Some large-scale transmission recalls identify and correct issues that may be an inconvenience for impacted drivers but aren’t likely to pose any risk of an accident. Indeed, many of the vehicles that are subject to a transmission recall are never even brought in for repair or replacement of the defective parts.
However, Ford’s recent recall of more than 1.3 million trucks from its F-150 fleet identifies a potentially dangerous issue that has already caused half a dozen accidents. Owners of affected vehicles should be notified of this recall soon if they haven’t received notice already; and because of the potential for serious injury, it may be wise for those affected to seek alternative transportation until repairs are completed.
Why Are So Many F-150s Being Recalled?
Ford recently announced that certain F-150s may, randomly and without warning, shift into first gear while traveling at any speed. For those who are tooling along at 20 miles per hour, such a shift may just be hard on the transmission—but for anyone traveling at highway speeds or in heavy traffic, this rapid deceleration can cause whiplash and increase the risk of a serious crash. So far, five accidents have resulted from this defect (including one injury-causing crash), and it seems likely that there are even more accidents that haven’t yet been reported.
The F-150s covered by the recall include 2011 to 2013 models with a six-speed automatic transmission—specifically, those manufactured at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan plant between April 28, 2010, and October 28, 2013, and those manufactured in Kansas City, Missouri from May 10, 2010, through November 18, 2013. F-150s that are older than 2011, newer than 2013, or that have a manual transmission should remain safe to drive.
What’s Causing This Transmission Defect?
According to Ford (and reported by Consumer Reports), the truck’s speed sensor may stop communicating with other parts of the powertrain. Because the powertrain is no longer aware of the speed at which the truck is moving, it shifts the truck into first gear and causes the rear wheels to lock up. A similar issue plagued 2011-2012 F-150 trucks, certain 2012 Mustangs, and 2012 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators, many of which were subject to a recall in 2016.
The good news for affected F-150 owners is the fact that this type of transmission defect is not a “new” issue for Ford—which should make the repair and replacement process both quicker and easier. Dealerships are already being provided with a software upgrade that should correct this problem.
Because it’s nearly impossible to predict when or whether one of the recalled F-150s will suddenly decelerate, it’s important for affected vehicle owners to seek transmission repair or replacement as quickly as possible.