Ford was reported to have told dealers on Wednesday to temporarily stop selling certain 2008 F-series Super Duty diesel pickups after receiving reports of flames shooting out of the vehicle's tailpipe.

The automaker told the Associated Press (AP) it was recalling 37,400 F-Series Super Duty trucks with 6.4-litre diesel engines. The majority of the pickups - 29,000 - were still on dealer lots.

Ford spokesman Dan Jarvis told the news agency it received three reports of flames coming from the truck's tailpipe, caused by leaking fuel that ignited in the exhaust system's diesel particulate filter near the tailpipe.

"It's really something that we noticed early on and we're moving swiftly to fix the problem," Jarvis reportedly said.

There have been no injuries or vehicle fires connected to the recall. There has been one report of a grass fire in Texas that was quickly extinguished, he told the news agency.

Jarvis told AP the flames could only occur in engines with leaking fluids, which he said was very rare. Two of the complaints involved leaking fuel injectors and the other involved leaks coming from a crack in the turbocharger shaft.

The report said the automaker will have dealers upgrade software for the powertrain control module, which will power down the engine under higher-than-expected temperatures in the diesel particulate filter. Similar software updates will take place at the Louisville, Kentucky, plant where the trucks are built.

Jarvis told the Associated Press the stop sale order should only last a few days as dealers reprogramme the software. Owners of the remaining 8,400 trucks will be notified about the recall in early April and will be able to have the software upgrade at no charge.

In a separate action, fewer than 10,000 of the trucks will have the battery cable rerouted to avoid chafing against a shield in the engine compartment that prevents water and mud from getting into the engine, AP added.

Ford reportedly said the recall does not affect petrol-powered pickups or those with six-litre or 7.3-litre diesel engines.

The 6.4-litre diesels - known as 'Power Stroke' engines - were recently the subject of a dispute between Ford and engine maker Navistar. The supplier temporarily halted engine supplies citing contractural and payment issues.

According to Navistar, International suspended production on 26 February because Ford had stopped honouring the terms under which the engines were built. Ford sought a temporary restraining order in a Michigan court.

A judge issued an order on 28 February that required International to resume production and Ford to pay with no withholding until a hearing was held. The subsequent hearing on 7 March saw the judge ask the two companies to continue discussion to determine whether an agreement could be reached prior to a trial.