The Ford F150 is one of the most popular trucks on the road, and many people I know have upgraded theirs to be faster. As you probably know, the stock F150 is a little lacking when it comes to speed. Most trucks are, but there are some ways to make a Ford F150 faster with some upgrades and mods.
So, if you’re looking to upgrade your F150 to be faster, read for the top tips I’ve picked up from F150 owners around the country.
Make your F150 faster with these mods
Some upgrades and modifications that you can use to make your Ford F150 faster are:
- Remove any extra, or unnecessary gear / weight
- Get a simple tune-up
- Install a turbocharger or supercharger (view on Amazon)
- Install a cold air intake (view on Amazon)
- Replace your exhaust system (view on Amazon)
- Get a professional tuning done
- Buy higher octane gas
Before you decide what modifications you’ll be doing, you need to figure out what’s important to you. How much do you want to spend? How much can you do yourself versus having to hire someone?
How to upgrade a Ford F150 to be faster
The range of mods you can make is overwhelming, so I’m keep the list trimmed down to what I believe to the best the best. Before you start, ask yourself:
- What’s your budget?
- How much work are you willing to put in?
- Will you be doing the work yourself or having a mechanic do the job?
- How do you want your truck to look in the end?
- How much speed do you want to add?
The last two are determined by how you do them or have them done. Once you’ve answered these questions, you can look to this chart to help you decide where to start with modifying your F150 to be faster – here’s how much things could cost.
- Price: Minimal, if any.
- Work needed: Minimal to extensive.
- Mechanic’s help: Not required.
- Price: Typically, under $200.
- Work needed: Minimal.
- Mechanic’s help: Usually needed.
Turbo or supercharger
- Price: At least $400 (here’s one on Amazon).
- Work needed: Extensive.
- Mechanic’s help: Usually needed.
Cold air intake
- Price: At least $200 (here’s one on Amazon).
- Work needed: Minimal.
- Mechanic’s help: Usually needed.
- Price: Between $100 to $1,500 (here’s one on Amazon).
- Work needed: Medium to extensive.
- Mechanic’s help: Usually needed.
- Price: Typically, $50 to $400.
- Work needed: None from you.
- Mechanic’s help: Needed.
- Price: Can increase by $0.10 to $0.20.
- Work needed: None.
- Mechanic’s help: Not needed
Prices of tune-ups, professional tuning services, and changes in gas type will change based on your location. For those listed as typically needing a mechanic’s work, depending on your experience working on cars, you might be able to do it yourself to make your F150 faster.
1. Make your F150 faster with weight reduction
One of the reasons trucks are so slow is because of the weight of them. Here’s what a typical F150 weighs to give you an idea.
To give you more of an idea of how much a truck weighs compared to a compact car, we’ll use the Mazda Miata as an example versus the F150, which credits its lightweight for its speed.
If you look at the specs on each, you’ll see that, while the F150 has a lot of power, the Miata is half the weight of the F150. An F150 is designed to haul trailers or go mudding, which is why it has a larger engine and more horsepower and torque.
The Miata, on the other hand, is designed to be fast. The engineers opted to cut down on how much power it had to cut down on the weight. By dropping down to just 2 liters, they lost over a hundred pounds of horsepower but increased the speed.
There’s an even more obvious reason why the Miata is so much lighter than the F150 – It’s significantly smaller. The smaller the vehicle, the faster it will be because of the weight reduction.
Trucks are larger and heavier than cars, but you can still reduce the weight of them. That’s what I will be explaining next, how to make an F150 faster by reducing down the weight.
How to reduce the weight of an F150
Your F150 will never be as light as the Miata. The key to increasing speed with weight reduction is balancing the weight of the vehicle with the power it produces. Producing enough power helps you overcome the weight of the truck, which drags down your speed.
Why can’t you just increase the power and keep the truck as heavy as it is, then? Well, you can! You could replace the engine with a larger version or add a turbo, as you’ll find out later. Swapping the engine out for something bigger or adding a turbo will be more expensive than merely reducing your weight.
If you’re on a budget, let’s just stick to an F150 weight reduction project for now.
