2021-2023 Ford Bronco Transmission Grinding Issues

Class Action Investigation

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Lemberg Law is investigating complaints that defective manual transmissions of certain 2021-2023 Ford Bronco SUVs make scraping and grinding noises in lower temperatures or when they have been exposed to water. Ford says that the noise dissipates when the transmission warms up, but many affected Bronco owners say it doesn’t stop completely. Some owners complain that dealers claim that Ford Bronco vehicles that make these grinding noises are “operating as designed.” Hundreds of owners who maintain this is a serious safety concern, have been documenting their negative experiences.

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Is There a Problem with the Transmission?

There is a very definite noise problem with some 2021-2023 Ford Bronco SUVs that have a Getrag-built, MT88 7-speed transmission. Ford has acknowledged this by issuing a technical service bulletin (TSB) for some models. However, a large number of owners report that dealers say the parts needed to fix the problem are back ordered and not immediately available. There are also owners who state that the remedy prescribed by Ford to correct the condition fails.

Owners of the 2021 Ford Bronco, 2021 Ford Bronco Sport, as well as the 2022 Ford Bronco and 2023 Ford Bronco models have complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about scraping and grinding noises.

Additionally, there are multiple threads in the Bronco 6G (6th generation) forum that discuss transmission noise issues. Here owners of 2021, 2022, and 2023 models confirm they have noise problems. There is a poll on the forum that asks owners if they have heard their SUVs making grinding/scraping noises. By mid-May 2023, 399 people had voted. Of these, 287 (71.9%) said they had heard these noises, 97 said they hadn’t, and 15 said they might have but weren’t sure.

Many complaints to the NHTSA and on the forum describe the noises drivers hear as well as identify when the noise happens. While some owners are aware of the TSB issued by Ford, there are complaints that it doesn’t address the cause of the problem and that it recurs after the problem has supposedly been fixed. Some say that the reason for this is that Ford is replacing the same parts used during manufacture and they manifest the same problems after a short period of time.

Other Transmission Noises

There are also complaints about rattling and loud knocking sounds that appear to be due to metal shavings in the engine oil and filter of some 2021-2023 Ford Bronco SUVs. There is no indication from Ford that these sounds are linked to the scraping and grinding noises. However, some owners speculate that they might be connected.

Similarly, while Ford doesn’t acknowledge any risk of damage to transmissions that exhibit “rational scraping” noises, there are indications of damage and potential damage from owners of affected Ford Bronco SUVs. Some owners are concerned that the transmission might fail completely.

TSB Issued on December 13, 2022

TSB 22-2371 relates only to 2021 and 2022 Ford Bronco models, not the 2021 Sport or 2023 model. More specifically, it states that it only affects vehicles equipped with an MT88 manual transmission. The MT88 is Ford’s new 7-speed (6+1 crawler gear) transmission built by Getrag that made its debut on the 2021 Ford Bronco vehicles with 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder EcoBoost engines.

The issue, according to the TSB is: “Some 2021-2022 Bronco vehicles equipped with a MT88 manual transmission may experience a rotational scraping noise in ambient temps below 10°C (50°F) and after a cold soak with the transmission in neutral, 1st, and/or 2nd gear and clutch engaged. The noise may go away as the transmission warms up. This may be due to the 5th and 6th gear synchronizer rings.”

Dealerships are advised to correct the condition by following the service procedure provided to replace the 5th and 6th gear synchronizer rings. The TSB also provides a comprehensive list of parts required for the service procedure, including service part numbers and the number of each part needed. It states that the operation should take 9.6 hours to complete and that it is covered by warranties and an extended service plan.

Apart from the fact that there are complaints that the TSB service procedure doesn’t work, there are many owners who say that the parts ordered to fix the problem aren’t available. Just one example. An owner from South Jersey who owns a Bronco Badlands, states that the service advisor said “there were a few parts on the list they’d get quick, others would be back ordered just like everything with a new model car.”

Hundreds of Owners Document Evidence

One of the forum threads was started by the Ohio-based owner of a 2022 Ford Bronco Big Bend on January 12, 2023. His intention was (and still is) to help owners of Ford Bronco vehicles who are experiencing scraping noises. The link contains videos as well as useful links to other threads and comments that relate to various issues of interest. It also suggests ways that owners can test their vehicles to assess whether or not they are affected by the fault.

