The Wheels Are Coming Off At Ford - Steering Wheels, That Is

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the wheels are coming off at ford steering wheels that is

Ford Motor Company has announced a recall of 1,378,637 vehicles for a very concerning problem: steering wheels that may come loose and detach from the steering column while the car is underway.

It’s a problem first investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year, but Wednesday’s recall spreads a wider net. Affected vehicles include Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans built in the U.S. and Mexico over five model years. According to Ford, the problem stems from a key bolt that just can’t stay married to the threads.

“In affected vehicles, the steering wheel bolt may not maintain torque, allowing the bolt to loosen over time, and if not serviced, a steering wheel could potentially detach and lead to a loss of steering control and increased risk of a crash,” the automaker said in a statement.

Ford claims it is aware of two accidents and one “alleged” injury related to the issue.

When it first began looking into the steering wheel problem last October, the NHTSA focused on 2014-2016 Fusions — a group totalling 841,000 cars. Ford’s recall adds half a million more and broadens the scope to newer models, as well as the Fusion’s Lincoln MKX sibling. Some 62,479 of the affected vehicles were sold in Canada, another 14,172 went to Mexico. The rest are America’s problem.

In total, the recall covers 2014-2017 Fusions built at Flat Rock Assembly from August 6, 2013 to February 29, 2016, 2014-2014 Fusions built at Mexico’s Hermosillo Assembly from July 25, 2013 to March 5, 2018 (nine days ago), and 2014-2018 MKZs built at Hermosilo during the same time frame.

“Dealers will replace the steering wheel bolt on the vehicle with a longer bolt with more robust thread engagement and larger nylon patch placed properly for proper torque retention— at no cost to customers.”

It isn’t just steering wheel detachments on Ford’s to-do list today. At the same time, Ford announced another recall for 2013-2016 Focus sedans equipped with the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine and B6 manual transmission, as well as 2013-2015 Fusions equipped with the 1.6-liter four-cylinder and the same manual tranny. Rare models, indeed.

“Torque capacity reduction due to clutch lining wear can cause excessive slip, introducing a large amount of energy and heat into the pressure plate,” the automaker stated. “Structural failure or fracture of the pressure plate eventually may occur. Leaking transmission fluid near an ignition source can lead to the risk of an engine compartment fire.”

Unlike the loosey-goosey Fusion steering wheels, the second recall only affects 5,872 vehicles in North America.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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5 of 36 comments
  • Ernest Ernest on Mar 14, 2018

    I'm going to bet someone in accounting at Ford knows how this got screwed up... and why. Engineers know how to design a bolt and keeper, for f'ecks sake. But accounting said it had to be cheaper. Anyone else want to bet?

    • See 2 previous
    • IHateCars IHateCars on Mar 15, 2018

      "But accounting said it had to be cheaper. Anyone else want to bet?" I'm thinking that blue Loc-Tite was cheaper than red Loc-Tite, but who knows. Sounds like they will fix it in the recall with "more robust thread enagagement".

  • Akear Akear on Mar 15, 2018

    The truth is the wheel is coming off for the entire company.

  • SCE to AUX From the SAE: Level 3: "When the feature requests, you must drive."The timing of that request will be the subject of lawsuits. Too little warning, and this is just a Level 2 system wearing nicer clothes.Pretty car, though.
  • Analoggrotto So, who has the digital Tourettes?
  • Analoggrotto Mercedes can try but will NEVER match the superlative engineering of TESLA. The #1 Choice for the #1 members of society. The lower class can stay on earth and drive Mercedes.
  • Dukeisduke The "fix" is not a fix - it just assures that when the o-ring breaks down and leaks brake fluid onto the board, the fuse will blow and the car won't burn to the ground. The HECU ("Hydraulic Unit Assembly" in H/K parlance) will still be dead, and you'll have no ABS or ESC. So the car won't burn to the ground, but you'll be looking at an expensive repair. I priced the HECU (Kia p/n 58920-1M640) for the 2012 Forte Koup - the MSRP is $2,325.79, and I can get one from the online seller I buy from for $1646.65. It's not much labor to replace, but then you have to bleed the brakes, or preferably flush the system, since the car's 11 years old and could use a flush. Folks relying on a dealer will be out $3k or more for repairs.I went to the NHTSA site and filed a defect report (the only way I could find to comment on the recall) to tell them that they should force H/K to replace the HECUs on all the affected vehicles, instead of allowing them to just do the minimum.
  • SCE to AUX All right Hyundai - enough of this.These are all older cars, and I believe H/K issued a recall for the same thing before. My former 09 Sedona was recalled for an ABS fire risk. The solution was some sort of extra ground wire from the battery down to the ABS unit or something - I didn't trace it.H/K has a habit of issuing partial solutions with limited scope (saving face), then later expanding the recall greatly. They did this with the 2.4 engine debacle, corroding control arms, and now this ABS thing.As for the EV vs ICE fire debate, no need to stir that pot here. EVs use hydraulic ABS brakes as well, but they don't appear to be covered in this recall (yet... and it would only be the early Ioniq 1 EV, if any).Looking into my crystal ball, they'll probably have to recall the Ioniq 5/6 and Genesis GV60 for an ongoing charging issue, where the charging port heats up and limits the charging rate on an AC plug (at home).Following their usual pattern, a software fix was issued first, greatly slowing the charge rate. Owners are irate, and I think Hyundai is simply delaying the day when they have to replace the wiring harness and charge port on all their new EVs, at great expense.Sorry Hyundai - can't defend you on this one.