Ford F-150 windshield wiper recall a problem for automaker plagued with safety issues
DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. has notified federal regulators that an estimated 550,000 Ford F-150 pickup trucks sold in the U.S. and Canada may have nonworking front windshield wipers because a wiper motor may cease to function.
Nonworking wipers, in the case of rain or sleet, increases crash risk, which is why the company is required to issue a recall and notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the problem. A letter to the agency says the automaker is recalling 453,650 trucks in the U.S. and 103,076 in Canada.
Ford said it plans to notify its customers by mail Jan. 3, saying Ford dealers will replace the motor for free.
The problem occurs because wiper motor integrated circuit boards are damaged by high transient voltage spikes and poor-quality wiper motor electrical terminals, Ford said.
This recall affects trucks built between Jan. 8, 2020, and March 22, 2021.
Ford said it is not aware of any reports of accident or injury related to the faulty wiper motor.
This latest notification expands on an initial recall in March of 157,000 2021 F-150s.
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F-150 trucks built at Dearborn Truck Plant from May 3, 2021, through September 10, 2021, are excluded from the recall because they were built with a different wiper motor design because of the microchip shortages at the time, Ford said in its regulatory letter submitted Nov. 15.
So far, Ford has issued eight recalls on its 2022 Ford F-150 plus 75 manufacturer communications. Ford has issued 14 recalls on its 2021 Ford F-150 plus 272 manufacturer communications.
Safety regulators monitor complaints and automakers do, too, looking for trends and the possible need for recall. Customer reports are essential to both groups. Automakers want to catch problems as quickly as possible to cut costs and keep customers happy.
'Cannot be without my truck'
A number of F-150 customers reported windshield problems prior to this recall:
- On Oct. 1, a 2022 F-150 owner from Florida, reported "while driving in inclement weather, the windshield wipers inadvertently failed to function as needed."
- On Oct. 4, a 2022 F-150 owner from New Jersey wrote, "Windshield wipers stopped working. Restarted the truck and this happened repeatedly every 3-5 minutes. Electronic curtesy wiper control also disabled on the screen."
- On Oct. 18, a 2022 F-150 owner from White Lake, Michigan, wrote: "Windshield wiper doesn’t work ... raining ..."
- On Nov. 3, a 2021 F-150 owner from Tennessee wrote, "My wipers had been functioning intermittently until last week while raining, my wipers completely stopped working as I am driving home on the interstate. ... I informed them that I commute for work and cannot be without my truck."
Ford had the most recalls of any automaker this year or 63 recalls potentially affecting nearly 8.1 million vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation website Monday. In fact, Ford has recalled more than three times as many vehicles as its crosstown rival General Motors so far this year.
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Ford CEO Jim Farley has said reducing the need for recalls and improving product review is a top priority. He has changed management overseeing the situation and even appointed a quality czar early this year. Ford spends billions annually on recalls and warranties in what investors view as a self-inflicted problem during a time when every dollar is needed for research and development of electric vehicles.
Tesla, GM, Hyundai issue fewer recalls
Recalls involve everything from nonworking seatbelts and loss of steering control to fire risk.
In 2022, the Department of Transportation and NHTSA have posted so far:
- 63 recalls affecting 8,083,292 vehicles for Ford
- 41 recalls affecting 989,508 vehicles for Volkswagen
- 38 recalls affecting 273,071 vehicles for Daimler Trucks North America
- 35 recalls affecting 1,800,696 vehicles for Chrysler (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US, now Stellantis)
- 29 recalls affecting 969,634 vehicles for Mercedes-Benz
- 25 recalls affecting 2,501,775 vehicles for GM
- 21 recalls affecting 1,451,243 vehicles for Hyundai
- 21 recalls affecting 1,380,233 vehicles for Kia
- 19 recalls affecting 3,769,572 vehicles for Tesla
- 18 recalls affecting 1,000,286 vehicles for BMW
- 6 recalls affecting 19,848 motor homes for Jayco
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Recalls lead to lawsuits
Meanwhile, Ford is navigating a series of lawsuits related to quality that depresses earnings results at a time when every penny is precious as automakers fight for market share in a dynamic environment shaped by supply chain disruption and new cost pressures.
In early July, three owners of the 2021-22 Mustang Mach-E filed a federal lawsuit against Ford, claiming the Dearborn automaker knew of a design flaw in its popular electric vehicles that causes them to lose power while driving down the road.
In mid-July, a lawsuit involving three unhappy owners of 2021 Ford Expedition and 2021 Lincoln Navigator vehicles grew to 22 plaintiffs who claimed Ford failed to disclose a defect causing spontaneous under-hood fires in at least 66,000 vehicles when parked or running and that asking customers to drive defective vehicles while waiting for a fix was unreasonable.
In late July, four owners of the 2017-19 Ford Fiesta and 2017-18 Ford Focus sued Ford, alleging the vehicles have the same unfixable transmission defects as earlier models that led to hundreds of millions of dollars in class action settlement payments.
Follow Phoebe Wall Howard on Twitter: @phoebesaid