Photo: Ford

On Friday, Ford announced that a huge number of 2018 F-150s, Expeditions, Mustangs, Lincoln Navigators and some heavy work vehicles are being recalled for appearing to be in park, but actually still being able to roll away after they’ve been shut down.

The same problem seems to be happening in two ways. In some vehicles, a gear shift locking clip that’s becoming unseated seems to be keeping the transmission from going into park correctly. In others, a transmission roll pin that performs a similar function is apparently missing in some cases.

The official recall notice specifies the vehicles affected by the gear shift cable clip issue:

  • 2018 Ford F-150 vehicles built at Dearborn Assembly Plant, Jan. 5, 2017 to Feb. 16, 2018
  • 2018 Ford F-150 vehicles built at Kansas City Assembly Plant, Jan. 25, 2017 to Feb. 16, 2018
  • 2018 Ford Expedition vehicles built at Kentucky Truck Plant, April 3, 2017 to Jan. 30, 2018
  • 2018 Ford F-650 and F-750 vehicles built at Ohio Assembly Plant, April 25, 2017 to March 9, 2018

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The exact problem, per Ford:

“On some of the affected vehicles, a clip that locks the gear shift cable to the transmission may not be fully seated. Over time, a partially seated clip or a clip that becomes dislodged may allow the transmission to be in a gear state different from the gear shift position selected by the driver.”

“This could allow the driver to move the shifter to park and remove the ignition key, while the transmission gear may not be in park, with no instrument panel warning message or warning chime when the driver’s door is opened that indicates the vehicle is not secured in park. If the parking brake is not applied, this could result in unintended vehicle movement, increasing the risk of injury or crash.”

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As for the missing transmission pin problem, that applies to these vehicles:

  • 2017-18 Ford F-150 vehicles built at Dearborn Assembly Plant, Oct. 20, 2016 to March 5, 2018
  • 2017-18 Ford F-150 vehicles built at Kansas City Assembly Plant, Dec. 22, 2017 to Feb. 26, 2018
  • 2018 Ford Expedition vehicles built at Kentucky Truck Plant, Nov. 28, 2017 to Feb. 14, 2018
  • 2018 Ford Mustang vehicles built at Flat Rock Assembly Plant, Nov. 6, 2017 to Feb. 12, 2018
  • 2018 Lincoln Navigator vehicles built at Kentucky Truck Plant, Dec. 13, 2017 to March 8, 2018

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That problem, per Ford’s description:

“Ford is issuing a safety recall in North America for approximately 161 2017-18 Ford F-150 and 2018 Ford Expedition, 2018 Lincoln Navigator and 2018 Ford Mustang vehicles with 10R80 transmissions for a potentially missing roll pin that attaches the park pawl rod guide cup to the transmission case.”

“If the pin is missing, with repeated use, the transmission may eventually lose park function even when the shifter and instrument panel display indicate the vehicle is in park. This condition would allow the ignition key to be removed, with no instrument panel warning message or warning chime when the driver’s door is opened that indicates the vehicle is not secured in park. If the parking brake is not applied, this could result in unintended vehicle movement, increasing the risk of injury or crash.”

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Both of these issues are conceptually similar to the problem that reportedly led to the incident that killed Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin in 2016, in which Jeep Grand Cherokees and other FCA vehicles appeared to be in park but in fact were not.

If you have a Ford F-150, Expedition, Mustang, F-650, F-750 or Lincoln Navigator that was built within the time frames specified above, you’re definitely going to want to have your machine inspected per this recall even if you haven’t had any problems yet.

Rollaway is a serious situation you don’t want to trifle with. Really, any time a two-ton vehicle can go rogue is something worth taking seriously.