Ford F-150 Acceleration Issues? Check This First!

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The Ford F-150 is one of the most popular pickup trucks in the United States. Ford has improved this model year after year, ensuring it stays ahead of the curve regarding powerful trucks built for offroading. However, that doesn’t mean they’re without issues—and the Ford F-150 can be particularly prone to acceleration problems.

Two of the most commonly reported Ford F-150 acceleration issues are losing power and jerking. Clogged catalytic converters, blockages, transmission issues, and more can cause these. You can DIY a few fixes and diagnoses, but getting a professional involved is important.

Let’s take a closer look at Ford F-150 trucks that lose power while accelerating or jerk, including the possible causes and whether you need a professional to fix them.

What Causes a Ford F-150 to Lose Power While Accelerating?

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor

If you notice your Ford F-150 losing power when accelerating, the opposite of what you want, you need to troubleshoot the cause. Here are the possible reasons you might be experiencing this.

Your Catalytic Converter is Clogged

A fault in the system could cause a clogged catalytic converter, but how do you tell the difference between this and other reasons your Ford F-150 might be losing power when accelerating?

The primary way is that losing power isn’t the only system of a clogged catalytic converter. Some others include:

  • Dark exhaust smoke.
  • A strange smell when your truck starts up.
  • Functions are slower than usual.
  • The engine is getting hot.

The good news is that you can create a DIY fix for this problem. You can immerse it in hot water and pour in some degreaser for good measure. You should rinse it with water, but make sure it’s at low pressure, or you could cause more problems than when you started.

If you’re not sure what you’re doing or don’t know your way around, make sure to have a professional do this regardless.

Transmission Issues

Many things can cause transmission issues and bring forth various symptoms—including losing power when accelerating.

Sometimes, something goes wrong with the vehicle, or a manufacturing issue causes the transmission to fail (particularly on some Ford F-150 models). Other times, it’s natural for the transmission to wear down over time.

Symptoms of transmission issues, other than losing power when accelerating, include:

  • Odd noises.
  • The vehicle shakes when driven.
  • Slow to move.
  • The smell of burning.

If you think you have transmission issues, you must get your vehicle seen immediately by a professional.

The Torque Converter is Bad

The torque converter is necessary to keep your truck running smoothly, as it transfers power between sources. However, like other parts of the vehicle, this can break down (or wear down over time). 

Signs something might be wrong with your torque converter include:

  • The car shuddering and shaking.
  • A damaged seal, which you can inspect visually.
  • Transmission fluid being contaminated.

Just like the transmission, if you think something is wrong with the torque converter, you need to get the vehicle seen by a professional to get it fixed.

Gear Issues

It’s also possible there’s something wrong with the gears. Vehicles move up gears as they get faster, so if the gear slips into a lower one, the truck will struggle to accelerate. You’ll be able to notice this as the vehicle’s movement will feel jerky, and you may also smell burning.

Gears are critical for the truck to operate, so don’t drive your vehicle if you think something is wrong with the gears. Instead, get a professional on it as soon as possible.

Why Does a Ford F-150 Jerk When Accelerating?

F-150 Raptor

If your Ford F-150 isn’t necessarily losing power when accelerating but is jerking, there are a few things that might be wrong. 

A Problem With the Fuel Injectors

The fuel injectors are critical to keeping things running smoothly, so if they become blocked, dirty, or fail, they might cause the vehicle to jerk as it speeds up. You should have them cleaned out by a professional to allow the truck to run smoothly again.

Dirty Air Filters

Dirty air filters can also be a huge cause of jerking when the truck tries to accelerate. Just as with air filters in the house, these should be routinely changed and cleaned, as you might be surprised at how much of the vehicle’s performance can be affected if you don’t keep up with them.

Worn Spark Plugs

Spark plugs help to start your vehicle by igniting the combustion. However, when they work to help speed the vehicle up, they may jerk if worn down over time and may need to be changed out by a professional.

Spark plugs should have a fairly long lifespan, most lasting around 100,000 miles or more. If your vehicle has had a long life and is approaching that milestone, it could be time to change them.

Gear Issues

Just as gear issues can cause your vehicle to lose power when accelerating, it can also cause it to be jerky. This can be down to user error if moving between the gears isn’t done correctly, or it could be because there’s an actual problem with them, and they need to be checked out.

The Ford F-150 is only available as an automatic today, but if you have an older, manual version, you should make sure you’re operating it correctly.


There are many moving parts to a Ford F-150, and a whole manner of blockages could be causing your vehicle to jerk as it tries to accelerate. A professional can check for all of them.

Damaged Cylinders

Fuel is generated within a vehicle’s cylinders, so if they’re damaged, it’s easy to see why this might cause acceleration issues. Likewise, cylinders can be damaged by overheating, so if this seems like something that might affect your truck, this is likely the cause of jerky acceleration.

Other signs of damaged cylinders include:

  • Coolant temperature changes.
  • Oil levels are dropping.
  • The overall engine performance is going down rapidly.
  • An excess of smoke is coming from the exhaust.

Cylinders should last for at least 150,000 miles from when the vehicle is new, so this most commonly affects older ones—like many of these issues. However, if your vehicle is very old or has been used a lot, it might be time to do extreme work on it or replace it with a newer model.

DIY Troubleshooting vs. When to Get it Looked at

There are a few problems you can look at yourself when troubleshooting. For example, if you own an older, manual truck and aren’t changing gears correctly, it’s likely to be jerky when accelerating. If you’re sure your air filters need to be changed, you might be able to do that on your own too.

However, it would be best if you took your truck in to see a professional when in doubt. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing, you could make problems worse, damage your truck, or even put yourself in danger. 

If you’re worried about the cost, most mechanics should be able to provide a quote ahead of time, though they may need to look closely at the vehicle to determine the exact issue. Make sure you pick a reputable, honest auto shop with good reviews for the best possible experience.

To Conclude

Overall, acceleration and power issues from the Ford F-150 need to be looked at quickly. If not, the problem can become worse.

Unfortunately, there are also various possible causes and solutions, so it may take a professional diagnosis to figure out exactly what’s happening.

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