The Aluminum Ford F150 Bed Stands Up Well to Routine Work
In addition to writing about the newest automotive news and reviewing the hottest vehicles on the market including the newest Ford F150, I manage a horse stable with my wife. The daily tasks around the stable give me a chance to test new trucks in a real world environment, doing things with these trucks that I would do with my own trucks every day. This includes pulling horse trailers and hauling all sorts of items – from a half ton of grain to bales of hay to the heavy poles used by the jumping horses.
In short, when trucks (and some SUVs) spend the week with me, they aren’t just used to creep through rush hour traffic back and forth to an office. These trucks are expected to pull and haul what I have found to be very common loads among the scores of truck owners I’ve known, with my 5,000lb test trailer and payloads typically ranging from 800-1,200lbs.
None of my test trucks have ever shown any unusual wear when being put through my tests, including the 2016 Ford F150 Limited – the highest end luxury truck with an aluminum body. The Ford bed didn’t perform any differently than any other trucks I’ve tested so in light of the recent videos online showing Chevrolet trashing the bed of a new F150 with a load of paver bricks, I thought that I would offer up my own experiences with the new aluminum cargo box.
F150 VS the Paver Bricks
If you pay any attention to the auto industry, there is a good chance that you have seen the General Motors video comparing the bed of the new Chevrolet Silverado to the bed of the new Ford F150. The Chevy uses steel while the Ford, of course, uses aluminum. In the video, a pair of frontloaders dump an 800 pound load of paving bricks from the height of 5 feet into the bed of each truck.
The sharp corners of the heavy bricks batter the bed of the Chevy, but the surface of the F150 bed is in much worse shape, with the paver bricks piercing the bed in a handful of places. According to General Motors, they conducted this test 11 times and the results were similar all 11 times – with the Ford having punctures while the Chevy did not.
This test proves beyond a reasonable doubt that if you plan to use your new truck to carry paver bricks without a bedliner of any kind and you plan to always load those bricks in a big hurry, dumping them from high in the air, you are probably better off going with the Chevy.
That being said, with all of the trucks that I have owned and tested, I have hauled a great many different things including paver bricks and never once have I had anything “dumped” into my bed other than mulch. When I’ve purchased paver bricks, they were either lifted on a palate by a forklift or they were loaded in by hand. I’ve found that throwing these bricks any distance quickly chips up the corners, so I cannot imagine why someone would pay for all of those bricks only to tear them up by dumping them into a bed.
Next, almost every truck I have tested came with a bedliner of some sort and every truck that I have ever owned had a bedliner of some sort. Also, when I worked in the dealership world, almost every full size truck sold either had a bedliner ordered by the buyer, or the dealership would add the bedliner in to sweeten the deal. While some people might argue that a bedliner won’t help much, keep in mind that the crazy guys who chase tornadoes around on TV all paint their vehicles with bedliner to protect them from Mother Nature’s fury. I’m not saying that a bedliner will prevent paver bricks from damaging the bed, but I’ve known very few truck owners who hauled with any regularity with a bare metal bed.
Of course, just because most owners won’t dump paver bricks into the bed of their brand new truck and even fewer will do so without any sort of bedliner, GM does have a valid point in showing that their trucks are more capable of standing up to this kind of abuse than the aluminum bodied Ford F150.
However, I wanted to share my own experiences working with the new Ford F150, as the kind of work that I do with test trucks and my own trucks is more like what real truck owners do with their own trucks.
Testing the Aluminum Ford F150
Since the newest generation of the Ford F150 has been launched with an aluminum body and bed, I have spent time working with three different trucks – an XLT with the 2.7L EcoBoost, a Lariat with the 5.0L V8 and a Limited with the 3.5L EcoBoost. Like almost all of my test trucks, all three new Ford F150s had factory bedliner packages. Like all of my test trucks, each of those pickups had to haul a thousand pounds of bagged horse feed, but even if you were to drop them from high in the air – the bags aren’t going to do any damage to the bed of any truck. The same is true of hauling a 800 pounds of hay bales, as the hay doesn’t have any means to really do any damage to the bed. Perhaps a bare metal bed might get a little scuffed up by the hay, but if you are hauling anything that is softer – or anything that doesn’t really have any hard corners – you don’t need to worry about piercing the Ford bed.
Next up is the bigger test for the Ford F150 aluminum bed. The jumping horses at our stable jump over a variety of different items, but one of the most common is a “jump pole” between a pair of “standards”. Standards are generally made of solid wood 4x4s that are 4-6 feet high, and their job is to hold the jump poles off of the ground. The jump poles are generally 8-10 feet long and 3-5 inches thick, and they are usually made of solid wood. These poles need to be tough enough that when a 1,500lb horse crashes through one instead of jumping over it, the wood doesn’t break. I don’t know how much these poles weight, but imagine a piece of wood that is 10 feet long, 5 inches thick and strong enough to take the force of a 1,500lb horse hitting it at a full run. Jump poles are tough, they are heavy and they have somewhat sharp corners. They aren’t as sharp as paver bricks, of course, but these huge poles definitely pack enough power to put some serious dents in the side of a truck if you aren’t careful loading them.
Whenever we groom the surface of our jumping arena, we take the jumps out so that they aren’t in the way and as you can see in the image above, I used the 2016 Ford F150 Limited to get the jumps out of the arena while testing that premium luxury pickup. This is the kind of truck that is often accused of being unfit for the abuse of manual labor, but in loading up all of the jumps into the bed – I didn’t see anything but some paint from the jump poles smeared on the rough surface of the bedliner.
Granted, I didn’t drop the standards or the jump poles from 5 feet into the air, pointy end first, but I wasn’t delicate in loading up all of the wooden jumps into the F150 Limited. Neither the sharp-ish ends of the heavy jump poles nor the sharp corners of the standards made so much as a real scratch in the bedliner, and by the time I swept all of the dust and dirt out of the bed, there was no sign that anything had been loaded up. I was unable to find any dents in the front of the cargo box (where the jump poles would have contacted when they were slid in) and there were no dents of any kind in the surface of the bed.
So, if you are shopping for a new half ton truck, you plan to dump lots of sharp bricks into the bed without any regard for the vehicle and you are too cheap to buy a bedliner, you will probably want to go with a truck with a steel bed like the Chevrolet Silverado. On the other hand, if you use your truck like most people and attempt to take care of it by loading it more carefully and buying a bedliner, the Ford F150 aluminum bed performs just as well as every other new truck I have tested. Really, if you plan to dump paver bricks into the bed from 5 feet in the air, perhaps you might want to consider a dump truck or an older “beater” truck, as dumping the sharp stones into the bed of even the steel trucks does a fair amount of damage and really, who treats a new truck like that?