Top Upgrades for Ford Super Duty PickupsLast Updated October 9, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
First unveiled in 1998, Ford’s F-250 and F-350 pickups are some of the most celebrated on the market today, and capable of a variety of tasks. Whether you’re primarily using your truck as a daily commuter, for off-roading, or for hauling and towing, the Super Duty line is capable and comfortable. In order to make sure your pickup is customized to your liking, modifications can be a great way to improve the performance of your vehicle while also creating an individualized experience with your truck that’s unlike any other on the road.
Whether you own one of the first Super Duty trucks from 1999 or 2000, or just brought home a new 2018 F250, there are modifications available for your ride thanks to an aftermarket community that loves these pickups the same way you do.
There are countless modifications that are possible, but these are a few of our favorites to get you started on customizing your Super Duty.
Cold Air Intakes
One of the easiest ways to increase the horsepower of your engine is to improve the density of the air that enters your engine’s combustion chambers. Cold air intakes aim to do exactly that.
By increasing the quality of the air, cold air intakes are able to ensure that your engine is getting an adequate air-fuel mixture to increase horsepower. It’s an easy modification that offers something every pickup owner feels they need more of: Power.
One of the best parts about aftermarket cold air intakes is that they come with higher quality air filters, some of which are even washable so they can be reused instead of replaced. This is a huge advantage for off-roaders who have a tendency to create a lot of dust and mud. It’s been said that making sure you have a high-quality air filter is one of the easiest ways to improve horsepower and also preserve your engine’s internals by ensuring that debris stays away, but with a cold air intake, you get all of those benefits in addition to improved airflow.
One way to make sure you’re getting the most out of all of your modifications is to use a tuner. The potential gains from tuners are huge, and there are a lot of different pre-loaded tunes that you can select from, whether you’re more concerned about torque, horsepower, or fuel economy. In short, tuners give you a way to communicate with your truck and tell it exactly what you’d like for it to prioritize. Tuners are available for 2011 Super Duty trucks and newer. If you have a mid-model, like a 2015 F250 and are thinking of upgrading the same tuner should be able to work with both your current and your new truck.
As an added bonus, a tuner can allow you to read can clear any PCM codes that may appear.
Lifting your truck gives it a more aggressive stance, but it also gives it more ground clearance, allowing for easier maneuvering off-road. Lifting is recommended for people who are frequently taking their trucks off-road, whether that terrain be rocky or muddy.
The four specifications that people tend to look at when appraising off-road performance are the breakover angle, approach angle, departure angle, and ground clearance. All four are improved by lifting your car. Lift kits also make it easier to change over to using larger wheels and tires, a move that many people feel allows them to traverse more challenging terrain easily.
For those who tow frequently, a lifted vehicle may make it easier. The suspension has more “give” before the ground, allowing for an easier time driving with challenging loads.
The final reason that people prefer lifted trucks is the view. Not just the appearance of your truck, although many find that a fortunate side effect, but also the improved viewing angle while driving on the road. Lifting a truck makes your seating angle higher, giving you a bird’s eye view of the road around you.
When it comes time to pick a lift kit, there are a wide variety available. From 2” lifts that are appropriate for anyone to the more skyscraper-like lifts. If you are lifting your vehicle substantially, it may be worthwhile to invest in a wheel rotation and alignment afterward to ensure continued performance from your vehicle’s tires.
There are countless options for off-road lighting as well as stylish lighting additions that can also be practical. If you move a lot of things at night, having cargo bed lights is not only slick looking, but also practical.
Upgrading your lights is great for safety and appearance, especially if you own a first or second-generation Super Duty truck. One of the most practical lighting options is improved fog lights. Pickup trucks are often called on to drive in poor weather conditions, and visibility is crucial to avoiding perilous situations. Lights have come a long way since 1999 when these trucks were introduced, and getting a brighter light setup is a great longterm investment in both your and your truck's safety.
Pickup truck owners are known for loving mixes of practical features with stylish ones, and lighting offers exactly that. Whether you just want to shine a little light on your vanity plate or want a full light bar for your next rock-crawl, there’s something for everyone. Underbody lighting kits often work with a wide range of models as well, so whether you're upgrading your 2010 Super Duty to give it a little new flair or are making sure your 2019 F-350 is ready for its first big off-roading adventure, you're sure to find the extra visibility a huge advantage.
Keep in mind that some of these lighting options are strictly off-road. Blinding other drivers is generally frowned on and these lights have a tendency to be very bright.
The bed is most likely why you decided a pickup truck was a better fit for you than an SUV, so why not put some time into upgrading this part of your pickup? Tonneau covers are a great idea for people who are occasionally hauling things that they’d prefer not to get wet or that they would feel more comfortable with a little extra protection for. Tonneau covers come in a variety of different styles and add an element of practicality and mystique to your pickup. After all, you don’t want just anyone staring into your bed, do you?
From Tonneau covers that are retractable to ones that roll up, there are many different styles of cover, so matter what types of things you’re usually hauling you should be able to find a cover that suits your needs.
Steps and Running Boards
Whether or not you’re getting your pickup lifted, you may find a step convenient. There are a wide variety of steps available, so you can decide if you just want something incredibly simple or if you’d prefer a powered running board that appears and disappears seemingly at will. You don’t have to alter the lines of your Super Duty in order to have a super easy time entering and exiting your pickup.
If you frequently have smaller people riding with you, a step is a great investment, though generally, we recommend it for everyone. Nothing is worse than trying to make a graceful exit from your awesome looking truck only to wipe out. Just ask yourself if you think you can see yourself hopping out of your truck and on to icy terrain without slipping. Much easier to have a step.
This is another area where there are steps seemingly for everyone. Which is right for you depends on who frequently rides with you and where you like to take your truck.
Ultimately, you can customize your Super Duty to be a unique ride that’s suited to you and the daily activities of your life. One of the things that people love the most about Ford’s F-Series is how malleable these trucks are, molding themselves around their owner and becoming the truck that can be everything to everyone. What it becomes to you is a matter of personal preference, but you can’t go wrong starting out with these simple mods as you begin your modification journey.