Ford CEO Says Fixing Quality Issues Will "Take Several Years"

Frequent recalls are reportedly cutting into the automaker's bottom line.

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Ford CEO Jim Farley in front of an F-150 Lightning
Photo: Bill Pugliano / Stringer (Getty Images)

If you haven’t noticed already, Ford has had a bit of a problem with recalls and overall quality recently. The Maverick? Recalled for a side-airbag issue. The Mustang? Recalled for wiring problems. The Bronco? Investigated for engine failure. In fact, back in September, Ford had already issued 52 safety recalls in 2022 alone. Unfortunately for Ford, though, improving vehicle quality isn’t as simple as flipping a switch.

Ford Authority reports that Ford CEO Jim Farley admitted it would take time to get quality issues under control at a meeting for the Ford Retired Engineering Executives group. “Fixing quality is my No. 1 priority,” he said. “It is the most important initiative in the whole company. And it’s going to take several years. We didn’t lose it in just one or two years. Until we fix quality, nothing else matters.”

That’s a strong statement, but it’s also not surprising to hear. Earlier this year, Farley named Josh Halliburton the company’s “quality czar” and vowed to reduce how much money Ford spends on recalls and warranty work. And as you may have guessed based on the frequent recalls, Ford spends a lot of money on those two things. According to Eric Arnum, editor of Warranty Week, Ford’s warranty payouts last year were the highest in the U.S. Not the highest for an automaker.

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In addition to the upfront cost of paying for all that recall and warranty work, Ford’s quality issues also risk damaging the brand’s reputation to the point that even previously loyal customers decide to buy from another brand. You don’t have to have an MBA to recognize that reducing future revenue while also spending more money than your competitors do fixing quality issues isn’t exactly a recipe for business success.

Considering how many cool cars Ford sells, we hope Farley and Halliburton can turn things around so we can feel better about recommending them to friends and family. But for the time being, it sounds like the higher potential for recalls is going to stay baked into any Ford buying decision.