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NHTSA Investigates Ford F-150 EcoBoost engines

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According to the NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Ford Corporation has issued three technical service bulletins related to intermittent stumble/misfire during acceleration in the 2011-2013 year model of the F-150 pick-up trucks. The trucks in question are equipped with the new "EcoBoost" engines, which account for about 40% of the F-150’s. (Chicago Tribune)

The EcoBoost is a popular new turbocharged engine touted for being more fuel-efficient. Ford claims the engine is ‘as powerful and capable of towing as other optional V-8 engines’. (LA Times, 5/28, Uncoffler) There’s a lot riding on the success of this engine for Ford and for other auto manufacturers’ who are designing similarly powerful, economical engines in the wake of Ford’s success.

In the face of 95 complaints and lawsuits regarding the acceleration, the NHTSA is starting an investigation. It’s worth noting that an investigation is nothing more than a look at facts. The process leading to a mandatory recall by the NHTSA is a lengthy one. To date, Ford has not issued a recall, though automakers often issue a "voluntary" recall before the NHTSA requires one—it makes automakers look like they’re concerned about driver safety. As a result, there are likely to be fewer consumer lawsuits and the bottom line, for the automaker, is less costly.

As of this writing, Ford has not alerted the over 400,000 owners of the Ford F-150 with the EcoBoost engine of potential problems. A problem that happens as the driver tries to accelerate at the point at which a boost is needed—passing a car, changing lanes on a highway. It’s potentially a lethal situation if the driver finds his vehicle experiencing a "sudden loss of power" under "hard accelerations at highway speeds", as quoted by the NHTSA in the LA Times article. It would appear that the consumer is left to learn about this potential hazard on his own. As to what to do about the situation? That’s unclear from everything I’ve been able to find on the subject. Last year Ford acknowledged the presence of a similar problem but clearly has not fixed the underlying problem with this EcoBoost engine. I suggest you call your local Ford dealer for advice on how to proceed, or to note your problems with the engine.

For more information on automobile defects, visit: http://www.nhtsa.gov