Ford Recalls 310,203 Super Duty Trucks After Promising Improved Quality

2016 Ford Super Duty 7 photos
Photo: Ford / edited
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Some jokes write themselves, and that's exactly what hampers down the Ford Motor Company against its crosstown rivals. Big kahuna Jim Farley has recently waxed lyrical about improved quality at the 68th Annual Meeting of Shareholders, giving the 2023 model year Super Duty line of trucks as an example. But as fate would have it, FoMoCo has just issued a mammoth recall affecting the 2016 model.
As the headline reads, no fewer than 310,203 trucks are called back in the United States alone. What is the problem with them? Dust may – and will definitely – accumulate in the steering wheel's clock spring. The dust in question eventually leads to an electrical disconnection, thus deactivating the driver's airbag. In case of a crash, no airbag deployment means fewer chances of survival for the driver of an affected truck.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Ford became aware of this problem back in October 2021. Back then, the Critical Concern Review Group started looking into multiple reports involving the steering wheel clock spring mentioned earlier.

Ford's engineering department was brought in for in-depth analysis, discovering that dust ingress could result in more friction than expected at the clock spring's ribbon cable connector. Said component rotates with the steering wheel.

The ribbon cable has two specific tasks. First and foremost, to provide electrical power to the driver airbag. And secondly, the steering wheel buttons wouldn't work without it. According to Ford's engineering department, certain parts collected from suspect vehicles exhibited partial disconnection of the cable, while others exhibited complete disconnection.

Through December 2021, a whopping 11,200 reports pertaining to the airbag light turning on were filed with the Ford Motor Company. A supplier by the name of BCS Automotive Interface Solutions produced the suspect clock spring assembly, and in light of this concern, the supplier was instructed to redesign the retainer that blocks dust ingress.

Come May 2022, dealers were instructed to replace the steering wheel clock spring at no cost to the owners, with owner notifications mailed in July 2022. However, those notifications were nothing more than interim letters. FoMoCo didn't have the replacement clock springs in stock, which brings us to the present day. Now there are sufficient replacement parts in stock, which is why a final notification will be mailed to all affected owners no later than July 5.

Regarding the quality concerns that Ford continues to address with its current lineup of trucks, quality is more than proper assemby and the proper pre-production testing of properly designed and engineered parts. Suppliers have a big say in a product's overall quality, and the Ford Motor Company is notorious for cheapening out in this very regard.

The joke, however, falls exclusively on Dearborn's favorite son. These mammoth recalls take their toll on the Blue Oval's profit margins, with quality lapses and warranty expenses totaling billions of dollars on a yearly basis. Given these worrying circumstances, Farley and the top-ranking executives in charge of quality need to step up their game.

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 Download: 2016 Ford Super Duty steering wheel clock spring 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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