The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed an investigation into an acceleration problem with some 400,000 Ford Motor Co. F-150 trucks. The agency announced that it won’t require a recall. As you may recall, we reported in May of last year that NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation was looking into nearly 100 complaints that recent model year F-150s were losing power when accelerating at high speeds. Obviously, that would create a safety hazard when the truck passed other vehicles on the highway.
It appears that the problem — which arises from moisture buildup in the F-150 engine’s turbocharger – has been addressed by Ford through the installation of a deflector shield on the charge air cooler (CAC). This is according to a summary of the investigation posted on the NHTSA’s website. This is what the agency said:
Given these circumstances, further use of the agency resources in this matter does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed.
The investigation involved F-150s model year 2011-2013, which all have 3.5-liter “EcoBoost” engines with twin turbochargers. According to NHTSA, Ford told the agency during the investigation that rainy and humid conditions can lead to condensation in the CAC that can cause misfires in up to three of the engine’s cylinders at once, particularly during hard acceleration. In the past year, Ford has issued a series of technical service bulletins instructing dealers to install CAC deflector shields. In January, the company told NHTSA that the fix has been 100 percent effective in 2013 F-150s, and 95 percent effective in 2011 and 2012 models.
NHTSA has said that it is not aware of any crashes linked to the problem. The agency stressed that the closing of an investigation is not a definitive finding that a defect doesn’t exist, saying it will continue to monitor complaints and take action in the future if necessary. The news came just days after the automaker issued two separate recalls for 435,000 vehicles, the larger one covering older model Escapes with rusting subframes that could affect the drivers’ ability to steer.
The company also recalled nearly 50,000 model year 2013-2014 Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKZ, Ford Escape and C-Max vehicles to replace seat back frames that failed to comply with an NHTSA standard. In July, Ford paid $17.3 million to NHTSA to settle claims that it was slow to recall one of its SUVs with suspected “sticky throttles.” Ford had delayed recalling its 2001-2004 Escape models after learning of a speed-control defect. The throttle wouldn’t return to idle when the accelerator pedal was released. Ford paid NHTSA in that settlement after the agency notified the carmaker that it was prepared to investigate the timeliness of its recall.
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