So, what can you do to reduce the weight of your F150?
- Remove nonessential heavy electrical components
- Air conditioning unit
- Stereo, including all speakers
- Heating system
- Strip the interior
- Get rid of extra seats
- Clean out any of the random junk in your truck
- Rip out the carpeting
- Don’t carry a spare or jack
- Replace heavy materials you can’t remove with lighter options
- Look for a lighter weight battery
- Replace heavy metal body panels with fibro glass
- Opt for lighter metals or plastic when possible
- Opt for the lighter wheels without as much tread
- Look for anything else you can remove
- Put less fuel in your tank next time you’re low
- Take off any kind of toolbox you may have mounted over the bed
- If you aren’t using it, you can even remove the bed of the truck
Once you’ve lightened the load of your Ford F150, you should notice an increase in speed. Even though it’ll will now go faster the less it weighs, remember to be careful of reducing power at the same time. Just because it’ll be lighter doesn’t always mean it’ll be faster.
2. Make your F150 faster by getting a tune-up
By itself, a simple tune-up won’t increase your F150’s speed. For any truck that has been driven for a while; however, a quick cleaning of all your truck’s basic parts will help the overall performance of it.
After so many miles, your F150’s systems start to gather dirt, debris, and gunk.
Filters become dirty and need to be replaced, fluids begin to break down and clog your systems, and hoses begin to wear out. The older the F150, the more critical it becomes to take proper care of it to keep it at its best, or it’ll begin breaking down on you.
One of the essential tune-ups you should do is an oil change. Many people choose to do these at home to save money, as you don’t need much to do an oil change.
You can also buy higher quality oil filters and oil if you do it yourself, which will help performance even more.
For “truck gurus,” a tune-up is something they can easily do at home. If you don’t have the know-how; however, any local auto shop can do it for you.
The one thing to consider is that they must stick to stock regulations when replacing anything, which keeps you from being able to make modifications.
What is a tune-up and why you need one for a F150?
A tune-up is simply an examination of the vehicle to make sure everything is working correctly. According to the Kelley Blue Book, during a tune-up, you or a mechanic will examine the following working parts of your truck:
- Air, fuel, and oil filters
- Spark plugs
- Distributor cap
- Oxygen sensor
- PCV valve
- Oil and fluid levels
- Air conditioning
- Heating system
Typically, you can expect to replace any filters and clean the spark plugs, if not replace them, yearly.
As your Ford F150 ages, you’ll find yourself replacing the distributor cap or various sensors that go bad. Your air conditioning system may also become clogged after time, and needs to be cleaned annually, as well.
Your brakes are another thing you may commonly need to work on since the brake pads will experience wear and tear over time. You may find yourself needing your brake pads replaced more than once a year, depending on how heavily you use them as well as possibly turning the rotors.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure the mechanic checks all the fluids.
Fluids become polluted with debris and break down over time. One of these you’ll want to check every couple of years is your transmission fluid, which is responsible for protecting your transmission’s gears.
When should you do a tune-up?
When it comes to keeping your F150 in the best shape you can, getting a regular tune-up is the best thing to do and it can make your F150 EcoBoost faster.
You should take your F150 in or perform a tune-up on it yourself at least once a year, if not twice annually. Once a year is a rule of thumb, but more often is preferred by those who have modified their vehicle.
You’ll be fine getting just one full system tune-up once a year, but what about oil changes? Those should be done much more regularly, according to your F150 owner’s manual. The general timeline regarding oil changes is to get one every 3,000 to 5,000 miles driven.
3. Make your F150 faster by adding a turbocharger or supercharger
Turbochargers, aka “turbos,” are devices that force extra air into the combustion chamber of your F150. The additional air causes bigger explosions in the chamber and more power with each burst. The more air you can force into your combustion chamber without causing damage, the better.
Superchargers are very similar, but a turbocharger gets its power from the exhaust system, while a supercharger is directly connected to the engine.
The supercharger uses the power from the engine the same way a turbocharger uses the energy from the exhaust stream – to compress more air into the combustion chamber.
