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How to Adjust the Idle on Ford Trucks

by Josh Baum

If your Ford truck's engine sounds or feels like it's running too fast or too slow when idling, it may need to be adjusted. This is actually a simple task that requires only a flathead screwdriver, and you can properly adjust your idle in under 5 minutes, once your engine is warm. This process cannot help you repair problems with your engine, but it can help you keep your car from dying unexpectedly or running too hot, thereby accelerating engine wear.

Pull the hood release lever in front of the driver's seat, open the hood and prop it up with the support arm.

Here's an example of what your idle screw might look like; it's the flathead screw on the right.

Open your owner's manual to the under-hood diagram and look for the idle screw. If you do not have a manual or if you're already familiar with all the components under the hood, you can find it behind the passenger side carburetor. Its exact location varies among the different models and years of Ford trucks. It may either be a flathead or Phillips head screw, but both can be adjusted with a smaller flat head screwdriver. The screw will be visible and reachable, mounted on the end of a pipe that traces back to the carburetor, throttle or somewhere else on the engine block.

Start the engine and give it several minutes to warm up fully.

Turn the idle screw one quarter turn. If you need the engine to idle at a higher speed, turn the screw to the right. If it's running too fast, turn it to the left.

Go back to the passenger compartment and wait for about 1 minute, after which time you should see the revolutions per minute (RPM) change on the tachometer.

Repeat Step 4 and Step 5 as many times as necessary until the engine is idling at your desired speed.

Lower the hood support arm, close the hood and turn off the truck's engine.

Tip

  • Under normal conditions, the truck's engine idle speed should be about 800 RPMs. Modified high-performance cars and older cars with significant engine wear may need the idle speed to be adjusted to 1,000 RPMs or higher.

Warning

  • Make sure you adjust the idle with the engine running so that you can hear the warning signs of a racing or sputtering engine if you turn the screw too far. If you increase the idle speed too much with the engine running, you could damage the engine.

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About the Author

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