NHTSA Probes Ford Power Tailgates That Lower Themselves

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nhtsa probes ford power tailgates that lower themselves

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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2 of 11 comments
  • Deanst Deanst on Oct 18, 2018

    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?

  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Oct 18, 2018

    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.

  • Slavuta Civic EX - very competent car. I hate the fact of CVT and small turbo+DI. But it is a good car. Good rear seat. Fix the steering and keep goingBut WRX is just a different planet.
  • SPPPP This rings oh so very hollow. To me, it sounds like the powers that be at Ford don't know which end is up, and therefore had to invent a new corporate position to serve as "bad guy" for layoffs and eventual scapegoat if (when) the quality problems continue.
  • Art Vandelay Tasos eats $#!t and puffs peters
  • Kwik_Shift Imagine having trying to prove that the temporary loss of steering contributed to your plunging off a cliff or careening through a schoolyard?
  • Inside Looking Out How much costs 25 y.o. Mercedes S class with 200K miles?