US Auto safety investigators have taken a significant step in their ongoing probe into engine failures in Ford vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced an expansion of the investigation, now encompassing nearly 709,000 vehicles. The agency has also elevated the investigation to an engineering analysis, bringing it one step closer to a potential recall. Let’s delve into the details of this investigation and what it means for Ford and its affected vehicle owners.
Scope of the Investigation
The expanded investigation now covers a range of Ford models, including the popular F-150 pickup truck, as well as the Explorer, Bronco, and Edge SUVs. In addition, certain Lincoln vehicles, namely the Nautilus and Aviator SUVs, are also part of the probe. All the vehicles in question are from the 2021 and 2022 model years and share a common feature: they are equipped with either a 2.7-liter or 3.0-liter V6 turbocharged engine.
The Underlying Issue
According to the NHTSA, the primary concern with these Ford vehicles is that, under normal driving conditions, their engines may lose power due to catastrophic engine failure linked to potentially faulty valves. This issue has raised safety concerns and prompted the ongoing investigation.
Origins of the Probe
The investigation traces its origins back to May of the previous year when the NHTSA received three letters from concerned Ford vehicle owners. Initially, the probe was focused on engine failures involving the 2.7-liter engine in Broncos. However, as the investigation progressed, Ford reported a significant number of customer complaints, warranty claims, and engine replacements related to additional models, including the F-150, Explorer, Bronco, Edge, and certain Lincoln SUVs. It’s worth noting that no accidents or injuries have been reported in connection with this issue.
Ford’s Response and Valve Design Change
Ford has been actively engaged with the NHTSA throughout the investigation process. In response to the agency’s inquiries, the company stated that defective intake valves typically fail early in a vehicle’s life, and the majority of such failures have already occurred. Ford further informed the NHTSA that it made a design change to the valves in October of 2021, suggesting that newer vehicles may not be affected by the issue.
The NHTSA’s decision to elevate the investigation to an engineering analysis indicates the agency’s commitment to thoroughly evaluating the problem. It will assess the frequency of these engine failures and review the effectiveness of Ford’s manufacturing improvements implemented to address the issue. As the investigation unfolds, both Ford and affected vehicle owners will be closely monitoring its progress, with the possibility of a recall looming in the background.
For Ford and its customers, this expanded investigation underscores the importance of addressing potential safety concerns promptly. While the investigation proceeds, the automotive industry and regulators continue their efforts to ensure vehicle safety and reliability in an ever-evolving landscape.