluminum.
As for Ram, they're not far behind either. Of course, nobody really buys one of them to tow anyway, and when they do, they wind up dragging their back bumper along speed bumps and parking lot approaches. Really quite comical to watch a Ram with its headlights pointing toward Mars with anything more than a couple pebbles in the bed.
Don't count of Ford putting a diesel in the F150. As many, many, many people have pointed out, it just doesn't make economical sense.

Really quite comical to watch a Ram with its headlights pointing toward Mars with anything more than a couple pebbles in the bed.

Posted by: lray801 | Apr 6, 2015 5:17:39 PM

Sure! Ford all across the line up is sagging in all the shoot out tests on this site. Typical Ford boy. Talks out his rear end. lol

In fact Ram handled better with a load than all others in the test.

Just the facts


PUTC, "we found the most problems surrounding the truck were underneath in the form of the suspension's challenged ride quality, both when loaded or empty. None of the other trucks sagged as much as the F-250, which showed a pronounced droop in the rear end when loaded. Likewise, when loaded, the ride was floaty and wobbly — especially when taking corners."

Stay thirsty my friend.

I don't think Ford will ever have a 1/2 ton Diesel. Just not really a market for it. Who knows. They'll let ram fall on there face first. I have yet to see a ram with a diesel in a 1/2 ton truck. Checked my local Chrysler dealer here where I still have friends from my last and only ram experience and they said really no demand. They didn't even have one and said they were by special order only.

Ford has been denting hoods from the inside for years from spark plugs flying out of the engine.

PUTC, "Most of the issues we had with this 2015 Super Duty had to do with ride quality and interior design. Sure, you can discount the latter to individual taste, but our test vehicle struggled in places the other two did not, suffering from "the jitters" over expansion joints or small potholes in uncomfortable ways (particularly on the bad highways north of Flagstaff, Ariz.). We'd also like to see the F-350 do less squatting and less "butt-dragging" when loaded or towing. It's a characteristic that exists across the entire lineup. Additionally, the interior is not aging well, especially when compared to the levels both GM and Ram HD are playing at nowadays.

" We'd also like to see the F-350 do less squatting and less "butt-dragging" when loaded or towing. It's a characteristic that exists across the entire lineup."

The use of aluminium on suspension and structural parts is far better than using aluminium on the body.

Aluminium by volume is 1/3 the weight of steel. To have the same yield strength as steel an aluminium component will weigh 2/3 the weight of steel.

The fact is that the new F150 is just a cheap soda can, plain and simple!

@greg, I tested both G.M. and Ford pushing on the fenders at the 2015 L.A. auto show. Both were easily manipulated. Ram had the most integrity.

Fords V8 F-150 simply does not measure up to Ram and G.M's V8 1/2 tons. :-(

To bring up topic of rust - I have first hand experience living in Tahiti where humid tropical island weather is normal with salty air from splashing waves on the natural reefs (well everyone lives around the coastline) so rust is a big problem.

Some backup evidence to note; many local farmers/fishermen use Land Rover Defenders as work horse vehicles & many models from the 70's-80's are still running today - all of them have no visible rust on the body/panels including the bed which get's the most abuse.

As per comparison apples with apples of similar aged trucks popular with farmers/fishermen is the Toyota Hilux (Taliban/ISIS's preferred truck); you will see almost all have had heavy body work/replacement beds/body panels etc due to complete rust out (but their little diesel engines are still running :-).

My point is Ford had some years of experience/learnt aluminum construction when they owned Land Rover & no doubt they've applied some it to '15 F150's. I don't know about you guys but if I was living in the US/colder states with salt purposely laid out in the highways/streets during the ever increasing winter months - I would definitely reconsider a vehicle that can withstand this abuse.

Is it Easter school vacation in the US?

Judging by the quality and thought into some comments it appears so.

Where does ram go from here to attempt to meet the upcoming cafe standards???? To get the 29 mpg you have to get a stripper truck, with a bed cover, 2wd, a bunch of gear transmission and high geared rear end for economy. The VM diesel is as efficient as its going to get, not much left they can do to it.

GM and Ford have so many directions they can go by being a lot lighter then Ram...... Such as smaller diesel then the really heavy Ram can. The VM diesel is already a horrible performer due to the Rams weight not sure they can take power and displacement away on there diesel and maintain there customers.

Then you can look at hybrid drivetrains as with the light weight of the Ford and GM they will be able to maintain somewhat respectable payload and towing capacities even after adding heavy batteries and such. You add that to ram it might be overweight.

There is a reason Ram's CEO is so against hybrid/electric technologies and that is the capital that they are using to shore up the mother company instead of product development for RAM... That is why you are seeing new shiny grills and letters on the tailgate as that is all they can afford to do and ram's current customer base like shiny things and don't really care about performance in there trucks.

"Where does ram go from here to attempt to meet the upcoming cafe standards???? To get the 29 mpg you have to get a stripper truck, with a bed cover, 2wd, a bunch of gear transmission and high geared rear end for economy. The VM diesel is as efficient as its going to get, not much left they can do to it.
The VM diesel is already a horrible performer due to the Rams weight not sure they can take power and displacement away on there diesel and maintain there customers."

Posted by: Scott | Apr 6, 2015 10:19:09 PM

I dare to disagree. RAM VM diesel is much better performer than any other engine, even 2.7 ecoboost for MPG. 2.7 ecoboost has horrible MPG compare to VM Ecodiesel when towing VM Ecodiesel has 42% better MPG than 2.7 ecoboost when towing.
RAM 8 speed is ready to implement starter generator instead of flywheel from day one. This is just one easy improvement to gain 1MPG by my calculations.
But here is most important thing. Cafe standards are going to be revised soon , so no panic in the room yet. Look at the pricing of new trucks. That should be your main concern, because new F150 is not just $550 more expensive, which is cost of aluminium, but at least $5500 more expensive than 2014 model.


