A slew of complaints has triggered an investigation into possible brake failure problems on Ford Motor Co.’s popular F-150 pickup.
The investigation is targeting about 420,000 of the trucks produced during the 2013 and 2014 model-year. The problem specifically appears to involved F-150 models using the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, according to a new post on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.
It is unclear why the investigation is targeting that specific model, as Ford says the same braking system is used on a variety of other F-150 models. The F-150 is the light duty version of the Ford F-Series. That has routinely been ranked both America’s best-selling truck and the best-selling vehicle overall.
According to NHTSA, it has so far received 33 complaints linked to the problem, including some reports of complete brake system failure. It said there have been some crashes but no reports of injuries.
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Exactly what is causing the problem is unclear, though the Associated Press reported some owners were told by mechanics that brake fluid was seen leaking from the vehicles’ master brake cylinder.
“I am surprised that there has been no action on this issue yet — the complete failure of the most important safety system of a 2.5-ton-plus vehicle,” one identified driver was quoted by NHTSA on its website.
That owner, from San Marcos, California, said he lost complete brake control when backing out of his driveway in May 2015, losing control of the vehicle. It crossed the street, jumped a curb and slammed into a neighbor’s landscape wall.
Ford says it will cooperate with the investigation. It is still too early to say whether this will translate into a recall.
But a number of other automakers have had brake-related problems recently. General Motors last month said it would recall 473,000 full-size SUVs and pickups due to potential brake problems. Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler have also ordered recalls because of brake-related issues in recent months.
Those occurred at a time when automotive safety has come under increasing scrutiny in the week of well-publicized issues such as the Takata airbag problems and GM’s faulty ignition switches. Automotive recalls topped 50 million last year, marking the second record year in a row.
All told, Ford sold more than 1.5 million F-Series pickups in 2013 and 2014. The light-duty line accounts for about two-thirds of all Ford F-Series sales.
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