By on October 18, 2018

Image: © 2017 Matthew Guy/TTAC

In early August, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recalled 1.1 million Ram pickups after owners reported losing their loads, the fault of a tailgate that wouldn’t stay latched. Ford now seems to have a similar problem, only in this instance the tailgates carefully lower themselves under electric power.

A ghost in the machine? More like an electrical issue that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to get to the bottom of. This week, the safety agency announced the launch of an investigation into consumer complaints related to the wonky gates, possibly heralding a recall of 2017 F-Series trucks.

As of October 12th, the NHTSA has logged five complaints over unprompted tailgate lowerings while the vehicle is in motion. Those complaints concern 2017 F-250s and F-350s, though the investigation’s scope also covers the 2017 F-150 and F-450.

Ford says it knows exactly what’s wrong with the affected vehicles.

“Technical Service Bulletin, 17-2196, submitted to the agency by Ford on 16 October 2017, acknowledged the issue and finds water intrusion in the wire harness as the root cause,” the NHTSA stated. “Consequences of an uncommanded tailgate opening include spilling of unsecured contents from truck bed and damage to other equipment to the vehicle.”

In light of this, the investigation’s focus is on the scope and frequency of the problem, not the cause. Oddly, there’s no mention of the number of potentially affected vehicles in the investigation document — something you’d normally see in an NHTSA synopsis.

It’s possible Ford will issue a recall once the investigation concludes, though there’s no guarantee on that. The NHTSA retains the ability to order manufacturers to call back vehicles it deems unsafe.

[Image: © 2017 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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11 Comments on “NHTSA Probes Ford Power Tailgates That Lower Themselves...”

  • avatar

    Tell me again, why do I want a power tailgate?

    • 0 avatar

      When the $50K edition already has everything that a truck possibly should, the only things left to add to differentiate the $65K edition are the things that a truck shouldn’t.

      And the $75K edition needs even more of them.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I avoided this when I got mine (Don’t think it was offered on the XLT). It is a stupid option. What is so difficult about lowering a tailgate. At least I get the point on liftback grocery getters (you know, full hands and stuff), but this was always stupid. By the time you get the key out and drop it, it takes longer.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Cue a scene from Final Destination 8. Victims loved one “The tailgate just started going berserk!”

  • avatar

    I would not have ordered this “feature” if I had a choice, but it’s standard on the higher trims. Rather than deploying on its own, mine sometimes fails to open at all when I use the button inside the cab.

    The only useful purpose that I’ve found for it is to wow my toddler son.

  • avatar

    So the guys who can’t design, build and manufacture a properly functioning power tailgate plan to have me in a fully-autonomous mobility pod in how many years?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s even better than that! The TRUCK company that can’t build a working tailgate plan to have you in that pod thingy in two years.

      The same company that thinks “Ford Proud” is a good slogan.


    • 0 avatar

      Pretty scary thought. So Ford won’t build cars (except for the Mustang), and Ford can’t properly build truck tailgates. I’m not confident in their ability to build electric let alone autonomous cars.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I somehow remember an automobile ad in the 70’s that joked about power sun visors being frivolous and ridiculous. Now they exist.

  • avatar

    It’s hilarious that the image of the manly truck driver throwing 50 pound bags of cement into his pickup is somehow met with the reality of the old guy unable to lower the gate manually. Manstep anyone?

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I can’t get behind motorization for a tailgate made of pop cans. My ’88 Suburban’s tailgate had a glass window and a motor in it. It was also made of steel and about a million lbs. I had to use a powerlifting move to close it and get it to latch, otherwise the window wouldn’t close. ‘Men’ today, gaah.

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