Epa guidlines aren't calculated during towing.... So that is a moot point plus those MPG difference you speak of probably come from TFL ike gauntlet test which one truck maintained the speed limit while the other had real trouble staying within 15 mph of the speed limit. Really world towing is much closer. Sniff around edmunds and you may see some real world results.

But either way they aren't EPA rated during towing so it doesn't really matter when it comes to meeting corporate fuel economy requirements.

Ram will have to drop weight. There is no way around it if they want to stay in the truck game. Unless they want to become a small diesel only truck company. This is fleet average so there hemi's need to pickup significant MPG gains as not to drag down the average as the Hemi easily outsells the ecodiesel by a large margin dragging down the ram MPG fleet average.

There may or may not be revisions to the EPA guidelines but they will be progressive in nature to make the manufactures achieve better MPG's.

2016 standards aren't up for review, they are here and have to be adhered to next year..... EPA plans to review the 2025 though..... No pickup meets the 2016 standards alone but can use fleet wide credits to make up any shortcomings in there pickup lineup

Here is a link to this site last year that is a good read.

Past history has proven a turbo is unreliable on both diesel and gas engines. The engine is too dependent on a turbo.
Everybody here should know the nightmare Ford had with the turbos on their superduty engines.

Ford number one objective in advertising is increased fuel mileage with the turbo engine and light weight aluminum, BUT that is mediocre !
I don't like being lied too
I expect the salesman to lie to me but don't expect Ford to lie too!
The 2.7 EB gets 17 MPG
The 3.5 EB gets 16 MPG
At the same time the Silverado 5.3 V8 gets 19 MPG

yea, when you take your F-150 to the service department and complain about the poor gas mileage they will blame your driving habits or the brand of gasoline

nobody ever talks about the 2009-2010 F-150 with the 5.4 V8 matched to the same 6 speed transmission used today got BETTER gas mileage than today's eco-boost
Yea! The 5.4 was s-l-o-w but it got the job done, I don't own a truck to be a race car!

Ford is pulling a fast one over you guys and you're falling for it, Ford only sells trucks based on their past reputation but that's going to fade away soon!

The only reason I own a F-150 is I trust their service department, cause I am aware of the bad reputation Chevy and Ram has with their service in my town.
The Ford Service people I have dealing with for a long time share with me their disappointment with the new F-150, they are honest with me and tell me the common problems.

When top Ford Technicians tell me the eco-boost is a POS I tend to believe them!

The EcoDiesel gets slightly better empty mpg than the 2.7L EcoBoost, true. However, when loaded, the EcoBoost dominates the EcoDiesel in every performance catagory. Sure the EcoBoost burns more fuel, but it burns more of the cheaper fuel. Add in how often are you towing something that will give you that mileage. Most of the time a 1500 truck owner drives, it is not towing heavy. Therefore you'd be better off with the less initally expensively priced EcoBoost that burns the less expensive fuel and gets within 2mpg of the EcoDiesel. Plus you actually get performance when you need to tow something, not just mpg. IIRC at the Ike Dam the EcoDiesel had points where it couldn't even main tain speed towing, the 2.7 EcoBoost accelerated.

How about an $11,000 repair on an ecodiesel during a magazine test, along with numerous other problems? Doesn't matter what fanbois tell you, FCA reliability is at the bottom. I would personally be afraid to throw coin at a company known to have money problems, and be stuck with a vehicle nobody wants from a hand me down manufacturer. Some things never change.

====A Diesel engine will out last a gas engine. ====
You don't know much about today's diesels, right?

I have to laugh at those who think aluminum won't have issues like steel. Yes steel can rust but aluminum can corrode and one aluminum starts to corrode it is very hard to stop it.

Aluminum does not react will when it comes into contact with other metals and that is what starts the corrosion problems.

Ram is mpg king as long as your ok with horsepower numbers from about 1990.

Hoviadko, here ya go. Oh, btw, that $11,000 didn't include labor.

To all those comparing the F-150 and it's use of aluminum to the slight weight difference of the Silverado and it's "high strength steel"...... Have you ever looked at a Silverado's bed from a 3/4 angle. You can see the warping of the paper thin steel. It's how the saved weight. Enjoy your rusted out fender wells that Chevy has stretched paper thin, but hey man, you can say "My truck is made of steel!!!

You're kidding right? Google ram problems. This truck edmunds tested had many problems, and it was a new truck. Like I say, you don't get to be number 3 by building the best trucks. I'm not saying all Ram trucks are bad, or all competitors trucks are good. I am saying Ram has more than their share of quality concerns.

@Tom - I guess you missed this line in the Edmunds article you linked:
"It's worth noting that the 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel engine itself was never implicated."
The vehicle's failure was never linked to the engine, so claiming it as such is false.

You're kidding right? Google ram problems.

Posted by: Tom | Apr 7, 2015 7:33:37 AM

Tom Google Ford Fires.

The fuel injection system is part of the engine. Doesn't matter anyway, the problem was the truck.

Hemi, still posting problems with older Ford trucks I see. Here is quality problems with newer ram trucks

Ford still trying to convince the non-Nuthuggers that the new F150 is the best thing since sliced bread and it aint working.

Real truck owners know that a good old V8 is the way to go, not gas turdblows.

GM and Hemi have the BEST V8's and Ford doesn't, that's the facts jack. Ford Engineers and Mike Levine road the short bus to school and are insanely jealous of the legendary Hemi and Corvette based 6.2.

Ford owners brag about tunes that void their warranty and make them feel "bigger" as they try to drag race everyone, while GM and Ram owners just laugh, laugh that they usually paid WAY less and GOT way more truck.

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