Both are considered “forced induction systems.” In a typical system, you’ll only have as much pressure in the combustion chamber as you would anywhere else. Forced induction refers to the chargers “forcing” the air into the chamber, which raises the pressure level.
The extra speed you’ll get from a turbo or supercharger (view on Amazon) is considered your “boost.” You can purchase boost gauges to place in your truck to monitor how much boost the charger is giving you, but remember it’s only measuring what the charger is giving out, not what your engine is using.
What does a forced induction system do to make my F150 faster?
According to our high school science classes, the standard atmospheric pressure is around 14.7 psi at sea level. By increasing the pressure, you can force more air into the small space of the chamber.
This allows you to have more air, more fire, and more power without having to have a larger chamber. This all works together to make your F150 faster.
A turbocharger’s power comes from a turbine triggered by the exhaust stream. When this turbine spools up, it delivers energy to the compression component of the device. The compressed air it creates is then forced into the combustion chamber.
A supercharger’s power, on the other hand, comes on a belt connecting it to the engine. Just like with the other parts of your truck, the supercharger will pull on your truck’s engine and battery unlike a turbo will.
Should you get a turbocharger or a supercharger?
Once you understand how these systems work, you’re only left to decide which device you’ll choose. The following chart outlines the differences between a turbocharger and a supercharger.
A supercharger will sit up at the top near your engine, making it easy to install. A turbocharger is difficult to install because the turbine runs off your exhaust system, which is at the bottom of the truck.
However, a turbo is more efficient because of placement and the system it uses. Turbos also require the exhaust stream to build enough to spool up the compressor, whereas superchargers are ready to go as soon as the engine turns on.
4. Make your F150 faster by installing a cold air intake
Did you know that colder air carries more oxygen, which burns hotter and faster?
If you can get cold air into the combustion chamber instead of air that’s been warmed by the engine’s heat, you’ll get a much bigger bang. As we just covered, a bigger bang means more speed in your F150!
A cold air intake moves the air filter away from the engine to protect it from the heat. Typically, a cold air intake (view on Amazon) sits low to avoid any heat rising from the engine, but they can be installed anywhere if you’re able to get the air into the chamber without causing it to heat up.
All of this works together to increase your horsepower and even your gas mileage. Because there’s more oxygen inside the chamber to produce the explosion, you won’t use as much gas. This should save you at least an extra mile or two with each gallon of gas you purchase.
You’ll also save a few dollars on air filters. Without your air filter, debris and dirt will build up in your engine by flying in with the air. However, most air filters are designed to be disposed of and replaced. Cold air intakes, however, typically come with reusable filters to save you money.
What to consider before adding a cold air intake to your F150
Before you add a cold air intake, there are a few other things you should consider including:
- You’ll be more prone to hydro-lock, which causes your engine to lock up due to taking on too much water.
- Your truck may get louder, depending on which system you install in it.
- Any bends in the piping of 90 degrees or more can impact idling ability.
- Your filter may become clogged more quickly than a stock air filter.
Hydro-lock is when your engine’s parts become waterlogged, which causes them to malfunction. In some cases, you’ll be able to pull it apart and clean out the pieces to salvage the engine, but, sometimes, you won’t be able to save it. Because of the larger size of them, cold air intakes are more open to the elements.
Also, because of the larger, more open design of the intake compared to a traditional filter, your truck may end up louder than before. Many people enjoy hearing their truck’s engine running.
If you notice any sharp angle in the piping, you’re going to struggle with getting the proper amount of air into the engine. You’ll also find yourself cleaning your filter more often, as the opening for intakes is larger than that of typical filters.
Unless you live somewhere that is often wet, hydro-lock shouldn’t be a concern for you, and you should be able to view the cold air intake apparatus before having it installed to see what shape it is and how it’ll affect the noise level of your truck. If you’re willing to clean your filter regularly, you shouldn’t have any issues with installing a cold air intake system.
5. Make your F150 faster by replacing the exhaust system
The stock exhaust system you’ll find on your truck when you initially purchase it is not the most efficient system you can use. Typically, it’s the cheapest one the manufacturer can use, which can be severely restrictive and, obviously, not of the highest quality.
