Ford has been fighting the Bronco’s reputation as a flawed model for decades. The line was discontinued for 25 years and only returned to production in 2021. Unfortunately for buyers who thought the Bronco may have been improved after its long absence, it appears the line still has dangerous issues. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into 2021 Ford Broncos after receiving many consumer complaints about catastrophic engine failures.
When the NHTSA steps in, it’s a sign that the federal government believes there may be something dangerously wrong with a vehicle. Here’s what you need to know about the investigation into Bronco engine failures, what it means if the NHTSA investigates something, and what you can do if you believe your Bronco may be at risk of an engine failure.
NHTSA Investigating Broncos After Consumer Complaints
The NHTSA opened its investigation into the 2021 Ford Broncos after receiving 26 individual complaints from consumers about engine failures. These complaints came from owners of Broncos with the high-powered 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Broncos with the less powerful 2.3-liter engine are not affected.
According to the NHTSA, the complaints it received described the affected vehicles as losing motive power while driving at highway speeds. Drivers would be traveling down the highway when the engine would shut off without warning. They would be forced to pull over and attempt to restart the car. However, once the engine died, it would not restart.
According to reports, the NHTSA has communicated with Ford engineers regarding the issue. These engineers suspect that the engine failures are caused by faulty valves. The valve “keepers” are intended to keep retainers in place, ensuring that the springs and pistons work correctly. However, these keepers appear to be flawed, allowing the valve spring to detach and interfere with the movement of the pistons. The engine can lock up if this happens, leading to catastrophic failures.
Sudden losses of motive power at high speed can put drivers at serious risk. They will suddenly lose the ability to maintain highway speeds. Slowing down without applying the brakes could lead to other drivers crashing into them. Even if they aren’t rear-ended, without power, drivers may struggle to safely pull off the road in high-traffic areas.
That’s why the NHTSA has chosen to investigate the issue. The agency is responsible for addressing vehicle safety and mandating recalls if it’s found that a specific model has dangerous flaws. Depending on the results of the Bronco investigation, Ford could be ordered to recall as many as 25,538 vehicles.
What Does an NHTSA Investigation Mean?
The NHTSA investigates vehicles when it receives many similar complaints for a specific vehicle model. The exact number of complaints necessary depends on the severity and frequency of the issue. A minor problem will require a significant number of reports, while a more dangerous issue will require fewer. For example, the Bronco inquiry was triggered by 26 complaints and three consumer petitions for a defect investigation.
These investigations aim to determine if a vehicle has a dangerous manufacturing or design flaw. The NHTSA first reviews the complaints it has received and any technical bulletins issued by the manufacturer to determine if there’s a genuine problem.
If so, the investigation moves into the Engineering Analysis phase. At this point, the NHTSA performs inspections, tests, and surveys on many potentially affected cars and car owners. These studies look for signs of a defect and attempt to identify a connecting factor. Should flaws be found, the NHTSA will issue a recall for any vehicles that may be affected.
If the NHTSA begins an investigation, the agency believes there is a good chance that a vehicle model has a dangerous defect. While an investigation is not a recall, many investigations lead to recalls. Finding out that the agency is investigating your car’s year model is never good news.
What Can You Do About Bronco Engine Problems?
If you own a 2021 Ford Bronco with an upgraded engine, you need to be wary. The NHTSA investigation is ongoing and may take months before it reaches a conclusion. That’s plenty of time for your own engine to fail.
The problem is that these failures apparently come out of nowhere. There are no strange noises or failures to warn you before the engine dies. All it takes is a single valve to fail, and you’ll suddenly lose motive power. Until a recall is issued, the only way to prevent the problem is to avoid driving your Bronco at highway speeds if possible.
If your engine has already failed, you have options. 2021 Broncos are still under their manufacturer warranty in almost all cases. That means Ford is still responsible for repairing defects and replacing failed engines. You may be able to get your SUV repaired by taking the following steps:
- Have your car taken directly to a dealership repair shop. The dealership is responsible for making warranty repairs.
- Document exactly what happened when it failed and anything the mechanic tells you. Recording the problem and the mechanic’s response helps you prove that the issue was a warranty problem.
- File a warranty claim. If the dealer attempts to charge you for the repair, inform them that the issue should be covered under warranty. If they continue to dispute the case, contact a lemon law attorney.
Discover Whether Your Bronco Qualifies as a Lemon
If you own a Bronco with a 2.7-liter engine, you may have already experienced a complete engine failure. You may have had to get repairs for the three recalls the year model has already faced. If your Bronco is continually in the shop for repairs, or if manufacturing defects return despite being “fixed,” then your SUV may be a lemon.
If so, you should reach out to the expert attorneys at Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys. Call 866-761-2317 or use this online form to tell us about your vehicle and have us get in touch with you. We’ll discuss your situation and help you determine whether you could hold Ford accountable for the time and effort you’ve wasted trying to fix your car.