By on February 13, 2019

2013 Ford F-150, Image: Ford

Ford Motor Company announced a recall of 1.48 million F-150 pickups Wednesday, the latest callback related to a six-speed automatic transmission that can suddenly crash-dive to first gear. 

The models in question are 2011-2013 F-150s. Ford claims the vehicles “may experience an intermittent loss of the transmission output speed sensor signal to the powertrain control module, potentially resulting in a temporary, unintended downshift into first gear.”

Five incidents are connected to the problem, with one driver reportedly experiencing a whiplash injury. At highway speeds, a first-gear downshift can lock up the rear wheels and cause a loss of control.

The recall covers 1.26 million vehicles sold in the United States and federalized territories, with another 221,000 sold in Canada. Affected vehicles rolled out of Ford’s Dearborn Assembly Plant from April 28, 2010 to Oct. 28, 2013, and from its Kansas City Assembly Plant from May 18, 2010 to Nov. 18, 2013.

Owners should begin receiving notifications on March 4th. The fix involves an update to the trucks’ powertrain control software.

Ford’s sudden downshift issue cropped up years ago, and in April of 2016 the automaker recalled a slew of models to fix the issue. That recall covered 202,000 2011-2012 Ford F-150, 2012 Expedition, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Navigator vehicles.

Early last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the issue after 123 complaints rolled in after the 2016 recall. In the NHTSA’s crosshairs were 1,375,577 F-150s, Expeditions, and Navigators from the 2011 to 2013 model years.

[Image: Ford]

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20 Comments on “Ford Calls Back 1.48 Million F-150s for Transmission Flaw...”

  • avatar

    “At highway speeds, a first-gear downshift can lock up the rear wheels and cause a loss of control.” -bet that was exciting, sounds like a code brown.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Ford transmission problem? Inconceivable!!!

    • 0 avatar

      But we all know paying $75,000 for a pickup is justified by the fact that they last 47 years.

    • 0 avatar

      I was once asked to participate in a ‘blind’ driving exercise where the badges on the vehicles were hidden. I could tell I was in a Ford by the way the transmission hunted around. (No idea if this has been addressed by the newer models.)

  • avatar

    “The fix involves an update to the trucks’ powertrain control software.”

    So they’re not going to replace failing transmission output speed sensors, but instead change what the PCM does in response to a flaky sensor? I think they should do both.

  • avatar

    There is a TSB on the Molded Lead Frame in these years of the F150, too.

    I haven’t heard if this is in any way related.

  • avatar

    So a shift from 5th or 6th to 1st at highway speed doesn’t just grenade the transmission, as well as scare the operator to death at the same time???

    The cure is not to replace the sensor or the offending wiring harness, but to tell the computers to just ignore the signal?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s good enough for the NHSTA, but keep in mind the wheels aren’t actually “locking”, they’re just turning too slow. The effect is no different than over-spinning, as far as traction goes or “control”.

      I guess if it had monster 40 inch tires or greater, it could possibly grenade the trans, but the weakest link could be a U-joint or axle splines.

  • avatar

    Typical Ford. Alan Mulallys famous quality strikes again

    Where is JohnnyTaurus to tell us how this is a good thing?

  • avatar

    Easy fix – buy a manual. Oh wait you can’t get those anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      @JMII – not necessarily.

      My brother had several Dodge Ram pickups with manual transmissions where the sensors would get damaged or malfunction. He’s go to shift gears and the ECU would get confused and shut the engine off.

      The same generation of Dodge pickups with automatics had a habit of popping out of gear in rough offroad situations or if one hit a bad pothole.

  • avatar

    I remember driving my parents new 1995 Aerostar when you wanted to kick down it wouldn’t until the bloody thing would finally kick down all the way to first and scare the hell out of you. What is it with FoMoCo automatics…they’ve had problems with them since the 60’s! New fangled inventions I guess!

  • avatar

    Transmission problem? Wouldn’t that just be the lack of a manual one???

  • avatar

    Whiplash from a 0.3g braking incident? Okay, I suppose it could have been locked in 4×4 and caused as much as 0.8g of deceleration. Scary stuff, indeed. The human body was not designed to withstand the sort of extreme dynamic forces that a pickup truck can generate.

  • avatar

    My coworker’s 2013 F-150 had this problem last year. Driving around in traffic and suddenly getting stuck in 1st gear and then limp mode. He had to pay the dealership over a grand to fix it. This news is giving him hope of getting his money back.

  • avatar

    Another month, another Ford recall. This long stream of recalls is really hitting their bottom line, as Wall Street notes. I wonder what will be March’s recall?

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