A massive recall of 874,082 vehicles in North America was announced by Ford Motor Co. on Friday for its F-150 and Super Duty trucks on issues of fire concerns and the company would replace an engine block heater cable on the vehicles.
This part of the engine is used by drivers in cold winter days to keep the engines warm so that starting the engine is not a problem. The cable that is at the centre of the recall is a short cord that hangs off the truck and is most often attached to an extension cord which is plugged to a power source in the house or in the garage.
“The risk to safety only exists while the vehicle is parked and the block heater cable is plugged into an electrical outlet,” Ford said in a statement.
“Ford is aware of three fires originating from the engine block heater cable splice connector, and minor property damage reported in one incident. Ford is not aware of any accidents or injuries tied to this.”
Ford said that over time, there can be damage to the block heater cable’s splice connector, because of corrosion and damage, resultant of water and contaminants getting into the engine part. The company further explained that there can be a short connection because of prolonged corrosion in the cable splice connector which in turn can cripple the engine block heater and even cause trip household breakers or GFCI-equipped outlets to trip while the vehicle is parked and the block heater is plugged into a power source.
According to Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book, those truck owners residing in cold weather states would be hit more by the recall than those in other places and therefore this recall has a multiplier effect. She said that in cold weather state in North America such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, the machine part that is being recalled is often critical.
“Those kinds of states where these heaters are needed also are the states where pickup trucks are the dominant segment,” Lindland said.
“Talk about inconvenient,” she said. “The Friday before Christmas? A lot of people will be shut down on Monday and certainly on Tuesday for Christmas. People are looking at not being able to get this fixed for days, if not weeks, just as the freezing cold weather really settles in. The timing is terrible.”
The engine block heater cable would be replaced by the dealers of Ford if they are found to be damaged after an inspection, Ford said. On the other hand, dielectric grease would be applied to the splice connector if there are no signs of damage or corrosion.
An investigation initiated by U.S. safety investigators in August 2018 over complaints of fires that could have been caused by seat belts in Ford F-150 pickups saw Ford cooperating with the probe. Trucks that were manufactured between 2015 and 2018 are under the recall list.
(Adapted from DetroitFreePress.com)