Too Warm: Ford Recalls Nearly 900,000 F-150s Over Block Heater Fault

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
too warm ford recalls nearly 900 000 f 150s over block heater fault

Harnessing the magic of electricity to keep your engine block toasty is a better option than crossing your fingers and saying a silent prayer before turning the key (or pressing the button) on cold mornings. Unfortunately for Ford F-150 owners living in northern climes, the block heater residing beneath their truck’s hood might pose a danger to their vehicle — and perhaps their house.

Hoping to remedy a fire risk, Ford Motor Company has issued a recall on roughly 874,000 late-model F-150s in North America.

The recall covers F-150s from the 2015 to 2019 model years, as well as Super Duty models from the 2017 to 2019 model years. Not surprisingly, Canada sees a significant share of the recalled block heater-equipped vehicles — 463,793 in that frigid country, with the remaining 410,289 located in the United States and federal territories. Of these vehicles, Ford estimates 6 percent have the defect.

For owners, the risk only exists when the vehicle’s plugged in. The recall notice states that “water and corrosive contaminant intrusion into the block heater cable’s splice connector could cause corrosion and damage to the connector. Prolonged corrosion in the cable splice connector can cause a resistive short, inoperative engine block heater, and/or tripping of household breakers or GFCI equipped outlets while the vehicle is parked and the block heater is plugged in.”

Certain factors increase the likelihood of a resistive short, including the angle of the connection, its location, and duration of exposure to road salt. A resistive short, as Ford says, “can increase the risk of overheated or melted wiring and fire.”

Trucks built before and after the recalled batch have either grease applied to the splice connector or a different routing for the cables and orientation of the connector. The manufacturer says cables on recalled vehicles will be examined for signs of damage or corrosion; if everything looks fine, dealers will apply dielectric grease to the connections. Owner notification begins January 7th.

The automaker says it’s aware of three fires caused by the defect, with “minor property damage” reported in another incident. Owners of trucks with corroded connectors face a number of tell-tale signs. According to the automaker, the “block heater may become inoperative, the household breaker or outlet GFCI may trip, the user may hear buzzing or sizzling noise, or observe smoke and/or sparks when the cable is plugged into a wall outlet.”

Ford claims the afflicted half-tons rolled out of the company’s Dearborn Truck Plant between March 18, 2014 and November 17, 2018, while Kansas City Assembly built its share of the tally from August 21st, 2014 to November 17th, 2018. Recalled Super Duty trucks left Ohio Assembly between February 5th, 2016 and November 17th, 2018, and the automaker’s Kentucky Truck Plant from October 8th, 2015, to November 17th, 2018.

If your truck’s suddenly causing you a bit of worry, Ford is reachable at 1-866-436-7332. The reference number for this recall is 18S45.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • Fahrvergnugen NA Miata goes topless as long as roads are dry and heater is running, windscreen in place.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic As a side note, have you looked at a Consumers Report lately? In the past, they would compare 3 or 4 station wagons, or compact SUVs, or sedans per edition. Now, auto reporting is reduced to a report on one single vehicle in the entire edition. I guess CR realized that cars are not as important as they once were.
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