NHTSA to boost investigation into “catastrophic” failure in Ford V-6 engines
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Monday it was expanding its investigation into Ford SUVS and pickups over possible “catastrophic” engine failures caused by the fracturing of engine intake valves.
Affected are the 2021 Ford Bronco (25,619 vehicles), as well as additional Ford “populations” equipped with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine including the 2022 Bronco (33,106 vehicles), 2021–2022 F-150 (155,619 vehicles), 2021–2022 Edge (6889 vehicles), and 2021–2022 Lincoln Nautilus (8596 vehicles).
Said NHTSA’s investigation: “Under normal driving conditions without warning the vehicle may experience a loss of motive power without restart due to catastrophic engine failure related to an alleged faulty valve within 2.7 L and 3.0 L EcoBoost engines.” NHTSA will add the 2021–22 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator with the 3.0-liter engine to the investigation.
The investigation began with owner complaints over the 2021 Ford Bronco 2.7-liter engine, but has expanded to other 2021/2022 vehicles and the 3.0-liter engine, which is from the same engine family.
“During the investigation,” NHTSA said, “multiple contributing factors were identified which can lead to the fracturing of the intake valves in the subject engines. Ford acknowledged that a fractured intake valve can result in catastrophic engine failure and a loss of motive power and noted that following a valve fracture, a vehicle typically requires a full engine replacement.
“Ford advised that the defective valves were manufactured out of a specific alloy known as ‘Silchrome Lite’, which can become excessively hard and brittle if an over-temperature condition occurs during machining of the component.
“A design modification was implemented in October 2021, which changed the intake valve material to a different alloy known as ‘Silchrome 1’ that is less susceptible to over-temperature during machine grinding. Ford has identified that the defective intake valves commonly fail early in a vehicle’s life and has suggested that the majority of failures have already occurred.”
The investigation will precede a decision by NHTSA and Ford to decide whether a recall is warranted.