The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration opened a recall query Aug. 8 into model year 2013-2018 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, exploring whether the front brake flex hoses may rupture prematurely, causing the brake system to lose pressure.
The federal agency has now received 50 reports of similar failures in these vehicles, including one instance where the failure caused a non-injury collision. That’s enough to open an investigation to see if there’s a problem with all potentially affected vehicles that would require a recall to replace faulty brake hoses.
The potential problem is an extension of a prior acknowledged safety problem from 2020 where the same flex hoses ruptured on model year 2015-2018 Ford Edge and 2016-2018 Lincoln MKX SUVs. NHTSA found “consistent localized failures of the internal reinforcement braid due to cyclic fatigue during suspension and steering articulations.”
Ford recalled the affected SUVs and replaced both front brake hoses with new parts featuring a revised braid material and performed a brake system bleed.
The current investigation falls outside the scope of the prior recall. If proven, the recall could extend to even more Ford/Lincoln vehicles. Many of the complaints registered with NHTSA allege the brake hoses are rupturing, leaking brake fluid and occurring with little to no warning. Leaked brake fluid can cause a soft brake pedal, increased pedal travel and/or extended braking distances.
Reached for comment, a Ford spokesperson told TheDetroitBureau.com, “We are cooperating with NHTSA as we always do.”
The new problems with a minor, but critical part such as a flexible brake hose come as a blow to Ford’s efforts to improve customer perceptions of quality in the brand’s product line. While it’s an issue with a purchased part on older models, it nevertheless may affect consumer attitudes about all Ford products.
As TheDetroitBureau.com reported in late 2020, supplier parts quality has been an issue on CEO Jim Farley’s desk for some time. Farley had advanced a plan in which suppliers would be charged half the cost of a warranty problem related to the parts they provided to Ford. Coming at the end of 2020, that policy was created too late to address issues on cars produced years earlier.
During company’s annual meeting in May, Farley told Ford shareholders, “we have to get to a zero-defect destination. We’ve made more progress on our launch quality and initial quality … However, we are not satisfied at all with our quality performance, including our recalls and customer satisfaction efforts, which we need to quickly accelerate. This will require new talent, which we now have at the company.”
The new talent came in the form of J.D. Power executive Josh Halliburton, who moved over to Ford as Executive Director of Quality in January.
Farley also said, “In the case of recalls and customer satisfaction efforts, these vehicles that were engineered are in the field now so this will take some time for us to return to becoming benchmark in the company, which is certainly our objective.”
In general, Ford’s efforts to improve quality have borne fruit, with the Ford Ranger and Lincoln Nautilus both topping their respective segments in this year’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Still, with archrival Chevrolet pulling top honors in six categories, plus three more for Cadillac and Buick, Ford still has some work to do.