NHTSA Probes 708,000 Ford Models, Including Bronco, F-150 and Edge and Explorer for ‘Catastrophic’ Engine Failures

The feds' opening resume includes reports of 328 customer complaints, more than 800 engine replacements

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More than 700,000 Ford and Lincoln vehicles may be at risk of engine failure due to a manufacturing defect.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into several Ford and Lincoln models following several reports of “catestrophic engine failure” conditions. According to the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI)’s opening resume, affected vehicles have either the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 or the slightly larger 3.0-liter engine. The two closely related units are in what Ford calls the “Nano” engine family.

In total, the investigation is looking into the scope of engine failures across six models from the 2021 and 2022 model years, including:

This larger analysis stems from an earlier June 2022 investigation, in which the agency looked into about 25,000 Ford Broncos after reports of engine failures. Late last month, it expanded the scope of the engineering analysis to those five additional models. In responding to NHTSA requests for information, Ford disclosed information about 328 customer complaints for engine failures, as well as 487 warranty claims and 809 engine replacements.

Fractured intake valves are the issue.

Vehicles equipped with either the 2.7L or 3.0L EcoBoost built prior to October 2021 may have intake vales that can fracture due to what the NHTSA deems “multiple contributing factors”. Such a failure could (and according to Ford, commonly did) result in loss of motive power while the vehicle was actually in motion.

The automaker told officials that the defective valves were manufactured from a specific alloy called Silchrome Lite. The alloy can become excessively hard and brittle of they experience an “over-temperature condition” during the machining process. If an intake valve actually fractures, it is usually necessary to replace the whole engine due to the resulting damage.

Furthermore, Ford says that defective intake valves commonly fail early on in the engine’s life. In other words, most engine failures that will occur from this defect have already happened.

After October 2021, Ford noted a change in the intake valve material to a new alloy called Silchrome 1, which is less susceptible to getting too hot and fracturing during machine grinding.

The ODI’s analysis aims to narrow down how frequently these intake valve failures occur, as well as evaluate the updated components installed in newer engines. While this is not yet a full-blown recall, the investigation’s outcome will determine whether Ford should recall the impacted vehicles.