Ford Recalls 2023 Super Duty and Escape to Replace Defective Digital Instrument Cluster

2023 Ford Super Duty 9 photos
Photo: Ford / edited
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On May 11th, during the 68th annual meeting of shareholders, the big kahuna at FoMoCo stated that "quality is our number one priority, and our overall quality today is improving." Jim Farley then gave the 2023 model year Super Duty of how the Dearborn-based automaker is – allegedly – tweaking up quality.
Farley stated that Ford's assembly plant employees perform 25-mile (40-kilometer) shakedowns on 100 trucks daily. Testing a brand-new vehicle this way is admirable, but on the other hand, a short drive won't bring to light certain underlying issues of said vehicle. Think badly designed or manufactured parts, software issues, and all that jazz.

Farley then waxed lyrical about tripling the number of trucks performing the trailer towing test, along with more quality checks on the production lines of both locations where the Super Duty is manufactured. There's even an AI element on the assembly lines, which is – allegedly – designed to "catch quality issues that aren't visible to the human eye." Big words from the automaker with the most recalls in 2022 (a whopping 67) and most vehicles recalled in 2022 (a whopping 8,636,265 vehicles in the US of A alone).

That being said, how many recalls do you think the 2023 model year Super Duty has amassed thus far? The answer is four, with the latest of the bunch requiring the replacement of the entire digital instrument cluster. Prior to this recall, the 2023 model year Super Duty line was called back over missing or loose steering column bolts, missing head restraint instructions, and TREAD labels stating the incorrect load-carrying capacity.

Together with the big-boy truck series, Ford has also recalled a handful of Escape crossovers over the very same problem. According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the issue was brought to the Critical Concern Review Group's attention on March 23. On that day, assembly plant workers identified no fewer than five Super Duty trucks with digital clusters that didn't illuminate.

2023 Ford Super Duty
Photo: Ford
Ford's engineering department identified hardware failure caused by poor solder joints in the remote cluster box, with said engineers understanding that the solder joint failures occur early in the vehicle's life. Visteon Corporation's Mexican plant was required to, and duly implemented, solder quality detection processes.

The supplier, however, didn't improve its detection processes enough. Increasingly more field reports and warranty claims were filed with the second-largest automaker of the Big Three in Detroit, namely 36 and 84, for a grand total of 83 Super Duty and Escape vehicles. The numbers don't add up because certain vehicles experienced said issue more than once.

Engineers determined the solder stencil used by the supplier for the digital instrument cluster didn't have the correct thickness. Worse still for the Visteon Corporation, said clusters didn't feature proper coating. It's easy to blame the supplier only for this blunder, but remember that Ford – and every volume-oriented automaker out there – cut costs wherever and however possible. Is Farley aware that contracting a questionable supplier just because it's the most affordable of all options available is a one-way ticket to Recallville?

38,695 vehicles are called back, starting with F-250 and F-550 trucks produced between January 19 and May 31. The Escape, on the other hand, is listed with production dates ranging between November 15 last year to June 16 this year. Dealers have already been instructed to replace the defective instrument cluster modules with replacement units featuring properly soldered joints. Affected owners will be informed of this recall by first-class mail no later than August 18.
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 Download: 2023 Ford Super Duty and Escape instrument cluster recall (PDF)

About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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