Bolt-On Power Combo For a 2004 Ford F150
Tweaks Net 45 Lb-Ft And 19 Rear-Wheel Horsepower
From the October, 2004 issue of Sport Truck
By Dale Amy
Photography by Dale Amy
It's pretty clear that the '04 F-150 is a popular truck, but there's always room for improvement - as the saying goes, "Friends don't let friends drive stock."
For instance, on paper, the F-150's optional 5.4L Triton boasts 300 ponies, a hearty 365 lb-ft of torque, three valves per cylinder, drive-by-wire throttle, and variable camshaft timing. This SOHC V-8 is silky-smooth and just about utterly silent in operation.
Yet, a common first impression when driving the new truck is that it feels heavy and is slow to respond to throttle input. While the latest F-150 is in fact heavier than its immediate predecessor, the real culprit responsible for this somewhat lethargic response may well be its factory processor calibration, and in particular, the programming of its drive-by-wire system. Also important to sport truck enthusiasts is that the F-150 driving experience may be just a bit too silent.
Paul's High Performance in Jackson, Michigan, has a fix that adds about 15 rear-wheel horsepower and 15 lb-ft of torque to the 5.4L's output compared with the stock engine's power curve. That may not sound like much until you compare the increase across the whole of the stock power curve. Compared this way, we see point-to-point rear-wheel gains as high as 19.9 ponies at 4,500 rpm, and a walloping 45.9 lb-ft of torque at a mere 1,900 rpm. Our dyno sidebar tells the whole numbers story.
These results were achieved by using a combination of a free-flowing air induction system, a Bassani 3-inch stainless exhaust, and a revised drivetrain-management calibration from Superchips Custom Tuning.
This power combo gives the 5.4L Triton a rather dramatic personality makeover, resulting in seat-of-the-pants satisfaction far beyond the peak power improvements. In the before-and-after driving comparison, the stock F-150's too-quiet demeanor and tepid throttle response have been banished. Response to throttle input is dramatically improved, taking far less pedal travel to build up a head of steam.
Another benefactor of the recalibration is the F-truck's electronically controlled 4R70W transmission, for which the calibration provides notably crisper shifting, and raises the full-throttle shift point from a mere 4,000 rpm up to 5,000 to take advantage of the newfound power. And where the stock 5.4L speaks in a hoarse whisper, that voice is now deeper and much more authoritative, with just the right amount - and quality - of exhaust and induction snarl. But it only growls when you want it: Brawny as it now sounds under acceleration, the PHP-modified F-150 reverts to calmness and serenity mode on the highway. In other words, there is no tiring resonance or drone to drive you nuts on a long trip.
Overall, the net effect is as if our test mule F-150 4x4 underwent simultaneous speech therapy, weight loss, and fitness programs, culminating in a pickup that now sounds and responds as good as it looks. Now, it's not only built Ford-tough, it sounds and acts it as well.
1. On the downstream side,...
1. On the downstream side, PHP favors a Bassani stainless-steel after-cat system that is primarily 3 inches in diameter and terminates in a polished 4-inch tip. Notice the quality ball-type fitting on the outlet side of the muffler. What's nice about the Bassani system is that it provides a discreet yet authoritative report under acceleration, but doesn't intrude on the cabin's quiet while cruising at highway speeds.
2. The Paul's High Performance...
2. The Paul's High Performance F-150 induction system features a free-flowing conical filter that is isolated from engine-room heat by a stainless-steel housing.
3. The most significant of...
3. The most significant of the PHP mods is a calibration worked up in cooperation with Superchips Custom Tuning that improves not only power and throttle response, but shift characteristics as well.The F-150's Black-Oak powertrain-control processor cannot be "chipped" like earlier Ford EEC processors and must instead be "flashed" via the truck's OBDII diagnostic port.
4. The 5.4L Triton's factory...
4. The 5.4L Triton's factory plastic air inlet includes a trio of awkward-looking chambers designed to silence all induction sound. The stock rectangular air filter resides in a plastic box atop the intake. All this stuff will be deep-sixed in favor of the PHP system.
5. The factory snorkel and...
5. The factory snorkel and filter housing will be removed in one piece, but first, the mass-air harness must be disconnected. Just visible in the lower-right corner is one of the four 10mm bolts that secures the filter housing to the plastic intake manifold. These four, along with one more midway along the snorkel tube, will come out in order to remove the complete assembly.
6. But first, the PCV breather...
6. But first, the PCV breather hose must be unplugged from the other side of the filter housing. This will be replaced by a kit-supplied rubber hose.
7. The next step is to take...
7. The next step is to take the mass airflow meter out of the factory airbox...
8. ...and install it in the...
8. ...and install it in the steel PHP inlet tube. The location of the MAF is very critical to its correct operation, and PHP was very careful to place it in the same relative orientation to the throttle body as in the factory setup.
9. The new snorkel can now...
9. The new snorkel can now be clamped in place on the throttle body and bolted at its outboard end to the same hole where the factory snorkel was secured. The mass airflow harness is reconnected, and the new rubber PCV hose is then clamped in place as shown.
10. To make room for the new...
10. To make room for the new PHP airbox, this plastic electrical box must be moved from its factory location on the inner fender...
11. ...to this spot atop the...
11. ...to this spot atop the wheel arch, requiring drilling a couple holes for the pushpins.
12. The black portion of the...
12. The black portion of the new airbox is then bolted to existing holes, as shown here, using the supplied hardware. Speaking of hardware, the stainless button-head bolts visible here will be used to secure the lid of the airbox.
