Malfunctioning windshield wiper issues are the main cause of complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners
Heralded by Ford as the world’s first sport-utility vehicle (SUV), the Bronco has evolved since the first model was introduced to the U.S. market in 1965. Discontinued due to the changing tastes of American consumers in 1996, it made a comeback in 2021. Launching the 2023 model, Ford announced that 1960s Bronco styling now “meets modern capability.” But this doesn’t seem to apply to all elements of the SUV, certainly not windshield wipers. Since the new “modern” Bronco reappeared in 2021, owners have been complaining that their “smart wipers” malfunction in the rain
Click on other model year to view more problems: 2021 2022
Most Common Problems
Between December 30, 2022, and January 25, 2023, 7 owners of the 2023 Ford Bronco laid complaints with the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). All of them are filed in the Visibility/Wiper category, and all 7 of them relate to malfunctioning windshield wipers.
There are 15 complaints about this same issue with the 2022 Ford Bronco and 5 complaints about the 2021 Bronco. There is also a technical service bulletin (TSB) on file with the NHTSA advising dealers that there is an issue with the “smart windshield wiper motor.” This applies to the 2021 and 2022 models, but not the 2023 model, despite 7 complaints about the issue to the NHTSA in less than a month. The relevant manufacturer’s communication, number SSM 50692, is dated April 13, 2022. It has the NHTSA ID number 10210395.
2023 Ford Bronco Complaint Summary
|Complaint Category||Number of Complaints|
|Unknown Or Other|
|Service Brakes, Hydraulic|
Windshield Wiper Smart Wiper Operation
The document on file with the NHTSA only refers to the 2021 and 2022 models. However, it is worth noting what Ford Motor Company says about smart motor performance in its sixth-generation Broncos.
The company states that 2021-2022 Bronco vehicles are equipped with a smart windshield wiper motor that is capable of sensing the load of the wiper blades as they move across the windshield glass. As a result of this “operational characteristic/design, the operation may not be what is expected in certain conditions.”
The company also states that this operational characteristic is a protection feature. As such, it is designed “to prevent damage to the wiper motor in case of overheating, operation with dry windshields, or obstructions to the wiper blade (snow, ice, etc.). In such conditions, the wiper motor will temporarily reduce its speed and/or reduce (the) area of cleaning until the condition is no longer present.”
What this means is that Ford is aware that its new-style Broncos with so-called modern capability have a design “characteristic” that affects the way windshield wipers operate. However, they don’t acknowledge it to be a problem even though they state that the issue owners are complaining about may not be what they expect. Presumably, the motivation for this particular manufacturer communication is to warn dealerships that they may get complaints or enquiries from some owners. There is certainly no indication that Ford is attempting to find a solution
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Owners of 2021 and 2022 models state in NHTSA complaints that the effect of wipers slowing down is very dangerous and distracting. They also maintain it is a serious safety hazard. Very few owners have stated in complaints that they have reported the problem to dealerships.
The Oregon owner of a 2022 model states in a complaint dated December 30, 2022, that when asked to undertake a warranty repair, the dealership said “this is normal operation. The dealership staff provided me with Ford Technical Service Bulletin SSM 50692 and said there was nothing they could do.” Nevertheless, the complaint states, “I continue to have the wipers reduce speed on a wet windshield with no obstructions.”
A New York owner of a 2021 model laid a complaint in February 2022 before the TSB was released. Initially, the dealership replaced the smart wiper motor. When the problem recurred, the dealership said they couldn’t fix it. They said another Bronco on their lot had the same issue, undertaking to “get it fixed” if a bulletin was released on the problem.
Unsurprisingly, complaints to the NHTSA about the 2023 Bronco windshield wipers all describe the “operational characteristic” that Ford accepts as normal. Owners are concerned about the problem, describing it as a serious malfunction that results in a serious safety hazard.
Descriptions from owners are all very similar. For example:
- It doesn’t matter which mode the wipers are on, “they slow down and go into a slow intermittent mode all on their own.” It takes about 35 seconds for them to slow down, and then after another 50 seconds, “they stop causing a serious safety concern.” (Virginia owner)
- The wipers don’t stay in “low” mode, rather reverting to a very slow/intermittent mode. This is “very dangerous in heavy rain or snow.” (New Jersey owner)
- “While it is raining the wipers will go from continuous to delay, to almost stopping after 20 seconds of running.” (Indiana owner)
Detailed Wiper Complaints
An owner from Pennsylvania states that “The windshield wiper controllers are seriously malfunctioning. When switched on, they work for the first minute, then the speed at which they are running changes significantly.” As an example, the complaint describes how on January 20, 2023, the wiper stopped working in heavy rain. “This is a serious safety hazard as I was unable to see and had to turn off the wipers and turn them back on to reset them. I hope this issue is handled rapidly as I have noticed many others have the same problem.”
An owner from Maryland states that the “advanced” wipers “automatically stop wiping when they think the windshield is dry or think the wiper motor may be damaged.” Describing what happens, the complaint goes on to say that when the SUV is traveling in heavy rain the wipers will “automatically switch to Intermittent after about 1 minute.” They stop wiping at a high speed, and pause between wipes for several seconds. To keep them going in “heavy, blinding rain you have to keep switching the wipers from Low to High to keep them moving.” Of course, as the complaint states, this is a safety hazard because the driver can’t see through the windshield when it’s raining heavily.
“After reading the Manual it appears this is a ‘feature’ of the new Ford Bronco. This is a major safety issue and Ford should be required to fix the wiper motor on these vehicles. The issue happens on all of the model years – 2021-2023.”
An owner from Michigan states that he and his son have experienced this wiper problem. “It’s like a sensor tells the wipers it’s not raining or snowing hard anymore and it switches it automatically to interval. Very dangerous while driving in traffic in bad weather.”
What to do if your 2023 Ford Bronco is a Lemon? Your Lemon Rights
Maybe you have been experiencing issues with your 2023 Bronco windshield wipers malfunctioning. Perhaps you have a totally different complaint that makes you believe your SUV is a lemon.
Are you aware that every year automakers like Ford buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ vehicle owners? Additionally, the law makes Ford pay the legal fees for lemon-related legal fees. This means you don’t pay a cent if a lemon lawyer represents you in court.
If you’d like Lemberg Law to assess your 2023 Ford Bronco problems free of charge, call our Helpline or fill out a contact form.