Ford Recalls 6500+ Lightning EVs for Faulty ESC Systems

Ford Recalls 6500+ Lightning EVs for Faulty ESC Systems

Ford has recalled 6500 F-150 Lightning electric trucks for problems with their electronic stability control (ESC) systems. The affected vehicles have a defect in their on-board software system that may fail to activate the ESC system when the car is turned on. As a result, the affected trucks may not actually provide electronic stability control when they are being driven. 

This is a serious safety problem and could put drivers at risk of accidents if they aren’t aware that the ESC system is inactive. Let’s break down how ESC systems help keep you safe, the dangers of faulty ESC systems, and when a software fault like this could make your Ford truck a lemon. 

What Do ESC Systems Do?

Electronic Stability Control (ESC), also known as Electronic Stability Program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), is a computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding). When ESC detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help steer the vehicle where the driver intends to go. Braking is automatically applied to individual wheels, such as the outer front wheel to counter oversteer or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer.

Some ESC systems also reduce engine power until control is regained. ESC does not improve a vehicle’s cornering performance; instead, it helps to minimize the loss of control. This system is especially useful in slippery conditions, and it is widely regarded as a critical advancement in vehicle safety. It works in conjunction with the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and is considered an active safety feature, intervening before the vehicle is in a critical situation.

Dangers of Faulty Stability Control Systems

If an ESC system in a Ford truck fails, several things can happen:

  • Loss of Stability Assistance: The primary function of ESC is to assist in maintaining vehicle stability, especially in challenging driving conditions such as slippery roads or during abrupt maneuvers. If the ESC fails, the car will no longer have this additional layer of safety, and the driver will need to rely solely on their driving skills and the vehicle’s basic stability and traction features.
  • Increased Risk in Hazardous Conditions: Without stability control, the risk of skidding or losing control of the vehicle in adverse conditions, such as wet or icy roads, is increased. This is particularly relevant during sudden turns, evasive maneuvers, or when driving at higher speeds.
  • Reduced Braking Performance: Since ESC works in conjunction with the anti-lock braking system (ABS), its failure might also affect the overall braking performance of the vehicle, particularly in situations where precise brake control is required to maintain stability.

It’s important to note that driving without ESC is less safe than driving with a functioning system, but it doesn’t make the vehicle undrivable. Cars manufactured before the widespread adoption of ESC didn’t have this feature, and safe driving was entirely dependent on the driver and the vehicle’s mechanical stability and traction systems. However, for modern cars, manufacturers and safety experts strongly recommend keeping all electronic safety systems, including ESC, in good working order.

Is Your Ford Lightning at Risk?

By now, you may have received official notice that your electric truck is affected by the ESC glitch. Ford mailed out recall letters to owners of affected Ford Lightning trucks on December 18, 2023. However, if you’re still not sure your vehicle is impacted, you should carefully review any warning lights on your dashboard the next time you start the truck. If your ESC system is not activating, you will see a warning that states “ESC OFF” once the engine is running. 

If your truck has this glitch, you should follow the instructions in the Ford recall letter or contact the manufacturer and ask about recall number 23C38. Theoretically, the problem could be fixed by an over-the-air update of the truck’s software. However, it may be a better option to take your truck to a local certified Ford dealership and have them manually update the software with the fix to ensure that you have a record of the repair. 

Can Software Errors Make a Car a Lemon?

Yes, software errors like the Lightning SYNC fault can potentially make a car qualify for a lemon claim, but this largely depends on the severity of the software issue. Lemon laws are designed to protect consumers from defective new vehicles that fail to meet standards of quality and performance. To qualify for a lemon claim due to software errors, several conditions need to be met:

  • Substantial Impairment: The software error must significantly impair the car’s use, value, or safety. For example, if a software glitch affects critical functions like the ESC system, braking system, engine performance, or other safety features, it could be considered a substantial impairment.
  • Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts: The manufacturer or dealership must be given a reasonable number of opportunities to fix the software issue. The specific number of attempts considered “reasonable” is capped at four in California.
  • Time Out of Service: Alternatively, California permits owners to file lemon claims if their vehicle has been out of service for 30 days nonconsecutively within the warranty period. 
  • Warranty Period: The defects must occur within 18 months or 18,000 miles after taking possession of the vehicle.

It’s important to note that not all software issues will qualify a car as a lemon. Minor glitches or non-critical software problems that don’t substantially impair the vehicle’s operation, value, or safety are less likely to meet the criteria for a lemon law claim. It’s recommended to consult with a legal expert specializing in lemon law in California to get a precise understanding of your rights and the applicability of the law to your situation.

Defective Ford Lightning? Talk to Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys

If you’re constantly fighting to keep your new Ford Lightning truck working, it might qualify for a lemon claim. At Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys, we can help you hold Ford accountable for selling you a defective vehicle. Schedule your consultation to learn more about whether your vehicle is eligible for a lemon claim and how we can help you pursue a refund. 

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