Owner’s Log: 2015 Ford F-150 Lariat (3/2017 – 12/2017)

OwnersLog2

New job + shorter commute + toddler = few miles driven.  In 9 months, I barely racked up 6,000 miles on my F-150.  With so few miles driven, I figured I’d just lump all 3 quarters into a big update.  What can I say?  No news is good news, right?  Continue reading to see what me and my F-150 have been up to.

Stats:

Time Period: 3/21/2017 – 6/20/2017
Miles Driven: 1,616 / 14,596 (this update / total) (4,098 in previous update)
Average MPG: 15.7 mpg (reported by on-board computer)

Time Period: 6/21/2017 – 9/20/2017
Miles Driven: 2,047 / 16,643 (this update / total) (1,616 in previous update)
Average MPG: 17.8 mpg (reported by on-board computer)

Time Period: 9/21/2017 – 12/20/2017
Miles Driven: 2,677 / 19,320 (this update / total) (2,047 in previous update)
Average MPG: 17.6 mpg (reported by on-board computer)

Total Time Period: 3/21/2017 – 12/20/2017
Total Miles Driven: 6,340
Avg MPG for Year: 16.4 (hand-calculated)

Costs:

Maintenance Costs: $0
Repairs: $0.00
Total Cost (non-fuel): $0.00

Services Performed:

  • 11/21/2017 – Oil change, tire rotation

Summary:

In March of 2017, I changed jobs and was much closer to home.  Add in a mild Spring and Summer (for more motorcycle riding) and few road trips, and the F-150 did a lot of sitting.  So few, in fact, that I was filling up every 3 to 4 weeks instead of weekly.  That’s not to say that the last three quarters were altogether boring for my truck.  There were several family day trips, and in October, I picked up a new cabinet humidor.  Said humidor was almost perfectly sized for the 5.5′ bed – at 5′ tall, 3′ wide, and 2′ deep, it took up almost the entire bed!  I also did some tree trimming for a friend, so I had well over 1,000lbs of fresh-cut firewood on the trip home.  The F-150 definitely rides better when loaded down.

As for commuting, I wish Ford had put their auto stop/start system on 2015 trucks equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine instead of just the 2.7-liter EcoBoost.  I calculated that out of my 25 minute commute, a good 8-10 minutes of it was spent sitting at lights.  That’s a lot of time the engine could be off.  I saw a distinct dip in fuel economy from all the sitting.  The EcoBoost engines don’t like idling, and it shows at the pump.  Once I modified my commuting route to be a bit longer and with a lot less sitting, my MPGs went up by a solid 2.  That may not be much if you drive a hybrid, but when you go from 14 to 16, that’s a big jump.

With an impending layoff looming, I left my new job in late November and went back to my old one – they hadn’t filled the position, and I really enjoyed working with the folks there.  That said, I also went back to my 60 mile round trip commute, so the miles have really piled on since then.  This explains the jump in accumulated miles in the September-to-December 2017 time frame.  My mileage also rose, averaging around 17, including slogging around the Capitol Beltway.

My first few weeks back, the end of my second year with the 2015 Ford F-150, I spent a good bit of time playing with the transmission’s Sport Mode.  This mode makes throttle tip-in more aggressive and holds the transmission in a lower gear for longer, allowing revs to build.  Throttle tip-in is the amount of perceived power from the first few centimeters of throttle pedal application.  Put in layman’s terms, it’s that first jolt you feel when starting to push down the gas pedal.  A lot of automakers today will make the first 15% of pedal travel equal to 30% or so of throttle opening, which gives the car a sportier feel, even if its engine isn’t making a whole lot of power yet.

The point of my story:  Sport Mode is a ton of fun.  A few caveats, though:

  • Sport Mode is no fun in the rain – the rear end kicks loose WAY too much to retain control over the truck.
  • Full-throttle application from a stop will spin the rear tires a LOT – enough to cross an intersection, if you’re not careful.
  • It hurts the fuel economy

Another feature that came in quite handy was the Active Park Assist (APA).  After the truck parallel parked itself, I watched another F-150 owner struggle for five whole minutes, hitting the curb several times, before parking in the spot in front of me.  It’s come in quite handy several times, and according to some forum members on F150forum.com, the APA learns the width of the truck and gets better.  I’m not sure if I believe this, but after a couple of close calls early on, the last several times I used APA, it worked like a charm.

Along with my limited mileage, I noticed something else.  The pulsating brake pedal, which I experienced early on in my ownership of this truck, had returned shortly after the dealership resurfaced the rotors.  Through much online digging, I found that the F-150 is particularly prone to “brake pad material deposition.”  In other words, by consistently using light pressure on the brake pedal to come to a stop, the brake pads and rotors are heating up, and the pad material transfers onto the rotors and sticks there.  This creates a cold spot for the next stop, which eventually warps the rotor surface, creating high and low spots.

The solution to this problem is counter-intuitive to some, but makes sense if you think about it.  When coming to a stop from speed (40-50mph or more), use more pedal pressure than normal, and when at 5mph or so, let off the brakes and apply a small amount of pressure for 20-30 feet.  This heats the pads and rotors up, and the light pedal pressure cleans the rotor surface.  Do this a few times, and the rotors will be clean and the pulsating will go away.  I have done this several times (my normal inclination is to leave myself a good buffer since I’m driving a truck) and it works like a charm each and every time.

That’s all for now, but in a couple of months I will have put a great number of miles on my truck, given the cold winter we’ve had, so I’ll have more to talk about then.

Dated Notes:

  • none

General Observations:

  • none

by John Suit

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