On January 31, 2023, he lodged a complaint with the NHTSA citing various components as problematic: powertrain, vehicle speed control, and the fuel/propulsion system. In it, he draws attention to the fact that more than 200 owners of 20221, 2022, and 2023 7-speed manual transmission Ford Bronco models have documented their experiences on the forum.

“Most of us can’t get service done due to part supply issues and labor shortages. The bigger concern is (that) Ford is replacing (the) same parts that are being damaged, which doesn’t address the root cause of the issue. And it’s not solving (the) problem because it comes back shortly after service.” He points out that the noise is mostly only heard in temperatures below 50 °F as per Ford’s TSB 22-2371. “People are complaining that regardless of new transmissions and TSB service the noise still comes back while most of us are waiting months to even get the repairs performed. There have been no official resolutions.”

He also believes it’s a safety concern because, if the transmission fails, people could “be stuck in a dangerous situation unable to move the vehicle into gear on the highway.”

He urges the NHTSA to take his documentation on the forum seriously.

What Transmission Noises are Owners Experiencing?

2021-2023 Ford Bronco owners are experiencing exactly what TSB 22-2371 describes and more. They notice scraping or grinding noises that come from the transmission. The owner of a 2023 model states in an NHTSA complaint that he can hear the noise “when I do a cold start and leave it in neutral. If I push the clutch in it goes away. Also, I noticed it a bit louder when I am in low gears such as 1-3, even while fully warmed up.”

The owner of a 2022 model states that his new Ford Bronco has a 7-speed manual transmission that makes scraping noises. Similarly, the owner of a 2021 Ford Bronco states that there is a “loud grinding noise coming from transmission at 800 miles.”

Forum members report the same issue. For example, the owner of a Ford Bronco Badlands from New Jersey states, “When I start it up in the morning I hear what sounds like a grinding, something’s loose kind of noise. When I push the clutch in it seems to go away. It also seems to go away after it has been driven a while.” This was prior to the TSB, and the dealership maintained it was simply “a break-in thing, which I know is not the case. It drives fine, shifts easy and (the) clutch is easy to operate. Besides the noise, no issues.”

Could the Noise be Normal for the Ford Bronco

Despite the TSB, there are some dealers who say that the scraping, grinding noises are normal.

A member of the Bronco 6G forum states that the noise was obvious from 3 miles when he picked up the Bronco. It “sounds like it has gravel in it until (it’s) up to operating temp. Have over 17k on it now. A recent change is that when the clutch is pushed in for a few seconds and held, the noise goes away. It’s like a throwout bearing going out in an old Volkswagen.” He discussed the issue with the salesman he purchased from who “said it was normal for this vehicle.” He notes that his vehicle was one of the first two 2022 Broncos delivered to that dealership, and that the other was an automatic.

The owner of a 2023 model with only 60 miles on the clock was told, when he reported grinding noises in February 2023, that “the vehicle was operating as designed.” The NHTSA complaint states that the grinding sounds were evident when he shifted into neutral as well as 1st and 2nd gears. The manufacturer confirmed that the vehicle was not covered under Technical Service Bulletin: 22-2371.

Does the TSB Service Procedure Fix the Problem?

While there is a report in an NHTSA complaint that says it seems to have fixed one owner’s problem, there are multiple reports that say it makes absolutely no difference.

According to the NHTSA complaint, the rear differential seal failed causing gear oil to leak out. At the same time, there was transmission failure of the “5th gear to 6th gear synchro,” which was causing “grinding of (the) synchro, leading to possible failure.” There was no warning for either failure, but the complaint states that “the dealer has fixed both issues for now.”

Another NHTSA complaint tells a different story. A 2022 Ford Bronco was with the dealer for a month because of grinding noises. Following the TSB the dealer replaced the 5th and 6th gear synchronizer rings. But, within two days, the grinding noise was back along with shifting noises.

Many forum members have had the same unsatisfactory experience. One who said the noise came back within a week, states that they “definitely replaced bad parts. I saw it first hand. But the noise is back.”

The conundrum continues. A technician from the East Coast who owns a Bronco Base has posted photographs of the old and new replacement synchro rings. They are identical, and neither is damaged. But the noise hasn’t gone away!

An owner from Alabama states simply, “so if the TSB is using the same parts as the original…what is the point of the TSB.” Many others agree.

Will a New Transmission Fix the Problem?

The owner of a 2021 Ford Bronco Badlands from Virginia says it won’t. Writing on the forum, he states that after a year of ownership, “I am on my THIRD transmission and have been offered a fourth, which I denied. A new transmission entirely does NOT fix this problem. The sound comes back immediately. Yes, warmer months are harder to detect. But I know this sound all too well to miss even the most faint version. It most definitely gets worse over time.”

