By on April 7, 2020


Ford has recalled nearly 68,000 vehicles manufactured at the start of 2020 and sold in North America, saying the cars suffer from a potential manufacturing defect where the clip that locks the gearshift cable to the transmission can become unseated.

While the company says it isn’t aware of any incidents related to the issue, a decoupling clip could allow a car’s transmission to be in a gear state different from the gearshift position selected by the operator. This could easily lead to dangerous roll-away accidents as drivers unwittingly put their vehicle into the wrong gear while thinking they’ve selected park.

Affected units include 2020 F-150, Ranger, and Expedition models (with the police package) equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Vehicles outfitted with the brand’s rotary shift knob were reportedly not impacted.

Applying the parking brake whenever you exit the vehicle should be enough to avoid a costly mistake, though we’d recommend exercising caution when putting the car into any new gear — as the vehicle may offer up a false reading. Ford said this is an issue that will likely worsen over time.

The brunt of affected models were sold in the United States, with about 12,000 going to Canada and roughly 600 settling in Mexico. You may be still be in the clear if you purchased one of the vehicles listed in the recall, as the production window is pretty narrow. Recalls only include Ranger pickups built at Michigan Assembly Plant between February 28th to March 18th; F-150s produced at the Dearborn Truck Plant between Feb. 18th and March 19th or at Kansas City Assembly from Feb. 21st to March 19th; and Expedition models assembled at the Kentucky Truck Plant from March 3rd to the 19th.

At this stage, the manufacturer simply states it will allow customers to come into dealerships for a free inspection, at which point technicians will make sure the shift cable’s locking clip is properly seated. Ford’s reference number for the recall is 20S18.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]


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17 Comments on “Lost in Transmission: Ford Recalls Nearly 68,000 2020 Pickups and Expeditions...”

  • avatar

    That “manufacturing error” sounds like a poorly trained worker/workers who didn’t do their job. That linkage likely hasn’t changed one bit from 2019 so the issue is pathetic union work – and the cost of that repair should be billed to the union and not the manufacturer – it is time that human union workers start having to pay for their poor performance. They are so quick to blame management for other errors and to make management pay.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Speaking as a design engineer, the more finesse that is required to assemble something, the more likely it is to go wrong.

      I don’t know this clip thing, but there is a chance the proper installation is not super obvious. Poke-yoke is the name of the game.

      Or, it could be something as subtle as a recent supplier change that pushed the tolerances to one side vs the other, and the assembly feedback was lost.

      • 0 avatar

        ” the more finesse that is required to assemble something, the more likely it is to go wrong.”

        Words of wisdom. Germans are famous for that. That’s how you can beat them.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m betting on a manufacturing issue at the supplier. It affects different plants and models in a similar time frame and it appears it was the people at the Ranger plant who said something isn’t right, lets stop using that batch and the next day the other plants did the same thing once they were notified.

    • 0 avatar

      didnt necessarily happen on the line. could have easily been pathetic NON union work from a supplier.

    • 0 avatar

      It might be a training issue, or poor design. It seems to me that manufacturers often leave identical models out of recalls, as long as they feel they can get away with it.

      Oddly, Ford had a very similar recall last year, for Fusion cars. I got deja vu while reading this article. Oddly, this recall is 20S18, and the previous recall was 18S20. Coincidence? Yeah, probably. But the similarity of the problem may not be coincidence.


  • avatar

    Does anyone really religiously set the parking brake in their automatic car?

  • avatar

    Every time I drive to the Vatican.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Will this affect the GM version of the same 10-speed transmission?

  • avatar

    I wonder if they’ll mail out a sticker for the dashboard?

  • avatar

    Time to get the printer pumping out stickers!

  • avatar

    Glad to see nothing has changed at Ford. Still the same abysmal quality we are used to.

  • avatar

    I’d have to see how this one works. On my ’95 F-150 (4R70W four-speed), the cable snapped on to a ball on the lever at the transmission (on the TR sensor) and the end under the dash, at the linkage coming down from the column shift lever. The maintenance schedule required lubrication every 15,000 miles, so I would have to snap the cable off at each end, add a little NLGI 2 grease inside the clip, using a small flat-blade screwdriver, then snap the cable ends back on. Never had a problem with the cable coming loose.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Speaking as someone who has worked both in the design and manufacturing environments.

    That is what D-FMEA and P-FMEA are supposed to address.
    But in my personal experience, creating a good, inclusive FMEA is a lot of work, takes a lot of time, and requires the most experienced personnel (read: the most in demand) to spend quality time developing a solid FMEA……A coordinated and focused group effort.

    What usually happens after the initial kickoff meeting is that the attendance deteriorates, people make excuses that they have more important things to do, and eventually the most junior engineer is the only one remaining.

    Since he/she for the most part will be clueless, he will essentially copy the FMEA of a “similar” product.
    And there is a reason I put the word similar in quotes. It has four tires and an engine, right? Then those are similar products.

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