Ford Pickups Recalled for Possible Rear Axle Hub Bolt Break, Air Bag Deactivation [UPDATED 1/8]

Ford has issued recalls on some of the trucks in its lineup due to a potential rear axle hub bolt break, and due to a potential air bag deactivation.

Photo: Ford/Canva/Automotive Fleet

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has announced two recalls of certain Ford pickup trucks and chassis cabs. The first recall is due to a potential threat to the rear axle hub bolt. The second recall is due to a possible airbag deactivation.

Ford F-150 Trucks: Rear Axle Hub Bolt May Break

Ford is recalling certain F-150 models due to the threat of a fatigued and broken rear axle hub bolt, which can result in damage to tha axle hub splines. Damaged axle hub splines can result in a vehicle roll away when the vehicle is in park without the parking brake applied, or cause a loss of drive power. Both of these conditions can increase the risk of a crash.

Which Vehicles are Affected

The recall affects an estimated 112,965 2021-2023 Ford F-150 pickup trucks equipped with the Trailer Tow Max Duty package and a 9.75-in. heavy duty axle with a ¾ float axle design.

The remedy is currently under development. Owners will be instructed to take their vehicle to a dealer for an interim repair if they experience symptoms related to rear axle bolt breakage, such as a clicking or rattling noise. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Jan. 29, 2024.

The History of the Rear Axle Hub Bolt Recall

In June 2022, NHTSA contacted Ford regarding three Vehicle Owner’s Questionnaire reports of broken rear axle hub bolts on 2021-2022 model year F-150 pickup trucks equipped with the 9.75-in. heavy duty ¾ float axle, according to documents submitted to NHTSA.

Warranty data indicated that the noise of a loose or broken bolt inside the wheel cap was apparent to most customers, who then sought service.

In other instances, dealer technicians identified the broken axle hub bolt during routine maintenance that typically occurs within the warranty period. In nearly all of the claims at the time, either the noise from the rattling bolt or vehicle maintenance identified the broken bolt.

At the time, Ford understood that it was possible for an unrepaired broken bolt to lead to spline fretting. However, Ford believed that broken bolts would be detectable and approved a one-time repair program for a five-month production window that was the source of most of the claims.

In Aug. 2023, Ford’s Critical Concern Review Group opened an investigation into reports of broken rear axle hub bolts that had progressed to stripped wheel-end hub splines on 2021-2022 model year F-150 trucks equipped with the 9.75-in. heavy duty ¾ float axle.

The CCRG reviewed warranty reports and identified reports of loss of motive power and unintended vehicle movement while in park for vehicles with stripped wheel-end hub splines.

As of Dec. 2, 2023, there were 376 warranty reports related to rear axle bolt breakage and stripped hub splines resulting in the loss of motive power and/or loss of park, received between Jan. 2, 2022 and Nov. 27, 2023.

Ford is not aware of any reports of accident or injury related to this condition.

Ford F-150 Trucks, Super Duty Trucks, Chassis Cabs: Driver’s Air Bag May Become Deactivated

Ford has also recalled certain pickup and chassis cab models for a potential air bag deactivation. The steering wheel clock spring may have an insufficient weld, causing a loss of electrical connection to the driver’s frontal airbag. A deactivated airbag will not deploy during a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

Which Vehicles are Affected

The recall affects an estimated 17,970 2023 F-150 trucks, Super Duty F-250, F-350, F-450, F-550 trucks, and F-600 chassis cabs.

Dealers will inspect and replace the clock spring as necessary, free of charge. Interim owner notifications explaining the safety risk are scheduled to be mailed Jan. 8, 2024. A second notice will be sent once remedy parts become available, anticipated during Q2 2024.

The History of the Air Bag Recall

One of Ford’s parts suppliers, BCS Automotive Interface Solutions, discovered that certain clock spring assemblies used in Steering Column Control Modules (SCCM) supplied to Ford by BCS may have been contaminated in the sub-supplier’s manufacturing process, according to documents submitted to NHTSA.

In Nov. 2023, BCS notified Ford that the parts were submitted for a recall report. 

Ford worked with BCS to analyze production and shipping records to determine which vehicles were affected.

As of Dec. 6, 2023, Ford was aware of 19 warranty reports received from May 1, 2023, through Nov. 10, 2023, indicating issues in vehicles that may have been affected by the insufficient weld.

Ford is not aware of any reports of accidents or injuries related to the recalled equipment.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Jan. 8, 2024 to reflect a recall of certain Ford F-150 models due to a potential rear axle hub bolt break.

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