Federal Investigation Widens into Ford SUV Engine Breakdowns

Discovering engine troubles in a brand-new vehicle still under warranty is every car owner’s worst nightmare. Ford, in particular, has been grappling with a string of engine problems lately, leaving both the automaker and frustrated owners in a tough spot. The situation has become so concerning that federal authorities have now stepped in to investigate.

As reported by Automotive News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated its investigation back in July 2022. Their focus? More than 25,000 2021 Ford Broncos are equipped with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. This move came in response to multiple petitions and 26 complaints about power loss at highway speeds and engine failure to restart.

Recently, the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation escalated the case. They are now conducting an in-depth engineering analysis to grasp the full extent of the problem affecting Ford’s 2.7-liter and 3.0-liter EcoBoost engines. Ford’s own data suggested that the suspected defects could be found in both engine types. The investigation will extend to various models housing these engines, including the 2021-2022 Ford Bronco, Edge, Explorer, and F-150, as well as the 2021-2022 Lincoln Aviator and Nautilus models.

In a statement, the NHTSA mentioned, “During the investigation, multiple contributing factors were identified, which can lead to the fracturing of the intake valves in the subject engines.” It also acknowledged Ford’s admission that a fractured valve could result in “catastrophic engine failure,” necessitating a complete engine replacement.

Ford attributes the faulty intake valves to manufacturing issues, specifically pointing to the Silchrome Lite alloy used in valve production. This alloy can become “hard and brittle” if subjected to overheating during the machining process. To address this, Ford transitioned to using a different alloy called Silchrome 1 in October 2021, which is less susceptible to such problems.

According to Ford’s report to the NHTSA, most failures related to this issue have likely already occurred, and defective valves tend to fail relatively quickly. Importantly, there have been no reports of injuries, accidents, or fatalities linked to the EcoBoost engine problems.

The NHTSA’s decision to upgrade the investigation aims to thoroughly assess the situation in the field and determine whether Ford’s engineering changes have effectively resolved the issue. Upon completion, the NHTSA will either close the case or, if safety concerns warrant, request Ford to issue a recall. Car owners and industry observers will be keenly awaiting the outcome of this high-stakes investigation.