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Will the F-150 Lightning Be Reliable

February 27, 2024

The Ford F-150 Lightning is an exciting new all-electric version of America’s best-selling truck. Offering up to 320 miles of range, 563 horsepower, and a maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds, the Lightning promises impressive capability without the environmental impact of a gasoline engine.

But as an early adopter of EV truck technology, questions linger about the Lightning’s reliability down the road. Will Ford’s first electric truck stand the test of time? Here’s a look at what early owners and industry experts are saying about the Lightning’s dependability so far.

Early Owner Experiences

With the first Lightnings hitting the streets in mid-2022, we’re just starting to get feedback from early adopters putting serious miles on these trucks.

One insightful review comes from Mitchell Watts, a Ford dealership owner in Alabama who has logged over 16,500 miles on his personal Lightning in its first year on the road. Overall, Watts reports a positive ownership experience so far, with virtually no reliability issues except some minor clicking noises from the wheel hubs that were easily fixed.

F-150 Lightning

In terms of range and efficiency, Watts has been averaging about 2 miles per kWh – not far off the EPA estimate considering his highway-heavy driving. Charging costs over the first year totaled just $1,200, compared to an estimated $3,000 in gas for a comparable V8 F-150.

However, Watts did notice some moisture condensation in the Lightning’s rear light bar, a problem Ford has acknowledged via recall for some early models. The issue stems from small cracks in the taillight lenses allowing moisture intrusion that can cause the lamps to malfunction. So moisture sealing will be something to watch on the Lightning.

Overall though, Watts’ experience reflects positively on the Lightning’s reliability so far. If well-maintained, the truck seems to deliver on its promises without many gremlins cropping up.

Industry Reliability Ratings

Expert assessments of the Lightning’s predicted reliability have also been fairly positive so far.

Research and valuation site KBB.com gave the Lightning a 4.3 out of 5 rating for expected reliability, based on Ford’s track record and use of proven F-150 components in the new EV model.

J.D. Power also scores the Lightning well, with a predicted reliability rating of 81 out of 100. That puts it on par with diesel versions of the standard F-150.

One key advantage for the Lightning is that it shares much of its chassis, body structure, and interior with gas-powered F-150 models that have been refined over decades. Rather than an entirely clean-sheet EV design, Ford has electrified a proven truck platform.

Potential Problem Areas

However, as a first-generation EV truck, the Lightning is not without some areas of concern. Here are a few to keep an eye on as more real-world mileage accumulates:

  • Battery longevity – High-mileage use could degrade range faster than expected. Time will tell how well Ford’s lithium-ion packs hold up.
  • Unproven electric drivetrain – New motors, gearboxes, and different powertrain layout could bring unfamiliar repair issues. Complex battery cooling systems also add points of failure.
  • Added weight – The battery pack’s extra pounds stresses components like wheels, tires, and suspension more than a gas truck.
  • Unfamiliar repairs – Many mechanics are still getting up to speed on EV systems. Diagnostics and repairs could be tricky for rural owners far from dealer service.
  • Electronics glitches – Reviews cite issues with towing tech, cabin controls, and infotainment features requiring software updates.
  • Fast charging effects – Frequent DC fast charging can degrade batteries quicker. Lightning aims for mainstream truck use, not just city commuters who plug in at home each night.

Ford’s Reliability Repair Initiatives

In response to the unique service challenges of EVs, Ford has launched several programs to help improve the Lightning ownership experience and reliability:

  • Over-the-air updates – Software fixes and improvements can be transmitted wirelessly to address any bugs and glitches.
  • Mobile service – Dealers can dispatch lightly equipped vans for repairs at a customer’s home or workplace, avoiding the need to transport the truck to the dealer.
  • Certified EV technicians – Intensive training certifies dealership technicians to properly service EVs using diagnostic scan tools and gear designed for electrified powertrains.
  • Battery repair/reman – Damaged battery packs will be repaired via replacement of individual failed modules, rather than entire pack swaps, to minimize costs. Remanufactured packs also help provide lower-cost options to buyers of used Lightnings.
  • Right to repair – Ford has signed agreements pledging to provide access to tools, software, training, and genuine OEM parts needed for independent shops to repair Lightnings.

Should Reliability Concerns Deter Buyers?

For truck owners used to the rock-solid dependability of modern gas-powered pickups, the Lightning’s new technology may seem like a risk. But concerns about unreliability are common with any new vehicle launch.

Ford’s use of proven F-150 components for much of the truck should alleviate some concerns. And continual over-the-air software enhancements will nip many problems in the bud. For repairs, Ford’s programs aim to provide widespread service access to such a niche vehicle.

Of course, some growing pains and trips to the dealer should still be expected. But early reviews indicate Ford has put a lot of thought into making the Lightning as worry-free as possible for early adopters. For buyers simply seeking a hard-working electric truck without range anxiety, the Lightning appears to deliver on that promise.

Reliability fears may be enough to deter buyers who demand 100% uptime. But for more adventurous owners willing to accept some compromise for the Lightning’s low operating costs and high-tech features, Ford’s first electric truck offers exciting capabilities without drastic compromises in daily livability.

Long-Term Outlook

Looking down the road, there are several factors that should improve Lightning reliability as production matures:

  • Manufacturing improvements – Increased experience building the trucks smoothly at scale will improve quality as glitches get addressed.
  • Technology enhancements – Better batteries, motors, and recharging speeds will expand capabilities.
  • Real-world validation – Data collected wirelessly from customer vehicles informs engineering refinements.
  • Software refinement – The Lightning is perpetually upgradeable to fix bugs and optimize performance.
  • Service network expansion – More EV-certified Ford dealers and independent repair shops will facilitate fixes.
  • Parts availability – Increased production volumes will make more repair components easily obtainable.
  • Pre-owned market – Used Lightnings will offer a more affordable way to sample the tech as early adopters trade up.

If the first years of Lightning sales prove strong, demand will spur Ford to quickly iron out any nagging issues and make continuous improvements – just as they’ve done with previous popular F-150 generations.

The Verdict

The Lightning is undeniably a bold leap into uncharted territory for Ford’s iconic truck. With any pioneering vehicle, the unknowns stir reliability fears among cautious buyers.

But Ford has smartly minimized risks by building upon proven F-150 DNA. Feedback from initial owners has been promising, without any major flaws uncovered thus far. Ongoing software enhancements will nip many teething pains in the bud. And proactive service programs aim to keep Lightnings on the road via accessible repairs using dedicated EV resources.

Of course, some questions will only be answered by the test of time across hundreds of thousands of Lightnings logging countless miles in customers’ hands. But by all early indications, Ford has developed an excellent platform for reliable electric trucking, continuously refining the Lightning to handle any growing pains along the journey. For buyers seeking to blaze the EV trail with confidence, Ford’s first electric pickup looks to be a dependable ride.

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