Poor ride quality in the F-150 is attributed to various factors, most related to the suspension.
It makes sense. If your truck gets more than its fair share of shocks, the problem is likely the shock-absorbing components.
The solution revolves around modifying the system or the parts connected to it.
There are three main ways to make your F-150 ride smoother: upgrade the suspension, replace the wheels and tires, and modify the parts around these components. You may also ride on smoother terrain, but that’s counterintuitive since the F-150 is built for rough conditions.
Improving Ride Quality in the F-150
A vehicle’s suspension system is pivotal to passenger comfort. If your truck doesn’t have sturdy springs and shocks, you’ll feel every bump and shake inside the cabin.
It makes the suspension one of the primary components requiring regular maintenance; otherwise, ride quality depreciates.
When you drive an F-150, you experience rough terrain differently. The truck is popular for its impeccable towing and hauling, but these two capabilities add weight and increase vibrations inside the cab.
With a poor suspension system, your F-150 can also feel unbalanced when turning and driving up inclines.
In the worst-case scenario, a damaged suspension can lead to uncomfortable rides, even on smooth roads.
You can still improve the ride in your F-150 by doing the following:
- Reducing the unsprung weight
- Softening the suspension system
- Replacing the wheels and tires
- Modifying the chassis
- Minimizing vibration effects.
Reduce Unsprung Weight
Unsprung weight (or unsprung mass) is the weight of components not supported by the suspension. These include:
- Wheel axles
- Wheel bearings
- Wheel hubs
- A percentage of the driveshaft weight.
A more straightforward way to think of unsprung weight is that if the springs don’t support the component, its weight is unsprung.
When reducing your F-150’s unsprung mass, the wheels and suspension should be lighter than the truck’s total weight.
Less weight on the wheels, springs, or brakes frees up your suspension to better handle uneven terrain; otherwise, it spends most of the time balancing shock absorbing and adjusting to the added weight.
The top modification for most drivers is adding lighter wheels. It’s less technical than the alternatives.
You can also add lighter brakes, lighter tires, and even lighter nuts and bolts, regardless of how small and insignificant they seem.
Ensure the aftermarket parts are compatible with your F-150. They should improve ride quality without impacting the vehicle’s performance and stability.
Modifying the suspension is also a viable solution and is described in detail in the next section.
Upgrade the Suspension
Aside from reducing the unsprung mass, most experienced truck drivers modify the suspension itself, replacing it with a softer alternative.
In some cases, changing the suspension system alone does the trick, as a damaged or broken suspension is directly connected to deteriorating ride quality.
There are two procedures for softening your F-150 suspension system:
- Changing the shock absorbers
- Changing the springs.
In both cases, you’ll be replacing the components with lighter alternatives.
Many aftermarket shock absorbers improve your truck’s comfort levels. However, some do so by sacrificing performance, an integral factor in an F-150.
You’re better off with parts that allow you to balance the two. Luckily, you can get adjustable shocks in most auto parts stores.
Dual-rated shocks are excellent as they allow you to modify the F-150’s firmness and ride height. You achieve peak comfort without adjusting to surplus height for performance’s sake.
Spring replacement is less direct, as softer alternatives are more difficult to find.
Still, you can call your nearest auto-parts center and explain your situation. They will provide an alternative solution if the parts aren’t available.
Use Light Wheels and Thin Tires
A combination of big wheels and low-profile tires significantly contributes to depreciating ride quality.
A low-profile tire has a shallower sidewall compared to regular tires. It’s also stiffer, a disadvantage in F-150s and other trucks.
Because they’re harder than their thicker counterparts, low-profile tires have a more challenging time absorbing vibrations when driving on rugged terrain.
Accompanying these tires with large wheels doesn’t make it any better, as the increased weight may strain the truck. The overall truck weight is disproportionate, with the lower section carrying more than it should.
It all goes back to unsprung weight and how components add unnecessary tension to the suspension, resulting in poor rides on uneven ground.
The solution is to get light, narrow wheels and slim, tall tires for your F-150.
You’ll do yourself a world of good by getting wheels that are less than 18” in diameter and 7” in width. You should also get tires with a 60+ aspect ratio.
Also, ensure the tire pressure is below five psi at most when inflating them. Remember that less stiffness equals increased responsiveness, which results in more comfort and smoother rides.
Alter the Chassis
The frame or chassis is the framework holding all the truck’s components, including the tires, engine, and body. It’s your F-150’s skeleton.
A chassis with stiff components leads to steering difficulties, which reduces comfort.
The framework connects to your suspension, wheels, and tires, and you should also consider replacing it if changing these components doesn’t make much difference.
There are several alterations you can make to your F-150 chassis:
- Use lighter brake components
- Use more lightweight axles (if possible)
- Use carbon fiber, ceramic, and aluminum parts.
Because these modifications focus on reducing the weight of several components in one go, you should find a reliable mechanic to do the work.
Minimize the Impact of Vibrations
All the tips above help minimize the impact of vibrations – some more than others – however, there’s no harm in taking further steps to reduce the effects as much as possible.
One way is by investing in new body bushings to cushion the body.
You can also double stack the rubber rings on your springs for increased efficiency. Just make sure to grease them up beforehand.
If you keep the rings as they are, inspect them regularly and consider changing them if they seem worn out.
Finally, you can add rubber strips to the F-150 floor and seats. It always helps to tackle the problem at the source (e.g., the suspension, tires, etc.), but that doesn’t mean you can’t directly improve comfort with shock-absorbing additions.
When changing components in a suspension system, it’s best to consult with a mechanic. You reduce the risk of compromising your truck and can get further suggestions to increase your comfort.
A truck like the F-150 is made for rough roads and harsh weather conditions, so it’s a bummer when you find out yours can’t handle either.
Still, the problem is rarely unsolvable, and you can get it back to peak performance by replacing select parts.
Changing the suspension gives you the best results, but you can go further and replace the wheels and tires.
You also won’t go wrong by replacing the chassis, but it’s a complex process, and you should take your car to a mechanic to get it done right.
When making changes to your truck, always put safety and stability first.