By on December 22, 2018

All-New 2018 Ford F-150 - Image: Ford

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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37 Comments on “Too Warm: Ford Recalls Nearly 900,000 F-150s Over Block Heater Fault...”

  • avatar

    Just wouldn’t be a proper Ford recall without the “f” word.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford Engineers: “Here is the new design for the F150 Engine Block heater. We can source this part from our vendor in Atlanta, GA”

      Ford Accounting: “Forget that, we will outsource it to China and save $8.00 per part! Think of all the bonuses our bosses will get! And Dong Feng Cord and Glue Corporation will have a wonderful Christmas”.

      A year or so later: Ford Recalls Nearly 900,000 F-150s Over Block Heater Fault

      • 0 avatar

        Yep, that would be my guess how it all went down, but the good news is everyone still gets their cost-cutting bonus… Merry Christmas, Ford execs!

      • 0 avatar

        “Here is the new design for the F150 Engine Block heater. We can source this part from our vendor in Atlanta, GA”

        What would anyone in Atlanta know about block heaters?

        Years ago I was touring the Jaguar factory in England and saw these boxes near the end of the assembly line that said “Made in Canada” on them. So I asked the guide and they were block heaters, made in Winnipeg. If ever there was a perfect place that knows about block heaters, Winnipeg is it.

        • 0 avatar

          “What would anyone in Atlanta know about block heaters? ”

          Lol, I designed industrial resistive heating elements for for an engineering company based in Atlanta for 20 years… Among other things we made block heaters

  • avatar

    If I brought that truck home the air dam would come off before I even went inside to pee.

  • avatar

    Yawn. Another month, another Ford recall.

  • avatar

    Ford knows a thing about “resistive shorts” that cause fires. I’ve personally put out a burning F150 that was home to Ford’s glorious flaming cruise control. Raise your hand if you can say the same.

    Still didn’t keep me from buying a 2014 F150, but, I live in the south so no block heater.

    One thing I learned as a 911 operator back in the day…vehicle fires of all stripes are more common than you think.

    • 0 avatar

      And they often don’t tell those operators all the information. Like that burning vehicle that was just called happens to be in the homeowner’s garage…

    • 0 avatar

      “Still didn’t keep me from buying a 2014 F150, but, I live in the south so no block heater.”

      That’s a true Ford owner right there. I had a customer who said, “this is the sixth F250 I’ve bought, and every one of them suffered complete brake failure!” It’s like he thought brake lines so cheap that they rust out in central Virginia are a feature. I don’t see why Ford is recalling these trucks. Anyone who still buys Fords isn’t going to let a little house fire and the resulting loss of their family stop them from spending the insurance check on another one.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Oh stop…it’ll tow your single wide as good as your shevolay.

        • 0 avatar

          The only argument more polarizing then Dems vs. Repubs is Ford vs. Chevy

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Why not. Ford and Chevy trucks are way more different than your average Republican and Democrat politician. If Trump were a Democrat they’d love him (protecting union jobs and ending wars). Likewise Republicans would hate him, label him an isolationist, and screaming about Russia. They both suck equally unlike full-sized trucks which are pretty usefel and a million times more useful than either party.

          • 0 avatar

            Trump (and his family) were all registered Dems until he ran for Pres

          • 0 avatar

            Ford and Chevrolet both stink on ice, as does Fiat. Trump being a Democrat makes sense, as our politics are corrupt and he had to operate in a one-party state. The Democrat and Republican parties are only separated by the Democrats’ passion for making children available for sexual relations with adults. Why do you think they want to eliminate ICE? Trump is basically the guy Democrats were pretending to be in public a decade ago. He can recycle all of his speeches from ones used by the Clintons, Chuck Schumer and Barrack Obama. The only difference is that he means what they said to get elected. A patriotic populist is better than a corporatist neo-con or a global fascist, especially the ones who preceded him.

          • 0 avatar

            “Ford and Chevrolet both stink on ice, as does Fiat.”

            I’ll never understand the tribal passions evoked by car brands.

            Every manufacturer successful enough to be mentioned here can and does produce junk, gem or usually something in between with any given model.

            There isn’t even a clear divide between domestic and Japanese any more for reliability. What causes such deep personal identification with one giant, ever evolving corporation to the peevish exclusion of all others?

  • avatar

    I’m a believer in using dielectric grease in electrical connections*, but I’ve always thought of it as something needs to be ‘renewed’ periodically (not a permanent fix).

    * I own a couple of old British sports cars, and I’m convinced a lot of the ‘Lucas gremlins’ are due to corrosion in the bullet-style connectors. Never had an issue where I’ve used dielectric grease in the connectors.

  • avatar

    Ford + Electrical = Fire

    It has been that way since the beginning of time.

  • avatar

    You all may disparage Ford, but they are committed to their past heritage; namely making F150s that burn up in your driveway while parked. Ahh, it’s like it’s 1994 again….

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      If it is 94 again I want to turn on my radio in whatever I drive and hear the phrase “new from Nirvana”.

      It definitely isn’t because all I hear is sheeeite on the radio.

  • avatar


    This makes 8 recalls for the new 2018 F-150. Ford quality at it’s finest.

    The 2019 Ram 1500 has had 3 recalls and it’s unknown if any are associated with the all new Ram.

  • avatar

    You’d think the F-150 would be the most recalled pickup, having the most changes, engine choices, tech/advancements, in recent years. But it doesn’t even make the the list of top recalled cars, trucks or anything.

    But the Ram does… So does the Sierra. There’s no excuse for those relics, and even less for the Made in Japan, ancient 4Runner, making the Top 10 Most Recalled Cars too.

  • avatar

    Not a peep out of him on the October article about the Toyota recalls.

  • avatar

    2018 and we’re having to smear dollops of grease on electrical connections to make them waterproof? What an age we live in!

    Based on my experience with a 2008 model, F150 ownership is a never-ending saga of dealing with rust and rot. You’re either replacing something that has crumbled to dust, or cutting/torching/swearing your way through rusty bolts in order to change something else that has failed.

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