WASHINGTON - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Monday that it is widening its investigation into Ford Motor Co. trucks and SUVs built with a faulty valve that could lead to catastrophic engine failures.
The initial probe was launched in July 2022 and covered 25,000 vehicles. It will now expand to 708,000 and include an engineering analysis after NHTSA said multiple contributing factors were identified during the investigation of impacted Ford Bronco, Edge, Explorer, F-150, Lincoln Aviator and Nautilus vehicles. The probe covers model years 2021 and 2022.
NHTSA said it has reports of 328 customer complaints, 487 warranty claims and 809 engine exchanges in relation to the vehicle populations.
According to NHTSA, the engineering analysis will evaluate the range and frequency of allegations of impacted vehicles equipped with the 2.7L and 3.0L EcoBoost engines. The analysis is a required step before the administration can implement a recall.
The U.S. safety regulator said Ford acknowledged the issue, adding that following a valve fracture, a vehicle typically requires a full engine replacement.
FILE IMAGE - The 2021 Ford F-150 King Ranch Truck appears at the Ford Built for America event at Fords Dearborn Truck Plant on Sept. 17, 2020 in Dearborn, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Ford said the defective intake valves commonly fail early in a vehicle’s life and suggested that most of the failures have already occurred, according to NHTSA.
The safety regulator will coordinate with the Vehicle Research and Testing Center to evaluate field return parts, analyze the effect of time-in-service on the failure rates for the affected engines while gathering additional information on the effectiveness of Ford’s manufacturing improvements with regard to the alleged defect.