Ford Motor Company has issued a safety recall for 1.34 million vehicles in North America.
The company says there’s a problem with the door latch in these vehicles, particularly in freezing weather.
A defective latch may not fully engage, meaning a door that appears to be closed could still open while the vehicle is in motion.
That gets my attention. And if you own an F-150 (2015 through 2017 models) or the 2017 Super Duty, or you work on them, it should grab your attention as well.
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I’ve been doing some research on this issue.
Here’s what you need to know about the door latch recall and the necessary Ford repair:
Here’s the Problem
According to Ford, the safety recall is due to a frozen door latch or a bent or kinked actuation cable in affected vehicles that may result in a door not opening or not staying closed.
Most concerning, of course, is that latch failures could allow doors to fly open while the automobiles are in motion, posing an obvious danger to drivers and passengers.
Ford vehicles affected by this recall include F-150s built at the Dearborn, MI Assembly Plant and the Kansas City Assembly Plant. The recall also includes Super Duty vehicles built at the Kentucky Assembly Plant.
The Ford reference number for this recall is 17S33.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall number is 17V652000.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the door latch problem:
Your car door handles contain something called a “pawl.” It’s a device that latches the door in place and prevents it from coming open when it shouldn’t.
A “pawl spring” is also there, and this spring brings the door handle back into place after you’ve opened the door and then released the handle.
However, a defect in the pawl spring tab means that, in freezing temperatures, some trucks could have latches that do not work properly, according to Ford.
In addition to the latches freezing, the actuation cables can become bent or kinked, which would also cause the door to malfunction.
While Ford says it is not aware of any accidents or injuries because of the door defect, a Ford repair is necessary for safety.
Door latch issues have not been limited to Ford pickups.
Although no accidents or injuries have been reported because of the door latch problem, the NHTSA began getting complaints about doors flying open on the 2011-2013 Ford Fiesta back in September of 2014.
An investigation was begun that eventually expanded to also include the 2013 Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ.
According to the NHTSA, complaints about the F-150 and Super Duty pickups have described occasions when their vehicle doors would not remain locked and when the driver side door unexpectedly opened while the vehicles were in motion.
Other complaints have noted that in cold weather, the doors malfunctioned both while the cars were moving and while they were parked.
Additionally, owners complained that a properly latched door could freeze in place and lock them inside their trucks.
Ford owners have also complained about doors kicking back when they tried to shut them and about a door-ajar light on the dashboard that stayed on all the time.
Earlier Door Recalls
Ford has recalled more than five million vehicles for door latch issues since 2016.
It has previously recalled almost four million vehicles for door latch problems in six separate recalls since 2014, including 2.4 million vehicles recalled in August 2016.
The Company’s Response
The company first alerted dealers about this issue in 2015.
In April 2015, Ford issued a bulletin about 2015 F-150 SuperCab and SuperCrew Cab pickups (built before March 25 of that year) that might have malfunctioning door latches during or after freezing weather.
In November 2016, Ford sent a bulletin to dealers that warned some 2015-2017 Ford F-150 trucks could have latches that became inoperable in freezing temperatures.
The bulletin told dealers to install a rain shield to fix the problem and to inspect and repair any bent or kinked actuation cables.
Ford later issued another technical bulletin to include all 2015-2017 F-150 trucks.
Despite earlier door latch recalls, Ford says the latest pickup recall is for a different problem than prior ones.
Owners were notified about the latest recall involving door latches and the need for a Ford repair beginning in November of 2017.
Here’s the Solution
If you’re like me, once you fully understand a problem, you want to know its solution.
Here’s how to make sure affected Ford pickups are safe to drive:
Handling the Ford Repair
The Ford repair that corrects defective door latches involves the installation of water shields over the door latches, as well as inspecting and repairing door latch actuation cables.
The company will pay for dealers to install these water shields, as well as for the cable repair.
According to Consumer Reports, about one of every four recalled vehicles on U.S. roads right now is subject to some kind of recall and yet has not been fixed.
Safety issues, such as a door that might randomly fly open while a vehicle is barreling down the highway, should be a top priority for everyone who owns or repairs vehicles.
And owners and mechanics should not assume cars that are several years old are off the hook when it comes to recalls.
In December of 2017, for example, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued a recall for faulty gear shifters that affected more than a million Ram trucks dating back to the 2009 model.
The Consumer Reports Recall Tracker is a convenient way to keep up with safety recalls such as the one involving Ford pickup door latches.
You simply enter a car’s make and model, and you’ll get a list of recalls, along with information on how to get the problems fixed.
For More Information
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