By on July 27, 2020

2017 Ford Escape Assembly Factory Production, Image: Ford Motor Company

As vehicle production rates begin tipping back towards normalcy, the pandemic continues to rattle supply chains. The wheels of industry may be in motion, but they’re not yet in sync — making a comeback difficult for some players.

Ford dealers report a shortage of replacement parts needed for repairs, with some components taking over to a month to arrive at service centers. Against this backdrop, the automaker issued a technical service bulletin telling dealers to check for coolant leaks in the cylinder head of the 1.5-liter EcoBoost engines found in the Escape (MY 2017-19) and Fusion (2014-19). The repair notice dropped in April, though Ford owners have complained about fluid leaks for a couple of years after a shocking number of owners noticed their engines were overheating  only to find that one of the cylinders was hoovering coolant.

The old 1.6-liter engine was also recalled for vaguely similar issues, making us think there might be something in the works for its little brother once Ford realizes there’s no escape. But it already seems to have it handled; at least, that’s what was claimed by the manufacturer.

“There were disruptions in parts supply in early May due to supplier closures caused by COVID-19,” Ford stated. “Upon reopening, parts production and delivery was expedited, resolving shortages by late June. Ford is not aware of any significant parts delays currently impacting dealer ability to repair these engines.”

Automotive News tells it differently, claiming several dealers are still waiting around for components. We’ve heard stories about coolant-impacted customers occasionally getting the runaround before having to settle for a long-term rental, too. However, it seems most of the supportive anecdotes we’ve heard were settled by the start of this month, or are now part of a class-action lawsuit that’s being cooked up by ​Newsom Law PLC (among others).

From AN:

One service manager, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, called the situation a “nightmare” and said the store has a half-dozen Escapes sitting in the shop awaiting repairs. A second dealership official said enough customers had come in with the problem that the person raised it on a 20-group virtual meeting and heard similar responses from peers. An employee at a third dealership said the store cut a five-figure check in June to a rental company so that affected customers could have temporary transportation while waiting for a fix.

Tim Hovik, a member of the Ford council and owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Ariz., told Automotive News that his store has experienced some parts delays, although he said they weren’t limited to any particular models.

“There’s a supply chain that’s trying to get back on line in terms of parts deliveries and how fast we can fill our orders,” Hovik said. “I think sometimes we forget how important some of our vendors are. It seems like we’ve had some issues as we’ve come out of this getting those ancillary businesses back rolling.”

Based on how these things typically play out, we imagine Ford was probably weighing its options before the lockdown and got caught with its pants down. Cars continued to suffer while the lockdowns were in affect, worsening the issue from both ends. Fortunately, the problem is being dealt with internally, and has since been exposed to daylight  which usually gives all parties a necessary kick in the pants to expedite a solution.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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25 Comments on “Ford Dealers Waiting On Parts for Leaky 1.5-liter...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Maybe Subaru has some head gaskets they can give to Ford. /s

  • avatar

    Honda, Ford, and GM have all had issues with their turbocharged small-displacement engines.

    GM has largely resolved the oil leaks on the 1.4L turbo 4, but the engine is close to a decade old at this point, but earlier examples were a mean lean oil leaking machine.

    Honda has oil mixing in the gas with its 1.5L turbo 4, which has been met with mostly a shrug.

    Is it possible this is just too little engine dragging around too much car?

    As I understand it, the proliferation of engines under 1.6L is driven by global standards, and Chinese tariffs on engines with a displacement greater than 1.5L. As China becomes the car market of the world, it has started driving (no pun intended) automotive design globally.

    • 0 avatar

      My ex has a CRV turbo. The only complaint she has is the engine produces little heat in the winter. Honda’s fix was to add an auxiliary interior heater.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, Hondas 1.5 are chasing the ultimate efficiency and that’s why they are running cool and that’s why gas is mixing with oil and seems to be a lot bigger problem in colder climates with short drive cycles. There is no fix for it but mitigation. Oil changes every 5,000 miles or less and lots of prayers.

    • 0 avatar

      Strange….my sister’s ‘18 Accord is the opposite of Lou’s ex’s CRV: the cabin heats up nicely in winter from a cold start, but the engine seemingly never reaches full operating temperature. I told her to let the engine heat up first by leaving the automatic climate control on 60 until the 1.5L reaches full operating temperature, and only thereafter set the temp to her preferred 85. She doesn’t see the point in freezing herself to death for for 10 whole minutes, oil dilution be damned.

  • avatar

    Despite a century + of development, the head gasket remains an engineering challenge. Perhaps Offenhauser had it right after all.

