2021 Ford F-150 Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Structure, powertrain, brakes, and electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

Has your vehicle been recalled for windshield wiper issues? Read our post on the Ford F-150 Wiper Recall. Or has your F-150 been recalled for driveshaft issues? Read our Ford F-150 Driveshaft Recall post.

The 2021 Ford F-150 continues to be a fan favorite with its comfortable interior and extreme towing capability. The automaker claims this model is “tougher than before,” but drivers have something else to say. In fact, this full-size pickup seems to struggle with the electrical system, powertrain, service brakes, structure quality and more.

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Most Common Problems with 2021 Ford F-150

The NHTSA has published a total of 60 complaints regarding the 2021 Ford F-150. According to the NHTSA, there were six recalls that potentially affected more than 100,000 vehicles.

Complaints reported to the NHTSA cover considerably more issues than those that result in recalls. For instance, in 2021, while vehicles weren’t recalled for electrical system problems, of the 60 formal complaints lodged with the NHTSA, 19 were about the electrical system.

In total, there were 20 different issues. Some of those not included in recalls include back-over prevention, engine and engine-cooling problems, forward-collision avoidance, lane departure, suspension, and tires.

According to the NHTSA reports, none of the complainants was involved in an accident caused by the issue reported.

Problems with the Electrical System

In today’s vehicles, the electrical system must be top-notch to power all of the latest innovations. However, the system found in the 2021 F-150 is sub-par at best.

One NHTSA complaint states, “The contact owns a 2021 Ford F-150. The contact stated while driving approximately 45 mph, the digital instrument cluster would inadvertently turn off and on, causing the speedometer and warning lights to become inoperable.”

Talk about driving in the dark. It is very difficult to operate a truck properly without all of this vital information. It turns out that there are even more electrical problems. In fact, these malfunctions make up the majority of the automaker’s service bulletins, with #SSM 49712 discussing defects with the climate temperature control. On top of turning up the heat in the cabin, things are about to get hot when Ford has to deal with these unhappy customers.

Problems with Service Brakes

Stopping the truck should be priority number one, especially when the driver is towing heavy equipment with the pickup. However, this seems to be another system that is causing trouble.

Another NHTSA review says, “I bought a new 2021 F-150 Powerboost exactly 60 days ago, drove approximately 1500 miles until I completely lost brakes on the car, almost causing an accident. I brought the car over to the [dealer] and after one day with my truck, they diagnosed the issue, made software updates to all modules, and returned the car. I got the car and within 5 minutes from the dealer, lost brakes again and had to manage to stop the vehicle… Returned to the dealer and it’s in for diagnosis again but they asked me to contact Ford. This is not acceptable, I put my family at risk twice and possibly others in the road with this truck.”

When it comes to handling, it seems that Ford is having some challenges. In fact, there is a recall related to steering issues. NHTSA Campaign Number 21V407000 illustrates affected trucks have a steering gear with internal damage. This problem turns into difficulty steering and stops the driver from turning the steering wheel as needed. Without this control, it becomes much easier for drivers to cause an accident, leaving defective F-150s as troublemakers on America’s roads. Maybe other drivers will just avoid getting near any F-150s on the road to protect themselves.

Problems with the Powertrain

A truck’s powertrain consists of the engine, transmission and other components that propel the vehicle forward. With the Ford F-150 models, both the engine and transmission seem to be causing trouble.

Here is a complaint about the engine from an Edmunds user. “I waited three years and was excited as hell to get the new F150 King Ranch Powerboost hybrid. Was loving it when on day five while driving down the highway the speedometer started reading zero all the warnings started flashing and two or three times while headed back to the dealership the throttle stopped working. Been in the shop for the last three days and they’re trying to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it. Incredibly disappointing. They won’t give me a new one. Almost $80,000.”

However, the issues go deeper when you look at a recent powertrain-related recall. NHTSA Campaign #21V381000 states that the two-piece driveshafts might separate because they weren’t assembled correctly. If the driveshaft separates, drive power can be lost and movement is possible even when the truck is in Park. At this point, some customers might be hoping the truck rolls away on its own. In fact, there are class action lawsuits on previous models, showing that some F-150 pickups also burned an excessive amount of fuel. With all of these factors in play, it’s hard to justify the cost of these Ford trucks. After all, it seems that the engine and powertrain are failing from multiple angles. Maybe that’s why more people have decided to jump ship from the Blue Oval to GM instead.

