Laguna Hills, CA – April 17, 2019 – Ford Motor Company is recalling certain 2015-2019 Ford F-150 and 2017-2019 Ford F-250 Super Duty, F-350 Super Duty, F-450 Super Duty and F-550 Super Duty pickup trucks. The affected vehicles have engine block heater cable splice connectors that were insufficiently inspected during a previous recall. The cables may have been damaged, which could cause a short, increasing the likelihood of overheated or melted wiring and chance of fire. As many as 131,068 vehicles may be affected.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report on this problem, during the prior recall and repair process the connector pins in the block heater cable’s splice connector may have been broken or fractured. A short could then occur in the damaged cable, potentially leading to melted or overheated wiring and the subsequent risk of a fire.
Timeline of Events
The report of an under-hood fire in a 2017 F-150 pickup was first brought to Ford’s attention Feb. 28, 2019. The fire broke out when the engine block heater was plugged into a wall outlet. After inspection, greasing and reconnection, the vehicle was returned to service. Subsequent inspection later revealed that the fire had very likely been caused by the engine block heater cable, specifically a separated male pin in the splice connector.
Ford’s Critical Concern Review Group requested X-ray scans of new production and warranty-returned block heater cable connectors for signs of potential damage in the splice connector. Examination of the new cables showed that the pins were properly crimped, with no signs of damage, while the returned warranty connector scans were inconclusive.
Further review of field-returned parts in March 2019 revealed that connector pins could become partially or completely broken when the connector ends are manipulated in a lateral bending or twisting motion during connector separation. In addition, twisting or flexing the two connector ends could potentially fracture one or more of the three male terminals inside the molded connector, which would not be visible to the technician. Other factors contributing to damaged connectors could include pre-existing debris or corrosion.
After reviewing the results of the investigation, Ford’s Field Review Committee decided April 1 to approve a field action.
The recall will begin April 22, 2019. Ford will notify all owners to return their vehicles for service, at which time the dealers will disable the engine block heater from being used. When replacement cables become available, a second notice will be mailed and dealers will replace the engine block heater cord, free of charge.
Owners may contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332. Ford’s number for this recall is 19S11. Owners may also contact the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov. The NHTSA Campaign Number for this recall is 19V278000.