    • 0 avatar

      They know how to do it, but they’re trying to just barely do it. If something works reliably then you must be spending too much money! Old Ford 351W V8’s were notorious for burning oil, quart every thousand miles was normal. The cylinders would warp and weren’t round anymore once the engine heated up. Machine shops would bolt a thick plate to the engine block in place of the cylinder head and hone them like that. A lot of older engines recommend re-torquing the head bolts after 1000 miles or so, bringing it up another 10%. After the engine has gotten good and hot and expanded and contracted a few times. I rebuilt a Toyota 2.5V6 once. Deep skirt block with lots of metal, all the crank bearing caps were connected together in a tree structure. Lots of measures to stiffen the block and reduce noise and vibration. Costs money and it works – but that’s not how Ford engineers things.

  • avatar

    Hey, I’m no engineer (let’s all be thankful for that), but experience [and common sense] tells me that higher stress increases reliability. No wait that’s backwards.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Good comment :)

      FWIW, I am an engineer, and you are correct if the designs and materials all stay the same.

      But as specific power (HP/liter) has risen steadily over the decades, some components, materials, and designs haven’t kept up.

      Let’s not forget that each mfr is trimming pennies from every part. Ford knows how to make a long-lasting head gasket; they just don’t want to pay for it. So now, they’ll pay for it.

      And who knows, this could be related to the cylinder head bolts, block/head materials, heat treatments, cooling system layout, engine tuning/detonation, acid buildup, surface finishes, machine setting, and a bunch of other stuff. The gasket itself could be just fine.

      • 0 avatar

        “Let’s not forget that each mfr is trimming pennies from every part. Ford knows how to make a long-lasting head gasket; they just don’t want to pay for it. So now, they’ll pay for it.”

        Yep. As with a door latch, there is plenty of institutional knowledge on how to design a good one. But there are other forces arrayed against “good”.

  • avatar

    Another month, another Ford problem. Big news.
    Wouldn’t it just be cheaper, in the long run, to do it right with such issues as steering wheel bolts, door latches and head gaskets?? Either that or change the name of the newer models to the “Ford Time Bomb”…….soon to destroy your bank account.

    • 0 avatar


      I’m guessing that the corporate world works similarly to military procurement. The people making the decisions are focused on their next promotion. They do not plan to be in any one position long — by the time the problem with the cost saving compromise they approved shows up, they’ve moved on. So they will approve these cost cutting measures if it will make them look good in the immediate future and thereby increase their chance for promotion. By the time the sh*t hits the fan, it will be someone else that has to deal with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        And half of Ford news in recent years has been its inability to satisfy investors’ desire for higher dividends. I suspect that they are shifting more focus (ouch) to profits, and less to ‘Job 1’.

  • avatar

    I would be VERY leery of buying the “ALL NEW BRONCO” for a couple of years given Ford’s poor recent track record.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh the Ford Blazer…I mean Ranger SUV will be a disaster. It kinda already is with deliveries being severely delayed but then once people get it and are subjected to Ford’s complete lack of quality, they are going to rage

  • avatar

    I have been waiting for an a/c clutch compressor for my 2019 Ranger. It makes an intermittent horrible noise. Been waiting 5 weeks now in summer in KY, and they estimate then may have it in 2 more weeks. Hate COVID

  • avatar

    All these problems are being resolved by switching from ICE to electric motors. I don’t care about steam and IC engines anymore. Buy Tesla, be happy.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am glad I didn’t wait for the 2022 Ford Maverick compact pickup that will come equipped with the 1.5 but hopefully Ford sorts this out before the release of the Maverick. I am happy with my purchase of a 2008 Ford Ranger.

  • avatar

    Some commenters here were telling me that Ecoboost has no problems. ha. ha. ha.

    • 0 avatar

      I mean what could go wrong with an under-designed, high strung, forced induction engine?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Most trouble free cars in my fleet of late. Probably didn’t put enough on the Fiesta ST to make a judgement (like 16k) but the 2.7 in the F150 is over 70k and all it has seen the shop for is the door latch and seatbelt pyro carpet or whatever recalls.

      70k isn’t high either, but is is beyond where a few of my non turbos have had issues. The 2.7 was also designed from the ground up for forced induction however which probably doesn’t hurt.

      I did steer clear of the Honda 1.5T.l, but hat the Mark IX Fiesta ST made it here with the 1.5 Ecoboost 3 I probably would have leased one…It being on the horizon was why I went 2 years on the 18. Didn’t work out though.

  • avatar

    I’ve been waiting 4 weeks for parts to come in for a short block replacement on my 2018 Fusion 1.5 ecoboost (21k miles). The service manager told me this morning that some parts are on back-order and may be at least 2 weeks out yet. This may be my last Ford product.

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