Problems with the Structure

With so many defects, it’s no wonder that the structure of the F-150 isn’t exceeding expectations either.

One Edmunds review states, “On a new 2021 Ford F150 – price range of $60-80K – should not have rust on the undercarriage – especially on the rear axle & diff. No excuse for that. The White trucks coming from the Kansas plant are like new but the Dearborn Plant in Michigan are nothing but rust. Totally unacceptable!”

In fact, there’s another recall that showcases the incompetence of Ford manufacturing. NHTSA Campaign Number #21V09000 states that more than 79,000 trucks have a windshield that wasn’t properly bonded at the factory. If the windshield were to separate during an accident, there could be serious injuries to the occupants. Of course, previous F-150 models also faced structure-related issues, such as the dashboard warping that prompted class-action lawsuits. If the 2021 Ford F-150 was built “tougher than before,” these issues wouldn’t exist. Maybe Ford hasn’t learned yet how to make a quality truck, causing everyone to wonder why people still flock to the brand. Love is blind sometimes.

2021 Ford F-150 Recalls

The recalls related to:

  • Air bags
  • Powertrain
  • Seat belts
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Visibility

In all cases, vehicle owners were told to contact their dealers who Ford instructed to replace faulty parts free of charge.

F-150 Air Bag Recall

Reports that air bags didn’t deploy properly during a crash led to Ford recalling 777 vehicles. Five models were affected, one of which was the 2021 F-150.

Investigations revealed that the driver and passenger front-door side-impact pressure sensor modules could have been damaged during supplier assembly. The verdict was that these 777 vehicles may not comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for side impact protection.

F-150 Powertrain Recall

In June 2021, 4,436 F-150 owners were notified that the two-piece driveshaft in their vehicles may disconnect. The cause, the company said, was that the driveshafts might have been improperly assembled.

If driveshafts separate, this can lead to a sudden loss of drive power. If the vehicle is in park and the brake isn’t applied, it can also cause vehicle movement, which can increase the risk of a crash with an adjacent vehicle.

F-150 Seat Belts Recall

A total of 16,430 2021 F-510 SuperCab vehicles were recalled because of fears that the front seat belt webbing may have been routed incorrectly.

In October 2021, when the fault was discovered, Ford advised the relevant owners not to drive their vehicles with faulty seat belts until the retractor and pretensioner were repaired. The fear was that misrouted seat belts may not restrain occupants in a crash, which increases the risk of injury.

F-150 Service Brake Recall

A small number (56) of 2021 F-150 vehicles were recalled because there was a risk that the electronic brake booster may leak into the electronic control unit (ECU). If this happens it can reduce braking performance and increase the risk of a crash.

F-150 Steering Related Recall

We all know how important steering gear is and how a loss of steering control will increase the risk of an accident. Potentially, 223 vehicles were affected, and they had to be towed in for service after Ford warned owners not to drive them.

F-150 Visibility Recall

More properly described as inadequate windshield bonding, this fault affected 79,017 Ford vehicles including the 2021 F-150 and four other 2020-2021 Ford models.

It can, of course, be extremely dangerous if a windshield comes loose. This is another instance where the Federal standard was breached.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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2 COMMENTS
  • John F

    I bought a 2021 f150 STX. I did not notice a loud whining noise coming from the 10r80 transmission, because it does not really sound loud until the transmission is warmed up. The sound is horrible, it sounds like the truck has an alternator that is failing. The dealership tells me that this is a normal characteristic of the transmission.

  • Smoked T

    Theres a simple fix to this and the same issue that started the TFI debacle….

    In the relays of the newer vehicles is supposed relays that are protected by diodes and a diode must be put at the starter triggerwire too..

    The vehicle is basically stungunning itself to death….The fuel injectors are the biggest culprit.

    If the relays were changed out for cheap ones de-void of diodes or you inadvertantly ran the power too low and tried cranking the vehicle or jumpstarted it wrong you definately fried the diode protection in that case all the relays will need to be replaced.

    When you jumpstart a new vehicle the ground goes to the engine direct . You let vehicle supplying the power to sit atleast 5 mins then after the dead vehicle starts the cables MUST BE LEFT ON FOR # MINS to allow the battery to top up or youll brown the power and fry the diodes….ITS SIMPLE PHYSICS!!!!!!

    Nut then again most mechanics are Highschool dropouts….LOL

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