DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford drivers affected by an under-hood fire recall may have to wait months to fix their vehicle.
On Friday, Ford Motor Company announced that it found a remedy for a recall that affects more than 66,000 2021 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. The recall was initiated in May in response to fires that the company said could happen even when engines were off.
So far, Ford has received 21 reports of under-hood fires, with 18 incidents impacting vehicles owned by rental companies. In May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that of the 16 reports known at the time, 12 happened while the vehicle was parked and off. There were also three reports of fires while the vehicle was moving.
One person has been injured so far in connection with the recall.
While Ford initially said it didn’t know what was causing the fires, on Friday the company said it tracked the issue down to the circuit board.
During the pandemic, a supplier had a change in manufacturing location. Ford said the printed circuit boards produced at the facility are uniquely susceptible to a high-current short. They were supplied to Ford and installed in Expedition and Navigator SUVs that were produced during the recall window.
In a release, Ford said it communicated repair procedures to dealers and is working to make parts available as soon as possible. However, this process may take longer for the majority of drivers.
To fix the issue, dealers will inspect the battery junction box for melting damage. If they see any damage, they will replace the entire component. They will then remove the engine fan ground wire from the box with an 800-watt cooling fan system.
For those vehicles with a 700-watt cooling fan system, the process will be the same with one change. The dealer will install an auxiliary box with a wire jumper.
The first remedy will fix the issue for about a third of the vehicle population. It can be done immediately. The second remedy will fix the remaining population, but the parts won’t be available until early September.
In the meantime, Ford is telling people to keep driving their vehicles, but park outside and away from structures. They are telling dealers not to demonstrate or deliver any of the recalled vehicles.
For people in unique circumstances where they can’t park outside and away from structures, the company is offering rental vehicles. These vehicles are offered at no charge except for fuel and insurance while the vehicle is at the dealership. People in this situation should contact their dealer for guidelines and limitations.
To check if the recall applies to your vehicle, use the NHTSA website recall page.