Ford Motor Co. notified federal safety regulators that the automaker will be sending 157,306 letters to customers who may be driving a 2021 F-150 pickup with broken front windshield wipers, which could pose a crash risk in bad weather.
At issue is a potential failing windshield wiper motor, which needs to be replaced.
A Ford letter sent to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said F-150 owners will be notified by mail in late April and encouraged to get the motor replaced at no charge. Dealers will get information on ordering repair parts and directions about how to do the repairs prior to the letter going out.
As of Feb.14, there had been 758 warranty reports “for intermittent or inoperative functioning windshield wiper motors on vehicles affected by this action,” Ford said in its regulatory filing. The company saw a spike in reports built in November 2020.
No accidents or injuries have been reported, Ford said.
The affected vehicles were built from Jan. 8, 2020, through March 22, 2021, at the Dearborn Truck Plant and from Feb. 12, 2020, through March 22, 2021, at the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, according to federal paperwork.
A series of quality issues
According to the chronology report filed with the NHTSA, Ford said the inoperative F-150 wiper issue was brought the attention of the company’s Critical Concern Review Group between March and April of 2021.
The supplier of the wiper motors told Ford that 12 wiper motors had been returned with substandard brush plate weld quality between Dec. 17, 2020, and March 20, 2021. The supplier, who did not appear to be identified in the paperwork, told Ford that corrective actions had taken place in November and December 2020. The Ford Critical Concern Care Group began monitoring motors in the field.
From May 2021 to November 2021, the Ford team identified more wiper motor issues not related to the previous problem. The supplier said new problems had been identified, “including loose magnets and a loose motor nut.” The supplier reported that action was taken.
From December 2021 to February, Ford continued seeing reports of nonworking wipers.
Based on the variety of analytical tools used to evaluate the performance of these motors in the field, reports of inoperative motors are expected to continue.
Earlier this month, when Ford CEO Jim Farley and Ford Blue President Kumar Galhotra announced plans to split the company into electric and gas-powered vehicle divisions, each talked about the importance of slashing warranty costs.
The 118-year-old automaker continues to outspend its competitors on ongoing quality issues that must be addressed, Galhotra said.
Billions in warranty costs
Warranty costs have been an Achilles’ heel at Ford and must be controlled in order to shift dollars into research and development for electrification and technology.
Eight months before Farley assumed the top job at Ford in October 2020, he served as chief operating officer at Ford. In that role, he told investor analysts at a Wolfe Research Global Auto, Auto Tech and Mobility Conference in New York, that a top priority must be reducing warranty costs — which he revealed reached $5 billion in 2019, up $1.5 billion in recent years — and fixing vehicle launch problems that have also cost the company an estimated $1 billion.
8 safety recalls now
On Tuesday, federal officials acknowledged the recall notice in a letter to Adrian Diaz, assistant engineering director of the company’s automotive safety office.
The 2021 Ford 150 has seven other recalls listed on the federal site, which is required when vehicles may present a safety threat:
Damaged driveshaft may fracture (Dec. 16, 2021).
Front door side impact sensors damaged (Oct. 15, 2021).
Front seat belt webbing is routed incorrectly (Aug. 23, 2021).
Electronic brake booster may leak (July 15, 2021).
Damaged steering gear may cause steering loss (May 29, 2021).
Two-piece driveshafts may disconnect (May 24, 2021).
Inadequate windshield bonding (Feb. 18, 2021).
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ford recalls 157K 2021 F-150 pickup trucks for wipers that could fail