13. At this point, the filter...
13. At this point, the filter element can be clamped to its flange on the airbox and the airbox outlet mated to the snorkel tube with the supplied silicone coupling.
14. Finally, the stainless...
14. Finally, the stainless cover is bolted in place, completing the inlet side of the modifications. This arrangement certainly takes up a lot less real estate than the massive factory inlet setup.
15. The super-hushed factory...
15. The super-hushed factory exhaust will be discarded from the intermediate pipe junction (arrow) rearward. By unbolting the factory hangers, it will easily come off in one piece.
16. The nicely crafted Bassani...
16. The nicely crafted Bassani system simply slides up in place of the factory exhaust using all the stock hangers. In order to mate with the factory intermediate pipe, the inlet tube on the Bassani muffler is 2-1/2 inches, while everything aft of the muffler is 3 inches.
17. The Bassani system terminates...
17. The Bassani system terminates in the factory location behind the right rear wheel and is finished off with a 4-inch polished and rolled stainless tip.
On the Dyno
The following dyno results chart the considerable horsepower and torque benefits of the PHP package. It's important to note that these results are with a regular-gas calibration; more could have been gained by tuning a more aggressive spark curve for premium fuel, but the subject SuperCab is a work truck, so the owner opted to trade some power for the ability to run regular. Speaking of fuel, the truck's owner - a building contractor - reports a good 2-mpg gain after the modifications, and that the pumped-up F-150 now handles his heavy trailers with much less effort. More power, better driveability, and less fuel burn is a combo that's hard to beat.
| ||Baseline (Stock) ||PHP modifications ||Gain (Loss) |
|RPM ||HP ||Torque ||HP ||Torque ||HP ||Torque |
|1,700 ||84.7 ||261.8 ||88.1 ||272.1 ||3.4 ||10.3 |
|1,800 ||86.4 ||252.0 ||99.2 ||289.4 ||12.8 ||37.4 |
|1,900 ||89.5 ||247.3 ||106.1 ||293.2 ||16.6 ||45.9 |
|2,000 ||96.7 ||254.0 ||112.8 ||296.2 ||16.1 ||42.2 |
|2,100 ||104.9 ||262.5 ||118.1 ||295.3 ||13.2 ||32.8 |
|2,200 ||112.2 ||267.9 ||123.7 ||295.3 ||11.5 ||27.4 |
|2,300 ||120.2 ||274.4 ||128.8 ||294.1 ||8.6 ||19.7 |
|2,400 ||126.2 ||276.2 ||135.5 ||296.5 ||9.3 ||20.3 |
|2,500 ||132.7 ||278.8 ||141.5 ||297.3 ||8.8 ||18.5 |
|2,600 ||136.8 ||276.4 ||147.0 ||297.0 ||10.2 ||20.6 |
|2,700 ||142.6 ||277.4 ||153.7 ||299.0 ||11.1 ||21.6 |
|2,800 ||153.2 ||287.3 ||162.9 ||305.6 ||9.7 ||18.3 |
|2,900 ||162.3 ||293.9 ||171.6 ||310.8 ||9.3 ||16.9 |
|3,000 ||169.2 ||296.2 ||179.5 ||314.2 ||10.3 ||18.0 |
|3,100 ||174.2 ||295.2 ||186.2 ||315.5 ||12.0 ||20.3 |
|3,200 ||183.2 ||300.7 ||193.7 ||317.9 ||10.5 ||17.2 |
|3,300 ||190.5 ||303.1 ||202.9 ||322.9 ||12.4 ||19.8 |
|3,400 ||197.6 ||305.3 ||211.2 ||326.2 ||13.6 ||20.9 |
|3,500 ||202.3 ||303.6 ||217.6 ||326.5 ||15.3 ||22.9 |
|3,600 ||213.2 ||311.1 ||223.4 ||325.9 ||10.2 ||14.8 |
|3,700 ||219.7 ||311.8 ||228.4 ||324.1 ||8.7 ||12.3 |
|3,800 ||223.5 ||308.9 ||232.6 ||321.5 ||9.1 ||12.6 |
|3,900 ||223.1 ||300.5 ||236.4 ||318.4 ||13.3 ||17.9 |
|4,000 ||223.9 ||294.0 ||241.2 ||316.8 ||17.3 ||22.8 |
|4,100 ||227.8 ||291.8 ||244.9 ||313.7 ||17.1 ||21.9 |
|4,200 ||229.4 ||286.9 ||248.1 ||310.3 ||18.7 ||23.4 |
|4,300 ||231.6 ||282.9 ||250.7 ||306.2 ||19.1 ||23.3 |
|4,400 ||233.6 ||278.9 ||252.3 ||301.2 ||18.7 ||22.3 |
|4,500 ||233.2 ||272.2 ||253.1 ||295.4 ||19.9 ||23.2 |
|4,600 ||234.5 ||267.7 ||253.2 ||289.0 ||18.7 ||21.3 |
|4,700 ||234.5 ||262.0 ||252.7 ||282.4 ||18.2 ||20.4 |
|4,800 ||236.8 ||258.6 ||250.6 ||274.2 ||13.8 ||15.6 |
|4,900 ||237.5 ||254.6 ||248.2 ||266.0 ||10.7 ||11.4 |
|5,000 ||238.0 ||250.0 ||244.9 ||257.3 ||6.9 ||7.3 |
2900 E. La Jolla
134 Baywood Ave.
Paul's High Performance
3715 Commerce St.