Lemberg Law is investigating complaints concerning substantial delays in finding solutions to meet the needs of a Ford recall relating to potentially deadly engine fires. Vehicle owners have been told their cars may catch fire while parked or driving. But Ford has no solutions either regarding the cause of fires or long-term remedies and parts to fix the problem.
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Is There a Problem with the Engine?
Ford Motor Company issued a safety recall for 39,013 x 2021 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicles in mid-May 2022. Of these, 32,711 are Expeditions. The company warns that an engine compartment fire may occur while these vehicles are driving or parked, even if the ignition is “off”.
The recall followed reports of 16 fires affecting Ford Expedition vehicles produced between December 19, 2020, and April 30, 2021. Ford’s Critical Concern Review Group (CCRG) opened an investigation on March 24, 2022, that continued throughout April. It found that of the 16, 14 were rental vehicles and 2 were retail units.
They found that 12 occurred when the traditional truck-based SUVs were parked and switched off. Only 1 occurred while parked and the engine on. The remaining 3 caught on fire while driving. Reports about these include smoke and a burning smell coming from the front passenger engine compartment. They believe one person suffered “unspecified burn” injuries.
The official Safety Recall Report issued on May 17, 2022, via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that Ford has provided a general reimbursement plan for the cost of remedies paid for by vehicle owners before notification of a safety recall in May 2021. The ending date for reimbursement eligibility is estimated to be June 13, 2022.
The problem with this is that there is no remedy. So, even if owners were willing to upfront costs of remedies before June 13, they couldn’t, because there weren’t and still aren’t any.
What Problems are Owners Experiencing?
We know that at least 16 Ford Expedition Owners or rental customers have experienced the trauma of their vehicle catching on fire. Ford acknowledges that one person was injured and suffered an “unspecified burn”. But a whole lot more are complaining that Ford has exceeded a reasonable amount of time for the recall repair.
Consumers have logged complaints with the NHTSA and on forums.
What Owners Are Saying about Fires
At least one online complaint reports the fire affecting a building. “The fire not only destroyed the Expedition but also caught our attached garage on fire…”
Some state what they believe was the trigger. For instance, one consumer says that his Expedition caught fire after he had used the factory-installed remote starter. “A few days prior to the fire, the cruise control stopped working.” He then “received two warning lights on the dash display”, and other fault alerts. The rest is history.
A Ford Expedition Forum (.com) member says: “An old school friend of my wife and her family were driving back from FL on vacation when cruising on the interstate. The entire thing went up in flames and there’s nothing left but an almost completely melted body and the wheels. It started out as all of the warning lights came on.”
Another consumer says their alert was all the warning lights coming on. They pulled over but within a few seconds realized there was a fire in the engine bay and got everyone and everything they could out. It took about five minutes for the Expedition to be engulfed in flames.
Yet another comment describes an Ford Expedition Engine catching fire at an intersection. “The driver said he heard a boom while going down the road and then this happened moments later. Thankfully, no one was hurt but the vehicle was a total loss.
“We had an Expedition catch fire in front of our house a couple of months ago. Luckily the lady and her baby got out safely.”
An NHTSA complainant states that when her husband saw smoke coming from under the hood, he opened it and “saw that the electrical box on the passenger’s side had caught fire.”
He tried to put the flames out with a cup of water, but the vehicle was quickly engulfed in flames. Fortunately, the couple and their five children got out of the SUV safely. Nobody was injured, but they did file a police report.
What Others Are Saying About the Recall
There are currently 13 complaints on the NHTSA website that relate to Ford Expedition engine fire issues. Most (12) of them state that the parts to do the recall repairs are not yet available. They also all maintain that Ford has exceeded a reasonable time for the recall repairs. None of these complainants has experienced a failure (fire).
A Ford Expedition owner from Michigan expresses extreme frustration with the local dealer.
“The dealer has no loaners available at this time. I am forced to park in my driveway surrounded by trees as there is no place near me to park that avoids other structures. In a chat with Ford today I was told a potential temporary solution was to disconnect the battery. When I called the local dealer again and requested a quick disconnect be installed they said they don’t /won’t do that. So I am back to square one. A new expensive SUV which may burn down my house and no clear solution.”
An owner from Pennsylvania complains, “We called our local Ford Dealer and they did not know anything about the recall and repeated the statement to park outside the garage until they receive information on how to resolve the problem. We take good care of our vehicles so we don’t like having our car sitting outside where it is subject to weather conditions. However, we are told the car could catch fire even when it is not turned on so we don’t want to risk having our home burn down.“
This customer bought the SUV to pull a small camper and is also concerned about the possible repercussions of having the car in a campground.
“A customer should not feel they are at a risk of physical harm or harm to their home or camper. This should be a top priority to find a resolution to this problem. We should not have to park our car outside and we should not have to worry about driving the car with risk of a fire or risk of a fire in a campground by our camper.”
They have appealed to Ford to find an immediate resolution. But that was mid-May, and we know that it still hasn’t happened.
Understanding the Engine Recall
Ford notified the NHTSA about the recall in a formal letter on May 18, 2022. From the start, Ford has been unable to identify the origin or cause of the fires. They do, though, believe the fires originated in “the passenger side rear engine compartment vicinity.”
The Company issued a press release to the media on May 19, 2022. This states that “Ford is treating this recall with a high sense of urgency.” It also says they “are working around-the-clock to determine the root cause of this issue and subsequent remedy so that customers can continue to enjoy using their vehicles.”
Months later, they have not determined a root cause or found a remedy!
Instruction to Dealers
In a letter dated May 19, 2022, all U.S. Ford and Lincoln dealers were told to hold demonstration and delivery of the affected vehicles. Acknowledging the under hood fire risk, Ford instructed dealers to park affected vehicles outside away from structures and other property.
Dealers were also told not to open a repair order until “a full dealer bulletin” was published.
In a more recent follow-up letter dated June 7, 2022, Ford updated its technical instructions for dealers. It states that an interim service action for dealers and customers who cannot park outside away from structures is to disconnect the battery cable.
This, it says, can be done to put a vehicle into storage until Ford has a repair available. It does not close the recall program. Federal law requires dealers to complete a recall service before they may deliver new vehicles to buyers or lessees. Violating this dealer requirement carries a possible civil penalty of up to $21,000 per vehicle.
Notification to Ford Expedition Owners
On about May 25, 2022, 2021 Ford Expedition owners were mailed Safety Recall Notice 22S36 / NHTSA Recall 22V346. While they were instructed to immediately park outside, away from structures and other property, they were not told to stop driving vehicles at risk.
Those unable to park outside away from structures were advised to contact their dealer “regarding a rental vehicle for your personal transportation at no charge (except for fuel and insurance).”
Ford apologized “for this situation” and assured all owners that “with your assistance, we will correct this condition.”
As of early July, there is still no solution.
Consumers are alarmed that “Ford has not issued instructions to stop driving your vehicle under this recall,” even though they confirm in the same letter that “an underhood fire may occur either when the engine is on, or while the vehicle is parked and the engine is off.”
It’s a no-win situation.
What Should You Do if Your 2021 Ford Expedition Engine Has Problems?
You may have a lemon. If your vehicle is one of the 32,711 Ford Expeditions recalled in May 2022 you may want to contact us. It’s not going to cost you anything because the law will make Ford pay the legal fees for your claim. Call us for a free case evaluation or fill out our contact form and we’ll contact you.