Customer complaints about loss of power with Ford’s EcoBoost V-6 engine in its F-150 pickups, reported by the general news media over the Memorial Day weekend, stem from moisture accumulation in the trucks’ charge-air cooler, Ford Motor Co. says. Dealers have been informed of a fix and will do the work under warranty.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration announced it is investigating loss-of-power incidents that are the subject of 95 complaints and two lawsuits. Stumbling under hard acceleration or heavy loads can be a safety concern, the agency said, but no injuries have been reported.
The F-150 is the most popular pickup in America. Most are sold for personal use, but many are also used as work trucks.
The EcoBoost V-6 is chosen by 40% or more of F-150 buyers, the company has said. Ford advertises it as having V-8 power with six-cylinder fuel economy. But complaints about the truck and the engine have been circulating on the internet.
Ford notified dealers of a fix in a technical service bulletin, said spokesperson Kelli Felker. However, new complaints are surfacing from owners who had work done under bulletin 12-10-19, and who say the performance problems persist.
“The most recent [technical service bulletin] addresses a condition related to moisture accumulation in the charge-air cooler (CAC) during extended highway driving in humid or damp conditions in 2011-2012 MY F-150s equipped with a 3.5L gasoline turbocharged direct injection engine,” she told TruckingInfo. “The TSB recommends repairing the condition by reprogramming the powertrain control module, installing a new CAC and an air deflector plate.”
The TSB also instructs mechanics to replace one of the engine’s catalytic converters. Running changes were made to F-150s being assembled, according to news reports.
Some say it's not working
On Wednesday, an owner wrote that work under the service bulletin did not solve problems on his F-150.
“My family and I were traveling in heavy rain on I-65 in Birmingham, Ala.,” said the owner from Evansville, Ind., on the website www.arfc.com. “I pulled into the far left lane to pass slower vehicles. When I accelerated the truck began to shake violently and rapidly lose speed and power. Several vehicles including a semi had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.”
It happened again on the family’s trip home. The owner said he took his truck to a dealer, which made repairs prescribed by the service bulletin. But the problem happened twice more on a highway near home.
“Ford has acknowledged the issue but has informed me that there is nothing they can do at this time,” the owner said. “They offered to send me a buy-back offer within 10 days, and after 20 days and several phone calls, today [May 28], they informed me that they are unable to buy back my truck.
“They also told me that I would have to live with the issue until (if) they come up with a fix. I am unwilling to put my family at risk.”
The organization running the website, Auto Recalls for Consumers, said that owner’s complaint is one of 124 it has received about the 2012 Ford F-150. Another website, www.F150Forum.com, has more.
“You go to pass a vehicle and the engine all but gives up the ghost,” wrote one forum member, who said his truck has about 27,000 miles. “It starts shaking violently and feels like every nut and bolt is coming loose. This has happened numerous times to me. Each time I’m told that nothing shows up on the computer. It happened again recently, and I have it on video this time.”
Another forum member said last year that at about 20,000 miles, his EcoBoost engine “started missing while sitting at idle,” and “sometimes while getting onto an onramp and gassing the truck hard it would fall on its face and return to idle (yes, while merging) and you would have to let off the gas and slowly reapply.”
The engine also lost power while he was pulling a trailer, the member said. His dealer was not able to fix the problem, even after having the truck for a week. At that time, service people told him that they were expecting a bulletin from Ford on it.
The two Ohio lawsuits against Ford include an F-150 owner who claims he had the same problems with his 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, the Associated Press reported last Friday. A married couple sued over alleged defects with the same EcoBoost engine in a Ford Taurus SHO sedan. Problems happen at highway speeds, which can put plaintiffs in danger, the F-150 suit says.
Ford says its policy is not to comment on pending litigation.
At this point there is no recall on the problem. Felker, the Ford spokesperson, did not comment on reports of post-repair recurrences.
As for repair costs, “The majority of these vehicles are expected to still be under warranty,” she said.