Ford said that it is recalling 184,698 model year 2021 and 2022 F-150s after it found that “underbody heat and noise insulators may loosen and contact the aluminum driveshaft, which could damage the driveshaft and cause it to fracture” and, then, possibly result in a crash. Only a little bit to see here.
Ford said it would begin contacting affected owners at the end of January and that dealers will inspect affected owners’ trucks and “properly attach” the underbody insulators if needed, for free. Ford said it is not aware of any injuries or accidents related to the problem.
As with any recall, the chronology of events leading up to it is usually the most interesting thing, getting into the details of what went wrong and how Ford found out. They are also a reminder of how slow and bureaucratic the recall process is.
Here is what happened with the driveshaft, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
July – August 2021 On July 1, 2021, Ford’s Critical Concern Review Group (CCRG) initiated an investigation into reports of inadequate underbody insulator adhesion on 2021 MY F-150 vehicles based on warranty claims of insulators coming loose. Two underbody acoustic/thermal insulators are installed on certain Crew Cab F-150 vehicles with the 302A and above option package. Two push pins assist in attachment of each insulator to the cab underbody in addition to pressure sensitive adhesive. Warranty claims at the time described sagging of one or both insulators, in some cases making contact with the U-joint at the transfer case end of the driveshaft on HEV units that was audible to a driver. No reports of driveline fracture attributed to insulator contact had been received, and CCRG’s investigation into potential vehicle effects continued.
September 2021 On September 16, 2021, Driveline Engineering informed CCRG that seven reports of driveshaft damage on 2021 MY F-150 vehicles had been received and were likely caused by underbody insulator contact. Package and vehicle complexity studies were conducted and found that 4x4 145” wheelbase Crew Cab vehicles are equipped with an aluminum driveshaft that is susceptible to contact from a sagging passenger side insulator.
October – November 2021 Vehicle package and CAD studies continued, including assessment of powertrain variation. Field return parts were also evaluated. A vehicle clinic was conducted to evaluate all potential effects of a loose insulator on a variety of F-150 vehicle configurations, including proximity to other driveline configurations, fuel lines, brake lines, and electrical systems. Subsequent analysis found that the risk of driveline contact exists with a loose or sagging driver or passenger side insulator.
As of December 7, 2021, there have been 27 reports of fractured aluminum driveshafts potentially related to a sagging underbody insulator on these vehicles.
On December 9, 2021, Ford’s Field Review Committee reviewed the concern and approved a field action.
Finally, in a letter dated Monday, NHTSA said it had acknowledged the recall, the seventh for 2021 F-150s and what appears to be the first for 2022 models. Get your recalls done!