He says that he is “willing to attempt the TSB, but if this doesn’t solve the issue, it’ll be claimed a lemon. I only have until (the) end of July 2023 to file. I won’t pass on that opportunity. Not when 70%+ are reporting the issue, and we’ve heard NOTHING from FordMoCo. There is a lemon law for a reason.”

The owner of a 2021 Bronco Badlands from New York reports being on a second transmission after non-stop grinding noises as well as an oil leak from the timing chain cover. He states that dealers he called “did not want to bother with the TSB.”

Is There a Risk That This Condition Will Cause Damage?

Not only is there a risk, there are Ford Bronco owners who attest to the fact that their vehicles that experienced grinding sounds have been damaged.

The owner of a 2021 Ford Bronco Sport talks about a “metallic grinding sound when turning hard to the right under moderate acceleration” in an NHTSA complaint. The dealer found that the rear differential had been damaged “due to a lubrication issue. The dealership added more fluid and a noise reducer fluid, and returned the vehicle a week later. Issue still persists, though not as loud as before.” The complaint adds that the only symptom was “grinding/surging of transmission when turning, and upon initial acceleration.”

Pictures on the Bronco 6G forum show damaged teeth in the transmission cog of one Bronco. There are pictures of friction weld burn marks on the old parts of another Bronco, and oil has visibly discolored the metal on the cogs.

An owner from Ohio who owns a Bronco Big Bend states, “After seeing some of the damage in these transmission with only 500 miles… I have to say long term, I see catastrophic failures.”

Have There Been Any Transmission Failures?

There is a general impression that there are lots of noise issues but no failures. However, there are reports of transmission failure from owners who initially had noise issues.

For example, a forum member from Alberta experienced the noise within 2 weeks of owning a Bronco, took it to the dealership and was told there was nothing wrong. In his initial post, the owner states that “along with the noise I get (a) nice little burning smell when I let it idle but not all the time. If I push on the clutch pedal while in neutral, the sound goes away. If I’m in gear, the sound goes away. When the noise is present, I can feel the vibrations on the gear shift knob.”

After traveling another 3,000 km (1,864 miles), the noise was getting worse. This time another dealer examined the Bronco and said it needed a new transmission – a “bad throwout bearing or something.” The SUV was returned 82 days later with a new transmission. Two days later, he sold it.

Are Metal Shavings in the Engine Oil Related to the Grinding Problem?

Nobody is sure, but the transmission makes a noise, and there are big problems.

The California owner of a Bronco Badlands is convinced that the “synchro issue is creating lots of metal fragments in the transmission fluid. I’m sure it’s a matter of time until the rest of the gearbox gets pretty chewed up as well.”

Others who report the issue are concerned. For example:

The owner of a 2022 Ford Bronco with only 60 miles states in an NHTSA complaint that “ the vehicle made abnormally loud knocking sounds.” It was towed to the dealer where metal shavings were found in the engine oil and filter. “The dealer performed an oil change and informed the contact that the two transmission pumps and the engine needed to be replaced.”

The owner of a 2023 model with less than 500 miles “noticed a strange burning smell after driving it one day. The next morning when I started it, I heard what I thought was a heat shield rattle, and as I continued to drive my Bronco to work throughout the week the noise got worse.” Again, the dealership found metal shavings and ordered a new transmission. The owner, a certified automotive technician stated: “I do not feel comfortable driving the vehicle with the transmission sounding the way it does.”

What Should You Do if Your 2021-2023 Ford Bronco has Noise-Related Transmission Issues?

If your 2021-2023 Ford Bronco is exhibiting noises that seem to be related to the transmission, start by comparing your experiences with those of other owners. If your dealer is unable to assist, after the problems recur and affect the use or value of your Ford Bronco, you may qualify to participate in our class action investigation.

All you need to do is call us at 844-928-4443 or complete our contact form. We will evaluate your case and see if you qualify.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
1 COMMENT
  • Thomas P

    Hear grinding/scraping noise when cold at starting. Dissipates after warming/driving for 5/10 minutes. Concerned when warranty expires.
    2022 Ford Bronco, Base model, 2 door, 7 speed manual transmission, 8K miles at this writing. Have not expressed concern to Ford/dealer. Waiting on this issue to be resolved by Ford.

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