An engine failure in a new vehicle still under warranty is both expensive for the automaker and incredibly frustrating for the owner. Ford has had more than its fair share of engine problems of late, prompting federal authorities to open a broader investigation into the issue.
As covered by Automotive News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) first began its investigation in July 2022, looking at over 25,000 2021 Ford Broncos fitted with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. The agency was prompted to act after multiple petitions requesting an investigation, along with 26 complaints concerning a loss of power at highway speeds and a failure of the engine to restart.
On Friday, the investigation was upgraded by the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation. The agency is now pursuing an engineering analysis to properly understand the scope of the problem in Ford’s 2.7-liter and 3.0-liter EcoBoost engines after details provided by Ford suggested that alleged defects were present across both engines. The investigation will cover multiple models with these engines, including the 2021-2022 Ford Bronco, Edge, Explorer and F-150. Similarly, 2021-2022 Lincoln Aviator and Nautilus models will also be subject to scrutiny.
“During the investigation, multiple contributing factors were identified, which can lead to the fracturing of the intake valves in the subject engines,” stated an NHTSA document from the investigation. The agency noted Ford’s acknowledgment that a fractured valve would typically lead to “catastrophic engine failure,” necessitating a full engine replacement.
Ford believes the defective intake valves failed due to manufacturing issues. Specifically, it notes that the Silchrome Lite alloy used to manufacture the valves becomes “hard and brittle” if overheated during the machining process. In October 2021, Ford began manufacturing valves using a different alloy known as Silchrome 1 which is less prone to this problem.
The automaker reported to the NHTSA that it believes the majority of failures from this problem have already occurred, with defective valves typically failing in a short period of time. At this stage, no injuries, crashes, or deaths have been reported relating to the EcoBoost engine issues.
The NHTSA stated the investigation was upgraded in order to evaluate the full scope of the problem in the field. The federal agency also aims to determine whether Ford’s engineering change has properly solved the issue. Once complete, the NHTSA will either close the matter, or request Ford issue a recall if it believes one to be justified on safety grounds.
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