As “Engineering Explained: Exhaust Systems and How to Increase Performance” explains, you want the fastest velocity for your exhaust with the smallest amount of restriction possible. While this sounds easy, the velocity of the exhaust fumes is typically increased by restricting the airflow. So, how can you increase the velocity without increasing the restriction, then?
The idea is to decrease the restriction in proportion to the increase of exhaust put out by the engine. Most stock exhaust systems are highly restrictive compared to the engine they have, so you’ll probably be able to put a new exhaust system in without needing to modify the engine.
If you’ve modified the engine and it’s begun to put out more exhaust, you may need to go in and redo the exhaust system as well to determine any improvements the engine may need. If your engine can’t clear the exhaust out, it’ll begin to “clog” and slow down.
How to know which exhaust system to make an F150 faster?
If you’ve added a turbocharger or supercharger, you’ll need to redo your exhaust to some degree. However, some exhaust systems can be loud and allow more exhaust into the air than emission laws allow. How much you change your exhaust system is a choice you should make carefully. Here’s one I recommend on Amazon.
The most typical system you’ll see people install is the cat-back system. This is simply a modification you bolt in that runs from the catalytic converters, known as the cats, back to the exhaust tip. It replaces the pipe from the cats to the muffler, the muffler, and the exhaust tip.
If you want to add to your horsepower by adjusting your exhaust system, you can remove the catalytic converters, as well. It is illegal to do this in some states; therefore, you must check with your local laws before changing your exhaust system.
You should also know that by replacing the stock exhaust system, you’ll also be increasing the noise level of your truck. Especially if you remove the cats, you may need to check with local laws about noise restrictions on vehicles. This is essential for California residents, as they have some of the strictest noise and exhaust laws.
6. Make your F150 faster by getting professional tuning done
Your truck’s computer needs to be upgraded as much as the rest of the vehicle needs it. The stock tune you’ll find on your truck is, like most stock items, not the best quality.
After you’ve made enough modifications, it’s crucial to have a professional tune done if you want the best performance from your upgrades.
Tuning an F150 essentially means to increase its power by calibrating and aligning different parts of the truck. Initially, this was done by hand, carefully balancing everything to the same level, height, and cleanliness. Today, it is done with computers and other electronics.
Each vehicle has a computer installed in it that’s in charge of making sure everything is running as it should be. This is what sends the signal from a fuel sensor to your dash, where you can see when you’re almost empty. This is also responsible for how the engine puts out power and which parts are running at which speeds.
If you have the equipment and programming experience, you can connect your truck to your laptop with a simple cord and tune it yourself. However, if you don’t have programming experience, you should not attempt to do it yourself.
7. Make your F150 faster by using higher octane gas
While the rest of the list may be modifications of varying intensity, there’s one simple upgrade you can make to help boost the performance, and speed, of your truck: buy higher octane gas. Higher octane gas contains fewer contaminants and chemicals.
Why does this affect performance?
When your gas has more contaminants in it, it will cause the spark plugs to struggle to “spark” more than that at higher octane levels. This also puts more wear on your spark plugs, leading them to need more regular replacements done on them.
The most significant disadvantage of using higher octane gas is the higher price. Higher octane gas is often the “premium” or “deluxe” gas, which is about ten to twenty cents higher than the standard gas.
Those ten or twenty cents a gallon will stack up over time, but if you’re looking for a quick and straightforward way to boost your truck’s performance, this is it! Another thing to keep in mind is with the more modifications you make, the more you’ll want to use high-quality materials in and on your truck.
If you were to pick one thing out of this list to do to make your F150 faster, the easiest is switching to higher octane fuel. Especially if you get your vehicle professionally tuned, the higher-octane levels will extend the life of your truck extensively.
The second-best thing you can do for your F150’s speed is getting regular tune-ups. Again, if you make any kind of modifications to your truck, staying on schedule for oil changes and tune-ups will help your truck’s performance significantly.
The rest of these will help increase your speed significantly, as well as the overall performance of your truck. The more modifications you make, the faster your truck will get, but be careful of overloading the system. If you do, you’ll be in your mechanic’s shop again sooner rather than later!